Tìngäzìk: a Retrospective – ep. 6 “Cannot say cannot say turn”

Cannot say cannot say turn #math #chinese

Expected solvable difficulty

  • 1sample+: experienced solvers
  • keywords+: most solvers with Chinese proficiency
  • answer: all solvers

Level design

Common words but name for huge numbers

on my brainstorming note

Previously on this blog, I wrote an article talking about number units in Chinese. In the research, I learnt that a lot of those numbers are closely related to Buddhism, especially on the larger ones. Meanwhile, some words used for numbers in the Buddhism classicals are also being used for other purposes, gradually becoming a part of the modern Chinese language.

Going through all the number units found in this Wikipedia article on Chinese numbers, I shortlisted the following units.

Unit name\log_{10}Meaning in modern Chinese
颠倒1879048192to turn upside down
高出120259084288(some amount) higher than something
最妙240518168576most excellent
演说69324642199981295394350956544speech, make a speech
出生277298568799925181577403826176be born, birth

Among these, I picked 颠倒, 演说 and 高出 for questions as they are the most common words among them for what I see. To make the hints more obvious to find the \log_{10} of units, I also included 千万 (ten million, or be sure to) as a sample question.

Expected thought process

Realize this question means to look for number units from the samples (1sample+), or find it out from keywords (keywords+). Then look for the value of the unit in question.


When searching for the units, a lot of websites pop up with a precise value for 颠倒, but shortening larger values like 演说 with nested scientific notations like 10^{6.9\times10^{28}}. Many challengers in turn tried 60_10_28 or 69000000000000000000000000000, which are not the correct answer.

Title to this question is a rough word-for-word translation of 不可说不可说转, commonly regarded as the largest named number in Chinese, which is 1037218383881977644441306597687849648128.

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