Talk:System of measurement

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Units of convenience[edit]

This article should discuss units of convenience, which may include units falling into the other categories. Best example I can think of is the "shake", from 2 shakes of a lamb's tail. Used by atomic physicists to represent 10 nanoseconds. Stevetac (talk) 03:09, 20 May 2013 (UTC)

Began with metric[edit]

Systems of measurement began with the metric system? Rktect 20:41, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

Yeah, why not? It is, after all, the most widely used system today & the international standard. Gotta start somewhere.
Note your use of the past tense there, Rktect. What was the purpose of blanking half the article? Is it that you just don't like the metric system & thus don't believe that it deserves any mention anywhere?
See Talk:Units of measurement#Split if you're wondering why all this stuff you'd deleted is here. Jimp 7Oct05
The proper way to address this is historically. If you don't lay the ground work first then much that is valuable to understanding measurement gets eradicated. As to the portions I removed, if you think you can support them with references this is all bull shite diminishing. In some places people have suggested rounding the values to make 25 mm equal an inch. To give a few more examples time and angular divisions are rarely given metrically. Thus we have meters per second, and in many cases feet per second and miles per hour. We have dimensioned plywood and lumber given in feet and inches using board measure. The result is that with globalization parts manufactured in one part of the world may have to be recut to fit with parts from another part of the world. Rktect 13:38, 13 October 2005 (UTC)
Addressing the matter historically has its merits, yes. However, there is also good sense in putting the international standard & world's most widely used system first. Note: the second most used systems follow second.
Oh, but you deny that the metric system is the international standard & world's most widely used system. And I'm supposed to take notice of someone who thinks that "The metric system is actually not widely used anywhere today." ... or by "anywhere" do you mean "anywhere in the USA"? In the rest of the world it is most definitely widely ... almost exclusively ... used. Ever been here (to the rest of the world I mean)?
Every nation has a "different variation" ... yeah, very, very slightly different ... and this coming from the bloke who claims that the Imperial system is not only identicle to the American system but is the the very same system as used in ancient Rome, Egypt, etc.
What bastardisation are you refering to. I've heard the faintest murmurs of redifining the English units in terms nice round metric ones but seems you're suggesting things be the other way around. I've never heard the suggestion of redifining the metric system in terms of English units nor would it have a snow flakes chance in Hell of being taken seriously by anyone with any power to redifine any metric unit at all.
You know what? I think your distaste for the metric system is clouding your vision. That's fine, though. Just don't let it cloud the encyclopædia. Jimp 14Oct05
Ok let's focus on what we agree on, that adressing the system historically has its merits and allow the metric system clouds my mind so I'm biased and unreasonable enough to want to put it in perspective with what it is replacing and cast a vote for historical preservation.
Whats wrong with beginning by noting that over a period of six millenia you have a relatively stable system of measures that incorporate positive reinforcement with mathematical systems like the golden ratio, pi, phi, the orders of architecture, practical solutions to the classical problems of Greek antiguity, cartography, geography, surveying, musical scales, all sorts of things that give measures human scale and proportion.
If we can agree to begin there I have no problem having someone present a counterpoint to the position that the metric system is something relatively new that has been forced down peoples throats by French revolutionaries and a couple of supersize me international corporations who want you to "be loving it".
Since the metric system is really covered elsewhere on its own page (where the bastardization issues are discussed) I don't see any good reason to focus on it here to the exclusion of other systems of measurement that preceeded it. Rktect 14:29, 14 October 2005 (UTC)

Stability over 6000 years? Where? Stability of name or anatomical basis, perhaps, but there's no shortage of variation in just how long a "foot" or an "ell" is, even within a single country.
As for the non-use of metric in industry or everyday use, I worked in a testing lab that did work for the automotive industry for a few years, and other than the one request for a pressure reading in "pounds per square millimeter", the only odd metric units were a couple of customers who wanted kilograms force rather than newtons. --Carnildo 18:36, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
The point that stability in the system of measures makes for economic stability in empires can be illustrated by the connection between empire and standards of measure in antiquity, and the effect on empire of the metric system and its competition the British Imnperial system. Federal Street 09:56, 17 October 2005 (UTC)
Rktect (a.k.a. Federal Street?),
You do have a way with words, I'll give you that. "... allow the metric system clouds my mind ...": it was your distaste for it that I was refering to ... but no matter. You "cast a vote for historical preservation." If by this you mean "cast a vote to give the article an antimetric slant" (as I have good reason to think you mean), then you're in the wrong place. This encyclopædia is not the place for this kind of "historical preservation".
"Whats wrong with beginning by noting that over a period of six millenia you have a relatively stable system of measures ..."? How about this: "It isn't true."? Even in the last six centuries English units have diverged enough that the volume of a gallon depends not only on where you're measuring it but also on what you're measuring.
So, if we can agree to begin where you want to begin, you'll have no problem having someone present you a counterpoint? And if we can't agree on where to begin? Here's your counterpoint anyway. The metric system is something relatively new. Yes, what's wrong with that? The Internet is relatively new but here you are. The metric system "... has been forced down peoples throats ..." you say. It was never forced down mine: I simply grew up with it. It was forced down our throats "... by French revolutionaries ..." you claim. Would it have been okay if they had been American revolutionaries? The French revolution is over. Not only the French but "a couple of supersize me international corporations who want you to 'be loving it'." Okay, a metre is a supersized yard, is it? This sounds more like paranoia than anything substantial. Inernational corporations, ay, you know it's not only they who may stand to gain by the adoption of an easy-to-use, internationally recognised, decimal, unambiguous system of measurement.
"Since the metric system is really covered elsewhere on its own page ..." you know what? Every system mentioned on this page is covered covered elsewhere in greater detail. Should we delete this page? "... I don't see any good reason to focus on it here to the exclusion of other systems of measurement that preceeded it." No, nor do I, nor is this what the article is doing. The article in no way focuses on the metric system and certainly not "to the exclusion of other systems". The metric system is simply put first; other systems also enjoy a decent mention.
Jimp 19Oct05
Most people are used to reading Newspapers as above the fold and below the fold. By placing the important part of the content below the fold its not immediately obvious that there is any discussion of ancient measures on the page. The page should begin by listing systtems of measurement starting with the first and working forwards in time as any other encyclopedia would. A lot of your discussion above seems to reflect personal points of view. We should begin with the metric system because that is what you grew up with as a kid and what you are familiar with.Federal Street 10:03, 19 October 2005 (UTC)
Federal Rktect Street,
Is not your argument similar? We should begin with traditional measures because they are what you grew up with and are familiar with? You are refering to ancient measures as the "important part of the content". Thereby don't you claim that modern systems of measures (the metric system in particluar) are unimportant? My point is that the metric system is the most widely used system and the international standard thus is is very important and it's fair to put it first. Jimp 21Oct05
All argument is similar. What I was hoping was that we might agree on some things. The point is that you need to do things in the right sequence for them to be orderly. This was originally an article on ancient weights and measures. The reason for splitting the article was to discuss the units and history separately. Most people don't think of the metric system as an ancient system. Even if you wish to consider it ancient you should still allow us to encounter it in its proper place Federal Street 10:28, 21 October 2005 (UTC)

I'm going to wade in here and see if we can't sort out a sensible solution here. This article aims to summarise (no more than that - there are separate articles for other details) all the various systems of measurement that have existed. I think we can all agree on that, but there seem to be two ways to present the information.

We could sort it in order of how widely the systems are used, which is broadly what's happening now. It is effectivley reverse chronological order. The advantage of this would be that it puts information about the most widely used system at the top where it's most accessible. It also makes information about which systems are most widely used today immediately obvious.

The other method would be to sort it in chronological order, with regard to when the system was used. It would also allow us to better present information as to how these systems were linked to each other. It's difficult to say of the English system that it developed from the Roman system when the Roman system has not yet been discussed.

My opinion tends towards the latter - we would gain far more in clarity of how the systems interrelate than we would lose in information about how widely they are used today, which could be incorporated into the relevent section (and the introduction?) and still be just as useful.

I won't do anything about it yet until other people have had a chance to comment (not vote on it) but if there's been no objections in a few days I'll try to re-organise the article along those lines.

--Cherry blossom tree 15:25, 21 October 2005 (UTC)

You're missing a two critical points here:
  1. Every time User:Rktect/User:Federal Street re-arranges the article into rough chronological order, he also adds a great deal of original research and speculation. This is why he keeps getting reverted.
  2. User:Rktect/User:Federal Street has an ArbCom case open against him, which is likely to result in him being banned from editing measurement-related articles.
That said, the problem with a simple chronological listing is that non-standard units like the elephant, the ton of TNT, and the Library of Congress don't have any place in such a listing. --Carnildo 19:07, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
Yeah, I decided to ignore that whole issue. I'm not too bothered about Rktect - the extra stuff he/she keeps adding obviously has no place here and regardless of the ArbCom case the article still needs work.
I hadn't considered the non-standard units. As far as a time period goes, it presumably extends as far back as human speech (although obviously rather less for the Library of Congress and so on.) But on the other hand, if we used the 'most common first' system then how do we decide where to position the Chinese units in relation to the Ancient Greek weights and measures considering that they are both obsolete? (As a sidepoint, we probably need a naming convention for these articles too.) I can't think of any system that would include everything, but I'm open to ideas.
--Cherry blossom tree 20:19, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
Just an update: Rktect/Federal Street has been banned from editing measurement-related articles. You've only got to look at the rewrites of this article that he's done to get an idea why. Not only does he add "a great deal of original research and speculation" but also adds an antimetric POV and a whole lot of nonsense and untruth. Jimp 25Oct05
Federal Rktect Street,
"All argument is similar." That's a beauty.
I'm sure we could agree on some things. As I've written, I'm not completely against doing things in chronological order. I don't, however, agree that this is "the right sequence for them to be orderly". There is no right or wrong sequence. Both ways have their merits and faults. As Carnildo points out above, there's no chronological place for the non-standard units.
"This was originally an article on ancient weights and measures." you point out. I put it to you that this is neither true nor relevant. There was once an article Historical weights and measures which was split into Ancient weights and measures and Medieval weights and measures then further split into seperate articles for the various systems but leaving these two main articles. Then they were remerged.
One reason for splitting Historical weights and measures the second time, as you mention, was to discuss the units and history separately. Now we have this article, Systems of measurement, and we have History of measurement. The other reason was to sort out Units of measurement.
"Most people don't think of the metric system as an ancient system." you write. Anyone who knows what they are talking about knows that the metric system is not an ancient system. However, whether it is an ancient system or not is of absolutely no consequence. This article is Systems of measurement not Ancient weights and measures.
"... you should still allow us to encounter it in its proper place" you insist. The point is that there is no "proper place". It could go last, being the most recent system, or it could go first, being the most widely used system and the international standard. Remember, we do now have History of measurement to talk about the history of measurement.
Jimp 25Oct05
There is no right or wrong sequence, but I've already explained why I think ordering it chronologically is a better way than the one we are using at the moment. I'll admit that there is no logical place in such a sequence for non-standard units, but equally there is no place in the current sequence for about 25 other systems that aren't used anymore. If someone can convince me that another sequence is better then I'll cheerfully withdraw that opinion. --Cherry blossom tree 13:21, 28 October 2005 (UTC)

Redirect from Feudal measurement[edit]

Feudal measurement now redirects here however, if you're wondering what happened to the information that once lived there see English unit. The explanation now lives at Talk:English unit#Moved from Feudal measurement which was once at the Feudal measurement talk page. Jimp 16Dec05

Islamic Measures[edit]

I propose that this section be renamed "Middle Eastern Measures". It is inconsistent with teh rest of this group of headers, which are generally grouped by region rather than religion, and this header title explictly excludes any system from before ~700 AD or so, as well as excluding those systems which were based off the one system listed, but are not used in Islamic countries. I am thinking specifically of Maltese units for this second group. Rhialto 06:57, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Merge of Customary measurement systems[edit]

This is a good idea, the more well-defined is a better umbrella to have it under, and currently that article doesn't have much anyway. It needs to be vetted for POV though. —Centrxtalk • 21:34, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, I've already added a few details about the Avoirdupois, the Troy and the Apothecaries' systems of mass and weight to this article. Vet the POV from that article, cut out the flowery prose and I don't think that there's anything really over there that isn't covered better here. The two articles have much the same idea behind them just that this one has a broader scope. Jimp 16:24, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
The following is the introduction from Customary measurement systems.

Traditional or customary systems of measure date back to antiquity, many to the Roman Empire in Europe, Cultures formerly in the British Empire, and around the rim of the Mediterranean Sea.

Used by merchants and peasants, though slowly being supplanted by the more rationale metric system, in many lands, these systems are commonly used still in everyday life, (e.g. Measuring cup) as they are common units, everyday units, sized for the kitchen and garden and household tasks imbedded deeply in the history and culture of whole peoples as a good foundation is in bedrock.

As such, they linger stubbornly on in day to day life, usually without sanction or favor from law, as countries move to the metric system in trade and industry, they are part of their cultural identity. As such, they may never fade from everyday use as they are perennially renewed as new generations must master the arcana of cookbooks and running a household.
Paragraph one is somewhat Eurocentric and grossly over-simplifies matters. Does the Imperial system date back to antiquity? Not as such but it is in part based on Roman units. However, as with many other systems, Rome is only part of the story.
Why are we singling "merchants and peasants" out? Why even use such terms this way in a modern encyclopædia article? "the more rationale metric system," I assume the author meant "rational" in which case this would be POV. "in many lands" which section of this long and winding one-sentence paragraph does this flowery phrase belong to? "they are common units ... as a good foundation is in bedrock." so artfully written but POV nonetheless.
Paragraph two, once vetted, will say nothing more than that customary units are still in use but metrication is in progress. These two facts are mentioned in this article. Paragraph three has little more to add.
Saying that they linger on (stubbornly or otherwise) is just another way of saying that they are still in use. "countries move to the metric system in trade and industry," metrication has a wider scope than trade and industry alone. This is repetition anyway as metrication had been mentioned in paragraph two.
"they are part of their cultural identity." this is just more of the same POV. "they are perennially renewed as new generations must master the arcana of cookbooks and running a household." nonsense, new generations simply buy new cookbooks, you can run a metric household (it's been proven a few million times).
I don't enjoy being so negative. All I want to do is explain why none of this will be finding its way into this article if I merge them as I intend to do.
--Jimp 18:22, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
That's Rktect's original research; please do cut it out. Septentrionalis 15:26, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Still around is he? Yes, it does seem a bit Rktectesque. Thanks for your vote of confidence, Septentrionalis.
No, I think he is gone; but his work lingers. Septentrionalis 19:41, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
The article continues as follows.

French Derived Systems

These systems are ancestral to the above

  • Troy System - Jewlers weight, the Troy Oz is larger than the Avoirupois ounce
  • Apothecaries' system - Traditional Pharmacological system, share same pound and ounce, but lesser units differ.

British Empire Derived Systems

All of this is covered in this article. It is, however, not split into "French" vs "British Empire". On the other hand, how accurate is this after all? Many English units predate the Empire. The Avoirdupois system is just as French as the Troy system (the name's a dead give away). What do we mean by "derived" anyway? How far are we going back?
"These systems are ancestral to the above" what above?
I would argue that Imperial units are a form of British customary units and so you can't speak of the former's replacing the latter. "Essentially the same age as other systems of Medieval origin." This is less than helpful when you don't mention these other systems.
The claim is that the Avoirdupois system is the ancestor of the Imperial and US customary systems. This is a little misleading. The former forms a part (albeit somewhat modified in the long version) of the latter two.
Strongly misleading; the British and US systems are statutory formalizations of Avoirdupois. Septentrionalis 19:41, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
The remainder of the article's body consists of empty sections which are as follow.
  • African measurement systems
  • Balkans and South Central Europe measurement systems
  • Eastern Europe measurement systems
  • Far Eastern measurement systems
  • Oceanic and Pacific Rim measurement systems
We don't have all of these sections here. It would be nice if we did. However, I just don't really get the point of having these section with nothing in them.
All that really seems worth adding to this article are a couple of links from the "See also" section. I'll go and add these now.
--Jimp 16:02, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

Moved from Talk:Customary measurement systems[edit]

At it's inception, this was concieved as a disambig page, so i left that template. It's evolved into more of a directory, which i guess is consistant.

  • It's key purpose is to gather dissimilar terms of more or less equivilent meaning as are both in customary english useage and common to discussions about measures in articles that contrast older and newer systems.
  • As it's developed, I think it should be populated with references to other customary systems so that anyone can easily browse between regions and nations, etc. in domestic voyeuristic bliss garnering knowledge and marveling at the simularities and differences between different cultures. i.e. It will make a great 'See Also' Link from many pages.
FrankB 05:11, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

Regarding your query on Customary_measurement_systems[edit]

This is a cross-post of message on user_talk:Ambuj.Saxena for further clarification FrankB


You left me a question in your edit summary. See: This for a quick refresher. I put the stub on it to attract editor attention. I probably should have place a clean on it as well for the same purpose. I don't like to cause doubt in users minds, distinct from editors, as that is not good for our WikiReputation!
There is a lot to fill in because most cultures have their own 'peoples measures' like the cup (unit) artilce indicates clearly. e.g. United States customary units. I placed in line comments within (<!--- ... ---->) to indicate this cultural input was what was needed. Those are visible in the link view as well.
Hope this clears it up as I have no idea what the customary units may be for Java, Turkey, Italy nor Pakistan!
  • I'll cross post this to the talk and add a clean tag there. I was rushed that night—most likely 5 to seven edit pages deep that I had to back out of and save as I went. :) I eventually got to bed, but it wasn;t early! :(
FrankB 03:37, 27 March 2006 (UTC) (emphasis added)

<--- see that the above concern is fullfilled before removing thankyou user:fabartus -->

Cleaning up history section[edit]

I cleaned up the history section. I consolidated the links to various customary units into three categories based on region and removed some excess text that added little to the section (these edits were made under my IP-address, as I forgot to log in...)Dpf90 (talk) 10:45, 27 January 2009 (UTC)


Systems of measurement#Area 57,600 sq ft (1.32 acres), 7,140 m2 (8,540 sq yd), 8,540 sq yd (1.76 acres) Peter Horn User talk 01:58, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

7,140 m2 (8,539 sq yd). Peter Horn User talk 02:01, 1 April 2011 (UTC)


Why does the "history" section begin with metric units? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:13, 7 December 2011 (UTC)

Merge proposal[edit]

Units of measure has five content sections:

  1. "History" duplicates the "History" section of this article, and should be merged here.
  2. "Systems of units" summarizes this article, and should be merged here.
  3. "Base and derived units" is talking about systems of measurement, and should be merged here or fundamental unit.
  4. "Calculations with units of measurements" duplicates dimensional analysis and should be merged there and perhaps summarized here.
  5. "Real-world implications" could just as easily be talking about confusion between systems of measurement, and should be merged here.

-- Beland (talk) 23:11, 14 May 2014 (UTC)

Unit of measure is a very universal term. It is widely used in accounting and economics. Money is a monetary unit of measure. Money is also a concept. Money is also a physical unit. Non-physical units of measure like Celsius and Ohm and Fahrenheit are also units of measure. All of these need to appear in one article and properly organized. The articles that maybe have to be merged are 1. Unit of account. 2. Units of measurement. 3. System of measurement. The most widely used term in all the above is "unit of measure". Homni (talk) 12:01, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
Unit of account and unit of measure are used as synonyms in economics and accounting. However, unit of account has a very specific definition in accounting - at international accounting standards level - that is not a nominal monetary unit of measure; not money or a fiat currency. In IFRS and US GAAP a unit of account is not a unit of measure. At that level, a unit of account are the words used to describe an asset unit of liability unit for accounting purposes.Homni (talk) 12:07, 23 July 2014 (UTC)