caterina beat me to commenting on the verlan article in yesterday's new york times. i was all atwitter about having a personal frame of reference for something that interests the general public, but the argot glossaries at my disposal are a bit too rude to recommend. links are a delicate business, you see.

my french was fairly decent by suburban standards - i studied it for eight years before college, so i could hold my own with les trois mousquetaires and the occasional exchange student. then i dated French Vanilla (a guy who'd gone to high school near cannes and was in denial about being caucasian - long story) for a year and a half; my listening comprehension went through the roof and my grammar went down the toilet. in conversation courses at university, my professors would interrupt me to tell the class that i'd used an interesting term that shouldn't really come up with elders or strangers.
But along with its subversive element, [a professor of French applied linguistics] explained in an interview, "for the young urban professional, Verlan is a form of political correctness expressing solidarity with and awareness of the immigrant community at a time of anti-immigrant politics."


But Leyla Habane, a Moroccan-French university student...is leary [sic] of that interpretation. "I think these terms can be pejorative in any form," she said, though she admitted that they could also be used playfully. Perhaps because it has been so widely adopted by most French, she finds the term beur [verlanization of arabe] offensive.
my understanding leans toward ms. habane's; french is a bit tricky now, as mine is peppered with verlan and argot that i haven't exactly earned. also, predictably, my circle of francophones kinda contracted when FV and i stopped dating.

the times piece was nostalgic for me, though; i'm tempted to brave the conversation group at the benevolent bookstore we discovered last night. for now, it's France Battle time on iron chef.

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