Re: Please explain this phrase

Subject: Re: Please explain this phrase
From: Dick Margulis <margulis -at- fiam -dot- net>
To: Con & Yu <dorun -at- m3 -dot- dion -dot- ne -dot- jp>
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 2003 07:03:10 -0400

Con & Yu wrote:

I was reading a report as I was preparing it for press and I came across one
sentence that makes no sense to me. Would someone please explain it to me?

The sentence is:

No self-respecting scientist would mix English and metric systems.

Does this mean that scientists only need to know one of the two systems? or
something else?


"No self-respecting [X]" is an idiomatic, or possibly a cliché, expression in English. It means, roughly: Only a less-than-fully-competent-and-qualified [X]. So the meaning of your sentence is that a competent professional scientist would not mix measuring systems within a single context. The author may, depending on the context, be criticizing the work of another scientist or merely explaining why the author is using either meters per liter or miles per gallon rather than kilometers per gallon.

The context could be a single equation, the whole paper, or the scientist's whole career. Generally, scientists stick with the metric system. Engineers tend to vacillate. American laypersons use the English system almost entirely.



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