Yes, the French do slang. There’s a particular type of French slang I’ve been thinking about recently: verlan. I like to refer to it as French cockney, since both are founded on the same principle: making sure nosy people can’t understand private conversations.Well, at a pinch.
It is particularly common amongst the youth of France – in my most recent trip to France I had friends quite often say cimer to me, the verlan form of merci. That may give you an indication of how it’s formed.
The principle behind it is simply the inversion of syllables. The french word merci has two syllables – mer and ci – swap them around and you get cimer. The word verlan itself is the verlan form of l’envers, French for inverse.
L’envers – l’en vers – vers l’en – verslen – verlan
The world is altered from verslen to verlan to aid in pronunciation, but verlan very much is an oral part of language. It does not have standardised spellings in principle.
Now, let’s link this to names. Well, not really. I’ve simply been having fun over the past week seeing what names produce interesting verlan versions. This is only a small selection of the names I’ve run through my internal verlan translator, but I didn’t want to overwhelm you all.
Amelia – Ahleemeeah – Alemia
Arthur – Thorahr – Thorar (rather reminds me of Thora)
Ashton – Tonnash – Tunash
Bailey – Leebay – Libay (ebay?)
Elizabeth – Bethzalieh – Bethzalia
Elliot – Otliel – Ottlielle
Elowen – Wenloel – Wenlowel
Flora – Raflo – Rafflow
Harry – Ryha – Réha
Helen – Lenhel – Lennel
Katie – Tieka – Téka
Lauren – Renlau – Renlow
Luca – Calu – Calou
Lucas – Caslu – Caslou
Lucy – Cylu – Célou
Madison – Sondima
Mathilde – Tildma
Matilda – Datilma
Melody – Dylomel – Dilomel
Munro – Romun – Roman
Oliver – Verlio
Oscar – Caros – Kaross
Phoebe – Beefee – Befi (beefy?)