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mm and mL a wet question

Posted: Thu Feb 10, 2005 12:57 pm
by Wizard of Oz
.. I am witness to a change in the usage/meaning of a word .. the abbreviation mL stands for millilitres and is generally pronounced in conversation as "mils" .. the abbreviation mm stands for millimetres and does not have a pronounced equivalent .. rain is measured in mm, however I am constantly hearing radio announcers announcing that, "x mils of rain fell today" this translates as "x millilitres of rain" and is thus incorrect .. the worst offender is the ABC which once could boast that they were the protectors of received pronunciation in Australia .. I have even heard the guest broadcaster from the Weather Bureau use "mils" when referring to rain measurement .. 'tis a sad sad day .. *sigh* .. but it is an example of where an "authorative" source could be quoted and used to justify or perpetuate a blatant error .. maybe even googled and upturn .. *grin* .. several thousand hits which would make it legit in some people's eyes ..

WoZ of Aus 10/02/05

mm and mL a wet question

Posted: Thu Feb 10, 2005 5:17 pm
by kagriffy
I don't know about "Down Under," WOZ, but "Up Over" (at least in the good old USA), our rain falls in inches. (But I don't know if the inches or the rain is/are falling! *G*)

According to my dictionary, however, there actually is a linear measure known as "mil": it's equal to .001 inches or .0254 millimeters (or millimetres for you Aussies). I doubt, however, that any weather broadcasters would be measuring such minute quantities of rain!

There is, of course, also the "mill," which is 1/10 of an American cent. I never did know why we have this unit, because there is no coin with this value. The only time the mill is used is for the price of a gallon of gas: $1.899, for example. I've often wondered if I could get a credit of one mill if I buy exactly one gallon, but I won't hold my breath!

mm and mL a wet question

Posted: Thu Feb 10, 2005 5:52 pm
by Phil White
And in Germany, it falls in litres (per square metre).

mm and mL a wet question

Posted: Thu Feb 10, 2005 6:31 pm
by russcable
To amplify on the previous US poster, the unit 'mil' (a milli-inch) is used in the US to measure the thickness of very thin things such as plastic trash bags, etc. By comparing the mils on the packages, you can gauge the relative strength of the bags.

Since liters and meters of water are related measurements, I can see how it would make sense to report l/m2, but I can't get a grip on how I would figure out what quarts per square yard would be like.

For completeness, mil can also be used to indicate "parts per thousand" (a one mil saline solution is one part salt per thousand). The US military use it to mean an angle of 1/6400 of a circle. This started out as a milli-radian, but since there are 2*pi radians in a circle there would be 6283 and a non-repeating fraction of milli-radians in a circle so they used "military intelligence" to round it up to 6400 which makes the US military version of pi 3.2 which explains a lot. The Soviet military (possibly others) rounds it down to 6000 per circle (so their pi is the more convenient 3).

mm and mL a wet question

Posted: Thu Feb 10, 2005 7:08 pm
by Ken Greenwald
Out my way 'MILL levies' are related to the amount of annual taxes to be paid on a property. The County Assessor establishes the value of your property for tax purposes and the taxing authorities use the assessed value to determining the ‘mill levies’ to be paid. A mill is 1/10th of a penny or $1.00 revenue for each $1000 of assessed valuation (or .1%). Thus a 26 mill school district levy on a property assessed at $100,000 would be $260.

The verb LEVY has meant to raise contributions, taxes, etc., or to impose an assessment, rate, toll, etc., since the late 14th century, and the noun has meant the act of doing so since the early 15th century. ‘Levy’ comes from Middle English ‘levien,’ from ‘leve,’ levy, tax, from Old French ‘levee,’ from feminine past participle of ‘lever,’ to raise, from Latin ‘levare,’ to lighten, lift, from which we also get ‘lever.’ And as a famous Greek once said, “Give me a levy high enough and I will tax the wealth.” The embankment ‘levee’ designed to prevent the flooding of a river derives from the same root. And as a famous New Orleansian once said, “Give me a levee high enough and I’ll give you a river that’s below sea level!

Ken G – February 10, 2005

mm and mL a wet question

Posted: Thu Feb 10, 2005 8:07 pm
by haro
Phil, the change from millimeters / millimetres to liters / litres per square meter was made only a few years ago. I'm not quite sure, but I think it was in the late 'nineties. And it was made only on some German speaking TV and radio channels. Meteorologist, or at least those meteo guys involved in maritime stuff, still use millimeters.

As can be shown by a simple calculation, the figures remain the same anyway, i.e. ten millimeters of rain mean ten liters per square meter, but it seems that the mass media honchos believe the simpletons at the other end of the line get a better picture from the latter.

Russ, the military system of 6400 mils is used in other armies too. In German it is called 'Artillerie-Promille.' Military binoculars often have a reticule marked in mils, and you can even buy compasses whose cards (aka roses) are marked in mils, not in degrees.

mm and mL a wet question

Posted: Thu Feb 10, 2005 9:00 pm
by Wizard of Oz
.. thanks Allen for that wonderful measure of ".0254 millimetres" .. it will make my letter to the honchos at the ABC just that much more delightful .. meanwhile I will watch in sad repose as this abomination of pronunciation runs apace with the uneducated leading the unwashed ..

WoZ of Aus 11/02/05