Thursday, February 21, 2013


Axestay Areway Orfay Uckerssay

"The pigeons appeared in the fall. They swarmed Twitter and Facebook. They had their own hashtag, “#geonpi,” which was “pigeon” rendered in verlan, the French slang that splits a word in half and inverts the parts."
—The French appear to have a classier, skinny form of pig latin that wears cunning scarves and eats smaller croissants. Also, oh, man, Gérard Depardieu.

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fondue with cheddar

I'm saying "geonpi" over and over again in my head in French and I like it! I don't think it works as well in English.


I have a feeling that my mental French accent is horrendously overwrought and super fake. My inner Frenchman is a caricature.


@Scandyhoovian When I was in grad school I had to take a Reading Knowledge of French course. Nobody except the professor had any idea how to pronounce stuff so when we were going over the exercises it sounded like a room full of Pepes Le Pew.

Munich Pixie Dream Girl

@Scandyhoovian Isn't everyone's? This is essentially what my mental French accent sounds like--baguette huhuha


@Scandyhoovian My French accent was heavily influenced by my teachers. One was German, one was Punjabi by way of Quebec. When I speak French, it's... interesting.


@anachronistique Mad props for the way you formed that plural.
/Multilingual grammar supernerd

Vera Knoop

@lostinthesupermarket Is it bad that I knew exactly what that link was going to be because my wife and I randomly quote that at each other all the time? Don't tell me if it's bad; I don't care. (She is fond of sneaking up on me and saying "boeuf!")
Also, are you perdu dans le supermarche?

Vera Knoop

@HereKitty Multilingual grammar supernerd ^5!


@anachronistique PEPES LE PEW. <3


@HereKitty @Vera Knoop @Scandyhoovian MY PEOPLE!


As a non-native speaker of French, verlan is so frustrating! It's one of things things that SEEMS really easy and intuitive to the person speaking it (as pig latin does to 4th graders), but it totally freezes up someone who doesn't hear it all the time. If it's written, I have to sound it out and re-reverse it. If it's spoken, it's about 2 sentences later that I realize what was said.

But it's still not as hard as rhyming slang!


@SarahP Amen - I am fairly fluent but can't actually make out what the hell they're saying in French hip-hop since at least 50% of it is Verlan.


@SarahP The mental acrobatics it takes to create Cockney slang seems impossible to me.


@meetapossum On the contrary, it's endlessly customisable - just pick a word you want to create a slang word for, and then pick a phrase that rhymes with it, and use part of the phrase (whether its the rhyming part or not is your choice). To make up an example on the spot - Bird --> Richard the Third --> Richard. "That statue is covered in Richard shit, I'm going to the park to feed the Richards", etc.


amazing, full of the fantasy@n


Anyone else out there think they were SO COOL in 8th grade because their best friend taught them to speak Gibberish? Itherganithergiwithergone?


@Ophelia Eighth grade you is cooler than current me. I never mastered any fake languages.


@Ophelia My day's family was big into op-talk (Whopich yopou spopeak lopike thopis) but I was never any good at it. Or double Dutch (diboubible dibutch) either.

Vera Knoop

@Ophelia Medegee! Bedegut wedegee cledegearledegee spedegeek dedegiffedegeredegent dedegiadegeledegects.


@sophia_h My best friend and I had Doubletalk (duthebubuthebultathegalk) and we could converse at lightning speed, which made most of our other friends VERY ANGRY. Even though it seems easy enough to understand...? Now I'm sitting here saying things in Doubletalk to myself in an empty office.


I, for one, am looking forward to all these imminent bloody wars.

Nicole Cliffe

@Amphora Buy Victory Bonds!

Pound of Salt

I remember my french teacher trying to teach us this slang! Like calling a fete "teuf"


I met a french guy whose name was Francis, and his (Verlan) nick name was six francs, which is like the french version of Fifty Cent, when you think about it.

Sunny Schomaker

@rayray Or maybe Two Bits (as in "Shave and a Haircut") because of the Euro.


@rayray Or 0,91€

Heat Signature

The French have skinnier Pig Latin not because they speak a lower-fat language, but because they speak it in SMALLER PORTIONS.


@Heat Signature And the WALK EVERYWHERE.

Miss Maszkerádi

@wee_ramekin And they don't STRESS OUT about all their extra superfluous consonants!


@Heat Signature And they use every part of the pig Latin.


@Countess Maritza *cries* I am trying to learn French right now (and by "learn French" I mean "slowly puzzle out Tintin comics panel by panel using my fading knowledge of Spanish and Latin, with my French boyfriend", which is basically a terrible way to actually learn French usefully), and my boy boyfriend is on the receiving end of my rants and cries and bizarre linguistic questions he doesn't actually know the answer to, but mostly "JESUS FUCK WHY DO YOU EVEN BOTHER WITH ALL THESE LETTERS, THEY DON'T DO ANYTHING"


@squishycat Those letters tell you when you're supposed to make a sound in your throat like you have a hairball, basically.


@Ophelia So what you are saying is that my cat is already a better French speaker than I am.


Also this reminds me a lot of Spoonerisms (transposing the first sound of two consonant words, thike lis) which I do a lot naturally. I wish there were an English verlan!


@sophia_h Spoonerisms! Did you ever read The Vicar of Nibbleswicke by Roald Dahl? <3


@mannequinhands No! But my brain wants to rewire it as Wibblesnicke. ;)


Ah, I like the part about how words get recursively verlanised:

Some verlan words, such as meuf [verlan for femme], have become so commonplace that... a doubly "verlanised" version was rendered necessary, so the singly verlanised meuf became feumeu; similarly, the verlan word beur, derived from arabe, has become accepted into popular culture such that it has been re-verlanised to yield rebeu.

Faintly Macabre

@pointy Wow, I did't even realize meuf was verlan! I guess that's why they needed a new word.

And now I'll know what means if the ADHD kid in one of my classes of 8-year-olds starts randomly yelling that his classmate wants to "drague des feumeu" instead of "meufs." Sigh.

Sunny Schomaker

Aaaah! I have many feelings about Verlan, having written a paper about it for a phonology class. When I was researching it, I came across more than one article that characterized Verlan speakers as speaking "bad French", which pissed me off. Excuse me, do you hear how they analyze the structure of words to be able to play with the language. Bad French my ass!

Also, there is a language game in Wolof which may have had an influence? Or maybe not, since French has had a lot of these types of language play.

/nerd out

Faintly Macabre

Though French people use Pig Latin, too! The kids I babysit tried talking in French and Pig-Latin French to plot to steal candy from my bag, somehow forgetting that I speak French and that Pig Latin is the most easily understood fake language ever.

Oh, squiggles

Can someone please explain to me the appeal of Gérard Depardieu?

Pseudo Pseudonym

@Absurd Bird One could try but it's not so easy now that Cyrano has lost his panache.


Ask a Hairpin Commenter's French Wife:

"Me: I'm reading a story about Verlan
can you understand when people use it?

Clarisse: well it depends,..some 'verlan' words are so common we don't realise they're in verlan
other words get invented all the time
and they can be harder to understand I guess"



@stuffisthings Here are some ones she said are common:

"rebeu (for arabe or beur, not quite sure which one it's based on)\
tebe (for bete), meaning stupid
meuf (for femme), well I assume it's verlan
relou (for lourd) , meaning annoying"


@stuffisthings I confirm 'meuf' is verlan but so commonly used it's practically common parlance.

ETA: Oh, someone already said this upthread.


I can't master REGULAR French and now THIS. *cries*

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