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January 6, 2018

Love French, ergo Love Verlan!- Slang French

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As an infant, we definitely would be able to recall, that we once invented our very own secret mnemonic language, which no one else would understand, to convey our childish secrets. Inventing secret code names, adding prefixes and suffixes, it all sounded so cool, fun and complex. Now, imagine, all you have to do to sound cool, is simply reverse the word, just that, the word is in French. This is a unique blessing offered by <>, a form of slang French.

Formation of Le Verlan

Verlan is an argot (secret language) in the French language, used quite frequently by the youth. It is a slang formed by inversion of syllables in a word. The name "Le Verlan" itself is an inversion of the word "L'envers" which means "The inversion" in French. Pig Latin in English can said to be an equivalent of Verlan. Switching the order of pronunciation of the syllables in the original word forms words in Verlan. Some common examples:

Femme -> Meuf ( Slang for a woman, girlfriend, my lady)
Français -> Céfran (The French language in Verlan)
Tromé -> Métro (The underground/tube transport)
Cimer -> Merci (Thank you)
Ouf -> Merci (Crazy)

By now, I think you've got the gist!

Cultural Significance

Verlan is clearly more ubiquitous with the younger lot. Therefore it is used a lot in contexts of Sex, Drugs and slightly more vulgar references. It is not advisable to use Verlan in your day to day formal set up of communication- like at work, or whilst running your errands. But it could definitely break the ice with your cool young French friends whom you have known for a suffciently long time. Verlan is also heavily used in French hip hop and Rap music. The very popular Belgian Artist- "Stromae" has his name verlanized from the word "Maestro".

Caltural Significance

Trust me it can get more complicated…!

There exists a reversed version of Verlan called Re-verlan is used for just certain words. These are verlan words reversed again.
For example:
Flic ( slang for policeman) becomes keuf in Verlan and feuck in Re-verlan

There are also a few words whose meaning changes from the original form on conversion into Verlan.
For example:
Méchant , which means mean in the original form becomes chanmé (which means amazing or awesome in Verlan).

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