Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Weights & Measures

We don't use the word "stones" when discussing a person's weight in the USA. We limit ourselves to pounds and ounces, and I doubt if many children learn that fourteen pounds of weight is known in Britain as "one stone". When it comes to coinage, I learned as a child to deal with farthings, shillings, pence, florins, and half-crowns. [We did not use "crowns" and it always seemed somewhat redundant to have two shillings (a florin), as well as two shillings and six pence (a half-crown).] At a higher level, there was the, "guinea" mainly used at expensive stores, being one pound, one shilling. I used to think that the decimal system, in use in most other civilized countries, was simpler and superior, eliminating the need for many troublesome mathematical calculations. Since my childhood, the British have reformed their monetary system, and also adopted the decimal system for currency. Meantime, why are we still talking about inches, feet, yards, and miles in this country? The world uses centimeters, meters, and kilometers for distances, although it seems to have rejected decimeters. We still use quarts and pints for liquid, rather than liters. I can only suppose that our politicians are afraid to make changes to our measurements, as they would not always be very popular! We measure gasoline in gallons, but we don't use the same "gallon" as the British, who cling to the outdated term "imperial gallon", despite having long ago lost an empire.

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