This is part six in a series on the modern Provençal language. See part one to start from the beginning.
In this article we will take a deeper look at various subjects to do with numbers, size, time, and place.
Table of Contents
- First article in the series
- Previous article in the series
- All articles in the series
- Miscellaneous Matters
- Ordinal numbers
- Approximate amounts
- Diminutives and Augmentatives
I am not a native speaker, nor any kind of authority on Provence or the Provençal language. I'm compiling these notes from limited and fragmented resources as a way to teach myself, and while I've made every effort to be as accurate and in-depth as possible, mistakes are bound to happen.
I try to verify and weigh information against multiple sources, but something may ultimately come down to a difference between dialects or individual speakers. If you have any comments or corrections, please contact me, including your source(s) and/or credentials.
For now, consider this a work-in-progress.
We saw in the first part how to count to practically any number: one, two, three, and so on. These are the so-called cardinal numbers. Now we will look at how we can count: first, second, third, and so on. These are the ordinal numbers, used to express a relative position in a sequence.
With the exception of primièr(a) ("first") and segond(a) ("second"), ordinal numbers are formed from the cardinal numbers by adding the ending -en(a), so for example tresen(a) ("third", from tres) and quatren(a) ("fourth", from quatre). In some cases, such as cinc (5) which becomes cinquen(a) ("fifth"), the stem changes as well.
The ordinal numbers must agree in gender with the noun they modify or refer to: lo tresen and la tresena both mean "the third (one)" but refer to someone or something that is respectively masculine and feminine.
- I a dètz capèus. M'agrada lo quatren
- There are ten hats. I like the fourth (one).
- I a dètz camisas. M'agrada la quatrena
- There are ten shirts. I like the fourth (one).
- Victòria monta lo tresen cavau
- Victoria is riding the third horse
- Bevèm la tresena botelha
- We drink the third bottle
Although it's rare for the noun to be plural (we would probably never say "the third houses" but "the third house"), it can happen when talking about them as a group. In these cases, the ordinal must also be plural:
- Avèm lei novenas
- We have the ninth ones [we have all the ones that are number nine]
- Son lei sètens fius
- They are the seventh sons [each one of them is the seventh son of his respective parents]
- La soma dei tretzenas chifras es vint
- The sum of the thirteenth digits is twenty [each thirteenth digit in some set of numbers is added together]
When talking about (relatively) large quantities, we don't always know or care about the exact number and might say something like "about a hundred" (could be 95 or maybe 107), or "hundreds" (could be 200 or 900 or perhaps 578).
In Provençal, we use a form similar to the ordinal numbers, by adding the ending -enau (masculine) or -ena (feminine) to the cardinal number, for example un centenau or una centena ("about a hundred") and centenaus or centenas ("hundreds").
Notice that the feminine form is identical to the feminine ordinal number; when we use the definite article (la seissantena), we're talking about the ordinal ("the 60th"), but when we use the indefinate article (una seissantena) we're talking about an approximate amount ("about sixty").
Also notice that, even though we're talking about many things, the form -ena(u) is singular and uses the singular articles un and una: we're talking about a single group or collection of something, though it contains many of them.
Finally, remember that, when talking about a number of something, whether exact or approximate, we must use the article de ("of").
- Ai una dotzena d'uous
- I have about twelve eggs
- I have about a dozen eggs
- N'i a un uechenau
- There are about eight (of them).
- N'avèm una trentena
- We have about thirty (of them)
- Un vintenau d'enfants jògan a fotbal
- About twenty children are playing football
- Vau legir una desena de paginas de aqueste libre
- I am going to read about ten pages of this book
- I a centenas d'aranhas minusculas dins teis cauçaduras
- There are hundreds of tiny spiders in your shoes
Diminutives and Augmentatives
We know that we can use adjectives to say things like lo pichòt dròlle ("the little boy") and lo grand can ("the big dog"), but in Provençal it is more common to use a suffix when forming such diminutives and the augmentatives of a noun: lo dròllon ("the little boy") and lo canàs ("the big dog").
|Level 1||Level 2||Pejorative / Affectionate|
|little||very little||terrible little|
|big||really big||big and kind|
There are two levels of both diminutives and augmentatives in Provençal: lo dròllon ("the little boy"), lo dròllonet ("the very little boy"), lo canàs ("the big dog"), and lo canaràs ("the very big dog").
The diminutive and augmentative can also be combined to form either the pejorative diminutive or the affectionate augmentative: lo dròllonàs ("the terrible little boy") and lo canasson "the big, kind dog".
It's useful to be able to talk about where someone or something is. The word onte (ont in front of a vowel) means "where".
- D'onte vènes? Vène d'un vilatge en Cevenas
- Where are you from? [Lit: From where you come?] I'm from a village in the Cévennes.
- Ont es papet? Es dins la cosina
- Ont es papet? Es en cosina
- Where is grandpa? He is in the kitchen.
- Ont anam? En quauque luòc entre Manòsca e Sisteron
- Where are we going? Somewhere [lit: in some place] between Manosque and Sisteron
- Onte rèstan? Rèstan pròche la comuna
- Onte rèstan? Rèstan près de la comuna
- Where do they live? They live close to the city hall.
In English we talk about things that are "here" (in the same place as the speaker) or "there" (further away). In Provençal we say aicí ("here"), but we have more options when we want to say "there": aquí and ailà both mean "there", but ailà is more distant, similar to the archaic English word "yonder". Ailà can also mean "down there", while adaut means "up there".
If we want to say "around here", "over here", or "over there", as in "somewhere in this/that general area", we use per aicí, per aquí, and per ailà.
- Lo catàs es aicí, au bèu davant de la pòrta
- The big cat is here, right in front of the door
- Rèstan per aicí, au mitan de la palun
- They live around here, in the middle of the swamp
- Regarde per aicí, en bas deis escaliers
- I am looking over here, at the bottom of the stairs
- Cu es aquí, darrier l'ostau?
- Who is there, behind the house?
- Anna es per aquí, de l'autre costat de la carriera
- Anna is [somewhere] over there, on the other side of the street.
- La veitura es ailà, au bot dau camin
- The car is over there, at the end of the road
- Lo dròllon es ailà, au fons dau potz
- The little boy is down there, at the bottom of the well
- La princessa es adaut, en aut de la torre
- The princess is up there, at the top of the tower
In English we might say "my place", "his place", "Maria's place", "Pierre's", or "the doctor's". In Provençal we use en cò (de) or, when talking about home, a l'ostau.
- Tomàs vai en cò dau vesin
- Thomas is going to the neighbor's place
- Anam en cò de Marià dins lo centre de la vila
- We are going to Maria's place in the center of the city
- Vau en cò mieu
- Vau a l'ostau
- I'm going (back) to my place
- I'm going home.
It's high time to talk about time.
The word ora can mean "hour", "time", or "o'clock" depending on context. To say "it is one o'clock", we say es una ora, and to say "it is two o'clock" we say son dos oras. Notice the plurality; in English we say "it is" regardless of the time, but in Provençal it's "they are" except at one o'clock.
Of course, two o'clock can mean two different times: AM or PM. To make it clear which you're talking about, in case context doesn't make it clear, say son dos oras del matin ("it is two in the morning", "it is 2 AM") or son dos oras del tantòst ("it is two in the afternoon", "it is 2 PM").
To say "it is a quarter past" and "it is half past", say es una ora un quart ("it is a quarter past one") and son tres oras e mièja ("it is half past three").
When talking about times between "one minute past" and "twenty-nine minutes past", simply add the number: es una ora cinc ("it is five past one o'clock").
However, between "twenty-nine minutes to" and "one minute to", as in "it is ten minutes to five o'clock", you have to subtract instead: Son sièis oras manca dètz ("it is ten to five o'clock", literally "it is six o'clock minus ten.").
- Son onze oras picanta del tantòst
- It is exactly eleven o'clock in the afternoon
- Ièr, uei e deman a nòu oras del matin
- Yesterday, today and tomorrow at nine o'clock in the morning
- Ai un examen l'endeman deman a miègjorn
- I have an exam the day after tomorrow at noon
- Anam a l'escòla l'endeman matin a uèch oras
- We are going to school the morning after at eight o'clock
- La velha de Nadau a dotze manca cinc
- The day before Christmas at five minutes to twelve o'clock
- Christmas Eve at five minutes to twelve o'clock
- Lo revelhon de l'an nòu a mièjanuèch
- La velha de l'an nòu a mièjanuèch
- New Year's Even at midnight
Provençal is primarily spoken in the south of France where, like in most of Europe, it is common to use the 24-hour clock instead of the 12-hour clock. In the 24-hour clock there is no AM and PM, we simply keep counting past 12, so 1 PM is 13 o'clock and 11 PM is 23 o'clock. When we would reach 24, we roll around to 0 instead, so 12:15 AM in the 12-hour clock is 00:15 in the 24-hour clock.
- Divendres tretze a tretze oras tretze
- Friday the Thirteenth at 13 minutes past 13 o'clock (1:13 PM)
- Quant es d'ora? Ja son vint horas e mièja
- What time is it? It is already half past twenty o'clock (8:30 PM)
- A quina ora?
- At what time?
Now that we can talk about time, we can start talking about the past. In the next article we'll look at verbs in past tense.