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Measuring up!!

Community Veteran
Posts: 7,149
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Fixes: 2
Registered: 30-08-2007

Measuring up!!

Seen today in the Daily Mail Q&A column.

The question was asking if there are any other measurement systems widely used other than Imperial or metric.
The first answer was standard stuff about some countries that haven't adopted metric etc.
But the second answer was a real gem of wit. I hope I'm not treading on any copyright toes by reproducing it here...enjoy:
As a former construction buyer, I can confirm that other systems are alive and kicking. Quantities of component parts are requested in boxes, stacks, loads “a few” and tons as well as the catch-all “some”
   
When these fail to fulfil expectations, reversion to sign language ensues. An extended cupped hand can be accompanied by the description “this much”
   
When all this fails properly to encompass the magnitude involved, a new scale of size is employed.
This is called the Well-what-do-they-come-in scale, where a “fair bit” is not to be confused with a “fair few”. Generally speaking, any quantity can be applied a multiple by the expedient of a preceding expletive.
This also suggests any delivery time requirement, which itself is based on an inverse fourth dimensional string-theory warp measured in balls, reels, hanks, rolls, sheaves and coils – where any urgency immediately renders the quantity unavailable.
Measures of length are are always in units of Plank's Constant – unless actually measured in “planks” which are hardly ever constant.
Liquids are quantified by using the scale of “dollops per tub” while the BBC and Metrological Agencies seem to be quite happy with their own agenda.
Hope the helps a bushel and a peck.
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
25 REPLIES
SRD
Grafter
Posts: 300
Registered: 29-04-2010

Re: Measuring up!!

Some North Country shepherds (as well as elsewhere) still count as follows:
Yan, Tan, Tethera, Methera, Pip, Lezar, Azar, Catrah, Borna, Dick, Yanadick, Tanadick, Tetheradick, Metheradick, Bumfit, Yanabum, Tanabum, Tetherabum, Metherabum, Jiggit.
Community Veteran
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Registered: 11-08-2007

Re: Measuring up!!

lol. Smiley
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 17,246
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Registered: 11-01-2008

Re: Measuring up!!

So you started on the gin then SRD?
Will Moderate For Thanks
Community Veteran
Posts: 767
Registered: 29-10-2008

Re: Measuring up!!

Quote from: SRD
Yan, Tan, Tethera, Methera, Pip, Lezar, Azar, Catrah, Borna, Dick

Or where I come from: Yan, Tan, Tethera , Methera, Pimp, Hethera, Sethera, Obbera, Dobbera, Dick.
But only for the benefit of townies.  Wink
Gabe
SRD
Grafter
Posts: 300
Registered: 29-04-2010

Re: Measuring up!!

Quote from: 4d13w00
So you started on the gin then SRD?
No, I found a bottle of wine.
SRD
Grafter
Posts: 300
Registered: 29-04-2010

Re: Measuring up!!

Quote from: Gabe
Quote from: SRD
Yan, Tan, Tethera, Methera, Pip, Lezar, Azar, Catrah, Borna, Dick

Or where I come from: Yan, Tan, Tethera , Methera, Pimp, Hethera, Sethera, Obbera, Dobbera, Dick.
But only for the benefit of townies.  Wink
Gabe
I heard an item on the radio the other day, can't remember where, which gave a different version again that worked to base 12 rather than decimal.  They explained why they'd be using base 12 but I'll be buggered if I can remember what it all was.  That's probably why the gin bottle's half empty.
Community Veteran
Posts: 767
Registered: 29-10-2008

Re: Measuring up!!

Density per acre and per pen in multiples of 12 or 6.
The numbers seem to be a corruption of the Welsh. QI
Jake Thakray wrote a song on the subject.
Gabe
SRD
Grafter
Posts: 300
Registered: 29-04-2010

Re: Measuring up!!

Interesting, I understood it was Viking not Celt.  Do the other Celts in Great Britain and Europe have a similar system?
Community Veteran
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Re: Measuring up!!

Quote from: SRD
Do the other Celts in Great Britain and Europe have a similar system?

Thanks to the power of Wikipedia, more than you could possibly want to know.
Gabe
SRD
Grafter
Posts: 300
Registered: 29-04-2010

Re: Measuring up!!

I'd found that, but there's no mention of Scottish, Irish, French or Spanish Celtic equivalents so I would have thought that suggests it isn't neccessarily Celtic in origin.
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 17,246
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Registered: 11-01-2008

Re: Measuring up!!

No, it's because they're not important. Wink
[me=4d13w00]runs away[/me]
Will Moderate For Thanks
Community Veteran
Posts: 767
Registered: 29-10-2008

Re: Measuring up!!

Quote from: 4d13w00
they're not important. Wink

In the sense that they're either Goidelic or extinct, quite.
Quote from: SRD
no mention of Scottish, Irish, French or Spanish Celtic equivalents so I would have thought that suggests it isn't neccessarily Celtic in origin.

I'm not sure I follow your reasoning.
Gaelic, logical as ever, counts to ten and then adds ten to the digit up to 19:
a haon, a dó, a trí, a ceathair, a cúig, a sé, a seacht, a hocht, a naoi, a deich, a haon déag, a dó dhéag, a trí déag, a ceathair déag, a cúig déag, a sé déag, a seacht déag, a hocht déag, a naoi déag, a fiche.
In Brythonic, you have the labial stop rather than the velar, so 4, 5 =  pedwar, pump or peddera, pimp rather than ceathair, cúig.
Old Norse, like English, counts to twelve and then adds ten to the digit up to 19:
ein, tveir, þrír, fjórir, fimm, sex, sjau, átta, níu, tíu, ellifu, tólf, þrettán, fjórtán, fimtán, sextán, sjaután, átján, nítján, tuttugu.
Welsh, like Yan-Tan-Tethera, counts to ten, then adds ten to the digit up to 14, then 15 to the digit up to 19 (bar twice nine for 1Cool:
un, dau, tri, pedwar, pump, chwech, saith, wyth, naw, deg, un ar ddeg, deuddeg, tair ar ddeg, pedair ar ddeg, pymtheg, un ar bymtheg, dwy ar bymtheg, deunaw, pedair ar bymtheg, ugain.
So Yan-Tan-Tethera seems to be Welsh dialect + rhyme and rhythm.
Gabe
SRD
Grafter
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Registered: 29-04-2010

Re: Measuring up!!

Fascinating, thanks.
I'm not sure it's logical to count in tens apart from us having ten digits on our hands, although a base 6 system also works well if dealing with smaller numbers (1,2,3,4,5, - 1 on the other hand).  Decimals are also easy when dealing with larger numbers but isn't particularly useful for whole number division.  And didn't the Romans used a decimal equivalent?
My reasoning was simply that most counting systems are ubiquitous to the language used and that other Celtic languages didn't seem to have an equivalent to Yan-Tan-Tethera, and, as you have said, the counting of sheep tends towards population density.
It seems a bastardised system, a combination of base 10 and base 12, so I think I'd want to look more closely at the origins of the 10+ numbers to see if they are more recent.  I'm sure I recall a programme that suggested Yan-Tan-Tethera was originally a base 12 system.
Community Veteran
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Registered: 29-10-2008

Re: Measuring up!!

Quote from: SRD
It seems a [Censored] system, a combination of base 10 and base 12

English counts to twelve and then flips into decimal. The Gaelic pattern is more self consistent.
Welsh is the only insular language that counts to ten and then reverts to one-handed counting, and Yan-Tan-Tethera follows that, with clear corruptions of the Welsh forms of several numbers, and the rest is sing-song.
The Romans could hardly count and left all the complicated stuff to the Greeks.  Smiley
Gabe