Why do the French count so strangely?

Today I’ve heard a talk about division rules. The lecturer stated that base 12 has a lot of division rules and was therefore commonly used in trade.

English and German name their numbers like they count (with 11 and 12 as exception), but not French:

  # |   English |           German | French
-----------------------------------------------
  0 |      zero |            null  | zero
  1 |       one |            eins  | un
  2 |       two |            zwei  | deux
  3 |     three |            drei  | trois
  4 |      four |            vier  | quatre
  5 |      five |            fünf  | cinq
  6 |       six |           sechs  | six
  7 |     seven |          sieben  | sept
  8 |     eight |            acht  | huit
  9 |      nine |            neun  | neuf
 10 |       ten |            zehn  | dix
 11 |    eleven |             elf  | onze
 12 |    twelve |           zwölf  | douze
 13 | thir|teen |       drei|zehn  | treize
 14 | four|teen |       vier|zehn  | quatorze
 15 |  fif|teen |       fünf|zehn  | quinze
 16 |  six|teen |       sech|zehn  | seize
 17 |seven|teen |       sieb|zehn  | dix-sept
            18 and 19 are "regular"
 20 |    twenty |          zwanzig | vingt
 21 |twenty-one |  ein|und|zwanzig | vingt et un
 22 |twenty-two | zwei|und|zwanzig | vingt-deux
            23 - 69 are "regular"
 70 |  seven|ty |         sieb|zig | soixante-dix = 60 + 10
              ....
 80 |   eigh|ty |         acht|zig | quatre-vingts = 4*20 ?!?!
 81 |eighty-one |  ein|und|achtzig | quatre-vingt-un = 4*20 + 1
      ...

So my question is:

Why do French count so strangely after 79?

(Are there other languages that count similar? What’s the historic / mathematical reason for this system?)

Related Questions

Answer

Many languages have (at least relicts of) non-decimal counting, very often vigesimal (because we have 20 fingers plus toes), but also many other systems. I recommend an old Gutenberg project of mine, The Number Concept

Note for example that the Danish word for 55 is femoghalvtreds “five more than half the third twenty-block”

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : Martin Thoma , Answer Author : Hagen von Eitzen

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