Courtesy of Rebecca Sunde: Verlan, the French Pig Latin

The French have their own version of pig latin, and they know how to use it.

It’s called verlan — a sort of inversion of syllables that has become the basis for popular slang amongst the French youth. Even though it is designated as the langue des rappeurs (a.k.a. rappers, therefore not always a very educated language, especially to French standards), Mme Martins says it has existed in some form or another since the third century!

Take the word verlan itself and cut it in half; you get ver and lan. Now switch the two around; you get lan ver, which produces the same sound as the French word l’envers, meaning “the reverse.”

For example:
Bizarre becomes zarbi.
Femme, meaning ‘woman,’ becomes meuf.
Arabe, referring to the many arabic immigrants in France, becomes Beur.

These last two have become so widely recognized that they have been re-verlanized as femeur and rebeu. And I thought English was supposed to be hard…

To see more of Rebecca’s beautiful blog:

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