Système vicésimale (base 20)
Encore quelques réminiscences dans notre façon de nommer les nombres
-20 est la base de numération de tous les peuples Celtes
-Comme celle des Mayas et des Aztèques
It seems to be the celts and the normands
How could the Normands introduce to a place that no longer existed (Gaul) a method counting that was already introduced there by the Celts. Is this the ambiguity of French or rather of the person who entered this information on the website you quoted?
I don't speak French, but I have noticed that French writing can be very illogical. In my opinion, it's even more illogical than English. If I heard a French word, I could never guess how it would be spelt; and the other way around, if I saw a French word I could never guess how it is pronounced. But I suppose if I learnt the language, I would get it. Its spelling just seems so illogical.
"As for ses/ces: this is easily deduced from the context."
Same goes for "they're/their/there" in English (or "to/too", "you're/your", "who's/whose" etc.), and still so many people (native speakers!) don't distinguish them.
Nic je te rassure mon pote je suis bien français, du Val d'Oise même. Is it because i dare criticize (or criticizing?) my own language that you think it cannot be possible i am french? i assure you that languages like spanish, german, arabic - to give an example - are far more precise than the french one. And i repeat that you cannot express all what you would express in such a language. For me the best language fer that purpose is esperanto: you can build endlessly new words and new concepts that your interlocutor automatically will understand. Also english is more "souple" and flexible than french when you want to build new words.
I don't find that English is more flexible than French to create other sentences. I translate some text in French to English and, sometimes, I find it's hard to have the good word without repeat it. Like for the verb "to continue". There isn't a lot of synonyms for it. In French, you can say : "poursuivre", "continuer" of course, "reprendre", etc... and it's the same thing for many other words.
Nobody is quite sure why the French count from 1 to 69 in standard Latin-influenced fashion like all the rest of their Romance language cousins, and then suddenly switch to 60+10, 4x20, and 4x20+10. It has been argued that this is a remnant of the Gallic / Celtic vigesimal system of counting in twenties. But why start at 70? Why "quarante" and not "deux-vingts"? Or "vingt-vingts"? According to legend, this odd number system was instituted by Louis XIV, whose 72 year reign was the longest in modern European history. At the time, the French system progressed logically and similarly to their Francophone cousins in Switzerland and Belgium: after the soixante decade came the septante decade, and after that came huitante, and then nonante.
The story goes that when Louis turned 70, the vain monarch bristled at the sound of being "septante ans". This made him sound so old! So rather than marching to the beat of time, he thought he could turn it back…by declaring himself soixante all over again – plus dix. And since he was king, who was to argue? As Louis approached his late 70s, he was mortified at the thought of turning "huitante", so he changed the rules once more. But this time he patterned his new numbers system after that of his ancient ancestors, the Gauls. Thus, huitante became "quatre-vingts" and nonante became "quatre-vingts-dix". But Louis need not have bothered since he died three years short of 80. Because Switzerland and Belgium were independent of Louis’ rule, they did incorporate this mad new method.
I don't know if there’s any merit to this story, but it sure is an interesting one.
On a similar note, Louis XIV is also credited with turning the concept of "déjeuner" on its ear. In the Francophone community apart from France, "déjeuner" (literally meaning "breaking the fast") is the meal served in the morning, while "dîner" is the meal served at noon, and "souper" is served in the evenings. Such was the case in France until Louis came to power. Louis never arose from bed until the noontime hours. And once he did, that was when "déjeuner" was served. But as was the royal custom, one couldn’t sit, stand, sleep, or even eat, until the king made the first move. The king’s early-rising staff, however (and quite a few members of his court), would often get too hungry to wait patiently for the king to wake. So they would sneak in a small meal to tide them over, hence "le petit déjeuner" was born. As a result of Louis' late schedule, "dîner" was pushed back to the evening hours, while "souper" was dropped in favor of sleep. And today, this is how meals are referred to in France. But again, in Belgium, Switzerland, and even Québèc, the traditional French terms are still in use.
>>"As for ses/ces: this is easily deduced from the context."
Same goes for "they're/their/there" in English (or "to/too", "you're/your", "who's/whose" etc.), and still so many people (native speakers!) don't distinguish them.<<
You might think native speakers don't in writing, because they are homophones. Misspellings don't prove distinctions aren't being made. Meanings are clearly carried based on context.
eg. I'm /tu:/ hot. Clearly the word is "too" not "to", even if misspelled.
it's over /the:r/.
Thank you for the nice story that tells why French people count numbers such a peculiar way. In Japan old folk stop their aging at 60 and they are to be 're-born' then. My grandpa is now two years old.
>>How could the Normands introduce to a place that no longer existed (Gaul) a method counting that was already introduced there by the Celts. Is this the ambiguity of French or rather of the person who entered this information on the website you quoted?<<
You're right Steve K. The Celts brought this to Gaul 1000 (or more) years before the Middle Ages and so before the Normans arrived on the scene.
Francoise said: >>But Louis need not have bothered since he died three years short of 80.<<
I wonder what French would look like today had he lived to be hundred years old... ;-)
Sorry for that, i thought anf think one of the most effective language about logic is german.
That was very interesting, Françoise. I have never heard that story before.
>>And today, this is how meals are referred to in France. But again, in Belgium, Switzerland, and even Québèc, the traditional French terms are still in use.<<
And I understood the meal times (or rearranged names) had something to do with the time difference between Quebec and France, but this wouldn't account for Belgian and Switzerland.