To reverse, or not to reverse?

stack_of_booksDid you know that the French language has a very strange slang called “verlan”? Being French and having been raised in France, it never occurred to me that it could be something specific to my language and very odd to other people. I realized that when I told my former British housemate about it. His reaction? “You reverse words? Like in “table/ble-ta”? That is stupid!” And yes it is, when you think about it. So for those of you who never heard of this French invention, “verlan” (which is “l’envers” (“reverse”) reversed and adapted) is a slang that plays around the syllables. It is similar to pig Latin but many terms are actually spoken in France!

So, to form the verlan of a word, simply divide it into syllables, reverse them, change the spelling so that it’s easier to pronounce and you’ve got it! Example with the French word for “shame”: “honte – hon-te – te-hon – tehon”. Some terms are so common that sometimes we don’t even realize they were verlaned: ripou (pourri=corrupted cop, which is in the dictionary!) or meuf (femme=woman). This technique developed during the Second World War as an encrypted language and was most active in the 90s but we can still find terms in our everyday communications: I, myself, use a lot of “relou” (which means annoying, verlan of “lourd”=heavy) and “chelou” (verlan of “louche” which means dodgy).

What’s the point, you might say?

Well, reversing the word is not just about creating a coded language, it also alters and/or emphasizes its true meaning. So, before today, I had never thought about how strange it could be for foreigners, but now that I think about it, I can’t help but wonder: are the French the only ones doing this? I’ve checked with my European coworkers: Spain: no, England: nope, Portugal: still no. And I’m not the only one wondering if this is a French thing: other people posted the question on the web and it turns out that this type of slang is also used in Japan, Argentina (as well as Peru and Venezuela apparently) and in Wolof-speaking countries (as far as I know!). Well, I don’t speak much Japanese, let’s not talk about Wolof… But I happen to speak Spanish and I was very intrigued! Naturally, I googled “palabras al revés en Argentina” (words in reverse in Argentina) and I found “hablar el vesre” on a forum, how funny is that! A few examples: “feca” for “café” (dropping the accent), “jermu” for “mujer”, “novi” for “vino”… That’s quite simple, the thing is to know exactly what words they actually reverse! I’m not planning on going to Argentina in the near future, that will leave me time to do some more research and become a pro at “vesre”: “un feca por vorfa”?, not quite yet… I also discovered that some people from there or who have been there have no idea that kind of slang exists in other countries, what a shame.

So, to answer my question: no, France is not the only country doing that, and here I was thinking that my home country was special… Well, it may not be the only country speaking verlan but it certainly is the one where it first developed. I’m not talking about the 90s, no… Did you know it actually started in the Middle-Age? Ok, it wasn’t really verlan, but people used metatheses (putting the words in a different order). It expanded during the 20th century in literature but was only used orally much later. It was conveyed through music and cinema: I’m thinking rap music or even Renaud (famous French musician) with the famous “Laisse béton”, Claude Zidi (French director) and the “Ripoux” as well as Jacques Dutronc (another French musician) who wrote an entire song in verlan! From the 70s on, it became active and was most spoken in the (underprivileged) suburbs: verlan was the signature of the people living there. I could go on and on about this amazing invention but there is just so much to say about it. And what about the future? It’s only 2014, who knows what kind of twisted language game people will coin in the years to come… As T.S. Eliot cleverly said: “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice”. I’ll let you think about it…

For those interested in the Spanish slang, check out the article below:

Here’s French slang explained in music:

And here is the Jacques Dutronc song:

Enjoy mis amigos!



A fearless life

Santosha-Yoga-Surfing-Retreats-300608-004-1024x681If you’re like me, and suffer from anxiety, you know that it’s not easy every day. Fear is all around us. You might feel ashamed or guilty for having this “ridiculous” problem, but if you start talking about it around you, not only will you realize that everyone has issues (yes, more people that you think), and that there’s a lot of people like you, but you will also find it very liberating.

Over the course of my 27 years on earth, I’ve met people who are scared of driving, being in the dark, flying, spiders, being sick, having a heart attack, scared of being scared (that’s a good one!). We need to stop torturing ourselves. Did you know that you’re not actually scared of what you think you’re scared of? What you fear is your reaction to it! Even though it is not our fault that we have anxiety in the first place, it isn’t something that happens to us: we create it. Only we have the power to rid ourselves of whatever fear or thought that limits us.

You’ll find below some very helpful and interesting tips that I learnt along the way, which will help you get over your anxiety and, ultimately, live your life to the fullest:

–          Think positive: whatever negative thought you have in your mind: find the positive in it. After all, we all live in the same world, so how come some people see the good when we see the bad? As Albert Einstein wisely said, the most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.

–          Try not to control everything: people who want to control everything end up being very frustrated because, well, some things in life are just outside of our control! So learn to let go and you’ll realize that nothing catastrophic happens.

–          Learn to forgive: you are hurting yourself by holding grudges. Don’t be enemy-centred, instead try to figure out how you can be a better person. (I’ve finally stopped resenting my boyfriend for checking that girl out nine years ago!)

–          Do whatever makes you feel happy, express your creativity and relax every day: by seeing your friends and family, writing a blog, watching Downton Abbey, training for the rock paper scissors world championship (yes, it is a real thing)…

–          Learn to love yourself: praise yourself for every positive thing you do, and be confident that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. You can even keep a journal of your positive experiences on a daily basis, this will help you realize that you experience more positive things than you think, and will help build your self-confidence.

–         VISUALIZE success: if you visualize the positive or desired outcome, it is much more likely to happen, first because rehearsing situations in your mind allows you to be prepared, and then because if you think positive, you generate the positive! Let’s take an example: if you fear/think you’re going to fail an exam and you build a lot of pressure around it, then your anxiety will prevent you from concentrating, leading you to fail indeed! Understand that things come from inside of you, not from outside (with the exception of the national lottery maybe): success will not come to you out of nowhere. You have the skills and power to change your life.

–         Do some regular exercise and (I might sound like your mom) eat some vegetables!

–         Final tip: if, in spite of your efforts, you find yourself panicking (you know, that “oh no” moment), do not fight it! Do not try to stop or control it, it will only make it worse. Just accept it and try not to pay too much attention to the physical symptoms, learn to accept the uncomfortable, it’s no big deal! You need to embrace your emotions, and turn them into positive ones.

Easy to say but not so easy to implement you might say. Getting over anxiety is a constant effort, you need to be patient, and it will eventually pay off. I know, it’s not fair, some people just seem to never be affected by what happens around them. But take your problem as an opportunity to get to know yourself better and to come out of it stronger. Stronger and wiser than anyone who will never have to go through this.

Actress Teresa Palmer regularly posts videos on how to live a happy life, they are called Tez Talks. I found this one particularly relevant:

If you want to rid yourself of a smoking habit, phobia or social problem, have a look at the Thrive program (from which the tips above are largely inspired), an amazing program created by Rob Kelly:

If you don’t suffer from any specific issue but just want to be as successful as you can be, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey is what you need. Don’t be put off by the title, this is actually a powerful lesson in personal change!



Remember that change comes from inside!



Welcome to my journal!

My name is Aurélie, Auré, or Lili for the English natives who have a hard time pronouncing it! I live in East London and share my life with my longtime partner, Marco, video game player and chipmunk lover.

This is a place for sharing discoveries, happy moments and all the beauty that the world has to offer, whether it be an extraordinary person or film, a poem, a book, a conversation, a place… So I will share with you anything I come across that I find interesting, beautiful, and even life-changing.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy writing it.