septante, huitante, octante, nonante / soixante-dix, quatre-vingts, quatre-vingt-dix - modern and regional usage

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by semiller, Oct 25, 2004.

  1. semiller Senior Member

    DFW, Texas
    Moderator note: Multiple threads have been merged to create this one. This thread is about modern usage: which French-speaking countries use which terms for which numbers? This thread is not about why there are two sets of words for counting these numbers in French, nor is it about how people used to count, etc. See also this thread in the French only forum.

    However, if you are interested in the history of usage, if you wish to compare old French and English counting systems, etc., you may be interested in a related discussion on the Etymology & History of Languages forum.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 27, 2011
  2. Kendo Senior Member

    Belgique (French)
    in belgium we use

    Septante (70)
    Quatre-vingts (80)
    Nonante (90)

    and when we joke on french people :

    quarante dix
    cinquante vingts ... ;)

    but in good french, it is :

    Soixante-dix, quatre-vingts, and quatre-vingt-dix
  3. aucomptoir

    aucomptoir Senior Member

    Australia/ English
    Hello, i am wondering what is the effect of saying 'nonante' in France rather than quatre vingt dix ? Is is the same as if we were to say something like 'thruppence' or 'four score' ? Just wondering because it's so much easier to say nonante and i quite like it...
  4. DearPrudence

    DearPrudence Dépêche Mod (AL mod)

    French (lower Normandy)
    No, problem in Belgium and Switzerland as it's what they say I think.
    In France ... I don't know. I suppose we would understand,though we would repeat what you've just say with our beloved "quatre-vingt dix":
    "Ça coûte nonante euros septante.
    - Quoi ?!
    - Nonante euros septante.
    - Ah, d'accord, quatre-vingt-dix euros soixante-dix !!"

    That could sound really weird indeed as French people don't use it + if you have a foreign accent, that could sound a bit funny. :)
    It may seem hard for foreigners but we are quite used to our "quatre-vingt-dix".
    What would you say if I told you that there were four score and ten cows in the field. No, I don't know if that's comparable :(
  5. Pipsy Senior Member

    Yes, only in Belgium and Switzerland and Belgian Congo people say this. In France we don't say this.
  6. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    I also quite agree with Dear Prudence whose dialog sounds very realistic. Actually French people never use "septante, octante, nonante"; if they hear them from someone seriously speaking, they think straightaway he comes from Belgium or Switzerland.
  7. GEmatt

    GEmatt Senior Member

    La Côte, Switzerland
    English/BE, Français/CH, Deutsch/CH (rustier & rustier)
    We don't use "octante" in Switzerland. Perhaps there are some tiny villages hidden in the mountains who do, but in most places, it is "quatre-vingt", and occasionally "huitante".
    Just to set the record straight;).

  8. zonbette Senior Member

    […] Hop on a plane to Geneva to find out by yourself how we react to Nonante on each side of the border (I live in France but work in Geneva). Out of courtesy, I always use nonante when I'm talking to Swiss people but even after all these years, it still feels strange although it is so much more logical (as a joke I sometimes say quarante-seize pour 56):)
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 24, 2010
  9. RuK Senior Member

    Outside Paris
    English/lives France
    I'm sorry to say this, because I mean no nationalistic slight of any kind, but if you say "nonante" in the streets of Paris you are an object of ridicule, either hidden or right out loud. My impression is that it's seen as comic, le plouc du plouc.
  10. Charlie Parker

    Charlie Parker Senior Member

    English Canada
    I just learned that Belgians use these instead of soixante-dix and quatre-vingt-dix. I must confess that as an anglophone I would find these much easier to master. My students certainly find it difficult to understand numbers like soixante-treize. Would that be septante-trois? Would Belgians say septante et un and nonante-deux? Why were these not adopted as the international French standard? And in the dictionary what does the abbreviation Sch mean? Where is that? Merci d'avance.
  11. Nil-the-Frogg

    Nil-the-Frogg Senior Member

    Français (France)
    And as a francophone I find them much more logical, too.

    Yes and yes.

    Why, because it would have been too simple... :D
  12. zazap Senior Member

    Canada, French and English
    Sch=Switzerland (Die Schweiz)
    In Switzerland, they also use "octante". I wonder why the Belgians stuck with quatre-vingts...
  13. SwissPete

    SwissPete Senior Member

    94044 USA
    Français (CH), AE (California)

    Octante is rarely used in Switzerland. I used to use it when I was going to school because I thought it was cool (or because I was a smartass).
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2011
  14. zazap Senior Member

    Canada, French and English
    Really? I thought I remembered it being quite common in Lausanne, a city I visited a couple of times. But maybe it was just an impression...

    More info in French here

    What about huitante?
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2011
  15. tilt

    tilt Senior Member

    Nord-Isère, France
    French French
    I think people use huitante more than octante in Switzerland. That's what I hear when listening to the Swiss radio.
  16. SwissPete

    SwissPete Senior Member

    94044 USA
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    Yes, I would agree.
  17. Bonjour.
    Je savais que la forme "septante" existe aussi, mais j'etais surprise a l'entendre au journal televise de TV5. On peut l'utiliser au lieu de "soixante-dix"?
  18. Missrapunzel

    Missrapunzel Senior Member

    French (France)
    septante (et nonante = 90) se dit en Suisse et en Belgique francophone.
    En France on ne dit rien d'autre que soixante-dix (et quatre-vingts-dix).
  19. Blancheneige

    Blancheneige Senior Member

    Lac Léman, Switzerland
    Switzerland - French
    Most probably, you saw a Swiss or Belgian broadcast on TV5
    -"soixante-dix" is used in France
    - "Septante" is used in Switzerland and in Belgium. I'd like to point out that, in French-speaking Switzerland, "soixante-dix" is never used at all (although it is, of course, understood).
  20. Mezzofanti Senior Member

    Near Bordeaux, France
    Native speaker of pukka UK English
    N'oublions pas qu'en français de France on dit "septante" pour la version grecque de la Bible qui s'appelle en anglais "the Septuagint".
  21. Blancheneige

    Blancheneige Senior Member

    Lac Léman, Switzerland
    Switzerland - French
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 24, 2010
  22. saddamtohmto

    saddamtohmto Member

    Francophone / Suisse
    Désolé de reprendre ce billet si tard mais en tant que Suisse romand, je peux vous certifier que je n'ai jamais entendu dire "octante" en Suisse romande. Par contre, dans les cantons de Fribourg, Vaud et Valais, le terme "huitante" est très courant.

    Pour ce qui est de "nonante" et "septante", ils sont employés dans toute la Suisse romande. Normalement, personne n'emploie les termes "quatre vingt-dix" ou "soixante-dix" qui donnent, suivant comment, un côté pédant.

  23. DjClem Member

    Je rebondi sur l'explication de saddamtohmto.
    Étant proche de la suisse, j'entends souvent le terme huitante.
    Néanmoins, en ce qui concerne nonante et septante, ces termes ne sont utilisé qu'en Belgique et en Suisse. Ils font suite au cinquante et soixante car ils reprennent l'origine latine.
    En france, septante et nonante n'existent pas. On utilise exclusivement les terme soixante-dix et quatre-vingt-dix.


    Allez savoir pourquoi nous nous sommes compliqué la vie!
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2011
  24. mcdonald

    mcdonald Member

    Anglais américain
    Personne ne veut les adopter parce que c'est aperçu comme qqch de 'belge', et parait-il qu'on se moque un peu des belges en France. Du moins, c'est ce que m'a dit mon colloc bordelais.
  25. DjClem Member


    Les suisses utilisent également nonante et septante, je pense que la raison est directement liée à la linguistique et non à un quelconque stéréotype.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 15, 2011
  26. saddamtohmto

    saddamtohmto Member

    Francophone / Suisse
    Concernant le billet de DjClem sur le non-emploi de "septante" et "nonante" en France. Cela est vrai en général, cependant la page Wikipédia francophone sur 70 et 90 révèle que les termes "septante" et "nonante" sont employés localement dans le Midi et l'Est de la France. Pour ma part, je l'ai déjà entendu à la télévision française à l'occasion (rare il est vrai).

    voilà, a+

  27. Teafrog

    Teafrog Senior Member

    UK English (& rusty French…)
    I can understand how Octante would work, however … I cannot wrap my brains around Huitante :confused:, how does it work?:eek:
    Would you say "huitante-deux or huitante-huit" ?!? I find Octante Huit more logical…
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2011
  28. saddamtohmto

    saddamtohmto Member

    Francophone / Suisse

    En effet on dit "huitante-et-un", "huitante-deux",...
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2011
  29. kamikaze-gargoyle New Member

    English (British/Scottish)
    Hi, I've been wondering about this: I swear blind that I heard "nonante" being used in Godard's film "À bout de souffle" today, but it was in the context of the main character who I think was from Marseille talking to someone on the phone in Paris. Could that be because Godard was part-Swiss, or is it a usage that's now died out in France but hadn't then? (I gather, however, that that's probably not the case given that you've all said it died out in France a long time ago...)

    Merci beaucoup, and sorry to resurrect an old thread.
  30. halfbeing Senior Member

    English - English
    On dit aussi septante, huiptante (sic) et nonante au Nouveau Brunswick.
  31. Calina18

    Calina18 Senior Member

    francophone Québécois d'origine belge
    C'est totalement faux. Quoiqu'en dise Wikipédia, au Québec, au Nouveau-Brunswick, en Acadie, ainsi que partout ailleurs au Canada où on parle français, on dit soixante-dix, quatre-vihgts et quatre-vingt-dix. Je suis Québécois et je préfère septante, octante et nonante parce que ça me semble étymologiquement plus juste et que les autres langues européennes sont structurées ainsi, mais bien peu de gens ici, se montrent d'accord avec moi .

    Désolé de ramener ce vieux sujet à l'avant plan.
  32. birder

    birder Senior Member

    Several commentators have noted that the Belgian/Swiss system is still used in the Midi. I suppose it depends on the definition of Midi.

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 27, 2011
  33. Calina18

    Calina18 Senior Member

    francophone Québécois d'origine belge
    Je tiens à corriger mon intervention précedente car, si au Québec et ailleurs au Canada on n'utilise que soixante-dix, quatre-vingts et quatre-vingt-dix; septante, huitante et nonante sont encore en usage dans certaines régions de l'Acadie. Je viens de tomber sur cette page qui le confirme (voir page 4). Jusqu'à présent la seule occurence de l'usage de septante que j'avais pu trouver était une référence historique mentionnant d'ailleurs l'utilisation concomitante de soixante dix. J'en suis bouche bée.

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