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Dialects, Slang

Le Verlan: Speaking Backwards in French

If you are learning French you might’ve heard of Verlan. The elusive and cryptic version of French, often referred to as speaking backwards in French. But what is Verlan?

Verlan is basically a type of slang most commonly used in ‘les banlieues’ by young people.

It’s often regarded as an identity marker, as it is used by second generation immigrants who despite being French, do not feel French, but also do not feel the same nationality as their parents. Therefore, they feel the need to form their own nationality, a mixture of French and their own, which is why the language of Verlan contains a lot of Arabic words and borrowings from other languages.

Verlan is formed by inverting the syllables in a French word, for instance bon-jour would be jour-bon in Verlan*. Hence it is referred to as speaking French backwards. (*This is not an actual word in Verlan)

Therefore, many Verlan words appear to be quite different from their French counterparts, due to this, many people refer to Verlan as a cryptic language, used by people who want to keep their conversation a secret from others.

Some Verlan words and expressions include:


Meuf= femme

Ouf= fou

Zyva= vas-y

Teuf= fête

Chelou= louche

It can be found in a variety of films, rap music and daily conversation. Films that contain Verlan include:  Les Keufs by Josiane Balasko, 1987; Les Ripoux by Claude Zidi, 1983; La Haine in 1995 and more recently, L’esquive, Kechiche, 2004 and Ch’tis in 2008.

Rap songs containing Verlan include: IAM; 113; Prodige Namor; Maitre Gims; Kerredine Soltani and Keblack.

Is it popular?

Verlan first hit the scenes in the 80’s and was incredibly popular. Some people argue that Verlan is not quite as popular nowadays, despite there is evidence of Verlan evolving into an intrinsic part of the French language.

For instance, many original Verlan words have become too mainstream, so have been reverlanised to maintain their cryptic nature, such as: beur (arabe) which is now rebeu. Furthermore, now we see the emergence of 3 distinct types of Verlan, the original Verlan used by the working class living in the banlieues; Verlan used by young, urban professionals who use it to show solidarity with migrant communities in the area; and lastly the Verlan used by teenagers to avoid authority figures and keep their conversations secret.

In conclusion, Verlan is a type of slang which is predominantly used by younger people, and like all slang it is constantly evolving. But if you’re ever in France, in the big cities, and you hear something that sounds French but not quite French you are probably listening to Verlan.



Dialects, How To Say

How To Say Dude In 30 Different Countries


Caution: Use At Your Own Risk

Please note that this is a list with different languages and countries. Some words may be used universally across different countries that speak the same languages, some might differ from region to region. 

Algeria – “Kho

Argentina – “Chabon” , “Flaco” (Skinny)

Austria – “Oida”

Azeri – “Qardaş”

Britain – “Mate”

Chile – “Weon”

Colombia – “Parcero”, “Man”

Costa Rica – “Mae”

Dutch – “Gast” (Guest)

Finnish – “Jätkä”

French – “Mec”

Hindi – “यार – हिंदी” [yaar]

Iceland – “Gaur”

Iran – “Dash”, “Dadash”

Italy – “Amico”, “Bello”, “Fra”

Lithuania – “Biče”

Maltese – “Xbin” [shbeen]

Mexico – “Wey”, “Vato”, “Loco” (Crazy), “Plebe”

Norwegian – “Kar” or “Fyr”

Panama – “Man”

Poland – “Gość” (Guest)

Portuguese – “Cara”, “Velho”, “Parceiro”, “Vei”, “Mano”

Punjabi – “Sangi”

Russia – “чувак”, “братан”

Serbia – “Brate”

Spain – “Tio” (Uncle)

Tamil – “Machan”

Turkish – “Ahbap”, “Dostum”

Ukrain – “чувак”

United States of America – “Bro”, “Dude”, “Homie”

Urdu – “Dost”

Vietnam – ” Bạn”



(literal translation)



12 Words in Australian English You Need To Know

Australians love talking. They also love making shortening their words. When talking to Australians, these are 12 words you need to know to make sure you understand what they are talking about.

1. Lappy

2. Maccas

3. Choccy

4. Muso

5. Veggo

6. Avo

6. Preggos

7. Chrissy

8. Sparky

9. Postie


10. Relos

11. Sickie

12. Cuppa


Dialects, Expressions

6 Words in German You Need To Know When You Visit Austria


Author’s Note: This post was originally written during my time in Austria as an exchange student. I’ve left in the introduction in order for you to better understand my mindset as an exchange student.

I can’t really believe it, but I’ve spent half a year in this amazing country. The time’s flown, but somehow, part of me feels like I’ll be here forever. The fact that I’ll be in Wisconsin in four months…at college in six? That can’t be real…can it?
Ok, enough with the existential crisis. To celebrate my six months here, I thought I’d share my favorite words in the Austrian-German lexicon. Some of these are dialect words, while others are used in standard High German, but to me, they represent Austria.

1. Genau

Pronounced like “ge” in “get” and “now”

Genau is used as a general form of agreement, but I can say it’s used for everything. It’s also my favorite word in German. Basically, if The Fault in Our Stars was set in Austria, I would bet a significant sum that Hazel and Augustus would have “genau” be their always. (Genau? Genau).

2. Achso/Also/Ahso

Pronounced as it’s written

This is a filler word, similar to the English “oh” or “well”. It’s used in two contexts: To begin a speech, “Ahso, heute rede ich von…” (Ok, today I’m speaking about..); or to express understanding/astonishment, “Das Kinoticket kostet $5. Achso, ich dachte, dass es war nur 4″. (The movie ticket costs $5. Achso, I thought it was only 4).

3. Ur

Pronounced as “oohr”

Ur is an intensifier, a bit like the English “so”, or “really”. For example, it’s quite common to hear “Dass ist ur cool”, which translates to “That’s really/so cool”.

4. Oida

Pronounced Oy-da

Oida is probably THE Viennese dialect word, at least as of now. It’s extremely versatile, and can be used in any situation, to express any emotion. Annoyed? Oida. Happy? Oida :0) Surprised? Oida!

5. Scheiße

I believe everyone knows the pronunciation and definition of this word, but if you don’t, here’s a hint on the meaning: Shit. Unlike the English, it’s not really an offensive word, more similar to “crap”. For example, saying it in school, in front of a teacher, elicits no reaction. Considering the sheer amount of times I’ve heard and used it, it really had to be included on this list.

6. Oachkazlschwoaf

Ok, I’m not even going to try and write this one out… Just try and pronounce it, if you dare. It means “squirrel’s tail” in the Lower Austrian dialect, and is generally used to tease foreigners for their accents. Also incredibly fun to say.

Well, that sums up my mini-dictionary of entertaining Austrian words. If you’d like to read a more in-depth post on the Austrian dialects, let me know, as I truly enjoy talking about it.