Thursday, July 06, 2006

AS IF I WEREN'T BAD ENOUGH WITH NUMBERS

Last Saturday marked my third French lesson. I was having some problems figuring out what page I was supposed to be on.

To remedy the situation, I've been reviewing the numbers - or les chiffres, even - in a copiously illustrated French instruction book. In case you were wondering (because, really, you might have been), French numbers are a nightmare.

Here's the proof:

0... zero
1... un
2... deux

So far, so good...

7... sept (Oui, as in septembre, the 9th month of the year, which used to be the 7th. Only slightly confusing.)

8... huit (Some rule about not pronouncing the final "t" if it's followed by some words. Or something or other.)

Ok. This is doable, right?

15... quinze (Holy nasalness.)

16... seize (Not to be confused with "to grasp forcibly".)

17... dix-sept (Uh-huh. Quoi?)

And this is where the madness begins.

60... soixante

70... soixante-dix (60 + 10)

71... soixante et onze (60 + 11)

80... quatre-vingts (4 X 20)

90... quatre-vingt-dix (4 X 20 + 10)

91... quatre-vingt-onze (4 X 20 + 11)

I'm glad we're well into the noughties. Can you imagine figuring out how to say "let's party like it's 1999" after a few glasses of New Year's bubbly?

(1999: mille neuf cents quatre-vingt-dix-neuf)

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