The use of “tiers” for Third World seems strange - I have never hear anything that made me think that Third World was a fraction as opposed to

The use of “tiers” for Third World seems strange - I have never hear anything that made me think that Third World was a fraction as opposed to

an additional category after The West and the Eastern Bloc - and thus I would have thought “troisième”
Asked 11 months ago
AlanC1Correct answer

Hi David,

I'm sure you're right that the "third" in "Third World" refers to an order rather than a fraction.

I think the reason that "tiers" is used is probably historical. Although "Third World" is a relatively recent term it was coined from the much older expression "Third Estate" - "le tiers-état".

I imagine at the time when that term was created the language was rather different and "tiers" could be used to mean 3rd in sequence.

 

Thank you - since a Frenchman coined the term, based on Third Estate, (at least per Wikipedia) - I can’t argue.  I’m learning that many things I have to accept don’t have such a clear basis - but I have to accept and learn them!
CécileKwiziq language super star

Thank you Alan for this excellent answer.

I was discussing this question posed by David with some French people yesterday as I have to admit I had never asked myself since in my mind it only designates a status and I learnt that there is another term 'le quart-monde'.

After a bit of research it appears that 'le quart-monde' was coined in 1969 to designate people under the threshold of poverty. It is wonderful to learn something new. If you are interested, take a peak at:

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quart-monde

all in French I am afraid but good practice.

The use of “tiers” for Third World seems strange - I have never hear anything that made me think that Third World was a fraction as opposed to

an additional category after The West and the Eastern Bloc - and thus I would have thought “troisième”

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Find your French level for FREE

Test your French to the CEFR standard

Find your French level >>
I'll be right with you...