June 8, 2022
In the show Silicon Valley T.J. Miller’s character, Erlich Bachman, asks someone “… what nine times F is. It’s fleventy-five.”
The answer is
0x87. It sounds like it should
0xF5, so Tim Babb took this and made a
for pronouncing hex numbers.
0xF5 would have been “fimtek five” in
S.R. Rogers’ 2007 scheme,
John W. Nystrom’s 1859 scheme,
and “frosty five” in
Robert Magnusson’s 1968 scheme:
None of these took off, which is just fine, but I still want to
know whether to pronounce
0x10 as “ten” or “one zero”.
I can’t tell if “eleven” means two written
1s, or if
it always means the abstract number that’s represented in decimal as
Most would probably say “eleven hex” for
0x11, but then is
0b11 “eleven binary”?
That seems completely wrong.
Rogers used “ten”, “eleven”, and “twelve” to mean their decimal value,
so he used those for
0xC. After that he made up other
names, like “draze” for
0xD. Maybe that’s because “eleven” and “twelve”
don’t have a “ten” or “teen” in their name, so they can be decoupled
from base ten. Except that the “tw” of “twelve”
comes from “two”!
I had a friend once argue that “sixteen” clearly means six plus ten, so
should be pronounced “sixteen” (or “one zero hex”) and
0x16 should not. But
that depends on you defining “ten” to be decimal
10 and not
0x10. It would
be internally consistent to define
0x10 as “ten” and
0x46 “forty six hex”.
You’d just need to spell out the letters if they appear, like “forty eff”
0x4F and “eff five” for
In the end I think it’s too awkward to think of “ten” as just decimal
0xA is “ten” and
0x10 is, what, “hex one zero”? Then
“hex four zero zero zero”? I’ll stick with what I’ve seen most people do,
which is to re-use the decimal labels and just say “hex” in front:
“hex four thousand”. After all, bases are just ways of writing numbers,
and speech can just tag along with that instead of pretending that spoken
numbers are always magically in decimal.