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French numbers are hard to write, and weird to understand. And we’re all just going to have to live with that.
I love to complain about French numbers. Well, I love to complain, period, but among all the things out there to complain about, French numbers is perhaps one of the lowest-hanging fruits.
I went through the above situation pretty much verbatim, and it ended with me feeling embarrassed and inadequate, as early language learning often does. Now, granted, I have to stress that my French is not very good, so I’m sure those of you who coast through the language like a cygne on the Seine don’t have this difficulty. Or at least, you don’t have it as often. But I’ve found no end to the struggle with French numbers.
Belgian numbers – now those I can get behind. See, the Belgians, who also speak French, you know, realized long ago that saying “four twenty” for eighty and “sixty-eleven” for seventy-one was a huge waste of time and mental gymnastics, and should go the way of “four score and seven years ago” in English. In fact, if my historical facts don’t fail me, Lincoln’s Gettysburg address is most famous for making people realize that numbers should not be so stupid anymore. Belgium agreed, and they signed the historic Normal Numbers Accord, but they didn’t invite France. That was their biggest mistake, because now I have to learn to say numbers the silly way in French, and so do you.
Even German numbers confuse me. In German, you say two-digit numbers backwards for some reason, so I’m constantly saying “forty-two” when I mean twenty-four, and understanding “sixty-eight” when they said “six-and-eighty,” which is eighty-six. Writing German numbers is similar to the above comic because you have to wait until you hear the whole number before starting to write. “Let’s see, that’ll be, uhh….six and….” And what? Six and which of the VAST RANGE of tens could it be?? Six and twenty? Six and ninety? There’s a big difference!!
But I’ve heard Danish numbers are the worst, which is why I’ve made a solemn vow never to go to Denmark or speak to a Dane for as long as I live.
What about you? Do you have trouble with backwards numbers?
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