Modern Provençal: Part 6

Miscellaneous Matters

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.

A large metal printing press taking up most of the space in a small room containing a collection of paintings.
Second floor of Roure Palace, Avignon, housing the collections brought together by Jeanne de Flandreysy. In the editorial offices of the Aiòli (a literary newspaper in the Provencal language, the chief editor of which was Folco de Baroncelli) the printing press on which the first edition of Mirèlha was printed in 1860 by Joseph Roumanille in Avignon. Source: Wikimedia

Table of Contents

  1. First article in the series
  2. Previous article in the series
  3. All articles in the series
  4. Disclaimer
  5. Miscellaneous Matters
    1. Ordinal numbers
    2. Approximate amounts
    3. Diminutives and Augmentatives
    4. Directions
    5. Time


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.

Miscellaneous Matters

Ordinal numbers

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 cardinal and ordinal numbers
Cardinal Ordinal
1 un 1st primièr(a)
2 dos 2nd segond(a)
3 tres 3rd tresen(a)
4 quatre 4th quatren(a)
5 cinc 5th cinquen(a)
6 sièis 6th seisen(a)
7 sèt 7th seten(a)
8 uèch 8th uechen(a)
9 nòu 9th noven(a)
10 dètz 10th desen(a)
11 onze 11th onzen(a)
12 dotze 12th dotzen(a)
13 tretze 13th tretzen(a)
14 catòrze 14th quatorzen(a)
15 quinze 15th quinzen(a)
16 setze 16th setzen(a)
20 vint 20th vinten(a)
30 trenta 30th trenten(a)
40 quaranta 40th quaranten(a)
50 cinquanta 50th cinquanten(a)
60 seissanta 60th seissanten(a)
70 setanta 70th setanten(a)
80 uechanta 80th uechanten(a)
90 nonanta 90th nonanten(a)
100 cent 100th centen(a)
1000 mila 1000th milen(a)

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]

Approximate amounts

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").

Diminutives and Augmentatives
Level 1 Level 2 Pejorative / Affectionate
Masc. Fem. Masc. Fem. Masc. Fem.
Diminutive -on -ona -onet -oneta -onàs -onassa
little very little terrible little
Augmentative -às -assa -aràs -arassa -asson -assona
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.


The months
January genier
February febrier
March març
April abrieu
May mai
June junh
July julhet
August aost
September setembre
October octòbre
November novembre
December decembre

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").

Days of the week
Monday diluns
Tuesday dimarç
Wednesday dimècres
Thursday dijòus
Friday divendres
Saturday dissabte
Sunday dimenge

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.