Klingons in Chemistry

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I know you have been there, too: There is this  substance that you really, really need but no one else ever cared about. Fortunately about eighty years ago someone cooked up a quantity of the stuff by accident and published the synthesis in some obscure foreign journal. In a foreign language.

What to do? Yes, there are translation tools like Babelfish. But given their rather heterogenous results, would you trust them to get chemical nomenclature right, or at least right-ish enough to be useful?

Actually, software engineers are working on this. There is  a current paper by  one Roger Sayle about nomenclature translation software, and I highly recommend it. It’s open access, and it’s fun. There’s something about language structure, search engine algorithms and what’s hydrogen in klingon. It’s

Actually this is probably the first chemistry paper that lists the Klingon Language Institute in the references. K’plaH!

Now what about, say, 4,5,6,7-tetraiodo-benzofuran-1,3-dione?

[via Carbon Based Curiosities]

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2 Responses to “Klingons in Chemistry”

  1. Roger Sayle Says:

    I’m not sure about the Klingon, but in several human languages it would be:

    German: 4,5,6,7-tetrajod-2-benzofuran-1,3-dion
    Spanish: 4,5,6,7-tetrayodo-2-benzofuran-1,3-diona
    Swedish: 4,5,6,7-tetrajodo-2-bensofuran-1,3-dion
    Dutch: 4,5,6,7-tetraiodo-2-benzofuraan-1,3-dion
    Welsh: 4,5,6,7-tetraiodo-2-bensoffwran-1,3-deuone
    Hungarian: 4,5,6,7-tetrajód-2-benzofurán-1,3-dion
    Russian: 4,5,6,7-тетраиодо-2-бензофуран-1,3-дионе
    Japanese: 4,5,6,7-テトラヨード-2-ベンゾフラン-1,3-ジオン
    Chinese: 4,5,6,7-四碘-2-苯并呋喃-1,3-二酮

    [And in HTML, if the above UTF-8 doesn’t display correctly]

    Hungarian:
    4,5,6,7-tetrajód-2-benzofurán-1,3-dion
    Russian:
    4,5,6,7-тетраиодо-2-бензофуран-1,3-дионе
    Japanese:
    4,5,6,7-テトラヨード-2-ベンゾフラン-1,3-ジオン
    Chinese:
    4,5,6,7-四碘-2-苯并呋喃-1,3-二酮

    Hehe 🙂 Thanks again,

    Roger

  2. David Eckensberger Says:

    Nice article – and finally, no one knows when the time has come to talk klingon… 😉
    But joking aside, Roger Sayle is adressing an important problem and it’s nice to see that upcoming generations of scientists will find their informations easier.

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