Saturday, January 16, 2010

French phrase of the day: un truc de ouf

Def: something that’s totally crazy

Yep. I’m finally rocking the Verlan.

Verlan is Paris’ unique brand of street slang. It started in les banlieues in the ’80s so kids/drug dealers/thugs could speak in code. Now it’s something that even girls with pearls bandy about.

Sometimes a "verlaned” word is just the original word, spelled backwards. In trickier cases, the word is cut into syllables, re-ordered and then put back together again (For example, verlan = l'envers, the French for "reverse". Take the two syllables, “l'en" and "vers", and invert them: "vers l'en". Put them back together, and you get "verslen". Adjust the spelling and it becomes "verlan". Voila.) Several people have explained Verlan to me (gushed about it, really, so excited to tell me about this kuh-razy! Parisian rite), and, while it sounds simple in theory, it’s just a bit too complicated for me. After all, I’m still struggling with simple French comprehension and the pronunciation of words like the aforementioned “banlieues”.

But Mel introduced me to this phrase last night, and I love it. It’s easy, fun to say, plus “fou” is one of my favorite French words.

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