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Home: Surnames: Quatrevingt Family Genealogy Forum

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The "4 times 20" people
Posted by: Felix Unger Date: December 06, 1999 at 17:48:24
  of 11

There are no "Quatrevingt" names in Canada, and all 30 I find in the USA phone listings - www.people.yahoo.com - are in Louisiana.

Using "quatre-vingt" (literally, four 20's) for 80, or "soixante-douze" (sixty-twelve) to express 72 was a result of the boredom of the French Court under Louis XIV (Roman for "ten plus [one subtracted from five]"). They used to spend endless hours trying to amuse themselves with new games. One day, someone thought it would be clever to express the old system of counting numbers in a new way, so the old "huitante-neuf" (eighty-nine) became "quatre-vingt-neuf" or "4 x 20 + 9", and "neuvante-cinq" (95) became "quatre-vingt-quinze" (4 x 20 + 15) to follow the newly-discovered algebraic mathematics of Pascal and others.

The silly folks at Versailles even decided to drop those terrible "r" sounds from many French words so stupid foreigners (meaning "the English") could pronounce them more easily. So Paris became "Pazis" (pah-ZEE) and "chaire" became "chaise", and so on. After a while, they were tired of this, but by then some words were changed to the new pronunciation. Paris went back to being PaRis, but "chaire" became "chaise". But I digress...

All of this happened after 1675, when many of the earliest French settlers had come to North America - and had brought their old counting and vocabulary with them. So they knew nothing of this new system at all. This makes me think the Quatrevingt name is sometime after 1700. Am I right ?

Let's hear more from the "4 x 20" folks about the history of their surname.

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