Post by Lauren
One of the most frustrating things about speaking French in Geneva has to be the numbers 70-99. See, in French, once you get to 70, you have scary numbers that are math problems in themselves.
For example, 70 is 60+10 or soixante dix. When you progress to 71, 72, you add by a number already in its teens. So for 71, its 60+11, so soixante onze. And then for 72, its 60 + 12 so soixante-douze. And so on….
However, then for 80, its 4 x 20. And for 81, 82, you add by one, two, etc. So, for 81 it is 80+1, so quatre-vingts et un. 82 is quatre-vingts deux. And so on….
When you get to 90, it is 4 x 20 + 10. Back to the number in the teens. So, for 92, for exampe, its quatre-vingt-douze. And so on….
Why in the world don’t they use the same system? Why different names and different things to add, like 1 sometime and 11 sometimes?
And, this might be enough to give you a headache. Especially when you are at a store and they spit out numbers really fast.
However….enter…..solution!! I found out that in Switzerland, they use septante and nonante for 70 and 90. Then add by 1‘s. Ingenious. Those are easy!!! I was pumped I wouldn’t have to remember the really hard France French way.
In Lausanne, one town over, they use huitante for 80. Even better!! I started wishing I lived in Lausanne.
But, alas…..when you go to different stores in Switzerland, they use a combination of all the above numbers. It’s unpredictable. So, not only do you have to know the really hard numbers, but you have to know all 3 versions.
Just imagine giving out a telephone number or even writing one someone gives you. It goes like this….
+41 079 589 78 92
You could be standing in one part of Switzerland. Imagine it…..
–5 miles away in France, one would say: plus quatre-vingt / zero soixante dix-neuf / cinq cent quatre-vingt-neuf / soixante dix-huit / quatre-vingt-douze
–5 miles away in Geneva territory, one would say: plus quatre-vingt / zero septante-neuf / cinq cent quatre-vingt-neuf / septante-huit / nonante-deux
–Yet, in Lausanne territory, where you are standing, you’d say: plus quatre-vingt / zero septante-neuf / cinq cent huitante-neuf / septante-huit / nonante-deux
Got that #?