Pardon my French, but...

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/07/16 14:38 -04:00, original URI:

John Yunker posted an ironic little ditty a few days ago entitled Pardon My French. The post's scariest note said:

A group of French language teachers in Japan are suing the mayor of Tokyo for saying, "French is a failed international language because it cannot be used to count numbers."

Honestly, I believe it. Though most people consider the seemigly obsessive interest and multitude of methods of counting in Japanese to be one of the hardest "gratuitous features" of the language!

Though like I said when I asked What the %$#! are genitive dates?, every language seems to have those items that make it easier to learn/use, and items that make it harder. Judging a language as a failure because of this is kind of missing the point.

Would I sue the mayor? Probably not.

But would I blog about the ignorance displayed? I'll answer that question with a question -- do you really have to ask? :-)

# Michael Dunn_ on 17 Jul 2005 8:04 PM:

I'm surprised the mayor didn't mention the "nine eggs" thing. If he was ignorantly insulting French numbers, might as well go the full monty and bring that up too.

# Richard on 18 Jul 2005 5:42 AM:

Apparently the complexity of the French numbering system (no 80, its 4x20) does impact learning.

(No URL to hand, but last episode of "More or Less", on BBC Radio 4, which should still be available on listen again on

They didn't, unfortunately, answer the obvious question of FR variants (e.g. fr-CH) which do have a word for 80.

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