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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Query Details

Query Subject:   Irregularity in French counting system
Author:   Kim Ruth
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Language Family:  Indo-European

Query:   I am ''familiar'' with the counting system in English, French, Spanish, German, Farsi and Arabic. Arabic is Semitic, others are Indo-European.

All of them, beginning with 21, have a similar structure, with the ones column either preceding or following the tens column.
Thirty One
Trenta Uno
Trente et Un
Ein und driesig
See o yek (Farsi)
Ahad wa Thalathin (Ar.)

French follows this scheme up to 69, at which point it goes ape,
70 - sixty ten - soixante dix
80 - four twenty - quatrevignt
90 - four twenty ten - quatrevignt dix

Are there other Indo-Europen languages that do something similar, or was there some specific historical circumstance in French history that led to this peculiarity?
LL Issue: 14.3497
Date posted: 16-Dec-2003


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