Sunday, September 16, 2007



From Wednesday's International Herald Tribune:
The British and the Irish can still down a pint of beer, walk a mile, covet an ounce of gold and eat a pound of bananas after the European Union ruled Tuesday that the countries could retain measurements dating to the Middle Ages.

Under a previous EU plan, Britain and Ireland would have been forced to phase out imperial measurements by 2009. But after a vociferous anti-metric campaign by British EU-skeptics and the London tabloid press, EU officials decided that an ounce of common sense, which equals 28.34 grams of common sense, suggested that granting a reprieve was better than braving a public backlash.
It's often a safe bet to append "the Irish" to "the British" in EU matters but it doesn't work in this case. In Ireland, miles and pounds were abolished in favour of km and kg some years ago and nobody seemed bothered. Only the trusty pint of plain still clings on as a relic of the old ways, and even that is probably now defined in terms of milliliters.

Anyhow, now that "British EU-skeptics and the London tabloid press" have succeeded in rescuing one small corner of Europe's diversity from the forces of homogenization, perhaps they'll be minded to mount an equally "vociferous" campaign in defence of our beleaguered linguistic diversity.

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