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Imperial or Metric?
  • I've just had to go through my entire WIP rationalising the measurements I've written, having finally decided on using Imperial. Such phrases as 'the water rose to within centimetres of their feet' were far too clunky - 'inches' felt better. So then metres had to become yards, a six metre-tall tree became, after frantic workings-out, twenty feet, and so on.
    I suppose you youngsters who went through school in metric will laugh, or do we all face the same dilemma?
  • Oh dear!
  • Since you are writing it why did you have to do workings out? Why not just decide how tall the tree was in feet?
  • It is a dilemma. I believe the measurements should align with the country in which the book is published. Britain, of course, poses the greatest problem with our mixture of both. We put 10 litres of petrol in our car, and then travel 10 miles home. We stop at Tesco and buy 200 grams of biscuits, and then at McDonald's to scoff a Quarter Pounder. (will they EVER name it the 113 grammer?) And then we get home for a quote on a 6ft fence along the side boundary of 18.2 metres.

    So Lizy, what you do is this: 'the water rose to within a smidgen of their feet'; 'the tree was tall, damn tall';.

    at the end of all that, you can choose to publish in 176 X 250 mm or 6.93 × 9.84 inches.

    Don't worry about the thanks - always pleased to help!! ;))
    Thanked by 1Lizy
  • LizyLizy
    Liz said:

    Since you are writing it why did you have to do workings out? Why not just decide how tall the tree was in feet?

    Because when I first wrote it I was doing what PET describes - thinking in both - but now I'm rewriting I see masses of inconsistencies. They bothered me, so I rationalised them.

    PET - if I describe a tree as tall, but it then turns out to be two feet too short for its required function, I am still faced with stating that fact somehow.

    I do create some weird dilemmas for myself - perhaps that's what keeps my brain functioning like that of a youngster.

  • "Since you are writing it why did you have to do workings out? Why not just decide how tall the tree was in feet?"

    I meant why bother with working out exactly, NOW? Can't you just roughly gauge 20 feet more or less, rather than gong to mathematical lengths?
  • I still have my saw from Wednesday, Lizy. Might that help?
    Thanked by 1Lizy
  • And I have just been filling holes in the wall. Just shout if I can fill anything for you.
  • LizyLizy

    I still have my saw from Wednesday, Lizy. Might that help?

    Too SHIORT, Baggy, but thanks for the offer :) TN could be more use - how are you at building bridges over a river that's eroded by several feet (that's FEET) since last year, TN?

    Liz - 'roughly' doesn't work for me, I would only have to search out the passage later and correct it, so I'd rather get it right now.

    For Heaven's sake - am I the only one who does this?
    *wonders whether she is OCD or paranoid or both*

  • There are phrases that we still use in imperial. 'I wouldn't touch that with a ten-foot barge pole', for instance, is just a well-used colloquialism and could be left as is.
    'Give him an inch and he'll take a mile' - doesn't translate to metric. We adopt measurements but not the colloquialisms that go with them in other languages.

    Wood dimensions are still measured in inches but length in metric - a piece of two-by-four 2 metres long.
    'He came within an inch of falling to his death' - would you say 'He came within two centimetres of falling to his death'?
    The French measure TV screens and computer monitors in inches - 'pouces'.
    Miss Marple wouldn't call her taxi driver Centimetre.

    Anyway, post-Brexit, imperial could be back in fashion, and you'll be ahead of your time!

    I still have a metric and imperial tape-measure in my handbag, because I'm too tight to replace it, and I still have to take the hems of trousers up in round inches. What can I say - I have imperial legs.

    Thanked by 1Lizy
  • I think I'd be taller in metric...
  • After fifteen years in Tenerife I know my weight in metric - I'm actually scared to convert it in case it sounds heavier, and I still think of my shoe size as 40.

    So when writing, I get muddled. My spelling's gone off as well - there are many Spanish words that are similar to English but they rarely use double letters, so now I'm confused about that too. I used to be 100% accurate, always.

    Most discombobulating.
  • LizLiz
    You'll have to use a thesaurus to look up words that mean the same without double letters. Of course it would probably be as time consuming as using the dictionary... what I do is open a tab on Chrome and type the word into the address bar - you will get a list of possible addresses all using the correct spelling. Takes seconds.
  • I have the spellcheck on my laptop set to English UK so that helps.
  • pongo
    Keeping up to date I built a framework wall to accommodate metric sheathing
    as here in New Zealand we are all metric. When I bought the sheets of lining they had been made in Australia so were made imperial so nothing fitted.

    I'm off to spend a penny but cannot even do that these days.
  • I'd scrap the measurements altogether TBH, unless they're extremely relevant.

    'the water rose to within centimetres of their feet' - 2cm? 171cm? 89822cm?

    'a six metre-tall tree' - why six metres? Six metres exactly? Is the reader going to know if 6m if tall for that kind of tree or are you pointing out the fact it's a midget by comparison to it's siblings?

    As strange as it sounds, being specific with dimensions leaves too much up to guesswork. I'd prefer to hear about the tree looming over someone or water droplets bouncing from the surface of the sea and wetting their shoes - distances just seems so...practical. I am not a practical man :P
  • I agree with that. If something is very precise i presume there's a reason for it and wonder why, removing my brain from the story. If there is a reason, at that point you could mention that if only the tree had been lower it wouldn't have happened or something.
  • br and Liz - if I was simply referring to the height of a tree I would do as you say and describe it in more picturesque terms.

    These particular trees have to be a certain length to create a bridge, and the measurement matters.
  • In terms of measurements, I am ambidextrous. Weights though, I struggle with.
  • I also struggle with weight...*burp*
  • It's easier to lose a pound than a kilo.
  • I lose a few pounds whenever I buy lunch!
  • Mrs Bear
    It's faster to travel by kilometres than miles.