Proposal: Language code "de-DE-trad"

Martin Duerst
Thu, 14 Feb 2002 14:39:25 +0900

At 12:32 02/02/13 -0800, Mark Crispin wrote:

>Don't be angry.  Governments, and their unilateral actions, are the enemy.
>Not people.

Well, yes and no. In most countries, women were given the right
to vote by parliament, not by a popular vote. In Switzerland,
popular vote was used, and it took considerably longer to get
it approved.

>This isn't well known in Europe, but the US government officially metrified
>the US in 1866.  That's right, 146 years ago.  Entire generations of American
>schoolchildren have been indoctrinated about how wonderful metric is, but it
>hasn't changed the fact that the American people are opposed to metrification
>and will not allow it to happen.

I have yet to meet an American who is actually opposed to the metric
system. (I'm sure there must be some somewhere.) My impression is that
it's much more an issue of lazyness.

And in a very basic sense, the US is indeed metrified. The definition of
inch is 2.54 cm (always wondered why they didn't make that 2.5cm, but
then again with the /16 divisions, it wouldn't have helped that much).
Before the metrification, it was 2.54 and something odd. So the goverment
did the metrification, and kept the inch as a cover to not let people
notice :-).

>Not that metric confuses us: when we see a bolt that looks like a 5/16, but is
>too big for the wrench, yet is sloppy with a 3/8 wrench, we know perfectly
>well that it's an 8mm and we get out our metric tools.  We know that when
>we're in Canada, a 100 km/h speed limit sign means 60 MPH, a 40 km/h sign
>means 25 MPH, etc.

Yes, and when you buy a package of food, it tells you how many
milligrams of this or that ingredient are in a serving. (I always wondered
what system the unit 'serving' was in, imperial or metric :-)
And water bottles are sold as 1.5 liters or 2 liters, because it would be
too expensive to make them in different sizes for different parts of
the world, and pints or gallons would be unacceptable (and maybe even
against the law in certain cases) in metric countries.

On the other hand, sadly enough we have 12 inch screens for notebooks,
and 1200/inch resolution printers in Europe and Japan.

>The point being that governments can't get away with doing something like this
>in a democracy unless the people let them.  I think that it's quite important
>to this discussion to understand if this new orthography is going to succeed,
>or if the people of the affected nations are going to render it into an
>impotent joke (much like the metrification of the US).

For me, the inconsistent mixture of units used in the US is a joke.
I'm always looking out for new little details when traveling to the US.
One area where I have seen quite a bit of improvement is temperature.
Thermostats in many hotels now allow to switch between C and F.
And announcement in US airlines, at least on international flights,
now mention both. A few years ago, I regularly had to call the flight
attendant to ask what the temperature that the pilot announced was
supposed to mean.

With most other countries than the US now firmly switched to the
metric system, my personal hope is that that will create enough
influence on the US to turn them around in practice.

Regards,    Martin.