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Victims of conversion

Posted by Lotg on October 13, 2004

As I child I grew up using Pounds Sterling as currency (errr.... well no as a child, I was more likely to have threepence - pronounced throopence with a short 'oo' - I never had more than 2 shillings on me at any one time - and if I did, I was filthy rich), and I had to learn Imperial measurements at school.

In 1966 (when I was 9), our currency was converted to decimal. And much later, in the early 70's I think (not sure about the date), our Imperial measurements were converted to metric.

But there were many sayings and slang terms that evolved based on the old currency and measurements. Some have lingered and some haven't.

eg. Yesterday it was really hot. It reached 38deg Celsius (thank goodness I live in the Mountains, only 28C here). Hottest day on record for that date in Spring. My 11 year-old stepdaughter phoned for a chat and I said to her "it reached the ton in Sydney today" and she had no idea what I was talking about. Because in the 'old speak', 38C was 100F. We also used to say things like, "the Holden can do 0 to the ton in 60 seconds" (highly unlikely probably) - which meant 0 to 100 mph. But now because we're metric, it would be no achievement to reach 100kph.

Use of the word 'ton' like that seems to have dropped away here, because for a start we don't have 'tons' any more, we have 'tonnes' and secondly most metric measurements do seem to end that tidily. We also used to say, if we had 2 shillings, that we had 2 bob. Some of us older people still say that when we're holding a 20c coin, because the coins are pretty much the same size and feel the same. But again, my stepdaughter has no idea what a Bob is. She'd probably say it was Bob the Builder.

But other sayings like "the penny dropped", still linger.

I was wondering if anyone can offer any other legacies like these of bygone currencies, measurement standards and eras?

And what other countries have undergone such currency conversions within the last 50 years?