While compiling a list of names for fractions of seconds which are in the International System of Units, I stumbled upon two curious fractions of seconds whose names I'm unable to locate anywhere, and I don't trust what Google Translator gives as it is highly likely to be wrong.

My question is pretty straightforward: which words are used in Mandarin Chinese to refer to zeptoseconds and yoctoseconds? You can check what they are in this list on Wikipedia.

2 Answers 2

  • Zeptoseconds = 仄普托秒 / 仄秒 / (Taiwan Guoyu: 介秒)

仄(仄普托)= zepto-

  • Yoctoseconds = 幺科托秒 / 幺秒 / (Taiwan Guoyu: 攸秒)

幺(幺科托) = yocto-

The shortened forms, i.e.: 仄秒 & 幺秒 are probably more accessible than their long forms.

You can check out this Metric SI Prefixes Table in Chinese for even more details. Heres a quick and dirty current screen grab for reference:

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  • Does it mean that 原秒 actually never carried a meaning of 'attoseconds', and I should use 阿秒 instead?
    – Rusurano
    Jan 13, 2021 at 18:11
  • @Rusurano 原秒 does seem to also be another translation but it looks like "阿秒" is the preferred way to write attoseconds now. I'm no expert - perhaps someone else could shed some more light on this?
    – Mou某
    Jan 13, 2021 at 18:36

It is a straight forward question about the translation of specific scientific (mathematical) terms, and Mou某's answer referencing from a creditable source is also a straight forward answer. Therefore, It should be accepted as the answer to the question

One thing I want to add is, these scientific terms mean very little to the general public. When people in scientific fields mentioning zepto-this and yocto-that among themselves, there's no need for an explanation because they all know what it means. However, when they speak to the general public, they often need to explain 'zepto' means 'negative one followed by twenty-one zero' to a layman

Therefore, the correct translation of 'zeptosecond' is '仄秒', but the layman's term translation of 'zeptosecond' is " 一之後加二十一個零 分之一秒" (one followed by 21 zeros of a second)

"一仄秒即是 一 之後加二十一個零 分之一秒" (a zeptosecond is one followed by 21 zeros of a second)

  • Most of native English speakers do not understand "zeptosecond" or "yoctosecond" either. It is obviously written for a small group of people who understand.
    – Victor
    Jan 19, 2021 at 2:35
  • If an explanation is required for laymen, I will probably say 十万亿亿分之一秒 and 一亿亿亿分之一秒 respectively, or in Taiwan, 十垓分之一秒 and 一秭分之一秒 respectively.
    – Victor
    Jan 19, 2021 at 2:39

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