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Names of units.

Names of units.
by David Short on 05/29/03 at 02:00:40

It would probably be a good idea if it were made clear on the site that many of the units in your tables are not special unique units but just other names for common units.

At the moment, some variants of units are given with a standard English name and then something in square brackets specifying the type, but then other variants are listed under completely different names, usually the word for the unit in the local language.  For example, as well as the standard Imperial pound, there are "pounds [metric]" and "pounds [troy]", but then the old Dutch pound is called "pond"; the old German and Danish pound, "Pfund"; the old French pound, "livre"; the old Roman, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian pounds, "libbra" and so on.  

It is not true that each of these words refers specifically to the variant unit in each case.  That is to say, if you want to talk about, say, the Troy or Metric pound in French, you use the word livre.  In fact, if a French person says "livre", he or she is most likely to be talking about the British/American system, because in everyday life they would just use kilos.

The foreign words in the tables could be useful to find the different national versions of the units, but without making it look like these are completely different units that don't have anything to do with each other, rather than just local versions.  The lists could have such words, but use them to refer to user the unit under its English name, e.g.

Libbra (see pound)
Livre (see pound)
Pfund (see pound)
Legua (see league)

And then:

Pound [Standard/Imperial/Avoirdupois]
Pound [French ("livre")]
Pound [German ("Pfund")]
Pound [Italian ("Libbra")]
Pound [Metric]
Pound [Roman ("Libra")]
Pound [Scand. ("Pund")]
Pound [Spanish ("Libra")]
Pound [Troy]

That way, you'd have a complete list of different pounds to choose from. I think this would be more logical.

By the way, you have "libbra" for pound is various languages.  This is incorrect.  The ancient Roman's name for the unit was Libra with one "b".  This Latin name (as in Libra, the Balance in the zodiac) is still used in Spanish and Portuguese.  Only the Italians have added an extra "b".

I've noticed you already have one example of the same unit in the lists in two different languages: you have both "hectogram" and "etto", an abreviation for "ettogrammo",  simply Italian for "hectogram".

If you don't know what all of the names of the units in your lists mean, I can tell you; I speak most of the languages involved.


Re: Names of units.
by Robert Fogt on 05/30/03 at 13:09:51

You wouldn't happen to know of a good reference book would you?

Right now I have about a dozen different sources, none of which contain everything.  Everything I do takes hours. First to find in one, then to verify in another. And some books contain much more information, which takes even longer to verify.

It would be nice to have a single, more complete, reference. Then just use the others for verification. That would speed things up greatly.  But a book like that probably only exists in the make believe world in my head.  ;D

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