03 Sep Parlez-Vous Céfran?

Say what?

I started studying French in high school.  Then, I majored in it at the University of Michigan.  Then, I studied abroad in Grenoble.  Then, I taught English in Normandy for eight months.  Then, I taught French for a few years. Then, I moved to Lorraine for a while.  You could say that I spoke French fairly well at this point, and I did, but I kept hearing words pop up in conversation that I had never heard of before, like, ever.

But seriously, what?

But seriously, what?


So, finally I asked someone what this word (meuf) was that I kept hearing over and over and over, and then it all made sense: Verlan.

Verlan is a form of the French language common among the youth, the word “verlan” being an example itself of how the language functions. It basically works like this: take the syllables of a word and switch them. Easy enough, right? The French word “l’envers” (meaning inverse) is pronounced “lan-ver.” Switch the order of these two syllables, thus pronouncing the word inversely and voilà, you have the word “Verlan.” Clever, oui?

Here’s a list of commonplace “verlanised” words that you’re sure to hear at some point in conversation with a young French person. Words that are only one syllable work a little differently, but you get the idea:

Verlan                  Original word              Meaning

meuf                                 femme                        woman

ouf                                      fou                              crazy

chelou                               louche                         shady

féca                                   café                             coffee/café

relou                                 lourd                           heavy

teuf                                   fête                             party

tof                                      photo                         photo

zarbi                                bizarre                        bizarre

céfran                               français                      French

Remember, this is “street language” so be sure to leave it there, and keep it proper in the salle de classe!

Nope...still too informal...

Nope…still too informal…

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