Can I claim that my goal to learn a hundred words in French is complete since I learned to count to 100? I guess that doesn’t seem quite the challenge I was looking for, but I’ll give myself another twenty words. My total is 32, then.
French has some charming quirks in the numbers from 0 to 100. Like English, the numbers from 0 to 12 are all uniquely named. Unlike English, the French don’t have the equivalent of “teens” at 13 — instead, you have to memorize the words treize, quatorze, quinze, and seize before you get to dix-sept (ten-seven).
The next odd number for English speakers is 21, which is vingt-et-un — literally twenty-and-one. Other numbers don’t utilize the superfluous “and” word, only the numbers ending in 1. So, twenty-two is vingt-deux.
Things go along what seems pretty normal, with each new decade getting a new number, until we get to 70 where things start to get quite strange for English speakers. Instead of a new word for seventy, the French say soixante-dix, literally sixty-ten. More confusing yet, 71 is soixante-et-onze, sixty-and-eleven. For 72 , we get soixante-douze or sixty-twelve and we go right on through the teens.
The fun doesn’t stop at 80, which is quatre-vingts, or four-twenties. And the 90s take the cake (are you ready for this?): quatre-vingt-dix (four-twenty-ten), quatre-vingt-onze (four-twenty-eleven), quatre-vingt-douze (four-twenty-twelve), quatre-vingt-treize (four-twenty-thirteen), quatre-vingt-quatorze (four-twenty-fourteen), quatre-vingt-quinze (four-twenty-fifteen), quatre-vingt-seize (four-twenty-sixteen), quatre-vingt-dix-sept (four-twenty-ten-seven), quatre-vingt-dix-huit (four-twenty-ten-eight), and quatre-vingt-dix-neuf (four-twenty-ten-nine),
The number 100 is easy enough — cent.
The most fun way I found to practice counting to 100 in French is this video on You Tube:
Are there similar quirks in numbers in other languages that you know?
Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by Bermudaonion’s Weblog. Kathy says: “Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.”’
I’m also linking this to the Dreaming of France meme hosted each Monday at An Accidental Blog.