WHEREAS The origins of UCUM go back to Germany and even though its home migrated to the U.S., there is nothing about UCUM that is not international, except the use of a single definitive language, English.

WHEREAS In a recent workshop on health terminology in Germany (October 2008), and likewise from colleagues in Thailand, the question was asked, whether translation of terminologies into multiple languages really is a good idea. Fortunately, English in the world today is what Latin was in medieval Europe, e.g., a common language shared by many scientists around the world and well suited to communicate technical ideas.

WHEREAS UCUM is clearly biased in favor of the International System of Units (SI) and its legacy pursuing a scientifically-based "metric system". All the symbols used for SI and other metric units are internationally widely used.

WHEREAS UCUM includes regional customary units, in an international scope, including old French, old English, and the customary units still in use in the U.S. today. Through contacts with colleagues from Japan, India, Thailand, we have reached out around the world to find the need for including units unheard of in the West.

NOW THEREFORE a multi-lingual UCUM project shall be created to provide a home for any discussion and education on multilingual and international matters of representation of units, and to provide a home to manage translations of UCUM content. The following Principles shall apply:

  1. UCUM shall invite, promote and help distribute contributions of translations of any UCUM related material, including the text of the specification.
  2. While UCUM editors and advisors are recruited from around the World, UCUM will not guarantee, endorse, or even attempt to review contributed translations for correctness.
  3. The decisive technical language of UCUM is English. In case of doubt the meaning of the English text shall preempt any implication of a translation.
  4. No translation of UCUM code symbols shall be permitted. That is, no regional implementation of UCUM must replace code symbols with any translations. Since print names are not normative in UCUM, print names may be translated.
  5. This project is to promote internationalization, not nationalization. This means, it will ”not” assist in creating national or regional subsets which would render UCUM expressions originating in other nations or regions incompatible.


Lin Zhang (Forest Lin) from Bethune International Peace Hospital, Shijiazhuang, China has contributed a Chinese translation. A preliminary version of this translation is tracked in ticket #20.

Norbert Sigmond from DIMDI, Germany, has contributed a partial translation of a subset of UCUM in German. This is tracked on ticket #200.

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