[Ads-l] The whole 8.2 meters

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Wed Feb 18 13:07:03 UTC 2015

Since moving to Canada, which is officially metric, I've noticed that for short lengths people will commonly use inches and feet, but kilometers for long distances instead of miles. So Environment Canada may predict "five centimetres"  of snow, but people will talk about "a couple inches." But Ottawa is always 450 kilometres from Toronto, never 280 miles.

The Canadian Football League still measures everything in yards. So I don't think the NFL is likely to change any time soon.

A similar pattern is seen in weights. People weigh themselves in pounds. I go to the vet and my dog is weighed in at 22 kilograms, but in the pet store I buy the bag of kibble intended for dogs "22 to 55 lbs." The pet store owner once asked me large my dog was, and I responded "22 kilos" and got a blank stare back until I said "50 pounds." In the produce and meat section of the supermarket, fresh meat and vegetables are often sold by the pound, but all packaged food is marked in grams. (The scales in the produce section of the store I frequent are metric, although all the pricing is by the pound.)

Draft beer is still sold by the pint, but whether it's an imperial or American pint varies with the establishment, and a "pinte de bière" is something else entirely, equivalent to the imperial quart (1.136 litres).

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Eric Nielsen
Sent: Wednesday, February 18, 2015 4:30 AM
Subject: The whole 8.2 meters

Yesterday, my seven-year old roommate was asking where she could plug in one of her many electronic devices. When I asked how close she needed to be to the outlet, she replied, "Oh, about a meter."

In both of my current jobs I am involved with young people: A public library and a Safe Home for abused and neglected children. I have heard all kinds of language from kids, but, until now, I had not heard any of them use the metric system so fluently. Well, perhaps a "kilometer" here or there. Or grams and kilos from the drug savvy.

My roommate said that they will learn about inches, miles, etc.at a later date--and cursive next year.
Will one have to go the whole 9.1 meters for a first down in football?


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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