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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I'll answer your most common French questions.
The question for this lesson is: What are some examples of the slang le verlan?
If you talk to a French friend about common slang words, they'll probably ask you if you've heard of verlan.
Verlan is a variation of l’envers, which means, “the reverse.” If you reverse the syllables of l’envers, you get verlan. L'en-vers, vers-l'en. Verlan.
Verlan is kind of like pig latin, if you’ve ever heard of that. A key difference is that people rarely speak in pig latin, whereas French people use verlan all the time. But only certain words turn into verlan.
For example, one of the most common French interjections, ouf, comes from verlan. It's actually fou reversed: f-ou, ou-f. Fou is an adjective that means “crazy” or “mad.”
Ouf means the same thing, except that you can use it on its own. Say someone asks you how your day was, and you’ve just had the craziest day. We’ve all had those! You might just respond, ouf. Pretty useful, right?
Another common word in verlan is meuf. That comes from femme, which means, “woman.” Meuf though, is more casual. If a man says ma meuf, that means “my woman” or “my girlfriend.” If he says ma femme, that means “my wife.”
Relou is another good one which comes from lourd, or “heavy.” Relou is mostly used to describe a person who’s a drag. Or someone that you don’t want to be around.
Some other verlan words pretty much keep their meaning. Chanmé comes from méchant, or “mean,” but in verlan, it actually means “awesome,” or “amazing." Zarbi is bizarre, or “weird.” Ripou is pourri, or “rotten.” Chelou is louche, or “shady and weird.”
Pretty neat, right?
To make things even more confusing, there’s another variation of verlan - it’s re-verlan, a verlan word reversed again! This only happens to certain words, though.
Take flic, which is slang for “policeman.” Flic in verlan became keuf. However, keuf was a slang word originally only used by "thugs." However, it became a usual slang term, so they changed keuf into feuck.
So keuf went through re-verlan and became feuk.. which sounds like a certain word in English! I guess it reflects how some young people feel about les flics breaking up their parties.
In another lesson, we’ll talk about curse words and their place in French culture.
If you have any more questions, please leave them in the comments!
A bientôt, see you soon!