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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: How can I use French slang?
There are a lot of words you'll hear in French that you'll almost never see written. In fact, there are many expressions that are unique to spoken French.
Take quoi at the end of a sentence for example. Quoi in spoken French doesn't just mean "what." When used at the end of a sentence, it's a filler word that adds emphasis.
If you're talking about something with your friend and she says, C'est normal, quoi, she isn’t asking a question. In English it would sound something like, “This is quite normal.” She’s emphasizing how average or usual the situation is.
A very popular slang word among young people is genre. It can be translated to the filler word “like” in English. For example C’était genre trop bien would be “It was, like, amazing.”
Another common word that's used differently in spoken slang is se casser, which means “to go separate ways”, or “to split up.”
Say you're at lunch with some friends and you have another appointment to go to. You might say, On se casse? to signal the end of the get-together. The closest equivalent would be “Let’s get out of here.” However, be careful when you use it, because it can come off as a little rude.
On a similar note, casse-toi means, "Get lost!" which can be mean or playful, so be careful with this one, too.
Let’s look at some words you’ll usually only use in conversation.
Un boulot is literally “a job.” Boulot comes from the French verb boulotter which means, “to work with secrecy.” Its nuance is more of, "what I do to get by" rather than "what I do for a living," which would be le travail. Un petit boulot, or sometimes just un boulot, is a part-time or odd job.
Un bouquin is the casual word for "a book." Bouquin comes from the Dutch boek, which also means “book” and has a similar pronunciation. France has a strong academic culture and informal discussions over books happen often. So, many people use bouquin in more casual settings instead of livre, which is the formal way to say “book.”
The word bouffer means “to scarf down food,” when you're really hungry and not paying attention to your manners. It's not an insult, though – everyone understands the need to bouffer sometimes, especially after a long, hard day of work. However, because of France’s vibrant culinary culture, bouffer isn't a word you'll come across in polite circles.
Ouf is an interjection you'll hear often. It means you’re relieved after you’ve done or gone through something crazy.
You can use it as an adjective too, like C'est ouf when you’re talking about a crazy situation. It most closely translates to, “that’s sick” or simply, “that’s crazy.” You can even describe a person as un ouf, which means someone who’s lost his mind.
Ouf actually comes from verlan, which is a pattern of slang in French. We'll talk about that more in another lesson.
Here are a couple more common slang words: kiffer means "to dig something" or "to like something." Dingue means “crazy,” either in a good way or a bad way. Another one is chiant, a vulgar slang word which means “really annoying.”
How was it? Pretty interesting, right?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
A bientôt, see you soon!