I can’t count to 100 anymore

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.

I made this chart for this blog post to help explain. I realize this may have been 15 minutes I’ll never get back as you are likely just skipping through the nonsense on this post.

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 #?


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