French word of the week: la virgule (15/6/2022)

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So we are in the middle of two rounds of the legislative elections (1st round June 12th and 2nd round June 19th), however as we are all still hungover from the presidential election 6 weeks ago, I have decided that we should do what 53% of the French population did, which is to ignore it all.

Don’t get me wrong, I did vote this past Sunday, I had nothing else planned and it takes about 5 minutes at the voting booth down the street. But, since this is the “pause” between the two rounds, I thought this newsletter would be better spent talking about another pause: the French comma.

Totally random I know, but I figure it is like the intermission between two halfs of a Broadway musical. Everybody is lining up for the toilets anyway, trying to buy a drink, and rushing to make it back to your seat before Part II begins.

So here we go for “all about the comma”: Now I studied French all the way through school in Canada, but it took moving to France to realize that the writing style here is a bit different. (Luckily for you, you don’t to wait until you move here, you have this newsletter!) So, did you know that in French one thousand is written as “1.000,00”?

Yes, the comma and decimal point are inverted. Some French banks will automatically change €100,00 to €100.00 or vice versa, which often leads to this momentary note of panic as you are trying to figure out if you’re paying a hundred euros or ten thousand. I’m going to say this is the main reason Venmo has not tried to enter the French market, can you just imagine the complaints!?

And it doesn’t help if you are looking at the French AZERTY keyboard. (Yes, we don’t have the same keyboard either.)

Azerty keyboard
Azerty

The AZERTY has the figures on numbers on the upper level, along with the period, while the comma is at the bottom. So forget about typing a series of numbers or importing figures from an excel file quickly if you have the language on your computer set to English. It is all bound to go quite wrong.

In addition, to fully cover the topic of “the comma”, did you know the French comma is apparently feminine? It is “la virgule” not “le virgule“. If there is a particular reason for this, I have not been able to find it.

Anyway, I hear that intermission bell ringing, we now return you to your regularly scheduled program. In other news:

  • President Macron gave Queen Elizabeth II a horse for her 70th jubilee, a Republican Guard gelding called “Fabuleau de Macour“. He also sent her a message on twitter, which we presume the Queen checks regularly.
  • The former president of the Louvre museum thought we were back in the 19th century again, and allegedly decided to dabble in some antiquities trafficking and money laundering for some Egyptian artefacts. He has been charged.

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Explore Aigues-Mortes and its fortress castle in the Occitanie region of France. With tips on the best things to see and do, tours, accommodation, and more.

Visit Vallon des Auffes: The fishing village in Marseille

Explore picturesque Vallon des Auffes, the former fishing village in the 7th arrondissement of Marseille.

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