What floor is it?

by  Sam C. Chan

February 15, 2006

Rencontrez-moi sur le premier étage
(Meet me at the first/second floor)

In French, le premier étage is the floor above le rez-de-chaussée (ground floor). For British English speakers, it translates to "first floor," but if you speak American English, it translates to "second floor."   Shocking, but true. It gets even more confusing...

In Hong Kong, both British English and Chinese are spoken. The Chinese floor naming system is consistent with the American one, which is different from the British one. Therefore, when translating from English to Chinese, you'll also need to add one floor to the address, unless you happen to be translating for a newly arrived American tourist, who's already naturally speaking in the same terms as Chinese, where floors are concern.

The British are wondering "whatever happened to the missing 1st floor?" when the Chinese and Americans jump from ground floor to 2nd floor. The Americans can't understand why the Britons insist on doubt-counting the "1st floor," when it's already been referred to as "the ground floor."

Hmmm, now I'm confused myself... Are we starting from ground zero, or are we starting with floor one? Do you count from the ground itself, or after the ground floor? We could be arguing all day and still be stuck in square uno.


An IT Trivia I've  noticed

In United States, hard drive numbers, partition numbers, head and cylinder numbers all start at zero, but sector numbers start with one. The whole world followed, and became consistently inconsistent with us! This reminded me of another thing...

The nice thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.

See also: