French Language Blog

French Language – Of numbers and letters Posted by on Oct 22, 2019 in Culture, Language, Vocabulary

Des chiffres et des lettres is a long running television program 1Airing in its current format since 1972! in France that challenges contestants’ spelling and computation skills. The two different parts of l’émission (the program) can help you build your spelling and counting skills in French.

You can watch the entire first émission (program) from 1972 above.

Le mot le plus long / The longest word

In the first part of le jeu (the game), contestants take turns calling for either une consonne (consonant) or une voyelle (a vowel) and then must try to spell the longest mot (word) from the 9 resulting lettres (letters) 2Originally 7, then 8, now 9 in the current format.

Le compte est bon / The count is exact

Dans la deuxième partie du jeu (in the second part of the game), contestants try to calculate a target number by applying basic math processes (+ / plus, – / moins, x / multiplié par, and ÷ / divisé par) to 6 randomly selected numbers (from 1-10, 25, 50, 75, or 100).

Check out the incredible math skills of an ordinateur humain (human computer) and practice your number skills here.

Vocabulaire utile / Useful vocabulary

Outside of the math classroom people tend to use the word number to refer indiscriminately to all numbers. In reality, there are different words for different uses. The same is true in French … and while all the French words can be translated in English as number, they actually have distinct meanings.

le chiffre – 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 sont les chiffres (are the digits) that we use to write les nombres (n.m) and les numéros (n.m.). Les chiffres (digits) are like les lettres (the letters) of math.

Les nombres are like les mots (the words) of math. 365 is un nombre. So is 1,399,267.

Un numéro is a specific type of number that indicates something. Un numéro de téléphone, un numéro de chambre d’hôtel, ou un numéro de rue, par exemple (A telephone number, a hotel room number, or the street number (of a house), for example).

It can get a little complicated, so just remember that un chiffre, un nombre, et un numéro are all numbers.

Fait divers / Variety

This weekend, with the help of D’Artagnans, 100 chateaux around France held the first Nuit des Châteaux (night of the castles). Across the country, chateaux of all types opened their portes (doors) for an illuminated evening of tours, activities, and history. If you use Instagram, you can see pictures from the event here. The event also has a Facebook page/group here.

Featured image by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

  • 1
    Airing in its current format since 1972!
  • 2
    Originally 7, then 8, now 9 in the current format
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About the Author: Tim Hildreth

Since my first trip to France at 16, I have been a passionate francophile. I love the language, food, music, art, people, and more that make France and la Francophonie in general such an amazing part of our global community. Having lived in France and studied the language and culture for over 35 years, it is my great pleasure to be able to share a little bit of my deep love with you through this blog.