What are some expressions

Colloquial language in French: Anglicisms, twisted syllables and youth slang

French is considered one of the most beautiful languages ​​in the world. Thanks to its delicate sound, it is commonly described as charming and extremely melodious. The French can also do very different things: especially in the youth language, there is not much value placed on polished expression. In contrast to the German youth, who have a preference for newly created words like Swaggernaut,Alpha Kevin or Tinderella the young French generation prefers to twist syllables and effortlessly weave Arabic and English terms into their flow of speech. Sounds pretty adventurous? It is! But do not despair: with a few basic terms and vocabulary we will prepare you for your next excursion into the French youth scene. For even more intensive learning, Berlitz offers various French courses, from beginner to advanced level.

In the French youth language, foreigners only understand train station

If you have only learned French at school or university, it can quickly happen that you do not understand anything after arriving in our neighboring country. After all, teenagers and students are constantly busy developing new slang expressions - and these are usually not covered in textbooks. To make things even more difficult, the language is constantly changing: since a core characteristic of youth language is its fast pace, these terms have often disappeared again after you have only just got used to them. So staying up to date can quickly lead to headaches. Fortunately, there are a few exceptions where the sloppy expressions have found their way into general vocabulary and are still being used diligently:

  • la bouffe - food, eating, eating
  • wicked - work
  • un mec - a guy / guy
  • un taré - a madman
  • On se capte plus tard - We'll hear from each other later
  • le taf - the workplace)

Abbreviations in French colloquial language

Most words in French are very long, for example “aujourd’hui” (today) or “s’il te plaît” (please). When cell phones came along, every text message cost money - and as is well known, young people and students always have too little of that. So it was important to put as much text as possible in a single message. Numerous abbreviations of words were the solution: all vital news could be communicated efficiently and at the same time cheaply. Although flat rates are the norm these days, these abbreviations continue to prevail - instead of money, time, which is also mostly in short supply, is now saved.


  • Importance: mort de rire
  • Translation: LOL / I'm laughing myself to death


  • Importance: décider
  • Translation: decide


  • Importance: Bonjour!
  • Translation: Good day!


  • Importance: s'il te plaît
  • Translation: You're welcome


  • Importance: pourquoi
  • Translation: Why


  • Importance: Quoi de neuf?
  • Translation: What's new


  • Importance: c'est-à-dire
  • Translation: this means

a + / @ +

  • Importance: À plus!
  • Translation: See you! See you later!

Neighborhood German in French: borrowings from English and Arabic

Anglicisms are also very popular with German young people: cool, chill and nice are only the best-known examples. In France it looks similar, with another language besides English exerting a major influence: Arabic. The proportion of immigrants from African countries such as Morocco or Tunisia is very high due to the former colonies, whereby the influence is particularly noticeable in Paris. As a result, a phenomenon has developed that is similar to so-called Kiezdeutsch, which, thanks to its individual grammar, often leads to collective gasping among German teachers: young people take over Arabic vocabulary in their vocabulary and diligently mix them with French or English terms:


  • Example: J’ai trop kiffé la soirée
  • Origin: Arabic
  • Importance: like (I thought the evening was totally cool)


  • Example: Miskine, il n'a pas un sou!
  • Origin: Arabic
  • Importance: The poor! (The poor man has not a penny in his pocket.)

On y go!

  • Origin: English / mixture of "On y va!" and "Let's go!"
  • Importance: Here we go! Let's go!


  • Example: Je peux squatter chez toi?
  • Origin: English "to squat"
  • Importance: occupy sth. (can I stay with you?)


  • Example: Il reste dans la friendzone!
  • Origin: English
  • Importance: One-sided infatuation; the adored person does not reciprocate the feelings and just wants friendship (they are just friends.)

Verlan - a special form of colloquial French

However, this is a completely different expression in youth language Verlan, which emerged as a separate language variant in the working class and migrant milieu in the 1950s. According to the meaning of the word à l’envers (vice versa), whole syllables and letters are swapped and lead to complete confusion, especially for French learners. Finally has the floor femme (Woman), one of the first words in every textbook, with the request form meuf at first glance, they have little in common. In the 1990s, Verlan finally found its way into the French youth language, especially since at that time many singers from the hip-hop and rap scene used this form of language: Artists like MC Solaar or the 1977 hit Laisse béton (Verlan for laisse tomber ) by singer Renaud are prominent examples of this.

Some expressions in Verlan and their meanings:


  • Importance: louche
  • Translation: strange


  • Importance: lourd
  • Translation: heavy


  • Importance: fête
  • Translation: party


  • Importance: bus
  • Translation: bus


  • Importance: fou
  • Translation: crazy, impressive


  • Importance: manger
  • Translation: eat


  • Importance: énervé
  • Translation: annoyed

The coming and going in the youth language

The French youth language is extremely confusing for non-native speakers, peppered with its own rules and, above all, very ephemeral. Expressions such as Verlan or well-known Arabic vocabulary will certainly still be in use in a few years' time - other expressions, on the other hand, will disappear silently from the vocabulary of young French people. However, this language change is not limited to France: this development can also be observed in German. Or still say today that something is crease or smell? Also countless names like that Jack of all trades or the Jackdaw, are hardly used any more and are among the most threatened terms in our language. If you would like to read more about forgotten words, we will take you on a journey through bygone times, packed full of smokers, vettles and, above all, a good portion of chocolates.