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    Several episodes of Midsomer Murders mentioned "Yards" and "Miles" e.g. "The weapon was found several yards away." I thought great Britain uses the metric system. Why the reference to yards and miles in the episodes? It should be, "The weapon was found several meters away.

  • #2
    Non-metric measurement terms are simply generic references. Australia has had metric measurements since 1970 and it's not uncommon still for people to talk in old imperial weights and/or measurement terms.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by z1chess View Post
      Several episodes of Midsomer Murders mentioned "Yards" and "Miles" e.g. "The weapon was found several yards away." I thought great Britain uses the metric system. Why the reference to yards and miles in the episodes? It should be, "The weapon was found several meters away.
      The UK likes to hang onto the past in many ways and has largely resisted a conversion from imperial to metric.

      You must be American.....? In English, "metre" is the spelling for the unit of length, while a "meter" is an instrument of measurement, however, many people don't think about the difference. That's why you nearly always hear "kilometre" pronounced incorrectly. People think it belongs with the group of "meter" words such as speedometer, thermometer, barometer etc. instead of with other"'kilo" words such as kilocycle, kilolitres, kilowatts, kilograms.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by z1chess View Post
        Several episodes of Midsomer Murders mentioned "Yards" and "Miles" e.g. "The weapon was found several yards away." I thought great Britain uses the metric system. Why the reference to yards and miles in the episodes?
        That’s a very common misconception. We are gradually changing over but it will take generations before it’s completed. You still usually find road signs here are given in yards or miles rather than in metres or kilometres. Weights (especially of people but also of goods) are usually still given in stones, pounds & ounces. Heights of people are usually still given in feet (& inches).

        Children are usually taught to use metric but it will take a few generations to come into common parlance.

        Back in in my day, when I was at college (many years ago) we were taught in metric (CGS) but it still isn’t in common use yet.

        Steve

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        • #5
          Originally posted by arthur linden-jones View Post
          Non-metric measurement terms are simply generic references. Australia has had metric measurements since 1970 and it's not uncommon still for people to talk in old imperial weights and/or measurement terms.
          Old habits die hard!
          Many of the current older generation of Australians who were brought up with the imperial system found metric rather difficult to adjust to, and I don't think the previous generation adjusted at all. My mum was completely flummoxed by it. Even now, I can't visualise centimetres and have a tape measure with inches on the other side which I often need to refer to! Whereas my husband is Dutch and if I say someone is six feet tall, he says, "What's that?".

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Steve Crook View Post
            That’s a very common misconception. We are gradually changing over but it will take generations before it’s completed. You still usually find road signs here are given in yards or miles rather than in metres or kilometres. Weights (especially of people but also of goods) are usually still given in stones, pounds & ounces. Heights of people are usually still given in feet (& inches).

            Children are usually taught to use metric but it will take a few generations to come into common parlance.

            Back in in my day, when I was at college (many years ago) we were taught in metric (CGS) but it still isn’t in common use yet.

            Steve
            It shouldn't need to take so long. Australia is way ahead in this regard. Metrication was implemented in a gradual but very orderly fashion, starting with currency in 1966. It did take a while, but it's been completed for a long time. This is how we did road signs:

            Metrication of the road signs

            An important and very visible sign of metric conversion in Australia was the change in road signs and the accompanying traffic regulations; "M-day" for this change was 1 July 1974. Because of careful planning, almost every road sign in Australia was converted within a month. This was achieved by installing covered metric signs alongside the imperial signs before the change and then removing the imperial sign and uncovering the metric sign during the month of conversion.

            While road signs could not all be changed at the same time, there was little chance of confusion as to what any speed limit sign meant during this short change-over period. This was because the previous (MPH) signs had the signage in black on white and were rectangular, in the same style as current US speed limit signs, while the (km/h) signs which replaced them had the number indicating the speed limit inside a red circle, as is done in Europe.

            Road distance signs were also converted during this period. To avoid confusion as to whether the distance indicated was in miles or kilometres all the new kilometre signs had affixed to them a temporary yellow plate, on which was indicated the corresponding number of miles. These temporary plates were removed after about one year.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Shirley Brahms View Post

              It shouldn't need to take so long. Australia is way ahead in this regard. Metrication was implemented in a gradual but very orderly fashion, starting with currency in 1966. It did take a while, but it's been completed for a long time. This is how we did road signs:
              Here it’s being done in a very slow & disorderly fashion. The decimalised our currency OK in February 1971. But nobody seems to be in any rush to decimalise everything else. We’ve lived with two temperature scales (centigrade & Fahrenheit) for ever so why not two scales for everything else?

              Steve

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              • #8
                When I lived in France in the 1960s I found that they were the same. The currency had been altered to do away with several decimal points but people still used the old version which could be disconcerting when having prices quoted to you...

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Steve Crook View Post
                  You still usually find road signs here are given in yards or miles rather than in metres or kilometres.
                  LOL That reminds me of several years ago driving around south west England, seeing the road sign indicating the distance to Padstow. OK, that's good, not too far away thought I, with my Australian metric mentality. However, after a while I thought maybe we'd been traveling a bit too long, before I realised the distance was mileage, and that I should have multiplied it by 1.6 to match my thinking.

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                  • #10
                    Decimal currency was an improvement on the bewildering old system. We have to wait a generation or two for us to get used to metric measurements.

                    I'm happy thinking of measurements in feet because I can compare it with my own feet.

                    And I've heard Bette Midler used to do a Mae West impression saying 'I have been thinking in inches for a long, long time'.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Steve Crook View Post
                      That’s a very common misconception. We are gradually changing over but it will take generations before it’s completed. You still usually find road signs here are given in yards or miles rather than in metres or kilometres. Weights (especially of people but also of goods) are usually still given in stones, pounds & ounces. Heights of people are usually still given in feet (& inches).

                      Children are usually taught to use metric but it will take a few generations to come into common parlance.

                      Back in in my day, when I was at college (many years ago) we were taught in metric (CGS) but it still isn’t in common use yet.

                      Steve
                      I'm one of the half-way house generation. I was born in the early 60s, so started school in 1968. I was mainly taught the metric system, but I grew up with my parents' and grandparents' generations using feet and inches.

                      I tend to estimate lengths in feet, yards, miles. I know my height and weight in feet/inches and pounds/stones. But if I measure anything, I *always* using metric length/mass units - largely for ease of calculation and conversion. I wish I had not learned to estimate in imperial units.

                      The Irish Republic has an interesting attitude to metrication. I think I've got this the right way round: speed limit signs are in km/hr, but Irish cars almost always have speedos with mph as the more prominent figures because of the assumption that right-hand-drive = mph (which is true in UK but not Rep Ireland). Distance signs (certainly in the mid 90s when I was last there) may be in either miles or kilometres: the former makes for difficult mental arithmetic while driving, when you want to estimate how much longer a journey will be when it's x miles at y km/hr - you need to be able to factor in the (approx) 5/8 conversion factor.

                      CGS (centimetre, gramme, second) is an interesting one: it's metric but it's not SI (which uses the metre and the kilogramme as the "primary" units, rather than centimetre and gramme. But the distinction is extremely petty ;-)


                      Incidentally, one difference between UK and USA is that the UK tends to use the largest unit which expresses a quantity to the required precision, whereas the US tends to use very large numbers of smaller units. So road signs (especially temporary road works signs) in the US often specify a distance as 300 or 2640 feet, whereas the UK will specify a similar distance as 100 yards or 1/2 mile. Similarly for a person's weight: we use stones and pounds (stone = 14 pounds) whereas US use only pounds.
                      Last edited by martinu; 17th March 2019, 09:44 PM.

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