LINGUIST List 13.2122

Sat Aug 17 2002

Media: Article NYT: Verlan

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Karen S. Chung, Media NYT: Verlan

Message 1: Media NYT: Verlan

Date: Sat, 17 Aug 2002 16:26:48 +0800
From: Karen S. Chung <>
Subject: Media NYT: Verlan

 Here's the beginning of a New York Times (August 17, 2002) article on
Verlan, or 'backwards' French.

 The URL:

 Backward Runs French. Reels the Mind
 By Alexander Stille

 Those who have studied French but haven't been in France for a
while may find themselves confused when they overhear conversations
that sound familiar but remain largely incomprehensible. Gradually
they may realize, or some kind soul may explain, that what they are
hearing is a popular slang called Verlan in which standard French
spellings or syllables are reversed or recombined, or both.

 Thus the standard greeting "Bonjour, ca va?" or "Good day, how are
you?" becomes "Jourbon, ca av?" "Une fete" (a party) has become "une
teuf"; the word for woman or wife, femme, has become meuf; a cafe has
become feca; and so on.

 Karen Steffen Chung
 National Taiwan University

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