OT: Units (was Re: Numbers in Qthen|gai (and in Tyl Sjok) [long])
|From:||Tristan McLeay <conlang@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, January 13, 2005, 1:40|
On 13 Jan 2005, at 2.44 am, Andreas Johansson wrote:
> Quoting Tristan McLeay <conlang@...>:
>> On 12 Jan 2005, at 5.40 am, Ray Brown wrote:
>>>> Therefore, it is quite hard to translate large numbers from
>>>> Chinese to English and vice versa.
>>> I cannot help feeling it is a pity our western systems are based on
>>> Latin practice and not the ancient Greek practice. But Latinate
>>> based' system is now enshrined in the SI metric prefixes.
>> Pretty please tell that to the Swedes! They insist on putting things
>> like '3 cl' and '2,5 dl' even in the English sections of stuff I sell
>> at the Sweden Shop at Ikea, and no-one here would have any idea what a
>> decilitre was it jumped up at bit them! (OTOH, we use centimetres all
>> the time and I think that Europeans don't, so we're not entirely
>> without failure---I could be wrong here though.)
> Surely you must've seen centimetres on IKEA products if you've seen
You don't usually measure food in centimetres and I have no need as yet
to buy my own furniture :)
> It's the one of the commonest length units here - probably more common
> than the
> metre itself. We use decimetres too, but not quite as frequently.
> Decilitres and
> centilitres are of course quite common.
>> But the point is there's metric prefixes for 10 (deka-/da), 100
>> (hecto-/h), 1000 (kilo-/k), 10 000 (myria-/my), 1 000 000 (mega/M),
>> then they go up only in thousands, as well as 0.1 (deci-/d), 0.01
>> (centi-/c) and 0.001 (milli-/m), before they go down in thousandths.
>> That they go up/down in thousand(th)s at that point is probably no
>> loss, I certainly don't hear 20 gigagrams or 120 zeptolitres very
> I suppose the "extreme" multiple one hears alot of is picofarads.
I can't say I hear that particularly often.
>> (OTOH, I don't think I've ever heard myria- or deka- being used, and
>> hecto- only in hectopascals (merely a modernisation of the old
>> millibar) and hectares. In Oz, centi-'s only used in centimetres (that
>> I can think of), and deci- isn't used at all, excepting, of course, in
>> European imports.)
> Let's see. I was unaware of the *existence* of the myria- prefix.
Neither was I till I looked at a list on the Internet... but it may've
> I've never
> seen deka- except in lists of prefixes. Deci- and centi- are common
> with metre
> and litre, but rarely if ever used with anything else. Hecto- is
> pretty much
> restricted to hectogram (usually shortened to just 'hekto' - kilogram
> becomes 'kilo'), hectare, and hectolitre, altho you sometimes hear of
> hectopascals too.
Before computers, I would've said mega- and giga- were used exclusively
with litres, and then almost only when talking about reservoirs.
> The really evil Swedish unit is the _mil_, or metric mile, of 10km.
> It's just
> asking for evil mistranslations.
> If course 'pound' (de: Pfund, nl: pond) is also exactly 500g in
> Germany and the Netherlands and presumable in many other countries
> that are not Great Britain for instance.
I think you missed that one---a mil in Australia is a millimetre or
(I approximate 'pound' with 500 g, but I wouldn't say a pound *is*
500g. Pints in pubs usually remain 570 mL or various other similar
measurements, depending on where in Australia you are. Knots and the
nautical mile are still for whatever reason I can't discern used. For
sufficiently large degrees fahrenheit I divide by two to get sensible
temperatures, but it's a pity the conversion is so complicated for
everyday temps. Can't Americans at least use 0 fahrenheit to mean the
freezing point of water?)
Do Europeans use metric cups (250 mL), teaspoons (5 mL) and tablespoons
(20 mL)? These beasts are also called Australian standard
cups/teaspoons/tablespoons, so a negative answer wouldn't surprise me.
> I guess it is a matter of perception. Those of us who have a
> background in science know that "deci-" is not rare at all and
> certainly is attached to other units: decigram, deciliter, and
> decimeter. Likewise with "hect(o)-": hectogram, hectoliter, and
Well, perhaps that's common in science, but in Oz from the everyday
measurements are metric and it's not done, so it's rare :) 'Rare' is,
of course, a relative term. I doubt most people here would know what a
hectolitre was if it jumped up and bit 'em.
But while on the subject of measurements, what're they in your(pl)
conlangs? I don't have any conlangs in the metric era yet, but does
anyone know what the pre-metric German and Danish measurements were?
would help in usurping them for my purposes.