On 12 July 2011 22:42, Padraic Brown <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> > >
> > I didn't even know they existed! My books on Old French and
> > Middle French never even mentioned those forms.
> Yeah -- I've seen references up to at least dix-huit-vingts and would not
> be surprised if dix-neuf-vingts were not also in use, though I haven't
> personally used the vigesimals past quatre-vingt-dix.

Yeah, I've read the example of the "Hôpital des Quinze-Vingts" named so
because it had accommodation for 300 patients. I'd never heard of that
hospital before, despite having lived for four years in Paris...

> (I usually stop
> at cent and then start back at un again.) Will definitely have to work on
> these numbers past cinq-vingts!
> There is a good section on French numbers in J. Gvozdanovic's "Indo-
> European Numerals" 463ff. It's at Google Books, and thus is readable
> online. LEastways, except for the sections Google has decided to blank out
> -- the cheek! In fact, Gvozdanovic says that the vigesimal system is
> not that old (relatively speaking), but came into French from the Viking
> invaders.
That's the usual explanation, yes. Sounds logical :) .

> > But I'll check tonight what they have to
> > say about the evolution of French numerals. I've always had
> > the impression
> > that the vigesimal forms were not that old. AFAIK at the
> > time of the French
> > revolution most people in France still used the decimal
> > septante, octante and nonante.
> Indeed -- my recent reading suggests they aren't terribly old either,
> but definitely older than revolutionary times.
> A lot of references I've found come from the 1700s and therearounds.
From what I understand, it started in the 15th century or so. Basically, it
was a prescriptivist push from literary circles to make French follow the
Latin model again.

> > OK, I've found this:
> >
> > It's in French, but it gives an overview of the evolution
> > of the numerals.
> > It mentions "deux vins" and "trois vins" as well. Weird
> > that they aren't mentioned in my books...
> I'll have to check in mine.
> > The weirdest of all is still that Belgium kept septante and
> > nonante, but
> > replaced octante with quatre-vingt. What's up with *that*?
> That is weird. Perhaps "contamination" from France?
Or maybe it didn't get replaced because you can simply add the units to it
to count the numbers between 81 and 89, unlike "soixante-dix" and
"quatre-vingt-dix" which both replace the "dix" part with the other teens.
It doesn't matter that much whether you use "quatre-vingt" or
"huitante/octante", in both cases the following numbers are simply formed by
adding the units, as with all the other decimal tens.

> I think the usage in Swizerland varies by canton (obviously, only among
> the Francophone ones).
Indeed, but "octante" isn't used any longer, as far as I know. The usage
variation is between "huitante" and "quatre-vingt".
Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.