Ever earwigged on a conversation between a bunch of chain-smoking teens and despite your language level, found them completely unintelligible?
It might be because they’re talking in back to front, upside down, inside out slang – otherwise known as “verlan.”
Verlan is created by the inversion of syllables within a word, the word “verlan” itself being the inversion of the French word for “reverse”, l’envers. Get it? For example, femme becomes meuf, mec(guy) becomes keum, flic (cop) becomes keuf, bête becomes teubé and the very long list goes on. Add to this a whole range of street slang such as “zique” for musique, “caisse” or “bagnole” for voiture, and “fric” for argent. Not to mention multiple ways to call someone a twat…. “petit con”, “sale con”, “pauvre con”, “gros con”…. take your pick.
Let’s imagine that you’re caught in a road rage incident and you’re warning an angry motorist to stay away from your car. If you were polite, you might ask him: “Pourriez-vous, je vous prie, vous écarter de mon véhicule au plus vite monsieur?”
But if you’re a little French punk you’ll shout:
“Degage de ma bagnole, gros connard!”
Now try translating this clean French sentence into dirty, derogatory banter.
“Ma femme s’habille très vulgairement, elle a l’air d’une fille facile.”
You guessed right. It’s: “Ma meuf se fringue comme une pute, elle a l’air d’une salope.”