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In Speculative Fiction, Aliens Speaking English or aliens speaking through Translator Microbes will sometimes be heard to use terrestrial measurements, but will for some reason feel the need to emphasise that they are your units of Earth measurements, and not theirs. This implies that the extraterrestrials have their own units of measurement, that by improbable coincidence share a name with the ones humans use, but are otherwise different. Of course, this is rather like someone from a country which uses imperial measurements visiting one that uses metric ones and using phrases like "20 of your kilometers" or "6 of your kilograms". It also spares the audience from clunky exposition where the alien explains that a floob is equal to 2.837 meters.

While the "Earth" half of this trope may be justified for certain time units such as days and years, which depend on the motion of the Earth as a standard, the "your" construction is an incredibly awkward and unnecessary bit of phrasing.

Happens to some degree in real life, in situations such a Brit talking to an American about "two of your gallons" - but this is exactly because Britain and the US use the same word to mean different volumes. (1 Imperial gallon == 1.2 American gallons.) Likewise, just as "minute" comes from the Latin for a small division, the aliens may have a time unit named after their word for a small division. But if not, there is little point specifying that it is an 'Earth Minute'... Unless it's mocking or derogatory, like most real-life uses of the trope in metric vs. imperial situations.

See also Microts.

Examples of Two of Your Earth Minutes include:


Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • In Nextwave, a representative of the Beyond Corporation summons Dread Rorkannu, Lord of the Dark Dim Dimension, to ask to rent out his minions, and offers him a hundred dollar bill as payment. Rorkannu holds the money triumphantly, saying "Yes! I have a hundred of the Earth dollars!"

Film

  • The Ed Wood B-Movie Plan 9 from Outer Space has an alien refer to "a can of your gasoline." Apparently, gasoline exists nowhere else, or he's digging at the quality of Earth gasoline. Or, maybe he's just poorly written.
    • That same alien also refers to technology grasped "aeons of your years ago".
    • The humans even get in on it, asking the aliens why they want to contact "our Earth governments".
  • Spoofed in Amazon Women on the Moon. The Queen of the eponymous moon-dwellers boasts that her civilization has existed for millions of "Gamma-Spans", and hastily exposits that a Gamma-Span is "roughly equivalent to one of your Earth years." Though the Moon is the one place in the universe which is guaranteed to have the same average duration of "years" as Earth, Gamma-Spans could refer to sidereal years, which are longer than tropical years due to precession.
  • Jor-El does this in the first Superman movie, in his Video Wills:

 By now you will have reached your eighteenth year, as it is measured on Earth. By that reckoning, I will have been dead many thousands of your years.

 Kro-Bar: Aliens? Us? Is this one of your Earth jokes?

Fleming: See? See?

Lattis: You should not have said "Earth jokes." Don't you see how that gave us away?

    • The sequel, The Lost Skeleton Returns Again, spoofs this trope in a more conventional way:

  Chinfa, Queen of the Cantaloupe People: For many many days of your days, we have existed here in seclusion, away from your so-called non-cantaloupe, civilized ways.

Literature

 Ax: We have twenty-six of your minutes left.

Marco: We're on Earth, Ax. They're everyone's minutes.

Ax: (quite deliberately) We now have twenty-five of your minutes.

    • Another example:

 "...fifteen of your miles."

"You don't have to say 'your miles'. They are everybody's miles."

"What about the countries that use kilometres? See? I am learning!"

    • One bizarre example from before Ms. Applegate got her act together has Andalites making reference to "twelve Earth minutes" despite no humans being anywhere nearby. In later books Andalites simply use "minutes" or "feet" in a way that suggests a Translation Convention (especially as at least one of them doesn't even know Earth exists).
  • Inverted in Dog Wizard by Barbara Hambly, where a wizard exposits this flaw in the spell of tongues. Later, when an alien has stated that his equipment can keep everybody safe for only two hours, he's startled when the heroine comments that time is almost up 100 minutes later -- it's not even been one "hour" as far as he's concerned.
  • Diane Duane's Trek novel My Enemy, My Ally has the Enterprise arranging a rendezvous with a Romulan vessel. When setting the time, Kirk tells Uhura to give the Romulans a second-tick for reference; the officer he's speaking to tells him they know what a second means to Terrans. Meanwhile the glossary at the back of The Romulan Way specifies that a Rihannsu "minute" is actually 50.1 seconds in Terran terms.
  • Averted in Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth novels, where such Earth-derived time units are concisely referred to as "t-years" or the like. Presumably the "t" stands for Terra, and years on Hivehome would be "h-years".
  • The "T-years" terminology is used in Honor Harrington as well. In this case, the author bothers to include an appendix explaining the different calendars in use.
  • Inverted in Spider Robinson's Callahan's Secret, where the group on Earth makes telepathic contact with the approaching alien and explains what a second is "This interval [ ] is a second" and give the alien 30 of them to comply. The alien realizes that since a second is a meaningful interval for thought, the folks on Earth were vastly inferior.
  • A variant occurs in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, when the Ghost of Christmas Past comments that Old Fezziwig has spent "a few pounds of your mortal money," making this trope Older Than Radio.
    • I think that the point is that money is valuable only to mortals, not that only mortals measure it in British pounds sterling.
  • The Isaac Asimov short story The Last Trump revolves around the Devil's apparent triumph over God, having convinced Him/Her/It to bring about Judgement Day on Earth, thus "winning" since humanity as a whole has not yet conformed to the divine plan. However, the angel whose job is to watch over the Earth protests this move and eventually manages to get Judgement Day overturned since God's decree of when the Earth would end referred to a specific date, apparently based on the Gregorian calendar, but the angel points out that nowhere in the decree itself was the specific calendar system identified. Since there are so many different calendar systems in use on Earth, and they can not just randomly pick one, Judegement Day can not actually occur and the Earth continues as it always has. The story ends with the Devil, accepting that his immediate plan was foiled, planning a global calendar revision to mark the beginning of the "Atomic Era" for all mankind.
    • In the later Foundation novels it's noted that the time standard on all inhabited planets is 24 hours although no planet has exactly a 24 hour day. This is due to the original Earther colonists establishing the day as 24 hours, even though by the time of the Foundation Earth is unknown except in legends.
  • Here's another weird one: in Thief of Time, the History Monks have had to rebuild the structure of time after it became fragmented, synchronizing all of history using a unit of duration based on the human pulse rate. Presumably this is because only the monks, themselves, had retained the ability to move and function after this catastrophe, so had to use their own physiology as the basis for timing everything else. Makes sense ... except the human pulse rate varies all over the place, based on age, physical condition, activity level and mood. So whose pulse, in what mood, and doing what, did they actually choose to base it on? The Discworld may be timed on "One of your 'Lu-Tse Taking A Siesta While Feeling A Bit Put Upon By All This' minutes"!
  • In Wintersmith the Wintersmith makes itself a human body, goes into an inn, and orders dinner. It then triumphantly declares "I have eaten the human sausages", and the waitress informs him that they're pork, thank you very much.
  • Subverted in Andrey Livadny's Living Space, where Sheila Norman is hooked up to a neural interface with a reactivated alien computer. The machine asks how long it has been off-line, and Sheila replies that it has been 3 million years, prompting the machine to clarify an unknown unit of measurement. She defines a year as the time for a full orbit around a star. The machine further attempts to clarify exactly what orbit she's talking about. Finally, it just scans her mind for the location of Earth and finds the planet in its database. Then it off-handedly comments that its creators visited Earth in the past and may have accidentally been responsible for Christianity and the myth of Jesus.
  • In Dark Force Rising, Leia asks the Noghri matriarch how long ago the planet Honoghr suffered biosphere destruction. The matriarch answers her in Honoghr years, then reiterates it in standard years.

Live Action TV

  • A comic set in the Babylon 5 universe had a Minbari use the phrase "30 of your minutes" when addressing Jeffrey Sinclair.
    • Also used in the show, in which an alien claiming jurisdiction over a planet says he will give Sinclair "ten of your hours to stand aside."
      • The alien in this example was reading from a phonetic script produced in a hurry; unlike the other aliens, he didn't actually know English at all.
  • Referenced in one episode of Stargate SG-1. When one Ba'al says (via hologram) that Gen. O'Neill has one day to turn over a prisoner, O'Neill replies, "Is that one Earth day, or...?" before the Ba'al rolls his eyes and shuts off his end of the hologram.
    • At least, unlike minutes, days are based directly on a physical phenomenon, so every planet that's not tidally locked with its primary has a day.
      • On NASA space probe missions, the day on another planet is referred to as a "sol" (partly to distinguish its solar day from its sidereal day, but mostly so that people won't get confused when someone says "three days from now").
    • Referenced again in the season nine episode Beachhead, when Col. Mitchell gives a Prior "thirty of our 'Earth minutes'" to shut down an active Stargate, prompting the following exchange:

 Daniel: "Earth minutes"?

Mitchell: Yeah, I Always Wanted to Say That.

  • Depending on the episode, Star Trek may play this trope straight or avert it. Some alien races, such as the Klingons and Romulans, get their own units of measurement (kellikams, melakols, kolems, etc). but on the other hand....

 Scary Alien: "We therefore grant you ten Earth time periods known as 'minutes'..." (Oy.)

    • A strange example comes from "The Savage Curtain": The Excalbian recreation of Abraham Lincoln asks if they still measure time in minutes, to which Kirk responds that they "can convert to it".
    • One of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novels involved an alien threat with an absurdly specific (into the tenths of seconds, IIRC) deadline; the characters simply assumed it came out roundly in the aliens' units.
    • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, "Peak Performance", a Ferengi attack vessel happens upon a Federation wargames exercise. Ferengi DaiMon Bractor misinterprets the situation, believing that the Enterprise's inferior sparring partner, USS Hathaway, must hold some secret value. He offers to let the Enterprise go unharmed if Picard will agree to hand over the Hathaway to him. He punctuates the demand with, "You have ten of your minutes".
    • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield".

 Commisioner Bele: For fifty thousand of your terrestrial years, I have been pursuing Lokai through the galaxy.

  • In a sketch on A Bit of Fry and Laurie, a shopkeeper tells a customer "That will be twenty of your Earth pounds". In another sketch, a gameshow contestant is informed that he has "thirty Earth seconds" to answer.
  • The Imperial Master in Star Fleet informs his subordinates that they have two Earth months to complete their mission, despite the fact that there's no reason to use their enemies time system when talking to each other...
  • Inverted in Stingray: Triton and other seafolk use Marine Minutes and Marine Seconds, and call their timespans such, even with no humans around.
  • In the Thunderbirds spinoff record "Parker - Well Done!", Jeff Tracy (an American) while speaking to Lady Penelope (a Brit) refers to "your Scotland Yard". Of course, Thunderbirds was actually British, and the voice actor who played Jeff Tracy was Australian....
  • A very silly example in Doctor Who, Daleks in Manhattan. Just as the gamma radiation is about to strike the Empire State Building, the Daleks declare there are '40 Rels left' then immediately starts counting down in seconds! What, is the Rel just the Skaro term for second?
    • Yeah. It has been said elsewhere that a Rel is approximately equal to a second. So it's still technically their own unit of measurement, just close enough to be dang convenient.
    • A non-canonical 1966 feature film implied that there were precisely 50 rels to an Earth minute, making one exactly 1.2 seconds.
  • The inverse of this happens in another example from Doctor Who, the Time Monster featured a ratter phallic device for detecting the Master's TARDIS which was calibrated in feet and miles...only they were Venusian feet and miles.
  • And in the episode The Creature from the Pit Erato tells the Doctor to hold the beam for "five of your seconds"--even though the Doctor is no more from Earth than it is.
  • She Spies episode 11. "He was supposed to be here three of your American days ago."
  • Played for laughs in the Red Dwarf episode "Emohawk".
  • Spoofed in Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Xander twists his and Willow's infidelity to their significant others to be their fault - Buffy comments "Your logic does not resemble our Earth logic."

Music

  • Mentioned on the first track of Devin Townsend's album Ziltoid the Omniscient.

  Ziltoid: Greetings, humans! I...am Ziltoid the Omniscient. I have travelled far across the omniverse. YOU. Shall fetch me...your universe's ultimate cup of coffee! You have... five Earth minutes. Make it perfect!

Religion

  • In The Bible, God tells Adam and Eve that the day they eat from the Tree of Knowledge, they will die. Since Adam lives about 900 years after this, the general interpretation is that God spoke metaphorically that they would turn mortal. One Jewish tradition, however, says that God was merciful and gave them a "day" in Heavenly reckoning--which is one thousand years.
    • Stretching this trope a bit, more liberal interpretations of Genesis suggest that the seven "days" of Creation could also refer to longer periods of time. Though this is largely used to fit evolutionary and astronomical theories, some of these interpretations go back a few thousand years.

Video Games

  • Spore completely ignores this, every single race in the entire galaxy seems to use the same measurements of time for no apparent reason.
  • In Freedom Force vs the 3rd Reich, Mentor makes the throwaway comment that he is proficient in "several thousand languages, of which Earth Spanish is one". Now, think about that one for a moment...
    • Maybe Mentor wanted to clarify that he's not referring to the language spoken in Planet Barcelona.
  • In Enemy Territory Quake Wars, Strogg players will hear the countdown announcer use the phrase "Ten Earth seconds remaining!"
  • The Mass Effect series mostly has a very well-thought-out galactic culture, so it's truly strange in the third game, when everyone starts going out of their way to give units of time in "solar days" (it's unlikely to be Translation Convention, either, since they're all round numbers). Why not Citadel Days, or Thessia Days? No explanation is ever given.


Webcomics

Web Original

  • A College Humor skit has a genie claim to have been imprisoned for "millions of your Earth eternities."
  • Chakona Space: Different stories play with this thanks to genuine aliens as well as Terran colonies on distant planets that, for obvious reasons, use a different clock and calendar.
  • The Onion: "Alien World To Help Out Syria Since This One Refuses To.
  • One Homestar Runner cartoon involves Strong Badia starting its own space program. Its first mission involves sending "15 Earth dollars on a round trip to the closest reaches of space" in the hopes that, according to Strong Bad's very poor understanding of the Theory of Relativity, it will have multiplied to one million dollars by the time it returns.

Western Animation

  • A variant occurs in Futurama, in an episode where Planet Express is hired to transport candy hearts. One of the receiving aliens notices that one heart has spelled love as WUV, "with an Earth W!"
  • The Simpsons third Treehouse of Horror show has the town overrun by zombies. High overhead, aliens Kang and Kodos watch patiently, observing "Soon the human race will wither and fold. Like the Earth plums we've seen on the Observe-a-scope."
  • Happens sometimes in Megas XLR: one line has Kiva mentioning a place far away, to which Jersey City native Jamie says "Far as in Planet of the Alien Bounty Babes, or far as in Hoboken?".
  • Averted in Transformers, where the Cybertronians typically use their own terms: astro-clicks, cycles and nanocycles, for example. When around humans, at least in Animated, they know when to switch to Earth units of measurements like years without adding a "your."
    • On the other hand, in Marvel's Transformers Generation 1 comic, Bumblebee described the Cybertronian civil war as having occurred four million years ago "by your way of counting".
  • The King of Yugopotamia in the The Fairly Odd Parents, during the Halloween special: "I shall mourn over my son for 5,000 Yugopotamian days..." Beat. "Okay, I'm done. Unfreeeze one of his clones!"
    • Also, Mark says he is getting a reading "50,000 Yugopotamian miles from here!" Earth units? 2 inches.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Lorelei Signal". Every 27 years, a starship is lured to a planet where female aliens drain the life force of the male crew members. While explaining the situation to Lieutenant Uhura:

 Head Female Theela: To survive we must vitalize each 27 years of your time.

  • The South Park episode Trapper Keeper 2000 featured an alien from the future named "Bill Cosby" who kept slipping up and putting "hu-man" in front of nouns.

Real Life

  • The Axeman of New Orleans stated in a letter where he claimed himself to be a demon from Hell that he would kill again on March 19, 1919 at "12:15 (Earth time)".
  • A variant actually happened back when the metric system wasn't that widespread, and countries used different measurements. It can sometimes be seen today between Imperial and Metric system users. In old Swedish novels translated from other languages it used to be very common to find someone traveling so or so many miles, and there would be a footnote telling that this was an English or Russian "mile", and give a conversion. The writer Falstaff Fakir spoofed it when writing a Three Musketeers parody; at one point a number of minutes are described as French minutes "of which there are a whole lot in one Swedish".
      • They once tried to replace the entire calendar with their own system. The Fridge Logic is, it's actually quite a competent system, and makes a hell of a lot more sense than the traditional Gregorian calendar. The only reason it failed was that it was a relic of the French Revolution, which the new Regime tried to eradicate after they took over.
    • This is still valid today when speaking of miles, due to the difference between statute miles and nautical miles.
      • Not to mention the quirkiness of the imperial system gives us three different gallons (one British and two American, one liquid and one [rarely used] dry) and three different families for weights (avoirdupois weights for most things, troy weights for precious metals and the now obsolete apothecaries' weights for pharmaceuticals).
  • In reference to this trope, whimsical reviews of science fiction products in the UK mainstream press tend to give the price in "your Earth pounds", which is a very unlikely name for a global currency.
  • Justified in the case of days, as mentioned above, when referring to any travel to or through space, as days are relative measurements of a planet traveling around the sun and are misleading or inapplicable in the case of space travel. Of course, one could get downright Einsteinian and say that this justifies all time measurements for any spatially separated points, but that's a whole 'nother sort of thing.
  • The people working on the Mars Rover program have to go by the Martian Day schedule - they have to go to work a half hour later every Earth day, because Mars rotates a little slower than Earth does.
  • Because interstellar units such as light-years and parsecs are also derived from Earth's orbit around the Sun, it would be necessary to specify whose planetary orbit you are using as the baseline. So an extraterrestrial alien could state, "I come from thirty of your light-years away."
    • Not just astronomical measurements (light years, parsecs, etc), but many measurements. The meter, for example, is currently defined as a precise number of units light travels in a second. However, the number of units was chosen so that the distance derived would match the distance obtained from earlier standards, which all boil down to the arbitrary distance decided back when the meter was invented. Meanwhile, the second itself was initially defined as a specific fraction of the earth's orbit around the sun, and the scientific unit used today is simply a precise statement of that measurement in terms that can be checked against an atomic clock.
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