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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:
> > http://forum.wordreference.com/showpost.php?p=28025&postcount=5
> > 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.

http://christophoronomicon.blogspot.com/
http://www.christophoronomicon.nl/