Spelling and word usage: All the extra "u"s in words in the British world that never entered the US, and don't forget some that did. All the word endings that are "er" in American English and "re" in British English.
Typical names of various and sundry everyday items, for example on automobiles, "bonnet" versus "hood" and "boot" versus "trunk".
Names of other items and technical terms, such as on track, you go from rail to tie plates to ties to ballast and have joint bars and bolts. Rails have head, web, and base. In the British world you go from rail to base plates to sleepers to ballast had have fishplates and fishbolts. Rails have head, but sometimes called crown, fishing, and foot. The gage side of the rail, although commonly the gauge spelling is used in the US, is called the four foot, and space between tracks in a double track line is called the six foot.
Many Asian places use year-month-day order for dates. There are Asian languages (is it most of them?) that do not have gender pronouns, as a result of which you can get random misusages
Bad conversions from Common English units to Metric units are common, also carrying unwarranted precision. That is, a rounded value in one system is given too many significant figures in the conversion. Here understanding of what you are doing is important. For example, mph to km/hr conversions should be whole number, that is 70 mph is either 112 or 113 km/hr. Do not call it 110 km/hr unless the person of the metric end wants it that way. Conversely, 300 km/hr is 186 mph, not 185 or 180 or 190 mph. Many times you will find mis-converted items where multiple units are involved. One I have seen more than once is in rail. The US common is in pounds per yard. The metric common is in kilograms per meter. I have seen the weight unit converted without the length unit being converted, The real conversion is almost exactly 2:1, and is best called out as if it were exactly that. In other words, a 100 lb/yd rail is a 50 kg/m rail. In the other direction, 60 kg/m is 120 lb/yd. Then in the same vein, there are differing shapes with the same nominal weight. There is a Euronorm 60, a Chinese 60, a Japanese 60, and an Australian 60, and maybe even a couple others, as it seems that 60 kg/m has become somewhat of a magic number for rails in many locations. These sections are not interchangable, as they have differing base widths, overall heights, and head shapes. I have seen these misnamed in international publications. And then, the 60 kg/m is nominal. There are small variations in actual unit weight.
Pressure and loads are others that can have multiple confusing mis conversions, and sometimes these are within the metric units themselves. Kilograms per unit length or area unit versus Newtons per length or area. Thanks to gravity being near 10:1, that is 9.8 Newtons/sec^2, this one is easily missed. And then you have the "bar" used in pressure.
There are countries that have nominally gone metric, but still use feet and pounds, etc, for many common usages. One example, a person from a nominally metric country that will tell you their weight in pounds and height in feet-inches. There was another example where in the specifications and plans conversions from US to metric were carefully and properly made, and then it was found that the manufacturer for some of the materials still had all his equipment doing things in English units. There are other things that can surprise you as well, but I will quit here.
George Harris Aff.M.ASCE
Senior Track Engineer
Olive Branch MS
Sent: 02-07-2022 05:30 PM
From: Christopher Seigel
Subject: International Team Challenges - Differences in time-zones, terminology, etc.
I thought it might be interesting to discuss some things to consider when working in groups that span the globe. Some things I have learned to be cognizant of include the following:
- Date formats - Day/Month/Year can very easily be mixed up with Month/Day/Year when using numbers only formats! I usually spell out the month and name the day of the month to avoid confusion.
- Time formats - when working on a global clock, telling someone that you'll call them at 8 can mean either very early in the morning, or very late at night. I like to confirm AM or PM, or simply use the 24:00 format instead.
- Daylight Savings Time - a personal bane since not everyone uses it (or has even heard of it!). I once had an intern from China who was very confused about why all of our timeseries data that we were working with had a gap between 2AM and 3AM in March.
What are some other issues to overcome when working on a global team?
Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCE