Motivate to Metric

Good to hear that Ireland has removed all the silly imperial roadsigns spouting stuff like ‘miles per hour’ speed limits and has properly replaced them with metric signs showing ‘kilometres per hour’.
So, whatever happened to our move in the UK to metric measurements? 
We were slowly phasing out that old fashioned confusing imperial rubbish, but it seems to have come to a screaming halt. For a while on TV, news reporters would carefully make sure they spoke in modern measurements “I’m standing just 50 metres from where…” and all was right with the world.
But, the confusing imperial system is slipping back in.  Badly. 
When I lived in London, ‘down me local market’ (you had to speak like that) things were again being sold in “payands” weight, and on TV there seems to be a conscious effort to go back to the old fashioned ways too. “I’m standing just 50 yards from where…” keeps happening.
Look.  We no longer have people talking about the price of a gallon of petrol, but correctly, people think in price per litre. This is because we swapped over to one system and stopped bothering with the old one. Equally, when I see something that costs 27p I don’t sit there with a calculator trying to find out that it’s the equivalent of 5 shillings and 8 old pennies and a farthing. Neither do I try to express it in groats. I just think, feel and know what 27p is, buys, and looks like. No doubt if we were still running dual currency in the UK we’d all be constantly confused with the conversions back and forth and back again.
This is why things are so confused generally. We should get rid of all forms of old fashioned imperial measurement and then just think, breath and believe in metric. Ireland seems to be leading the way in so many things, where once we looked on them as some pathetic simple potato loving bums that envied the UK, it’s actually time for the rolls to reverse.
All the time people indulge the old system alongside the metric system, we will never teach people to think in kilometres per hour, or kilograms when they weigh themselves. It’s time to take action!

8 comments

  1. Disagree with removing non metric signs, if people are used to one system it does no harm to leave references to the old one there. Many still refer to 'miles per gallon' even though we've been forced into purchasing litres for many years. And I still like a pint in the pub, not 0.568 litres.

    Next they'll be suggesting that they remove English language road signs in Wales!

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  2. @Geoff is that a US Gallon or a UK Gallon?

    I would contend that it does do harm to keep referencing more than one system. It adds confusion and considerable expense. If somebody says “15 degrees” are they meaning Celsius or Fahrenheit? If you speak of 30 pence do you really mean “two-and-sixpence”? Indeed, it can lead to situations where lives are at risk because it's not clear which measurement is being used, or it's assumed one is meant when it isn't.

    It just makes sense to refer to one system, whichever that may be, but the metric system seems the easiest as it's dead easy to learn with no obscure rules about how many of one unit make another.

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  3. Agree entirely. It's bizarre that the UK persists in this twilight zone where produce is sold in kilos, the temperature is (usually) celsius, petrol is litres, yet roadworks extend for 1000 yards, beer comes in pints, milk is sometimes pints and sometimes litres…
    No wonder you're all confused.
    Time to sort this out once and for all. BTW – I wouldn't bother joining the Euro though. Not just yet 😉

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  4. “If people are used to one system it does no harm to leave references to the old one there.”

    @Geoff, leaving parallel references to the old system just because people are used to it completely defeats the purpose of moving to a new one.

    Imagine if Facebook kept up a parallel version of its original primitive interface online forever just because people were used to it; nobody would ever have reason to get used to the new system because it would be easier to continue with the old one they were used to, and the site would be stuck in time forever, never being able to improve or upgrade.

    Instead, Facebook simply upgrade their interface then steel themselves for the vociferous yet short-lived grumbling of their users while they re-adjust. Users react with shock, set up “bring back the old Facebook” groups en masse, threaten to leave and shout at Facebook to restore the interface they're used to, then they calm down, stop complaining and make the adjustment without issue. When they look back, they wonder what all the fuss was about.

    If we're ever going to get people thinking metric, we need to remove the imperial crutch completely and just go metric.

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  5. “I still like a pint in the pub, not 0.568 litres.”

    @Geoff: which is more important, the exact size of the container or the beer inside it?

    A pint is just an (outdated) arbitrary fixed quantity and has no bearing on the taste of the beer. The same beer is just as enjoyable when drunk from a 568 ml glass as when drunk from a 500 ml can or bottle you buy from the supermarket.

    There would be nothing wrong with calling a 500 ml glass a “pint” if it meant you could still use the word when ordering a large beer at the bar. You would get pretty much the same amount of beer, it would taste no different, and you would be using the same vocabulary. However, you would gain the ability to easily compare the price per litre of any one brand of beer in your pub against the price per litre of the same brand in a local shop to make sure you're not being ripped off.

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  6. It appears to date back to Sir Geoffrey Howe back pedalling the metrication 30 odd years ago.

    imperial is talked about in schools, incredibly

    propose stop its use in schools, change every road sign, and have the media used metric including references to distances

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