The "outspoken" mayor of Tokyo, Ishihara Shintaro, is being sued by a group of lovers of France and things French because of his comments about the French language. Japundit links to this Asahi Shimbun article that gives the background:
Ishihara, who is no stranger to controversy, stunned a group of French speakers last October when he said: ``It may well be that French fails to qualify as an international language because it is one that cannot count.''
Gallic pride being wounded the French responded:
Taking the comment as a slur that ``defamed the honor'' of French speakers ``on the basis of mistaken ideas,'' about 10 people, including a French language school principal in Tokyo, are planning to sue the governor later this month.
They intend to seek compensation on grounds Ishihara's remark could have discouraged people from wanting to study French, thereby obstructing their business.
Well I don't normally agree with Ishihara-san, actually I don't think I have ever agreed with him before, but in this case he would seem to have a point. Almost every language in the world apart from French (I am tempted to say every language but I'm sure there are a couple of exceptions) count the numbers from 60 to 99 in a consistent way that is the same as the way they count the numbers from 20 to 59 with the words for seventy, eighty and ninety clearly derived from the numbers seven, eight and nine respectively. French on the other hand can't manage this: 70 is "Soixante dix" or sixty-ten, 80 is "quatre-vingts" or four-twenties and 90 is "quatre-vingts dix" or four-twenties ten. This is presumably what Ishihara-san is referring to and you have to admit he has a point or 92 (quatre-vingts douze/four twenties twelve).
Further evidence of French innumeracy comes from its word for today - "aujourd'hui" which is derived from "this day of the week" but the "week" part is a contraction of the number eight. Apparently the French at one point laboured under the delusion that the week has eight days. Likewise a fortnight (= 2 weeks = 14 days) is called a "quinzaine" which is derived from the word "quinze" that is 15. I could go on and examine the illogic behind "quotidien", "hebdomaire" and "mensuel" but I think the point is made.
Although strictly speaking Ishihara-san is wrong in that the French can count but since they don't seem to do it in a terribly rational fashion his complaint does have merit. However there is an important exception: French speakers from Switzerland and Belgium manage to use "Septante", "Huitante"? and "Nonante" for 70, 80 and 90 respectively, it is only the inhabitants of France who have problems counting beyond 69. No doubt one could make a smutty comment about that fact.
PS I wonder if l'Escroc is aware of how his mother tongue is valued in the home of his favourite sport: Sumo.