I always find these things fascinating … they recently discovered an old French secretary transcript written during the drafting of the early French language in ~1545 AD. The discussion involves D. Boefeur, H. Biteman, and R. Ledong — the men responsible for coming up with the first draft of the language (that L. Maigret would later use for the final version). Below is a snippet of the discussion concerning the numbers 70, 80, and 90 (translated into English). The men had already spent the day determining the names for the numbers 10, 20, 30 ,40, 50 and 60.
Biteman: Alright, so finally that leaves us with 70, 80, and 90. What shall we do for 70?
Boefeur: We spent over an hour debating if “soixante” should have an “O” or not … I say we just use the addition rule for the other numbers.
Ledong: So, what? We’ll do “60+10″ as the name for 70 then?
Boefeur: Sure, “soixante-dix” is fine … then we don’t have to argue over spelling.
Ledong: Okay, what should we do for 80 then?
Boefeur: Just use the addition rule again — “70+10″.
Ledong: We can’t do that, 70 is already “60+10″ … then “80″ will be “60+10+10″!
Boefeur: Damn! Well just use “vingt-quatre” and we’ll say it’s multiplied instead then.
Ledong: But “vingt-quatre” is already “24″, it will be too confusing!
* Boefeur puts on coat, starts packing bags *
Boefeur: Shit, well just flip it around then!
Ledong: What? So we’re going to use “4*20″ for “80″!?
Biteman: Don’t worry, I’m sure someone will come along later and fix all this crap anyhow.
Ledong: Fine, we’ll go with “4*20″ for now. What about 90?
Boefeur: Use the addition rule.
Ledong: Wait, we’re going to go with “4*20+10″ as the name for “90″!? Are you guys serious?
Boefeur: Do whatever the hell you want, it’s 17h … I’m going home.
* Boefeur leaves room *
Ledong: Alright, I guess that will have to do.
Biteman: Just make a note that we have to come back and fix all of this later.
Ledong: Okay. Eh, well it’s almost 17h01, I’ll just write the note tomorrow instead.
* exeunt *
In memory of the late D. Boefeur, H. Biteman, and R. Ledong, I would like the carry the torch and assign names to these forgotten numbers. From here on out, the numbers 70, 80, and 90 will go by the following names:
- 70: Septante
- 80: Huitante
- 90: Neufante
And so it was declared!