Well Guv. To get that job done you need two thousand mill of 4 by 2″.

Over the years, the language of the builder has become increasingly convoluted. This sentence confuses imperial measurements such 4 by 2 which means 4 inches x 2 inches, with metric measurements such as 2000 millimetres.

​​Years ago when the UK government decided that we should go metric few realised quite how long it would be before Imperial units could be erased from our vocabulary. The market stall holders who, in the early days of metrication, were taken to court for selling potatoes in pounds rather than kilograms, were the tip of an iceberg which 20 years on, has still to melt. Motorists who buy their petrol by the litre will, when asked about fuel consumption,  invariably reply in miles per gallon and then drive off at speeds measured in miles per hour. Young people, who have only ever been taught the metric system give their height in feet and inches.  Recently a nurse was overheard explaining to the distraught mother of a young child that the reason that her daughter had apparently experienced such a dramatic weight loss was not because of a serious medical condition but because when born her baby was weighed in pounds and ounces whereas the weight she had just been given was in kilograms.

Sometimes the mediator, sitting between two disputing parties, may feel that each side is operating under a different system, using different jargon and speaking a different language. Part of the skill of mediation is to get both sides to understand one another whatever language they are using and however confusing their different perceptions may be.