Take me to your liter

For the most part, the US has resisted the metric system, perhaps, I suspect, to avoid looking like a seven-stone weakling on the world stage when the conversion inevitably takes place. (Which it will; future politicians will be keen to curry favor with the rest of the world, inasmuch as current politicians have been busily reducing their capacity to exert any meaningful force.) One aspect of metrification I hadn’t considered, however, is its potential effect on prose: once the population is assimilated, dozens of formerly standard idioms would perforce require either footnotes or inline translation.

Francis W. Porretto takes it one step further, because that’s what he does:

Millions of books already in print are lousy with Imperial units. Consider especially the horror that would be “metrified porn”: “Deftly he slid his twenty-five-centimeter joystick into her welcoming love tunnel, buried his face in her velvety hundred-centimeter bosom, and began to newton away.” Unthinkable!

Note: The liter, as seen in the title, is not a proper SI unit: they’d prefer you referred to cubic meters, each of which contains 1000 liters. Also, they’d prefer you spelled those words “litre” and “metre.”


  1. fillyjonk »

    30 April 2014 · 1:47 pm

    Not a consumer of the type of literature quoted here, but: are measurements really given as a standard? Aren’t just terms for relative size used? Somehow, I’d find it clinical and kind of jarring to have exact measurements given; too much like lab class.

  2. CGHill »

    30 April 2014 · 1:53 pm

    My expertise in that particular literary realm is too limited to make any kind of judgment call here.

  3. fillyjonk »

    30 April 2014 · 2:20 pm

    And I’m also picturing the heroine getting out a pair of calipers to test the hero’s claims.

  4. Tatyana »

    30 April 2014 · 3:03 pm

    FJ: thank you for that last visual!

  5. CGHill »

    30 April 2014 · 3:12 pm

    Indeed. A mere tape measure would be debilitating to the relationship (assuming one exists, which may be a lot to assume).

  6. jsallison »

    30 April 2014 · 7:28 pm

    “That is so not 30.48cm, she said with a derisive gaze.” Not that I’d know anything about that sort of ‘literature’.

  7. CGHill »

    30 April 2014 · 8:13 pm

    In fact, let’s scale back to 25.4 and ruin this moderately filthy record by Bull Moose Jackson. (There was a subsequent cover by Aerosmith, which wasn’t at all bad.)

  8. backwoods conservative »

    30 April 2014 · 9:27 pm

    Meters aren’t a small enough unit for measurement? Pansies.

  9. Roger Green »

    1 May 2014 · 11:51 am

    A hundred centimeters is a meter, he noted pendanticly… Softt core porn so early in the afternoon…l

  10. CGHill »

    1 May 2014 · 3:17 pm

    Guys in these stories would never admit to their core being soft.

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