Talk:Shaku (unit)

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I'm adding a link to Japanese unit. Jimp 23Oct05

Metre vs. meter[edit]

I didn't expect to this to be much of an issue but rather than revert Gene's edit again, I'll pose the question here: Why not spell metre in this article in a more widely used form? i.e. as metre rather than the predominantly USA spelling of meter

Gene, I appreciate your link to the Manual of Style on National varieties of English, and I'm sorry if I'm being dense here but I fail to see anything there that would suggest an American English spelling is the recommended form for an English article on a Japanese unit of measure.

Also please note the spelling of the title of the Wikipedia article on the unit of measure itself. On that note, I'll suggest that we simply abbreviate to m in this article. --Ds13 22:43, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

I'm the one who changed it to "metre". I figured "Why go to all the trouble of writing '[[Metre|meters]]' when '[[metre]]s' would do?'" But I agree with Ds13, let's simply use "[[Metre|m]]" and whilst we're at it, why not reduce some of the repetition in the following?
Since 1891, the shaku has been defined to equal 10/33 meter 
(approximately 30.3 cm, or 11.93 inches), or 3.3 shaku to the meter.
How about this?
Since 1891, the shaku has been defined as 10/33 m (approximately 30.3 cm or 11.93 inches).
Jimp 25Oct05
The rules are quite simple; either American English or other varieties of English are acceptable; don't mess with them without good reason. If an article deals with something geographical or political dealing with a particular English-speaking country, that usually a pretty good reason to use that country's spellings, etc. But Japan isn't an English-speaking country; the field is wide-open. Don't be getting into needless edit wars.
Note that the spelling in a Wikipedia article title is never a relevant argument in making determinations of the national variety of English to use. Some of them go each way; some have flip-flopped over time (notably gasoline/petrol, which for a while even had both in the title). Gene Nygaard 13:34, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
Jimp, I don't agree with your repetition argument. Too many people just have too much difficulty dealing with common fractions. The realtionship "1 meter = 3.3 shaku" is the simplest way to express this definition exactly in a terminating decimal fraction, and in this case a simple, easy-to-remember one with only two digits. That needs to stay; I don't see any crying need to throw out any of the others, either. Gene Nygaard 13:38, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
For whatever it is worth, note also that the current reading of the MoS is
  • Spell out source units in text. Use digits and unit symbols for converted values and for measurements in tables. For example, "a pipe 100 millimetres (4 in) in diameter and 10 miles (16 km) long".
This isn't followed much in actual use, and I may bring it up for discussion as a standalone proposition on the talk page; I'm pretty sure it entered in a reworking of this whole section. Gene Nygaard 13:49, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
My approach is to use the most common spelling, assuming it won't cause confusion (which it wouldn't here), and I thought we could all agree that metre is the most common English spelling in the world for this unit. But I appreciate your clarification, Gene.
I take this to mean that if the article was first written using the word metre, you would have left it alone? But since you were the first to use the word in this article (I think), and you spelled it as meter, we'll just leave it at that. That's a reasonable approach, also.
I'm still a fan of abbreviating something as common as metre to m or kilometre to km, since the beauty of a hyperlinked encyclopedia is that if you don't understand a common abbreviation like m immediately, you can 1) hover your mouse over it for a brief explanation, or 2) click to get the fully story. --Ds13 19:27, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
You make a couple of fair points, Gene. Yes, you're right about Wiki's policy wrt spelling. And, yes, I guess not everybody will instantly realise that 33/10 shaku = 1 metre is the same as 3.3 shaku = 1 metre. Okay let's leave it how it is. Jimp 26Oct05

Merge to Japanese unit[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

On a different note. Would it be wise to merge this and Koku to Japanese unit?

Jimp 25Oct05

Discussion of both is combined at Talk:Japanese unit which is also the link in the mergeinto tag. Gene Nygaard 13:12, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Origin of measure[edit]

The English article currently states that the chi/shaku comes from "the average length between nodes on bamboo." But both the Chinese and Japanese Wikipedia entries say that the chi/shaku comes from the measure of a human forearm, with the former citing the Shuowen Jiezi. Is there a reference that supports the theory that the measure comes from bamboo? --ian (talk) 12:31, 2 June 2009 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was NO CONSENSUS to move at this time. If such consensus is later established, preferably by significantly more input, then please feel free to let me know, and we can bypass the whole RM bureaucracy. -GTBacchus(talk) 19:19, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

ShakuChi (length) — The unit came from China, Chi is given as the first name in the article, so logically the article should follow the Chinese name? antilivedT | C | G 01:52, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

  • Move. I agree with the above reasoning, and would prefer chi as well. Vmenkov (talk) 02:30, 7 September 2009 (UTC)
Of Vmenkov agrees with the move. For the entire life of the article until March 3, 2009, it was about shaku only. Then on March 28, 2009, Vmenkov completely undid over five years of of status quo with a highly slanted Chinese POV inserting chi into the lead and making it appear that it is the prominent sense. All POV are welcome, but I do not think that this move is justified. Google Books indicates much English usage for shaku, while almost none for chi. (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 05:37, 9 September 2009 (UTC).
Uh, can you at least provide evidence that support your claim? Most of the results go to Buddhism books, while Chi similarly go to Tai Chi books. --antilivedT | C | G 08:23, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
Well, back in March I added the information on Chinese "chi" to this article simply because I needed to put it somewhere (as my sources for an article about a historical structure in China used that unit), and the article on shaku seemed like a reasonable place to do it, since the units in China and Japan (and probably Korea?) are closely connected, historically and even in their present values (just like leagues or miles in various European and American countries are). I won't have serious objections if one were to split this article into two (shaku and chi), but from my point of view, having the info on both units in the same article makes sense, due to their relatedness (and since neither of the separate articles will be that large, anyway). Similarly, if the material stays together, I'd favor naming the article "chi" rather than "shaku" (since the Chinese unit, after all, is probably the original one, historically), but it's not something I'd have strong feeling about either.
As to the "common name in English" - neither chi nor shaku is a common English word, obviously. I've met chi in books that had to refer to dimensions of old structures in China, and based on other contributors' words, I trust that if I were to read a book that talks about Japanese architecture, I'd see shaku there. While both names are comparatively obscure, historians obviously have to use them in English to avoid either being imprecise (e.g., writing "10 feet" or "3 meters" instead of "10 chi", as in the original source), or creating a false impression of great precision (by converting "10 shaku" into something like 3.030 m). Just like historians use arpents or desyatinas when writing about peasants in France or Russia of the past. Naturally, they use the standard Chinese or Japanese romanization for 尺 based on what country the original source was from. Vmenkov (talk) 05:21, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I've only ever seen references to shaku. Not that I deny that there is a Chinese origin to it, or a Chinese name for it, but in my experience, I have only ever come across the Japanese term. LordAmeth (talk) 07:29, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
I'm sorry but perhaps your experience is inherently biased to your area of study? An ordinary person in the western world would have no idea what either of them mean (well they might go on about qi gong, but that's irrelevant), there is no established term for it in English. WP:MOS WP:UE says "If this happens, follow the conventions of the language in which the entity is most often talked about (German for German politicians, Turkish for Turkish rivers, Portuguese for Brazilian towns etc.)." - well Chi is a Chinese unit, so why the Japanese name? --antilivedT | C | G 08:23, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
I disagree with the move. 1 Shaku and 1 Chi are not the same length, and so it's not good to discuss both in the same article with a single name. Rather, we should make an article for each. After all, Shaku is a Japanese unit, but Chi is Chinese. Shinkansen Fan (talk) 11:07, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
...and the Hong Kong Chi is different to the PRC Chi, should they have separate articles too? They aren't notable enough for separate articles (just like avoirdupois pounds and troy pounds are in the same article even though they're different and of different nationality). If you look at other CJK units, ie. cun (length), li (length), you'd see that they're named after the Chinese pronunciation, with usage in CJK countries, even though there are local differences. Why should this be any different? --antilivedT | C | G 13:05, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
Those are "ri" and "sun" in Japanese. Like many other Japanese, I don't know much about Chinese pronunciation. Keep in mind that those who don't know any Chinese would have no idea what cun and li are. Shaku and the other units are part of the Japanese system Shakkanho. There are national differences, not local. Shinkansen Fan (talk) 15:05, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
And they would have no idea what "ri" and "sun" are either. That means there is no established usage in English and so according to WP:UE it should follow the Chinese name as it is (ultimately) a Chinese unit, and is most talked about in Chinese. (see my quotation of WP:UE above.) So thank you for illustrating my point. --antilivedT | C | G 15:18, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
Nonsense. There are citations of established English usage of shaku here. In addition to the English citations, you may notice that they are all about usage in Japan. You have just illustrated, per UE, that Shaku is the appropriate naming for English. Bendono (talk) 15:23, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
Frankly I don't see how a few citations in books written on the topic of Japan (and by Japanese authors) means there's an established usage in English. --antilivedT | C | G 15:33, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
Bendono introduced some English books by non-Japanese authors. As he said, there is established English usage of Shaku, and that makes a strong case for keeping this article as is. Also, I disagree with your assertion that Shaku is ultimately Chinese. That's a Chinese POV and not neutral in my view. The article Shaku should explain what it is and how it is used in architecture and other fields in Japan. Chi needs its own article as well. I don't think it's a good idea to lump them together. It's confusing to say the least. Shinkansen Fan (talk) 16:45, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
Please continue this discussion in the section below. --antilivedT | C | G 01:27, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose I agree with Shinkansen Fan. Regardless of the etymology, the units are used differently now. As this article was apparently originally about shaku for about five years before any mention of chi, that should be primary topic as well as article name. Give chi an appropriate article of its own. As for English usage, there are many citations here. Bendono (talk) 14:08, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
Are you saying it should stay status quo just because it stayed that way for 5 years? --antilivedT | C | G 14:26, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
No. Please re-read my first two sentences. Bendono (talk) 15:23, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
That you agree with Shinkansen Fan (to whose points I have replied) and that they're used differently (duh, they have different names to say the least!)? The only new point you've made is that it should stay this way... because it stayed this way, which doesn't sound like an argument at all to me. --antilivedT | C | G 15:38, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
  • Rename to chek (unit) or chek (length) instead, since that is the name used in Hong Kong, and Hong Kong is an English speaking locality that uses this measure, while PRC and Japan are not English speaking. (talk) 03:33, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
Can you provide evidence to back up your claim, that "chek" is an established usage in English refering to this unit? If not it should follow the Chinese name as per WP:UE due to lack of established usage. --antilivedT | C | G 04:07, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
I can prove that (A) Hong Kong is legally an English-speaking entity: [1] and (B) that "chek" is how it is spelled in English: [2] ; The combination of the two shows that (C) Hong Kong is the only English speaking region that is concerned with this unit, out of PRC-mainland, Japan and HK, since neither Japan nor PRC are English-speaking. That alone should trump everything else. (talk) 07:02, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
No, the policy does not work like that. Chek is the transliteration of Cantonese into English, just like chi is pinyin from Mandarin and shaku is Romaji from Japanese, it is not an English word (you won't find it in English dictionaries, unless you can prove otherwise). So please, provide proof that there is an established usage of chek in English to back up your claim. --antilivedT | C | G 07:09, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
Neither shaku nor chi are English words, "chek" is defined in an English language law in an English language jurisdiction, and is therefore an English language word. It is the only version that is an English language word. (talk) 04:42, 11 September 2009 (UTC)
Hmm that is persuasive but WP:UE demands the establishment of common usage of the title in English. It is used in a colonial Hong Kong legislation, can you establish further common usage of "chek"? Until that though its appearance in the legislation isn't enough to establish common usage alone. --antilivedT | C | G 11:11, 12 September 2009 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Discussion of move request[edit]

Note: I have requested additional input from neutral editors on WT:MEASURE on this issue, because there may be a conflict of interest in all of us (hey we all want to see our culture be more prominently mentioned). --antilivedT | C | G 13:17, 9 September 2009 (UTC) It seems I was beaten by Atemperman in putting this notice :p

How do we conclusively establish a (lack of) common usage? Ghits for these 2 units aren't really relevant since a lot of noise turn up (Buddhist hits for shaku, Tai Chi for chi). Adding the character in the search term (eg. "尺 chi") and only search for English pages seems to be more reliable, giving 181000 Ghits for "尺 chi" and 26700 Ghits for "尺 shaku". I have never heard of usage of either one in English, but that's hardly conclusive :) --antilivedT | C | G 13:24, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:Naming conflict#Identification of common names using external references - looking the word up in obscure books on the topic of Japan/China doesn't help at all at determining an established usage (or the lack of it; heck I can list a whole bunch of random books with the phrase in it too). We need to establish an English usage, not a usage in books on both cultures. --antilivedT | C | G 01:27, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
I'll go over item by item from the above guideline for both shaku and chi:
Item Shaku Chi
Google Test "尺 shaku -wikipedia" (24,100 Ghits, 2,540 Ghits ) "尺 chi -wikipedia" (173,000 Ghits, 9,810 Ghits)
International Org. Both shaku and chi (in the form of "ch'ih") are present in the World weights and measures handbook published by the UN 1966. Pages 36 and 78 have shaku.
Media (Google News) several nothing
Reference (Britannica) present present
Reference (OED) present missing
Reference (Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, 1986) present missing
Geo name server Not relevant
Scientific name Not relevant
I think it's quite clear that there's at least a lack of established usage in English (if anything Chi did better). --antilivedT | C | G 01:45, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
Did you even look at the Google results? For Chinese, almost all of them are off topic and not about the unit. Lets look at the first 10 on the first page:
I'm sorry but did you follow my link from above? You seem to be getting some results not present on mine. --antilivedT | C | G 03:43, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I entirely used your link unmodified. Also, again using your link, your Chinese hits is only 9,940, not 165,000. Bendono (talk) 04:27, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
Hm that's strange, I get different results to you. Also I had that similar problem before and then it went back to 165000. I've attached a screenshot for completeness-sake. --antilivedT | C | G 05:23, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
Two out of ten is not a good ratio, especially for the top most relevant results. I invite others to check further results to see how relevant (or irrelevant) they really are. This is the problem with using Google to show established usage. Which is why real published books are preferred. Bendono (talk) 02:49, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
I take it you didn't even look at the second page and beyond then - but I agree, ghits is a very rough metric. Books do no help because all they establish is that there's a usage of "shaku" in English books on the topic of Japan, and "chi" (and its variants) in English books on the topic of China. Neither of them establish a usage in English, that it is part of the English vocabulary, that it is commonly used in English (the complete lack of mention in Google News is probably the biggest indicator that there's no established usage). PS: I have updated the ghits for chi, although I copied and pasted the original figure from the Google search page it seems it's now returning a completely different number of ghits, I'll check back and see if it fluctuates any further. --antilivedT | C | G 03:41, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I also looked at the next few pages. The results where essentially the same. Just for the record, lets go over page two:
Again, only two or three out of ten are relevant. This suggests that 70-80% of your hits are not useful. Do I need to go over page three now? I think I have illustrated sufficiently that your Google search is flawed and not useful for this conversation. I hope that other people can verify the results themselves. Bendono (talk) 04:27, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
I think we should do this for both chi and shaku to have an accurate comparison. Seeing as you seem to get different results to me I'll do the filter on the first 3 pages (30 results) of both shaku and chi so that they're consistent, using your criteria (no dictionary entry? what else?):
The number of relevant pages aren't TOO different now is it? I understand you may want to check my results, I can provide you with html pages of my Google results on your request. PS: I've also put your "dissection" under collapsible tables so that the talk page is nicer looking. --antilivedT | C | G 05:23, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

(unindent) OK now I've gone through the guideline and did the prescribed tests one by one - it's quite clear that there isn't an established usage in English, so can we agree upon that or are you still dissatisfied, Bendono and Shinkansen Fan? --antilivedT | C | G 13:13, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

I think the google test is flawed, because in Hong Kong it is called "chek" and no one searched for it. Since Hong Kong is an English speaking locality, that should be the name used for hte unit. (talk) 03:25, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
You're of course welcome to provide statistics for "chek" (I speak Cantonese myself so I have done the search before, but it didn't seem to change things too much, perhaps you'll have better luck?) --antilivedT | C | G 03:41, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
  • As mentioned above, I oppose the move. However, I must question whether this article is even appropriate for an encyclopedia. It is mostly a definition, which is more appropriate for a dictionary. Needless to say, Wiktionary already has English and Japanese entries for shaku. Bendono (talk) 14:12, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
    • We have articles for kilogram,yard, etc, not having an article for the East Asian unit "尺", would just be promoting Western bias. Besides, histories of the units are not appropriate Wiktionary material. (talk) 03:31, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

I am responding to antilived's request on WT:MEASURE. I am not familiar with either unit, but it seems best to discuss both in a single article. European units such as foot (length) had an even more complicated history than what is so far described in this article and are still covered in one article. As to the best name for this article, let me mention the following principles which may or may not be relevant:

  • Per WP:NAMING we need to ask, what is the most normal way to refer to this unit in English. Of course it's possible that neither is used significantly more often.
  • Per WP:NCDAB, if both are similarly common in English and one would need a disambiguator (i.e. Chi (length), rather than Chi), then the other should be preferred. Hans Adler 15:12, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
User:Bendono has tried to establish shaku as the "most normal way" (established usage in English) by quoting a few books on the topic of Japan but I feel it is irrelevant - it's not a big sample size (a handful out of the what, billions of books out there?) and it's trivially easy to find mentions of a phrase in books thanks to Google Books (I've made a similar list under 10 minutes). By doing the tests listed in Wikipedia:Naming conflict#Identification of common names using external references (result table above) it's quite evident that although chi seems to be more prevalent neither has seen much use in English (no established usage), and so it's hard to proclaim either one as the normal way to refer to this unit. Should WP:UE prevail in this case, to name it after the Chinese name as it "follow[s] the conventions of the language in which the entity is most often talked about"? Thanks. --antilivedT | C | G 22:21, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
  • Comment: In response to antilived's comments on my initial comment... Of course, I fully admit that my experience is biased as I read primarily texts about Japanese cases. I knew that as I was writing the comment, and that someone would call me out on it. But I felt the need to say it anyway. Is my experience invalid? It's not like Japan is invalid - I'm not here advocating for the Hong Kong pronunciation, or the Okinawan pronunciation. But, of course, in the end, I can play the East Asian specialist (rather than the Japan specialist) and admit that Chi is an equally valid "English" word for the thing. So, here's my final thought: If we have enough to say about chi & shaku separately - historical governmental decrees relating to the measurement's official size, its use, etc. then I think we could absolutely get away with writing two separate articles. As Hong Qi Gong points out, there are plenty of other articles that come to mind that are divided into separate articles for the Chinese & Japanese (and Korean and Vietnamese) versions. Alternatively, we could call the article Chi (unit) or Chi (measurement) or whatever, with Shaku as a redirect, though if we do that, I'd like to see shaku mentioned at the very top of the article, i.e. something like the phrasing we have now ("The chi or shaku is a Chinese and Japanese unit of length") rather than anything like "The chi is a traditional Chinese unit of length .... [several paragraphs later] It was later adopted by Japan where it is called the shaku."

That was much longer than I'd meant to write... but essentially, in the end, yeah, I'm fine with splitting it or with picking a name (like "chi") and just going with it. LordAmeth (talk) 17:19, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

All I'm proposing is a move, I'm fine with the content as it is. --antilivedT | C | G 19:44, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

Another possibility[edit]

Another possibility is "Asian foot". While an imperfect search, a number of references describe shaku as a Japanese foot. As China and Hong Kong also use this unit, though with slightly different semantics and pronunciations, this could possibly be extended to "Asian foot". While this is neutral, my only concern is that it is a neologism at best, which should be avoided, especially in contrast to established English usage of shaku. So this suggestion would need much more input and consensus before acceptance. Of course the actual article could use shaku, chi, chek etc. as appropriate, which would lessen the impact of the neologism as a title. Comments? Bendono (talk) 05:34, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

It definitely is a neologism at best (definitely NSFW!) --antilivedT | C | G 05:39, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
I will note that the corresponding "Asian inch" article is called Cun (length), and is based on a Mandarin romanization. (talk) 09:30, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

Just split the article. It wouldn't be the first time, and it sure wouldn't be the last time, that an article is split because of different English romanisations/namings of essentially the same thing or same term in the East Asian cultural sphere. Besides, there is probably actual substantial reason for a split, seeing as how different governments differ in how they legally define the length of this unit of measure. Hong Qi Gong (Talk - Contribs) 17:16, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

If the article is split, a dab page should be built at or East Asian foot / Asian foot ; at the very least, there would be three articles... shaku, chi (length)/chi (unit) and chek (length)/chek (unit) (talk) 09:53, 12 September 2009 (UTC)
But we also need to follow the convention of other unit articles - articles like foot (length) or pound (mass) consolidate all the different national variants of essentially the same unit into 1 article. --antilivedT | C | G 10:56, 12 September 2009 (UTC)
Have to disagree with having an article named "chek". The convention with using Chinese romanisation in article names is to use Mandarin pinyin. An article named "chi" is good enough. Hong Qi Gong (Talk - Contribs) 00:30, 13 September 2009 (UTC)
"chek" is an English word, established through writ of an English language law. It is legally defined in English, and thus not a Chinese romanization (even if it originates as one). It also quantifies a different value. (talk) 04:14, 13 September 2009 (UTC)
Just because it's defined in a writ doesn't mean it's an English word. And even if it's an English word it must see wide spread usage to qualify. --antilivedT | C | G 11:20, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
To qualify? It's a legally defined unit of measure in Hong Kong. If the article is split, why wouldn't it qualify for an article?? (talk) 05:34, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
No. --antilivedT | C | G 08:15, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

Closing the move request[edit]

Hi. This dispute has entered the backlog at Wikipedia:requested moves, and there does not seem to be a consensus in the above discussion for any particular rename. Would it be fair to close the move request until such time as a consensus forms (discussion could continue, of course)? Else, would it be better to relist the move request, bumping it to the top of WP:RM, and then check back in another week? -GTBacchus(talk) 10:50, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

Unless the discussion picks up again (I've asked the opposition to rejoin) I think it's best to close it for now, but perhaps give it a few days to see if it can be successfully revived? --antilivedT | C | G 11:19, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
I don't think any agreement will be coming, with the suggested solutions (shaku, chi, chek, Asian foot). (talk) 05:36, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
Well there's currently 3 supports (after LordAmeth's last comment), 1 oppose (Bendono), and you. Now are you going to back up your claims (the fact that it's defined in colonial Hong Kong legislation is irrelevant) or are you just gonna keep repeating yourself? --antilivedT | C | G 08:23, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
Antilived, perhaps you can clarify just who supports which of the various suggested move targets. The above discussion is a lot to wade through. Thanks. -GTBacchus(talk) 10:32, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
From the start me and Vmenkov have supported the move to "chi"; LordAmeth changed his vote from oppose to (ambivalent) support after his latest comment; Bendono (and Shinkansen Fan, but he never voted) opposes but has disappeared for a week now; and finally IP suggested "chek" instead of "chi" (do IP votes even count?). The suggestion of "Asian foot" never really took-off (apparently there are lots of Asian foot fetish sites on the interwebs :p) and 76.66 has not provided evidence to establish common usage in English, so I think it's mainly a debate between shaku and chi. --antilivedT | C | G 10:56, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
Nobody's "vote" counts. IP opinions matter, insofar as they're well supported, just like yours or mine. Thanks for the summary; I'm at an almost useless computer terminal just now, but I'll look into closing this request as soon as I get on a reasonable machine. That'll be in a few hours. -GTBacchus(talk) 11:50, 17 September 2009 (UTC)I had to click the thingy to sign, because this keyboard has no tildes!
I do not really have anything else to add that has not already been said. There still are not any supporting citations for English chi. shaku has many clear cases from various professionally edited and published English texts. Antilived merely dismissed it as inconclusive, but even the OED does not have so many supporting citations for an entry. (See Word of the Day for an example; this is time-sensitive and will expire within 24-hours when updated.) An impartial comment, begun by Antilived, concludes that "This indeed looks like a word that has migrated into English." No such claim for chi has been verified. UE should apply.
There were several poorly done Google searches for chi. I spent an extensive amount of time manually going through pages to check the validity. Overall it appeared that only 20-30% of the hits were relevant.
The article was about shaku only for more than five years until it was apparently hijacked on March, 2009 with chi, and more recently with chek. Now it is a complete mess with very little room to move forward.
shaku and chi (or chek) or different units with different measurements. They are not synonymous. The chi stuff should be moved to a dedicated article. There is several voices for such support above, which Antilived left out of the summary.
While I do not fully support it, I offered a neutral name "Asian foot" which would be appropriate for discussion of shaku, chi and other various names. But that soon dissolved into talk about foot fetishes.
However imperfect, there is real abundant usage of shaku in English. On the other hand, no real support has been presented for chi. There is clearly no consensus for such a move at this time. Bendono (talk) 12:36, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
  • As I have said before, it is trivially easy to find citations of random words in random books in this day and age of Google Books. I have prepared a similar list for chi. Does that prove anything? I'm not willing to disrupt articles to prove a point and putting it in Wiktionary, does that mean my list is any weaker than yours? No real support? My list and the policy prescribed test has been done for quite a while now.
  • Poorly? How poorly? How do you suppose we improve it? Simple maths will show that even with 20% relevance for chi and 100% relevance for shaku (which is ridiculous as per my findings), 20% of 165000 Ghits is still bigger than 23700 Ghits for shaku.
  • Are you suggesting that you own the article? That any edits done by people with different POV than you is hijacking the article? As I've said, maintaining the status quo because it has maintained the status quo is not a strong argument at all.
  • Avoirdupois pound and troy pounds and different; US gallon and Imperial gallon are different; why should this, which share the same hanzi/kanji and only minor regional differences be split?
  • You have said it yourself, that "Asian foot" is a neologism that has seen virtually no use, which would be against naming policies. Why do that when a perfectly good name is there? --antilivedT | C | G 06:40, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

Rather than respond to each point, lets settle this once and for all. Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, Volume XV (ISBN 0-19-861227-3), page 148 has an entry the unit shaku. Citations span four centuries with the first given as 1727. Coincidentally, there are no entries for English chi or chek. Hence the naming of this article is quite clear under WP:UE. Also per WP:MOS, we need to be consistent so should talk about the unit as used in China and Hong Kong under the neutral English term shaku. Or it can be moved to a dedicated article; I do not care. Bendono (talk) 08:45, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

Hold your horses. OED is but one reference work - I have already shown that Britannica has chi but not shaku, so out of the 2 reference works both score 1 point, which means it's still a draw (also bear in mind OED mentions chî for Chinese, but Britannica doesn't mention shaku). And before you start arguing that shaku is an English word and chi isn't, the very first sentence of WP:UE says
Use the most commonly used English version of the name of the subject as the title of the article, as you would find it in verifiable reliable sources (for example other encyclopedias and reference works).
I have added OED to the results table and right now it's a draw besides the Ghits. If you take that into account chi has a bigger usage, and if you ignore the chi-Ghits-lead (why?) it's a mix between divided usage/no established usage. Either way it is no where near as clear cut as you have thought. <rant>Hah OED says Go is a Japanese game... can't wait to see if they've fixed that in the next revision</rant> --antilivedT | C | G 13:24, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
OED is a dictionary of the English language. But let me add another one. The Webster's Third New International Dictionary (1986) too has an entry for the English word shaku. Added to the table above.
The mention of chǐ (not chî) in the OED is in reference to the etymology: < Japanese < Chinese "a foot".
Britannica makes no claim that chi is English. It merely says that it is a unit of measure as found in an article about the Chinese measurement system. Further, shaku is equally mentioned in Britannica as a unit of length in an article on shakuhachi. Table to be updated.
I spent a considerable amount of time going through your Google searches. We both are still getting different number of results. I have attached screen shots for both of your searches, fully intact without modification. But really the search is fruitless without merit. Only roughly 20% of your chi hits are relevant. Further, the search should be done without mention of 尺, because that will effectively remove any English-only sources. Of course it will produce many, many irrelevant results which would again need to be filtered and analyzed. But if you want to do it again, then I ask for an honest evaluation please.
WP:UE is not a point system. The mere fact that a word is in multiple English dictionaries is generally sufficient. When that does not occur, then you need to go through various references to verify usage. Google may be an indicator, but the results really do need to analyzed carefully. Bendono (talk) 17:24, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
Hmm both OED and Webster's third edition are rather... inclusionist: OED openly state "embraces not only the standard language of literature and conversation, whether current at the moment, or obsolete, or archaic, but also the main technical vocabulary, and a large measure of dialectal usage and slang." while Webster's third edition has been under heavy criticism for it too. If you look at shorter, more concise (and more commonly used) dictionaries, like Collin's, Longman, Compact Oxford or Webster Collegiate you'll find that neither are present as an entry. I consider words in those dictionaries to cover 95% of all word usages in English, so I read the result of shaku being present in OED and Webster's 3rd edition but not the shorter ones to reflect that shaku has never seen much widespread usage besides a few technical references, what about you? I don't get what's all the fuss whether a word is an English word or not; WP:UE simply wants the most common English name, it doesn't care if it's an English word or a transliteration or what not.
As for your doubts about the Ghits, read my points above. 20% of the chi Ghits is still higher than the whole of the shaku Ghits (even though not all shaku results are relevant either, I've found both to have a ~30% relevance). Google searches do fluctuate between two numbers an order of magnitude apart, for both chi and shaku (see new screenshots, and use png next time). If you think it should be done without 尺, off you go and do the research, and have fun sifting through the results (for both chi and shaku); why should I do your research for you? If you scroll up you'll see I have indeed analysed the first 3 pages of my searches and found similar results for both terms, but I take it you haven't bothered reading it since you kept on repeating your rant. --antilivedT | C | G 00:16, 19 September 2009 (UTC)
The OED is a descriptive dictionary. It describes the state of a language as it is really used by real people and texts. It's citations are there to back that up. This is as opposed to prescriptive dictionaries in which editors include what they like and remove others. There may be many reasons for that, such as limited space. It is your right to like or dislike the OED, but this is not the right forum for that. Like or dislike, we too at Wikipedia merely describe what is in the sources. And since Webster's, a much, much more concise and smaller dictionary, also supports the entry in the OED, the argument is rather pointless.
As for Google, 20% of Ghits for chi is 1,962. I have not gone through the shaku results as thoroughly, but it seems like some 35-40% are relevant, which at the low end is 8,435, which is more than 4:1 in ratio. You are not the only one to do the research. You initially posted the Google numbers without any analysis. I spent a significant amount of time not just once but twice going trough the results to verify the relevance (or apparent lack of). But as I have said all along, the Google search is inconclusive: 1) too many false-hits and imprecise relevent percentages, 2) fluctuating number of hits, 3) by searching for 尺, any English-only sites are excluded from the results. I do not mind going over more data, but I do not think the Google search is a strong indicator of anything. Especially when we have professionally edited English dictionaries to rely on.
I have re-added the Britannica reference. As commented on above, 1) Britannica does not have an entry for chi, but merely lists it in a glossary, without even a definition, as being used in an artilce on units of Chinese measurements; 2) equally relevant is the Britannica description of shaku in the shakuhachi article. Neither are concrete, specific entries for the words. There is nothing sneaky about it. The links are there for anyone to easily verify usage. Bendono (talk) 02:44, 19 September 2009 (UTC)


You know what, I quit. I have given you much good faith and consideration - you went missing for a whole week, I did not implement controversial changes to the article and gave you a grace period; the Ghits fluctuate, so I included both the high and low figures for chi but only the high figure for shaku and provided screenshots for good measures; you complain about low relevance of searches, so I analysed the first 30 results of both searches using your criteria; you yourself noted the fatal flaw in "Asian foot" so I made a little joke about the results that gets on Google; I have repeatedly left you messages reminding you of your conduct, in good faith. What do I get? As soon as you find something that bolsters your claims you went ahead and mutilated the whole page, ignoring the current discussion. You have launched a one-sided attack on chi's Ghits without admitting, after I have repeated multiple times, that shaku suffer the same problems too, and have consistently ignored my rebuttals. I remind you of Wiki-quette and what do I get? Straight removal from the your talk page. If you see any changes contrary to your POV to be "hijacking", that a Japanese POV is "NPOV" while inclusion of Chinese material is Chinese POV, I don't think there can be any end to this or any possibility of building a consensus. Good day, and you win. I'll pack my stuff and leave, you can keep the house and the kids and the dog and everything else. --antilivedT | C | G 00:41, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

I apologize if this discussion has frustrated or stressed you. I do have other obligations during the week so can not constantly respond everyday. We have talked much about Ghits above, so I will defer to that discussion. There has been mention of AGF with regard to word "hijacking", but there seems to be some linguistic confusion. As indicated early in the discussion, the page has only talked about shaku as occurring in Japan for about five years. That all of a sudden changed with a sudden edit talking about chi. Perhaps in regard to alphabetizing, it even listed chi first as well as a description on China first. As the article is called Shaku, and has been for more than five years, that is hijacking. It is not a comment to the editor who did that, but a statement of the article itself. You then iniitiaed a move request saying "Chi is given as the first name in the article, so logically the article should follow the Chinese name", which is dishonest to the history of the article.
That said, I am not opposed to the inclusion of usage of the unit as used in China and Hong Kong. All points of view are welcome. Throughout this discussion, we have tried to find the best naming convention with respect to our policies. The choice was between Japanese shaku, Mandarin chi, or Cantonese chek. There was no concensus to choose one over the other. But in the end, as we are an English encyclopedia, English words are preferred over others. A review of English language dictionaries has shown that shaku is indeed an English word in multiple dictionaries. That alone says a lot, but may not be enough. This is further backed by (minor) usage in an English encyclopedia as well as Google news, including the New York Times among others. So instead of using a Japanese or Chinese word, we can use a neutral English word.
It is not a matter of winning or loosing. And I am not asking you to resign nor am I going to celebrate about it. We are all here with the indent on building a better encyclopedia. If in the future you change your mind, please feel welcome to participate. Regards, Bendono (talk) 02:44, 19 September 2009 (UTC)


Shaku (unit)
Chinese name
Korean name
Japanese name
Hiragana しゃく

So is there an equivalent template for Japanese? Or can we still use this one? (talk) 08:58, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

What is the value of the template? Why add lots of non-English scripts and romanizations? We have an English word here that is in dictionaries. The article already contains links to Wiktionary for chi and chek. More than being just redundant, it is overkill. Put another way, here in Japan the inch and foot is also used. They are each written in another script, have a different romanization, and a different pronunication. However, there is no reason to add those details to the English language articles on inch and foot. Bendono (talk) 09:11, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

"In the PRC, a shaku ..."[edit]

I have not looked at this article for a while - it apparently has split, merged, moved, etc within the last month - but have done so now, and noticed rather infelicitous wording that has been introduced lately: "In the People's Republic of China, a shaku, chi in Mandarin (Chinese: ; pinyin: chǐ; Wade–Giles: chih) has been defined since 1984 as exactly 1/3 of a meter..." And so on. I'd say that using shaku when talking about the unit in the specifically Chinese context is just as weird as it would be to use chi (or chek) when talking about the unit in the specifically Japanese context. Based on what I've seen in literature, the word shaku - italicized or not - has normally been used in books dealing with the measurement of things Japanese (e.g. Measure and construction of the Japanese house, Textile world record, Volume 31, Building the Japanese house today, The Mikado's empire), and chi (chih, chek), in books measuring things in China (e.g. Carpentry and building in late imperial China, Chinese history: a manual, Sugar and society in China: peasants, technology, and the world market, "hong+kong" Mining Tables History of the British Colonies: Possessions in Asia)... but hardly ever the other way around. (In fact, I would be very interested to see a book that does so!) Neither word has been sufficiently "anglicized" to be used in English outside of its original cultural/geographic context. Methinks we should not use terms in the ways not normally used in literature. Vmenkov (talk) 09:20, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

P.S. And of course a book that have occasion to talk about both countries Encyclopaedia of the history of science, technology, and medicine in non-western cultures uses chi when talking about Chinese measures (p. 1019) and shaku (p. 1019) for Japanese measures. Vmenkov (talk) 09:34, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

Sorry for the delayed response. I am traveling for the next month and have less frequent Internet access.
There is a lengthy discussion above about the article name. I have no desire to repeat it, but in summary this article has attempted to standardize on the English word shaku, as listed in cited dictionaries as a neutral term. As you are probably aware, the article historically only covered the unit as used in Japan. Of course all points of view are welcome, and so it now covers usage in China and Hong Kong as well. Even though we are using English shaku, nomenclature varies per language, so the article begins as follows: "The shaku is a traditional unit of measure used throughout Asia with a length approximately equal to a foot. It is variously called shaku in Japanese, chi in Mandarin, chek in Cantonese". Having this in the lead is meant to clarify the nomenclature for the rest of the article.
While I do not necessarily disagree with your reasoning, it is also necessary to maintain consistency. A reader reading an article titled shaku would be puzzled upon reading paragraphs of content talking about chi or chek, which is why there is an attempt to avoid it in the main body of the text. One way to solve this problem is to come up with a neutral and inclusive title. I suggested one before, but that was never give much serious thought as seen above. Can you think of another?
Another point to consider is whether the sources are attempting to write the unit as an English word or is just romanizing a foreigner word into the Latin script. Initially I would have thought that this was the case for all shaku, chi, and chek. However, as cited, shaku is English, whereas the others are not. In consideration for our policies and guidelines and the complicated issues as discussed above, I think it is fair and appropriate to prefer the English nomenclature and give a brief description (clearly at the top of the page) of other names in other languages.
Trying to please everyone with consistent naming and still be inclusive is a balancing act; it may not be possible to please everyone. If that is the case, should the content be split from the article? That would essentially return the article to its generally stable and historical version. If that is the consensus I will not necessarily oppose it. Regards, Bendono (talk) 02:37, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I think splitting is the way to go - especially since the article on Chi (unit) has been created already. Vmenkov (talk) 00:58, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
It is not. The British has made the Law of Hong Kong. Chek is the English in this context. — HenryLi (Talk) 17:30, 26 May 2012 (UTC)

used throughout Asia ??[edit]

I find "used throughout Asia" in the opening sentence a bit of an exaggeration. References are made in the article only to China and Japan. Asia stretches from Japan to Israel. I believe more preciseness is in order. Caeruleancentaur (talk) 18:58, 17 June 2011 (UTC)

"...written as "呎" in Hong Kong"[edit]

In Hong Kong, 尺 refers to the 14⅝ inch Hong Kong 'foot' (chek), 呎 refers to the (British) Imperial foot. The mouth radical is only used for Imperial units (哩 for mile, 呎 for foot, 吋 for inch etc.), whereas the H.K. units have no mouth radical (里 for li, 尺 for chek, 寸 for cun etc.)

So "is written as "呎" in Hong Kong" is wrong and should be removed. (talk) 16:36, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

Removal of Chinese Information[edit]

Since Chi (unit) already exists as a separate article and already includes all the information from this article on the Chinese unit, I've removed the redundant information and added a link to that article. --Cckerberos (talk) 20:49, 26 January 2014 (UTC)