Units of Measurement

To many Earth people, when contact with Ooranye was first achieved in the thirty-sixth century, the most astonishing thing about the culture of the giant world was that it used the same units of measurement as Earth - and had done for over a million of our years.  Inches, feet, yards and miles were more ancient on Ooranye than the advent of the current human species on Earth.

However, this was not a surprise to everyone.  It provided confirmation of Dreathe's Theorem, which had been postulated in the 2700s during the first scientific mapping of the topography of the racial unconscious.

Dreathe predicted that there was something fundamental about the so-called "English" units of measurement.  He said that these were likely to be found wherever humanoid species evolved in the Galaxy.  The units were part of our inbuilt mental furniture.  The urge to express them was a weak but pervasive force, analogous to gravity among the physical forces.  Dreathe employed a "proof by contradiction", citing the irrationality of the opposition to natural measures.  Wherever natural measures - inch, foot, yard, mile - took hold, opposition, if it occurred, would take the form of some sort of linguistic perversion: replacing organically-evolved one-syllable words with the exaggerated ugliness of artificial four-syllable words such as "kilometer" and "centimetre" on Earth and "kruntisnargle" and "foopisnargle" during the Nitrogen Era on Ooranye.


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