French Country Travel Life Language Encore! That’s right! There’s more than just one way to speak French! Sorry to burst yer bubble. Especially after you’ve been diligently listening to those French Language “immersion tapes” Or maybe (for the guys) dutifully memorizing the “phrase of the day” taped to your mirror while shaving.
Those methods, depending on your devotion of course, can yield results. Especially if you are lost, want to get your sweater dry cleaned, but first must find a Samoan dentist.
Of the three ways to speak French that I know of, the first one is the way they speak here where DA BG hangs his corkscrew. The other is the way they put their own indelible stamp on it in Quebec (even inventing words when necessary) and the third is the “encore.” The one I’m hippin ya to today…if it’s not already on your linguistic radar screen. It’s called : “Verlan.”
And someone much mo beddah than me in this area ( a”cunning linguist” in fact) has the “Verlan facts.” She’s also prettier than me. Dear Reader – meet Katerina Forrrester:
“Verlan is a French language argot, which originated from the Parisian banlieue as a social protest. Allowing young people to speak amongst one another, and not be understood by authority figures; such as the police or keuf. It is now widely spoken in France and has fallen into common use, especially amongst young people.
It works by splitting the syllables of a word, and then reversing them to get the new, slang word.
Interestingly, words that end in a silent ‘e’, will retain the same sound when inverted. They will also usually drop the final vowel sound to a word.
As in our French rapper example from above, meuf is derived from femme. If we split the syllables, we get fe-mme. Then we invert the syllables, which allow us mme-fe. Which then brings us to meuf!
It is important to stress that there is no formal way to write verlan, therefore the written form will usually try to follow normal French written patterns.
Here is a small list of common disyllable words used in everyday language:
Teubê – bête – stupid
Zarb’ – bizarre – strange
Mifa (mif’) – famille – family
Meuf – femme – woman
Keum – mec – guy
Cheum – moche – ugly
Teuf’ – fête – party
Keuf – flic – police
Single syllable words are usually just back-to-front:
Ouf – fou – crazy
And so it seems, no matter how hard the L’Académie Française try tostandardise French, it’s the users of a language that shape its future.
What may have began as a language shift of self-identification, in a certain demographic, has now moved to a larger speech community, with a similar purpose.
They are a generational group, fighting for a hold on ‘their’ French language, and refusing the archaic and strict systems of the French government. Fighting oppression was definitely something I learnt from the French. The English language evolves at such a rate that most English speakers are unaware of the power of everyday language.”
(ed: this article originally appeared on myfrenchlife. org(minus my pithy intro, bien sur.) do visit them .)
THROW ME A BONE HERE, PEOPLE!
What are ya thinkin’?