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Od Uoy Kaeps Verlan?

Far more radical, though, is the rapid growth of a new language within the country. Verlan is a language invented by the immigrants who live in suburbs just outside of Paris. It was invented, apparently, to enable these "outsiders" to talk to each other about subjects that, to say the least, are not mainstream: drugs, sex, race, for example. It has had, however, another more positive effect: It has allowed immigrants who come from different countries and cultures to communicate in almost a global manner.

In Verlan, syllables in existing French words are reversed or even rearranged to produce a completely new word. For example, francais becomes céfran; café becomes féca. To make things even more complicated, sometimes rather than a simple reversal, one syllable can be dropped altogether or a slight change made. Take Arabe: This becomes beur (and is now in the process of morphing into reub).

Other words gleaned from the Web: géman from manger (to eat); reupŠ from pŠre, (father), reuf from frŠre (brother).

Verlan has become so hip and flexible that French teenagers are using it with enthusiasm. And perhaps even more radical, according to the New York Times at least one dictionary, Le Petit Robert, now includes a number of Verlan terms.

If you want to know about this new language there are a number of interesting Web sites that should help:

www.uoregon.edu/~tpayne/lingolym/Verlan.htm

www.globalpolicy.org/globaliz/cultural/2002/0326verlan.htm

Or use a search engine and look for "Verlan."

For those who do their research the hard-copy way, the New York Times ran an article about Verlan on Aug. 17.

For those who feel like throwing up their hands at the prospect of another language entering the cultural scene, here is the response to a question about Verlan that Rosie received by e-mail from a friend in Paris:

"Many French people talk so fast I'm not sure whether it's frontwards or backwards. But I have to say, at my neighborhood bistro folks are still speaking plain old French."

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