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Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures

Rowan 13 Sep 07 - 06:37 PM
Liz the Squeak 13 Sep 07 - 06:40 PM
Rowan 13 Sep 07 - 06:50 PM
Doug Chadwick 13 Sep 07 - 06:57 PM
Declan 13 Sep 07 - 07:22 PM
GUEST,Nicholas Waller 13 Sep 07 - 07:30 PM
Bonecruncher 13 Sep 07 - 07:58 PM
Rowan 13 Sep 07 - 08:00 PM
Joe Offer 13 Sep 07 - 08:08 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Sep 07 - 08:13 PM
Declan 13 Sep 07 - 08:15 PM
Rowan 13 Sep 07 - 08:34 PM
The Sandman 13 Sep 07 - 08:44 PM
Declan 13 Sep 07 - 08:46 PM
Rowan 13 Sep 07 - 08:56 PM
Doug Chadwick 13 Sep 07 - 09:20 PM
dick greenhaus 13 Sep 07 - 09:52 PM
Rowan 13 Sep 07 - 11:39 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 Sep 07 - 12:14 AM
Rowan 14 Sep 07 - 01:15 AM
dick greenhaus 14 Sep 07 - 01:20 AM
Declan 14 Sep 07 - 03:13 AM
Santa 14 Sep 07 - 06:24 AM
GUEST, Sminky 14 Sep 07 - 06:53 AM
Richard Bridge 14 Sep 07 - 07:02 AM
GUEST,HughM 14 Sep 07 - 08:15 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 Sep 07 - 04:27 PM
Rowan 14 Sep 07 - 10:54 PM
JennieG 15 Sep 07 - 01:39 AM
GUEST,HughM 17 Sep 07 - 08:05 AM
GUEST,strad 17 Sep 07 - 09:43 AM
Snuffy 17 Sep 07 - 06:56 PM
Uncle_DaveO 17 Sep 07 - 08:32 PM
Anglo 18 Sep 07 - 02:54 AM
Rowan 18 Sep 07 - 06:06 PM
Herga Kitty 18 Sep 07 - 06:20 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Sep 07 - 06:21 PM
Anglo 19 Sep 07 - 02:44 AM
Rowan 20 Sep 07 - 07:03 PM
Gurney 20 Sep 07 - 07:28 PM
Celtaddict 20 Sep 07 - 10:44 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Sep 07 - 03:48 AM
fiddler 21 Sep 07 - 04:08 AM
Grab 21 Sep 07 - 08:07 AM
Rowan 21 Sep 07 - 06:54 PM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Sep 07 - 09:27 PM
Rowan 22 Sep 07 - 06:41 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Sep 07 - 07:05 PM
Rowan 22 Sep 07 - 09:40 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Sep 07 - 11:00 PM
Rowan 22 Sep 07 - 11:37 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 23 Sep 07 - 01:06 AM
Doug Chadwick 23 Sep 07 - 05:47 AM
Bert 23 Sep 07 - 11:12 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Sep 07 - 01:02 PM
GUEST,Young Buchan 23 Sep 07 - 02:40 PM
Nigel Parsons 23 Sep 07 - 03:03 PM
Grab 23 Sep 07 - 04:02 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 23 Sep 07 - 04:08 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Rowan
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 06:37 PM

There's a thread in the BS ("Below the line") debating people's experiences with conversion (or non-conversion) to SI measures from the Imperial system, as it was once known. Without wishing to bring the merits or nonmerits of such conversions 'above the line' it occurred to me that there were many expressions we all use that derive their power from the older systems and that appear to have no replacements using SI units. There may be others that have appeared in SI units that had no direct equivalents in Imperial measures, although none yet come to mind.

To start off, a couple that have no SI equivalent include

"A country mile" which, in Oz, still means 'a distance known to the speaker that has relevance to the listener but for which there is no "real" value"

and

"Give him an inch and he'll take a mile", most often used (in my experience) by young women when dealing with young men with exploratory and amatory intent.

I'm sure there are many others I once knew and still more that I've never heard. but that 'catters have in their repertoire.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 06:40 PM

Half a league, half a league on - wouldn't be quite so evocotave if it were 2.75 kilometres, 2.75 kilometres on...

LTS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Rowan
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 06:50 PM

Quite, Liz. Spot on.

And "Doing the ton" when I was a lad meant driving at 100 mph, which was regarded as a rite of passage by many and was terminal for quite a few. 100 kph is the routine rural speed limit in Oz so doesn't have quite the same cachet (or attract the same expression) and 160 kph doesn't exactly roll of the tongue either.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 06:57 PM

There was a crooked man
Who walked a crooked 1.61 kilometers
He found a crooked 2 and 1/2 new pence
Upon a crooked style


DC


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Declan
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 07:22 PM

A friend of mine and I like to meet for a 578 on occasion (or is it a 587)?

There was a radio presenter in Ireland called Miles Furlong whose entire name was ruled obsolete by an EU Directive a few years back.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI meas
From: GUEST,Nicholas Waller
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 07:30 PM

Tommy Steele in "Half a Two and A Half New Pence"

When I was about nine I went to buy an Airfix model. However, models were 2/3 then; I thought I had a half a crown (2/6) but I only had a florin (2/-). That's OK, said the owner, you can give me the thruppence (3d) next time you come in. Then my family went abroad for 10 months. When I came back to Blighty I went to the model shop and gave the man his thruppence. He'd forgotten about it all by then, but recognising an attempt at honesty rewarded me with a couple of tubes of modelling glue worth a tanner (6d).

Let's see, in modern parlance: I went to buy a 11 and 1/4p model, but I only had 10p when I thought I had 12 and 1/2p. That's OK, bring me the extra 1 and 1/4p next time....etc etc.

No, tell it to the kids today and they won't believe you. No-one hands two tubes of glue to a nine-year-old these days.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Bonecruncher
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 07:58 PM

We seem to have lost the "tuppence" and "threppence" from the coinage, they having been replaced by the "pee" and the totally illogical and grammatically incorrect "one pence" when "pence" in the plural of "penny".
The "bob", for a shilling, saw it's demise with the coin, as did the florin (incidentally, Britain's first attempt at decimalisation in 1840).
A "Devon Mile" still exists, where, particlarly in North Devon one mile on the map is about one and a half miles by road, due to the contours.

Colyn.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Rowan
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 08:00 PM

Declan,
As one o' them furriners (or "colonials") I take it you're referring to a "a pint". In Oz there weren't many pints drunk in a pub; instead they had
pony
glass
middy
schooner
etc, all referring to different sizes (in fluid ounces) and differently applied to the same sizes in different states. They still are referred to in these days of SI but contain metric volumes instead.

Nicholas,
We too lost our ha'penny (ha'pennorth, if dealing with value)
penny (ditto)
tuppence
thruppence (for polite ladies) and trey (for us hoi polloi)
zac (although the five cent coin was the equivalent in value and size)
deena (ditto for 10 cent coin), "bob" and the boy scout "Bob a job Week"
florin (although that term wasn't used much), "two bob" and it's derisive use "not worth two bob"
half a crown hadn't been in common use for a while anyway
"Bent as a three bob note"; there never had been such a thing
crown (ditto for half a crown), often earlier called a "dollar" as a result of American troops
ten bob, half a quid (became a dollar)
quid (leading to loss of "not the full quid" meaning "two bricks short of a wall) etc)
guinea (thank goodness)

The song "Five and a zac" became a museum piece when dismal guernsey came in.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 08:08 PM

I'm allergic to acronyms. What does SI stand for?
Special Intelligence?

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 08:13 PM

Country mile used in the U. S. and Canada as well.

What was that song about a bushel and a peck?
16 ton of No. Nine coal?
Her earnings were ten bob a week when she was on full time (line from "Bonny Wee Lass" version.
Full six fathom
And miles to go before I sleep-
In a little grave just six by three-
Acres of clams-
Camptown race track 5 miles long- oh doo dah day!
In the below the belt thread, baker's dozen was mentioned, as well as the gross (144).

I'll let someone else do the conversions.
I am afraid I have expanded to lines in songs as well as expressions.

A big horse- over 16 hands


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Declan
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 08:15 PM

SI (System Internationale?, I think from the French) is a standardised version of metris units used in science for the last 30 years at least. Generally speaking they are based on the Metric system used in Europe rather than the Imperial Measures which were in use in Britain and her various colonies until the middle of the last century.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Rowan
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 08:34 PM

The song I mentioned above has its title listed in a posting from Joe Offer some years ago. Here's the words as I learned (and sing) them. Manifold might have a source listed in the Penguin book that Joe refers to but I don't have it to hand.

Five and a zac

I've been a few miles and I've crossed a few stiles,
I've been 'round the world and then back;
but at one place I struck, between here and Hazebruck,
they stung me for five and a zac!

Oh the time keeper there, with his sanctified air,
was a Salvation Army lance jack;
on his cornet he'd bleat as he stood in the street,
and he stung me for five and a zac!

May that time keeper stand in his Aunt Sally band
and blow till his eyeballs turn black!
May each note on his cornet turn into a hornet
and sting him for five and a zac!

When my time comes I'll go to the hot place below
and I never intend to come back!
On my tombstone you'll find these words underlined,
"They stung me for five and a zac!"

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 08:44 PM

Dick Miles becomes Richard Kilometres.
sixpence , short of a shilling ,meaning someone with something missing in their brain department,is not the same when described as two anda half p short of five p.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Declan
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 08:46 PM

Rowan,

Yes I was talking about a pint. The correct SI equivalent is 0.568 litres. I would have been able to quote this number from memory if I hadn't had too many of said units earlier tonight.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Rowan
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 08:56 PM

When an Oz summer was giving various parts temperatures over 100 hundred degrees Fahrenheit it was described as "over the century"; "over the 37.8" doesn't quite cut it. Even "40 in the shade" or "40 in the waterbag" can't quite drive the heat home as well.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 09:20 PM

or even

..... crooked 1.61 kiliometres
...........................
..... crooked stile


Hey, it's poetry. What's a little spelling between friends.

DC


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI meas
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 09:52 PM

Declan-
Here in the benighted colonies, a pint = 0.473 liter (do they have Imperial litres, too?)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Rowan
Date: 13 Sep 07 - 11:39 PM

Doug,
I quite liked your "crooked style".

Dick,
In various benighted colonies the litre is the only measure that can 'instantly' be interpreted, because the American distaste for things Imperial meant that their version of the gallon was different to the version common elsewhere.

The folklore at Mawson included (when I was there) asking the rhetorical, when doing various tiresome but essential tasks,

"What did you do in Antarctica, Daddy?"
to which the response was
"Rolled 44s, child."

Coming from Oz, many of our supplies were contained in "44 gallon drums" (as measured Imperially) but which (I gather) our American friends described as "55 gallon drums". Calling them "200s" (or "205s" if they'd been filled generously) never quite made it into the lexicon. They still "roll 44s".

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 12:14 AM

I'm afraid they do.
My Canadian tables show that 1 quart = 1.14 litres (note spelling), thus a pint = 0.570 litres.

Which only goes to show that one can get drunker quicker in Imperial than American measure.

More digression-
I noted on my last cruise that knots were used for speed (a Dutch line). My Canadian table shows one knot (one nautical mile) equals 1.15266 statute miles.
Since 1959, officially in the U. S., a nautical mile = 6076.115 feet or 1852 meters (Webster's Collegiate Dictionary).
Now if one multiplies 1.15266 by 5280 (feet in a mile) that = 6086.0448 feet. Don't quite equal out, eh?
There also is an entry that a nautical mile is a British unit = to 6080 feet (1853.2 meters).
As the song says, "let's call the whole thing off."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Rowan
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 01:15 AM

A colloquialism with a unit from SI that has (since "metrication") made it into the Oz vernacular is the "click". At least that's how it sounds when spoken and I've not yet seen it written out.

As in "Really, officer? I was sure I was doing only 60 clicks" (meaning "I was at the 60 kph speed limit.")
or
"It's only 20 clicks out of town" (meaning "It's only 20 kays away.")

I haven't yet come across any other such expressions.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI meas
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 01:20 AM

Well, in the drug culture they deal in "keys"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Declan
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 03:13 AM

The main reason that the SI units were adopted as a scientific standard was that they were based on very precise definitions so that crucial measurements could be kept consistent wherever in the world the relevant scientist was. So it is not the litre (however you spell it) which varies, but the pint in this instance.

I must say that if someone offered me a pint that was less than half a litre I'd feel a bit short changed. I'm surprised that some local entrepreneur has not started trying to sell beer or other liquids in US pints to save on costs.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Santa
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 06:24 AM

The reason for SI is not because they were based on very precise definition: though indeed they are. It would have been possible to use equally precise definitions for Imperial units. The reason SI was adopted was because it had a totally consistent set of units that could readily be manipulated without the need for horrible constants as conversion factors.

Yes, some of these sayings will be lost, but I'm sure that equivalents exist in other countries that have used metric for years. Comments like 80 degsF - Phew whatta scorcher! will simply be replaced by the nearest equivalent round number: no-one will convert to the nearest precise equivalent because who actually notices whether it is 79.2 or 81.3?

However, one poster above spoke of leagues - they aren't in the Imperial system anyway. How many people know what they actually mean in distance? Not in the folk world - we can't even agree on how many leagues from Ushant to Scilly! Yet we all appreciate the saying, and so we will with many of the above when they no longer realte to contemporary practice, because we can get the meaning from context.

I'm told that German shoppers still buy some food by the pfund - which is a colloquial term for the half-kilo. Not a precise conversion - but who cares?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 06:53 AM

227gm of 0.834p rice,
227gm of treacle.
That's the way the money goes
Pop goes the weasel


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 07:02 AM

Ah well, in for 0.416666667p, in for 0.454kg.

They really make you work for your 53.75p


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: GUEST,HughM
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 08:15 AM

"I mind stottin' (tottering) along the wall when I have had a gill" - Johny Handle. When stottin' along the wall he may have been merely inching forward. It was good job the landlord couldn't get a quart into a pint pot!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 04:27 PM

Clicks for kph used in Canada also.

A league can vary from 2.4 to 4.6 statute miles (OED). Depended on country, time period, etc. Probably other distances as well.
The Oxford Dictionary says that "Although the league appears never to have been an English measure, leuca occurs somewhat frequently in Anglo-Latin law-books ---; it is disputed whether in these works it means one mile or two."
"A marine league is 3 nautical miles or 3041 fathoms." OED

I have a Scottish pewter jug called a tappet hen- My Sc. glossary calls it a quart measure. Can't find it in OED. Burns mentioned it in a poem.

I remember a country song in which the 'back forty' is mentioned (the back 40 acres of a quarter section). And one mentioning a 'section line.'


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Rowan
Date: 14 Sep 07 - 10:54 PM

When I checked, last night, I found I'd forgotten a verse (#3) from "Five and a Zack", which Manifold describes as
"From the singing of Keith Waller, North Stradbroke Island, Moreton Bay. He learnt it in the 1920s in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area." Moreton Bay is in Queensland and the MIA is in the Riverina of southern NSW.

The verse is
The job's at an end, I'm camped in the bend,
and I hate the whole duck-shoving pack.
I'ts not that I'm broke, or in need of a smoke
but they stung me for five and a zack.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: JennieG
Date: 15 Sep 07 - 01:39 AM

To say nothing of the quantities in my old (and I do mean old) recipe books - not much call for a gill of milk these days.

I love you a bushel and a peck,
A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.....

Doesn't that song also mention gallons? I disremember.

When I visit the town where I grew up I still think of the distances in miles - for anywhere else I can do kms. Tamworth to Armidale = 72 miles.

Cheers
JennieG


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: GUEST,HughM
Date: 17 Sep 07 - 08:05 AM

What I should have added before is that if someone has had a gill too many and stumbles into someone only pint-sized, causing injury, then that person's lawyers will probably want their pound of flesh. Those of you with an ounce (or even a grain) of sense will appreciate the benefit of staying at home and having a dram there.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: GUEST,strad
Date: 17 Sep 07 - 09:43 AM

Should I mention the chorus to The Barley Mow before someone else does? Sod it, I will anyway. How this would be in SI I hate to think.
Here's good luck to the:-
barrel
half barrel
firkin
half firkin
keg
half keg
gallon
half gallon
quart pot
pint pot
half a pint
gill pot
half a gill
quarter gill
nipperkin

That's what I used to sing.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Snuffy
Date: 17 Sep 07 - 06:56 PM

and the brown bowl?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI meas
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 17 Sep 07 - 08:32 PM

Snuffy, I don't think that "bowl" has been superseded by SI.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Anglo
Date: 18 Sep 07 - 02:54 AM

Now maple were Sam's mon-o-po-ly,
That means, 'twere all his to cut,
And nobody else hadn't got none
So he asked Noah, Three-ha'pence a foot.

A ha'penny too much, replied Noah,
Penny a foot's more the mark,
A penny a foot and when rain comes
I'll give you a ride in my ark.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Rowan
Date: 18 Sep 07 - 06:06 PM

Brilliant! To both Hugh and Anglo, who reminded me of
"A penny for your thoughts."

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 18 Sep 07 - 06:20 PM

Full fathom five thy father lies (would that be in a brown bowl?)

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI meas
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Sep 07 - 06:21 PM

Anyone else say "Tupp'ny bit"?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Anglo
Date: 19 Sep 07 - 02:44 AM

Err, would that be half a groat?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Rowan
Date: 20 Sep 07 - 07:03 PM

When singing Robin Hood and the three squires, with Pageant, there was usually some byplay about giving change of half a groat; thanks for reminding me, Anglo.

Yesterday I was part of a discussion about vehicles for fieldwork and the term "mileage" was used, in the sense of fuel consumption. "Kilometrage" hasn't yet entered the Oz vocabulary, thank goodness, but there is no equivalent to "mileage" and youngsters don't know what it means.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Gurney
Date: 20 Sep 07 - 07:28 PM

Anglo, wasn't that "I'll give thee a ride..."?

Which reminded me that thee and thou have already been superceded.
Shame about the thou, though. Another step back from intimacy. And the meaning of 'intimacy' has changed, too.
As someone pointed out on this site, thou thou's them as thou's thee, lad.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI meas
From: Celtaddict
Date: 20 Sep 07 - 10:44 PM

I think it is 'Thee thous them as thous thee' but people seem to wax ungrammatical with thee and thou. (The latent English teacher in me.)
Q, the 'section line' was in effect in areas of the US being opened for settling/farming; roads were laid out in a one-mile grid. I grew up with section lines, as Oklahoma was only opened to settlement in the late 19th century. (Before that, it was by treaty to belong to the native tribes 'for as long as the grass shall grow and the rivers run' which turned out to be fifty years.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Sep 07 - 03:48 AM

One mile section lines sometimes reserved for right-of-way in farmed regions of Alberta.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: fiddler
Date: 21 Sep 07 - 04:08 AM

When dancing out at a pub recently we had a shilling playing with us 4 x thrupenny bits - or concertinas even.

I got some very funny looks and some knowing smiles when I suggested golly we have a shilling playing!

Guess the age ranges of each?

Andy


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Grab
Date: 21 Sep 07 - 08:07 AM

Even "40 in the shade" or "40 in the waterbag" can't quite drive the heat home as well.

Since I wouldn't have a clue about what the temperature is in Fahrenheit, 40 certainly *would* drive it home for me!

As for crazy conversions that break phrases, this is true in any system:-

Full 72-inches-es deep thy father lies...
Not quite the full 48 farthings...
And Winnie the Pooh lives in the 400 Rood Wood, a name which would trouble Dr Seuss!

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Rowan
Date: 21 Sep 07 - 06:54 PM

You've just reminded me, Graham, of the multitude of minor roads in Oz named
"One Chain Rd". And, while I have always known the length of a cricket pitch as "22 yards" (or even "1 chain") and the dimensions of a netball court as 100'x50', with 10' high goalposts, my daughters have to quote them in metres when passing their umpire theory tests. And the nearest an opponent could defend without inviting the "Obstruction" infringement was always 3'; now it's 0.9m and a bit more variably interpreted, 'coz nobody can find a 0.9 folding carpenter's rule to keep in their umpiring clobber

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI meas
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Sep 07 - 09:27 PM

Walking through a London market a couple of young men passed, and they were going on about about "buying an eighth", and I realised they were talking about dope. And it occurred to me that that's one area where decimalisation is likely to run into the sand.

I mean, the basic measure might be a gram rather than an ounce, but, as I understand it, the custom isn't to go in for trying to divide it by ten, but into more sensible fractions, like halves and quarters and eighths, that can be obtained by dividing in two.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Rowan
Date: 22 Sep 07 - 06:41 PM

The binary system strikes again, McGrath. And you've reminded me of another area, with considerable folklore, that has resisted SI terminology. Although metrication has been assiduously promulgated in Oz since the early 70s, and has been more or less de rigeur in scientific circles for longer (although I routinely gave conversions when writing up my researches), ask any mother how much her child weighed when born.

I'll bet a decent magnum of champoo that, unless the mother comes from a country where SI is supreme, almost every one will give the bub's birth weight in pounds and ounces Avoirdupois, even though the delivery suite staff will have measured it in kilograms. All the scales where my daughters were born had both scales but the folklore is all in lbs &oz. Still!

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI meas
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Sep 07 - 07:05 PM

What always surprises me is how Americans have dropped stones as a measure of weight, so they always talk about people's weights in pounds - and I get completely lost, since I never learnt my fourteen times table.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Rowan
Date: 22 Sep 07 - 09:40 PM

The penny hasn't dropped for me, on that, either.

The other "Imperial" measure that has resisted change in rural Oz is rainfall. Farmers will talk in inches and points when describing how much they need/got but everyone else uses SI for both precipitation and evapotranspiration rates. And although I'm comfortable with most forms/contexts of conversion between " & mm, I still have a bit of trouble in one. If I am observing landscape vegetation I can usually interpret its average rainfall in inches but I'm blowed if I can just conjure up the SI conversion. Ah well.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Sep 07 - 11:00 PM

".... Americans dropped stone as a unit of weight, ..."

This sent me to my books- dictionaries, quotations; and through my creaky memory. I don't ever remember hearing stone used as a unit of weight, or reading of the unit in American writing. And American folk songs- I have been collecting books on them- nothing.
I have been living in Canada for 50 years- never heard stone used as a weight although Wackipedia says it is used there (they once used shillings and pence, but dropped them about 1860).
I know Australians and New Zealanders use the stone, why has it disappeared (or is becoming lost) in Canada? Proximity to U. S.?
And in the U. S. and Canada, a hundredweight is 100 pounds.

The unit must have crossed the water, but what happened to it?

H. L. Mencken ("The American Language") calls the stone archaic, and notes that in England for beef on the hoof, a stone is eight pounds, not fourteen as it is for humans. I know it comes from the old 'sack' measure in England, but that doesn't help.

There probably are official dates of adoption on weights in U. S. and Canada but I haven't found them yet. This doesn't answer the question of popular use, when and why, however.

Any suggestions?

(N. b.- Type sizes, e. g. 14-point, etc., apparently vary in England and U. S., this is something else that SI doesn't deal with). And what about octavo, etc.?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Rowan
Date: 22 Sep 07 - 11:37 PM

G'day Q.
Just before reading your post I was looking at a whiteboard in an area used by an American colleague. High up in an out of the way bit is the following, highlighted and intended to be left there 'permanently";
A4: 11.67 " x 8.25"

The rest of us, having had to deal with A4 when metrication came in more than 30 years ago, now routinely use A4 (and even the others in the series, although A4 & A3 would 'cover' most users) and some even are familiar with B5 (the only commonly used one of the other series) and we swear under our breath at having to trawl through printer drivers and other computer settings to get rid of the "American Letter" and "American Legal" settings that are completely irrelevant to Oz. But you're right; no foolscap or quarto to be seen (although the book publishing trade still talks about octavo occasionally) and, who but a draughtsman remember the Whatman series?

BTW, those of us from Oz and old enough to be posting on "Now I'm 40" thread might still be able to think in terms of "stones" (14 lbs), cwt (112 lbs) and even tons (2400 lbs or 100 cwt), they've all gone out of conversational use. I haven't heard "stones" or "hundredweight" as a unit for at least 20 years and, while I hear "tons", it usually refers to Tonnes (1000 kg and 2200lbs, and not to be confused with "Short tons" which were 2000lbs). Various OH&S notions have reduced the weight of a cement bag (1 cwt, which I used to lump around as a labourer when a student) to something like (from memory) 40kg.

But, because I knew Americans still used Avoirdupois units for common weghts I'd always wondered about how/why they hadn't cottoned on to "stones".

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 01:06 AM

'Tis a mystery.

A4, etc. gets me too. Never have I seen that term here. The definition I found on Google says it is 216x297mm or 8 1/2 "x 11" (not 8.25"x11.67"- what is that)?
Does A4 differ between Australia and the U. S. and Canada? Going back to Google, I find it listed under European office supplies. Certainly one can't find 8.25"x11.67" paper in the normal stationery or computer supply store.

When I buy paper for my computer printer, I find it is always 8 1/2"x11" = 216x279mm. Or I can buy 'legal size' which is 8 1/2" x 14"

I normally use 20 lb. paper, which the package says is equal to 75g/square meter (I'll take their word for it).

I use 96 (TAPPI) brilliance normally- which in fine print the package says is 108 (ISO) in European measure. Hmmm, ISO- that appears on film packages I buy (400 ISO = 27 oh, my!! Now I am lost).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 05:47 AM

A0….A3, A4, …… etc. paper sizes all have a ratio of there short to long sides of 1: square root of 2. With this ratio, 2 sheets of portrait A4 placed side by side will fit exactly on a sheet of landscape A3, 2 sheets of A3 on A2 and so on. The ratio doesn't give nice clean whole numbers for side lengths, either in metric or imperial units, but the sizes are based on A0 having an area of 1 square metre.

For a fuller explanation see ISO paper sizes


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Bert
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 11:12 AM

When I was a I remember that some of the paper sizes were,

Crown
Foolscap
Elephant
Antiquarian (the largest)

We used to draw on double elephant mostly but used antiqarian if we nneded more room.

We made a paper dart out of an antiquarian sheet once and launched it down Gower Street out of out fourth floor window.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI meas
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 01:02 PM

How many people here know their own weight in kilos?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: GUEST,Young Buchan
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 02:40 PM

Three score and ten is right out of the window. Presumably Seven decasailors?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 03:03 PM

So, How far is it from Ushant to Scilly?

And, going back to the original post:
"Give him an inch and he'll take a mile" is a modern corruption of the earlier expression "Give him an inch and he'll take an ell". An 'ell' being a cloth measure of 1.25 yards or 45 inches.

CHEERS
Nigel


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Grab
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 04:02 PM

As far as the "stone" being archaic: hell, the *pound* is archaic! I have to do the same as McGrath and run a bit of mental arithmetic if I want to work it out. My weight in pounds is OK with multiplication, but translating from US weight is always harder because division ain't so easy.

I forgot to mention this before. The Register defines its own standard units. Warning: do not drink and read, as it may cause you to snort beverage out of your nose...

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Expressions lost/gained with SI measures
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 04:08 PM

ISO paper sizes- what will they think of next? Probably be a long time before paper in those sizes are sold generally here.


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