Verlan


Verlan

In the French language, "verlan" is the inversion of syllables in a word which is found in slang and youth language. It rests on a long French tradition of transposing syllables of individual words to create slang words.fact|date=August 2008 The name "verlan" itself is an example: ver"lan" = "lan" ver = l'envers (meaning "the inverse").

General characteristics and Structure

Word Formation

Words in "verlan" are formed by the order in which syllables from the original word are pronounced. For example, "français" [fʀã se] becomes "céfran" [se fʀã] .

"Verlan" generally retains the pronunciation of the original syllables. In particular, French words that end in an "e muet" (a schwa, "eu", such as "femme") and words which end in a pronounced consonant and which usually have an "e muet" added at the end (such as "flic") retain the sound of the "e muet" in "verlan". In addition, "verlan" often drops the final vowel sound after the word is inverted, so "femme" and "flic" become "meuf" and "keuf," respectively.

Different rules apply when dealing with one-syllable words, and words with more than one syllable may be verlanised in more than one way. For example, "cigarette" may yield either "retsiga" or "garetsi". [cite journal
last = Valdman
first = Albert
title = La Langue des faubourgs et des banlieues: de l'argot au français populaire
journal = The French Review
volume = 73
issue = 6
pages = 1188
publisher = American Association of Teachers of French
date = 2000-05
url = http://www.jstor.org/stable/399371
accessdate = 2008-04-22
]

Vocabulary

In certain dialects of "verlan", certain words are often inverted and certain words are not. Words such as "très" remain unchanged in most dialects, while "femme" is usually inverted.

Some "verlan" words, such as "meuf", have become so commonplace that they have been included into the Petit Larousse and a doubly "verlanised" version was rendered necessary, and the singly verlanised "meuf" became "feumeu"; similarly, the "verlan" word "beur", derived from "arabe", has become accepted into popular culture such that it has been re-verlanised to yield "rebeu".

In theory, any word can be translated into "verlan" but only a few expressions are actually used in everyday speech.fact|date=August 2008 Verbs translated into "verlan" cannot be conjugated easily. There is no such thing as a "verlan" grammar so most of the time verbs are used in the infinitive, past participle or progressive form. For example:
*"J'étais en train de pécho une bombe" ("I was hitting on a hot chick") is said, but not "je pécho [ais] " or "je p [ais] cho".

pelling

As with many language games, the study of "verlan" suffers from the fact that it is primarily a spoken language passed down orally, and thus there exists no standardized spelling. While some still argue that the letters should be held over from the original word, in the case of "verlan" most experts agree that words should be spelt as to best approximate pronunciation, hence the use of "verlan" as opposed to "versl'en".

Cultural significance

"Verlan" is not so much a language as a means of setting apart certain words. The fact that many verlan words refer either to sex or drugs stems from its original purpose: to keep the communication secret from institutions of social control. Nobody would use solely "verlan" while talking. Usually, the use of verlan is limited to one or two key words per sentence. "Verlan" words and expressions would rather be mixed inside a more general "argotique" language.

One of the principal functions of "verlan" is for marking membership in, or exclusion from, the group that speaks it (generally young people in the cities and suburbs); it is a tool for marking and delineating group identity. [cite journal
last = Valdman
first = Albert
title = La Langue des faubourgs et des banlieues: de l'argot au français populaire
journal = The French Review
volume = 73
issue = 6
pages = 1189
publisher = American Association of Teachers of French
date = 2000-05
url = http://www.jstor.org/stable/399371
accessdate = 2008-04-22
] Speakers rarely create a "verlan" word on the fly; rather, their ability to use and understand words from an accepted set of known "verlan" terms allows them to be identified as part of a "verlan"-speaking group.

Some "verlan" words have gained mainstream currency. A notable example is the word "beur" (from "arabe"), now widely used to describe a French-born individual of North African descent. (It has since been verlanised a second time into "rebeu", which also is now widely used.)

"Verlan" is popular as a form of expression in French hip-hop. [Rosen, Jody. 10 November 2005. "David Brooks, Playa Hater." "Slate Magazine". http://www.slate.com/id/2130120. Accessed 21 March 2008.] Artists claim that it fits well with the musical medium because "form ranks way over substance," although it must conform to experts' ideas of how hip-hop should sound. [St. Alse, Yaka. 21 January 2005. Notes to "Wardsback." "Open Brackets: Lost in Translation." http://openbrackets.com/article/640/wardsback. Accessed 21 March 2008.]

Other Languages

The use of "verlan" is less widespread in English-speaking countries, likely because French syllables are more conducive to inversion from linguistic and aesthetic standpoints. However, similar manners of speaking such as Pig Latin or "Back s _ba. Greek, called "podana", itself an inversed form of "anapoda" (i.e. backwards). "Verlan" is also very similar, if not identical, to the slang often used in Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Macedonia in the Serbo-Croat languages and Macedonian. This slang, "satrovacki" and sometimes labeled as the 8th case, is popular among the youth in especially Sarajevo and Belgrade.

Examples

Persons

*Femme (woman) → meuf → feumeu
*Mec (guy) → keum
*Pute (whore) → teu-pu
*Pétasse (slut) → tasspé
*Frère (brother) → reuf
*Sœur (sister) → reus
*Mère (mother) → reum
*Père (father) → reup
*Moi (me) → ouam
*Toi (you) → ouat
*Parents (parents) → remps
*Flic (cop) → keufli → keuf → feuk (sounds similar to the English curse word)
*Arabe (Arab) → `beur → rebeu
*Noir (Black person) → renoi ("keubla" from English "black" is also widely used)
*Celui-la (Him) → la-cui, lawis
*Celle-la (Her) → la-celle
*Français (frenchman) → céfran

Adjectives

*Méchant (mean, but also wicked in a positive way) → chanmé
*Gentil (friendly, nice) → tigen
*Enervé (angry) → vénèr
*Bête (silly) → teubé
*Défoncé (stoned) → fonsdé
*Louche (weird) → chelou
*Pourri (rotten, corrupt) → ripou
*Cher (expensive) → reuch
*Sec (skinny) → keus
*Lourd (heavy, boring) → relou
*Bizarre (weird) → zarb/ zarbi
*Fou (crazy, insane) → ouf
*Comme ça (this way) → kom ass "or" ça com "or" ass com
*Moche (ugly) → chem/ chemo
*Vite fait (quickly made/done, too quick so it's badly done)→ vite aif
*Speed (same as in English) → deuspi (to do something quickly: "en deuspi")

Verbs and verbal forms

*Choper (hit on a girl, buy drugs, or generally grab or obtain something), also "se faire choper" (get caught) → pécho
*Mater (check out) → téma
*Fumer (smoke) → méfu
*Vas-y (come on) → zyva
*Carrot’ (being deceived by someone "or" steal) → rotca
*Branché (trendy, stylish, in) → chébran
*Marcher (to walk/work) → chémar
*Tomber (drop/forget about it) → béton ("Laisse tomber !" → "Laisse béton !")

Nouns

*Métro (subway) → tromé "or" trom
*Truc (stuff) → keutru
*Soirée (party) → réssoi
*Cigarette (cigarette) → garetci → garo
*Gramme (gram) → meug
*Herbe (weed) → beuher → beuh
*Barette (stick of hash) → retba
*Shit ("slang for" hashish) → teuchi "or" teuch
*Disque (CD) → skeud
*Joint (spliff) → oinj
*Fête (party) → teuf
*Pétard (joint) → tarpé
*Chien (dog, insulting : selfish person) → ienche
*Racaille (rabble, in french very insulting) → Kaïra
*Chatte ("in the sense of" vagina) → Teucha → teuch
*Bite (dick) → teub

Notes

See also

* Argot
* Back Slang
* - same principle as "verlan" in Pilipino, the national language of the Philippines
* Cant (language)
* Cockney rhyming slang
* Panamanian Spanish
* Javanais
* Language game
* Langue verte
* Louchebem
* Lunfardo
* Pig Latin
* Polari
* Šatrovački - same principle as "verlan", in Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, Macedonian
* Shelta (ISO 639-2: cel [http://www.ethnologue.com/14/show_country.asp?name=Ireland] ) - similarities to "verlan", in Irish.
* Spoonerism
* Vesre
* Nadsat
* Variety (linguistics)

External links

* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/1892853.stm BBC report]
* [http://french.about.com/library/vocab/bl-verlan.htm about.com article]


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