Le deuxième jour de Noël, mon amour m’a donné : deux tourterelles…
(On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: two turtle doves…)
1. une tourterelle (a turtle dove) – okay, not spectacularly useful as vocabulary goes, I admit. Frankly, I wasn’t even sure what a turtle dove was in English, so I looked it up. Interestingly, the word for “dove” in French (“une colombe”) doesn’t make it into this word, and “turtle” (“une tortue”) despite seeming to have had an influence, doesn’t either. In fact, it turns out that it doesn’t really in English. The “turtle” in “turtle dove” refers to the “turr turr” sound the bird makes and has nothing to do with aquatic relative of the tortoise at all, which comes from a Latin word. The apparent relationship is a coincidence in both languages!
Beat that, Stephen Fry, for a QI smartypants mini-fact!
2. Le deuxième / la deuxième – Unlike premier/première there is only one form of all the other ordinal numbers. If you think about it, it’s the same for the cardinal numbers (un/une, deux, trois…), so you would say la deuxième fois (the second time). They all have accents in their -ième suffix.
(Tip: if you struggle to remember which way around ordinal and cardinal numbers, the ordinal numbers are ordered: first, second, third, etc. Simple!)