Why the French like the Millenium more than any other nationality

Danny and I were having a conversation about French dates for some reason. He was appalled (it just took me about 5 minutes to figure out how to spell that word - I thought it was "up-haul") at the sheer complexity of French dates.

For example, there is no one single word for "eighty."Instead, they say "quatre-vingt", or "four-twenty." And don't ask me why they don't pluralize the vingt to make it "four-twenties." That would make too much sense.

There is also no word for "seventy." Instead they say, "soixante-dix", or "sixty-ten."

And then, it gets REALLY complex when you say "ninety" - or "quatre-vingt-dix" ("four-twenty-ten").

Add to this the component of dates. Instead of saying nineteen whatever, they say, "mille-neuf-cent" or "one thousand-nine-hundred."

The year 1999 is bad enough in English - nineteen ninety nine. But it's SEVEN SYLLABLES in French! That's absurd! "Mille-neuf-cent-quatre-vingt-dix-neuf." I remember having the hardest time with this while learning French, and even now sometimes I have to think it out in my mind.

So Danny decided that when the millenium came around, the French must have been the most excited, because their syllaballage got reduced from seven to two: "deux mille."

Ah French.

1 comment:

  1. The French say "quatre-vignt" as a left over reference to roman numerals.

    Some Germanic languages have crazy number systems, too. I've heard the Danish number system is really hard to understand.

    It's also interesting how people tell time. I find that Americans don't really use a fraction system anymore (ie. a quarter to, half past), although we understand it. Most other cultures I've learned about do use something similar, and often somewhat more complicated. Telling time in German was always confusing to me because of that.


Add a comment!