Monday, January 23, 2017

The French Scandal Continues!

Justin Trudeau in 1994. Just because...
The Canadians troll the rest of the world by flaunting their absurdly petty problems.

What happened: Justin Trudeau, during a townhall event in Quebec, a famously French-speaking province, was asked a question in English, by a woman bitching that it's difficult to get government-funded mental healthcare in English, there in Quebec.

Trudeau, who is fiercely pro-bilingual, answered the woman in French. This was a week ago, but the Canadian pundits cannot let it go.

Meanwhile my French language skills are increasing, slowly but steadily. I'm getting a good handle on French numbers, thanks to practicing with my English-French iPhone app every day. But I still cannot imagine why the French have such a crazy numbering system - they count from one to sixty-nine in the English language style. OK, their teens are a little off - they say onze (11), douze (12), treize (13), quatorze (14) quinze (15) and seize (16) but then they give up on unique words for seventeen through nineteen and say ten-seven, ten-eight and ten-nine (dix-sept, dix-huit, dix-neuf).

But then they switch it up from 70 - 100: They say sixty-eight, sixty-nine (soixante-huit, soixante-neuf) so far, so good, but then, instead of having a distinct word for "seventy" they go sixty-ten, sixty-eleven, sixty-twelve  (soixante-dix, soixante et onze, soixante-douze) et. cetera. THEN instead of having a distinct word for eighty, they call it four twenty (quatre vingt) - presumably because 4 x 20 = 80. No I am not kidding. And then they use the same system as with seventy when they get to ninety. So if you want to say 99 you say quatre vingt dix-neuf - four twenty ten-nine. It's like you have to do math problems just to count.

The French do take their language very seriously - I just discovered they have the Académie Francais to police the purity of the French language:
The Académie, a council of 40 writers and artists, is entrusted with protecting French from “Anglo-Saxon” attacks and writing an official dictionary, of which the latest unfinished version began in 1992.

One of its tasks is to come up with French equivalents to unwanted English words that slip into French – for example turning “email” into “courriel”.

There is a Quebec version too.

It's quite a contrast to English, which borrows everything it can from every other language - we ain't proud.