Is it possible for Customary Units (inch-pound units) to make an international comeback, or for an entirely new system of measurement to replace the modern metric system?

These are very American questions, as all other countries (except for Liberia and Burma; Burma is currently transitioning to metric) switched to the metric system decades ago. That said, we have not found any research related to these questions but we did find a similar query- could another language overtake English as the “universal language”?

English is considered by most to be the universal language of communication while the modern Metric System is considered the universal language of measurement, even in the United States.  

Language is simply a method of structured communication consisting of words, signs, and symbols. And right now standardized (or universal) language is more important than ever as more people and governmental agencies from around the globe are collaborating on big scientific endeavors and more people from the most remote parts of the world are now considered part of the worldwide marketplace.

English has seen a proliferation around the planet through media, religion, technology, and trade. English has become the established language of business. As all other living languages have steadily decreased, the number of English speakers continues to expand on every continent in every year!

Let us look at the graph below and observe how many English language speakers there are in the world. Where are they located and how high are their English Proficiency Index (EPI) percentages?

This graph does not include countries where the official language is considered English such as USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.  Moreover, English is one of the official languages of the United Nations, the European Union and the International Olympic Committee.

EF English Proficiency Index 2013 – Copyright © EF Education First Ltd. All rights reserved

While the number of English speakers are unprecedented in human history and geographically dispersed, I still do not understand why most people consider English the universal language! 

The historic power of Great Britain and the United States encouraged many countries to create, now institutionalized, requirements for students to study English during their K-12 education while also providing easy, mostly free, access to adult English language learning opportunities via university or nontraditional language schools. After decades of these educational practices, the world is filled with millions of people, from many different countries, with multiple levels of English language proficiency. Therefore when traveling if you do not speak the native language, English is the default method of communicating. For example, it is not uncommon for Chinese tourists in Greece to speak English to a Greek cab driver who would speak English back to them.

Does this really justify calling English our universal language? 

That is for you to decide…. At Team Metric, we only recognize the undeniable, universal measurement language- the modern metric system. We have found no research or empirical evidence to support the idea that customary units could make a “comeback,” nor have we found groups working to create a new measurement system to replace the modern metric system. The modern metric system has the ability to evolve with new scientific discoveries and it has, its official name is International System of Units (SI) and this system is quite different from the metric system of the 70s.

Most people do believe that English, with a less than 40% global saturation rate, will remain the universal language of communication. Therefore, it seems logical that the metric system, with a greater than 95% global saturation rate, is here to stay!