Culture | Slang
Through this series, we will explain to you some French slang. Who knows? It might come-in-handy someday.
In France, most words contain at least two syllables. French words are usually “bigger” than English ones. French youth has been for generations using what is called “verlan”. It’s a type of argot where you inverse the syllables inside a word. Verlan itself is the verlan for “à l’envers” [in reverse].
This can be used with every word in the French language. Everyone in France (young and older people) use it at some point. You can try it too! In order to do it, you first need to choose a word. For example, we can try with “voiture” [car]. Then, you need to decompose the word in syllables. Here, it will be “voi-ture”. In fact, we mostly cut the word in two. Then, you just have to reverse the syllables. With our example, “voiture” will become “tur-voi”.
This method is fun but also useful for rappers. By reversing syllables rappers can create new rhymes and flows. Let’s have a look at some examples.
• “J’allume pe-clo dans la tur-voi” [I light a cig in a car] : ,”clope” [cig] became “pe-clo” and “voiture” became “tur-voi” (Le Juiice – Freestyle Jus).
• “Des voisins se plaignent que je leurs disent jamais jour-bon” [Some neighbors complain about me never say hello] : “bonjour” [hello] became “jour-bon” (13Block – Choochoo Gang).
• “Le dealer s’est rré-ba, les deps sont rié-ma, les tits-peu nous té-ma” [The drug dealer ran away, homosexuals are getting married, the kids watch us] : “s’est barré” [run away] became “s’est rré-ba”, “marriés” [married] became “rrié-ma” and “petits” [kids] turned into “tits-peu” (Heuss L’enfoiré – BX Land #2).
• “Jeune Diego Armando, ma té-ci c’est Napoli” [Young Diego Armando, my neighborhoods is like Napoli]: “cité” [neighborhoods] became “té-ci”. (Kekra – Pas Joli)
This process to create slang words is largely use in France. In fact, it has been used since Middle-Age in France. It’s after World War II that it became a process largely used. You can try it with some French guys, I can bet he will get it quickly.You can also find our slang dictionnary here.