Word Play


Material Information

Word Play The Lexicon in French Hip-Hop and Rap
Physical Description:
1 online resource (69 p.)
Wiechman, Kelly A
University of Florida
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date:

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Master's ( M.A.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
French and Francophone Studies, Language, Literature and Culture
Committee Chair:
Hebblethwaite, Benjamin
Committee Members:
Blondeau, Helene


Subjects / Keywords:
argot -- french -- hip-hop -- hypocorrection -- lexicon -- rap -- verlan
Language, Literature and Culture -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
French and Francophone Studies thesis, M.A.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Language is an ever evolving entity subjected to both internal and external pressures. As hip-hop and rap continue to gain popularity in France, linguistic forms that once enjoyed exclusive or covert prestige, such as argot and verlan, are now beginning to enjoy a more overt prestige amongst the younger generation. In creating their flows(lyrics), French hip-hop and rap artists tend to truncate, modify, inverse syllabic structure and use extensive borrowing from other languages; mostly American English and Arabic. Utilizing data from the 2011 UF Hip-Hop Corpus,the 2012 Sexion d’Assaut Corpus, and the lyrics from various French hip-hop and rap artists, this thesis examines the potential lasting effect that these language changes might have on the contemporary French language of the 21stCentury.
General Note:
In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note:
Includes vita.
Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description:
Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description:
This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Kelly A Wiechman.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2012.
Adviser: Hebblethwaite, Benjamin.
Electronic Access:

Record Information

Source Institution:
Rights Management:
Applicable rights reserved.
lcc - LD1780 2012
System ID:

This item is only available as the following downloads:

Full Text




2 2012 Kelly Ann Wiechman


3 For Dad Kitty, and June


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would first and foremost like to thank Craig Wiechman for his patience, support and encouragement on this journey. I owe a debt of gratitude to Drs. Hebblethwaite and Blondeau for their unwavering guidance and support


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 7 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 9 2 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ............... 11 Materials and Methods ................................ ................................ ............................ 11 Data Extraction ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 12 3 HYPERCORRECTION AND HYPOCORRECTION ................................ ................ 13 Hypercorrection ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 13 Hypocorrection and Covert Prestige ................................ ................................ ....... 15 4 ARGOT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 21 History ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 21 Technolect and Argot ................................ ................................ .............................. 22 Argot in Contemporary Franc e ................................ ................................ ................ 23 Truncation and Reduplication ................................ ................................ ................. 24 Argot and Immigration ................................ ................................ ............................. 25 5 VERLAN ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 35 History ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 35 Linguistic Function ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 39 Verlan and Immigrati on ................................ ................................ ........................... 42 Verlan and the Media ................................ ................................ .............................. 43 Covert Prestige ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 44 The Verlanizati on Process ................................ ................................ ...................... 44 Reverlanization ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 48 ................................ ......................... 49 6 BORROWING ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 53 Paris as the Linguistic Melting Pot ................................ ................................ .......... 54 Popular Culture ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 55 ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 57


6 Social Prestige and Authenticity ................................ ................................ ............. 58 7 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 63 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................... 66 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ............................ 69


7 LIST OF TABLES Table P age 4 1 Technolect and argot functional, dynamic, syntax ................................ ........... 30 4 2 Technolect and argot semantic and word borrowing ................................ ....... 30 4 3 Technolect and argot formal ................................ ................................ ............. 30 4 4 ................................ .... 31 4 5 ender and origin of artists in the UF 2011 French Hip Hop Corpus ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 32 4 6 vitaux ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 33 4 7 The most recurrent themes with associated argotic terms in Sexion ................................ ................................ ... 34 5 1 The 25 most common words in verlan from Sexion d points vitaux ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 52 6 1 vitaux ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 61 6 2 Percentage breakdown of the 25 most borrowed words from Sexion ................................ ................................ .. 62


8 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfill ment of the R equirements for the Degree of Master of Arts WO RD PLAY: THE LEXICON IN FRENCH HIP HOP AND RAP By Kelly Ann Wiechman August 2012 Chair: Dr. Benjamin Hebblethwaite Major: French and Francophone Studies Lan guage is an ever evolving system s ubjected to both internal and external pressures. As hip hop and rap continue to gain popularity in France, linguistic forms that once enjoyed exclusive covert prestige, such as argot and verlan, are now beginning to enjoy a more overt prestige amongst the younger generation. In creating their flows ( rhyming lyrics), French hip hop and rap artists t end to truncate, modify, invert syllabic structure coin new words and phrases, and use extensive borrowing from other languages; mostly American English and Ara bic. Utilizing data from the 2011 UF Hip hop and rap artists, this thesis examines the pot ential lasting effect that language creation and change might have on the contempo rary French language of the 21 st Century.


9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION As an ever evolving entity language is always subject to both internal and external pressures. As hip hop and rap continue to gain popularity in France, linguistic forms that once enjoyed exclusive covert prestige, such as argot and verlan, are now beginning to enjoy a more overt prestige amongst the younger generation. Unlike their contemporary counterparts, French hip hop and rap artists tend to use the entire linguistic repertoire availa ble to them to create their lyrics. In creating their flows ( rhyming lyrics), French hip hop and rap artists t end to truncate, modify, invert syllabic structure coin new words and phrases, and use extensive borrowing from other languages; mostly American English and Arabic. Not every French hip hop or rap artist uses these linguistic tools to the same extent and choosing just one artist or group to represent the whole is an impossible task. I have chosen to highlight the highly successful group, Sexion ssaut, as their lyrics are rich with all of the above mentioned linguistic tools and to examine their work in relation to other hip hop and rap artists to explore the notions of hypercorrection, hypocorrection, covert prestige, and overt prestige. Hyperco rrection has long been the norm with respect to the French language, but with the rising popularity and acceptance of French hip hop and rap music and culture, a greater attitude of tolerance is being fostered and widespread not only toward hypocorrection but toward formerly covert linguistic forms of prestige Although usually associated with L2 learners, hypercorrection is also associated with both linguistic and social movement within sociolinguistic classes as speakers from a lower class attempt to com municate in a more formal register, trying to attain the normative referential French standard. It is interesting to note that just like its North American cousin;


10 hypocorrection and slang are beginning to find their way into everyday language in France. L anguage related to and influenced by rap and hip hop associated with the lower class is becoming fashionable within certain social groups in France; a trend that mirrors both the evolution and assimilation of rap and hip hop culture and language within the United States. France is currently the second largest producer and consumer of hip hop and rap music, only outdone by the United States of America. This thesis will examine the use of hypocorrection and the lexicon in French hip hop and rap utilizing tool s such as Hop C and scholarly sources in order to examine the current and future linguistic effects of this ever evolving music genre on the French language.


11 CHAPTER 2 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY Mat erials and Methods Before research for this thesis began, the need for a corpus from which to draw inform ation was fundamental As such, research for this thesis began with the collaboration between me, Dr. Hebblethwaite, Jordin Patten at the University of Florida to create a French rap corpus, resulting in data collection of over 800 pages of text comprised of 232,000 words. Each one of us was assigned a group of particular artists and albums from which we were to listen to the music, search for lyrics, an d then correct the lyrics that we found. As the official lyrics for the albums were not available to us, we had to rely on fan driven lyric websites such as www.13or du hiphop.fr/paroles.php www.rap2france.com and www.lyricsmania.com/ to establish a base from which to cull French rap and hip hop lyrics In the aggregate, these websites represent an enormous data ba se of French rap texts. At the same time, I created a 188 page corpus encompassing over 67,000 words dedicated exclusively to the work of as they ha ve been one of the most popular rap groups in France for over four years. The frequency of a rgot, verlan, and borrowing is in their lyrics is elevated as compared to other rap performers and their lyrics proved to be a fertile ground for research. Since the websites are fan driven there were quite a few errors not only in spelling, but in interp the rappers were saying, which led to many hours of listening and re li stening to the songs in order to create reliable transcriptions of the lyrics. When satisfied that the lyrical content of ea ch song was complete, I set about correcting and standardizing Le Dictionnaire de la Zone


12 www.dictionnairedelazone.fr and via 2007 book, Expl icit Lyrics. When I encountered words that were not in either of the two preceding sources, I would go to the www.google.fr website and type in the word that I was looking for. Once both the lyrical content and interpretations were correct, Patten and I su bmitted our work to Dr. Hebblethwaite, who then combined our work to create a unified corpus called the 2011 UF French Hip Hop Corpus. Data Extraction The corpus having been created, I began the task of data extraction by going through the corpus word by w ord and line by line, searching for the number of occurrences for each word or phrase that contained argot, verlan, or borrowing within the corpus. In order to move more rapidly through the corpus, I utilized the Microsoft word search feature which enabled me to see not only how m any times the word (or variant of the word) occurred but where in the corpus it was located. The next task was to identify the number of incidences of hypocorrection within the corpus which was more painstaking. Hypocorrection is not a new concept but is found in opposition to the standard variety of French taught in the school system and has in the past been found almost exclusively within the familiar register. However, due to increased exposure to the general public through the augmentation of the popularity of French hip hop and rap, this previously covert form of prestige is beginning to become less stigmatized and more popular Due to the variation in the spelling of hypocorrected words and phrases, the Microsoft word search f unction was unable to assist me, and the research required a line by line, word for word manual search. With respect to etymology and word Le Dictionnaire de la Zone provided with the entries.


13 CHA PTER 3 HYPERCORRECTION AND HYPOCORRECTION Hypercorrection th Century, it became preferable to avoid all that the language of the (Walter 1988:88) It was at this time that all local 1988: f French was written in French by 1988: 88). The first part of th e 17 th Century was spent formulating rules, formalizing orthography, and 1988: 89). Founded in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, language as wel l as to create its own grammar and above all the creation of a Walter 1988:90 ). determination of either good or poor usage of the language was decreed. It was not until th 1673 th at the academi cian s finally adopted a spelling system unique 1988: 101). Although the goal was to standardize the French language in grammar, spelling, and pronunciation, it was done at the expense of many of the local dialec ts and ultimately led to their e xtinction. In creating a varieties became marginalized. After the French Revolution in 1794, Bishop Grgoire of 1988: 105) be used to unite the


14 French 1988: War I that the French taug ht in schools became the common, everyday language. The French armed forces were forced to put their local dialects aside and "to speak in the stan ( Walter 1 988: 106 ) in order to communicate with each other. Upon their return h 1 988: 106), leading simultaneously to the augmentation of the usage of standard French, and the stigmatization of local di alects. In an effort to attain normative referential French pronunciation and grammar, both L2 speakers and speakers of French dialects not adhering to the normative referential French model have the tendency to manifest a phenomenon called hypercorrection in 2009: 53) in which a speaker is over careful in trying to attain a specific, standardized a speaker has the tendency to overcorrect himself, leading to even greater errors in grammar and pronunciation. In English, common examples of hypercorrection include the incorrect use of the subject pronoun for me lay for lie and for whom One finds hypercorrection most competence is the capacity to modify speech in the presence of others, to shift styles 2001: 13). T prescriptive attitudes to language are in fact far reaching: since speakers of the


15 standard tend to be credited with greater intelligence, trustworthiness, etc., than those : 12). The social status of a dialect is also linked to the political and economic power of the people who speak it (Lodge 2001: 19). Language not only serves as a simple means id entities. Social groups utilize language as a way of defending their identity as well as a way to both augment and preserve power (Lodge 2001: 24). Although the tendency toward prestigious normative referential French has shaped the foundation for hypercorr ection, a relatively new linguistic phenomenon in the late 20 th and early 21 st Centuries seems to be manifesting within France and within the F rench language: hypocorrection Although concept of covert prestige is not ne w, the acceptance an d usage of hypocorrected forms in French by the media, artists, and a large portion of the general population in contemporary F rance is becoming more common. As such, the covert linguistic forms presented through French hip hop and rap lyrics are less apt to remain covert for long as they are more readily accepted by the youth culture from all walks of life. Looking forward, one has to wonder if the acceptance of hypocorrected speech signifies a greater tolerance of immigration and immigrant languages by th e French and the willingness to integrate and assimilate these cultures? Hypocorrection and Covert Prestige The words that one chooses as well as the phrases that one ut ilizes are a linguistic marker of identity indicating class, social status, and level of education attained. The u se of hypocorrection indicates a familiar uneducated register, regarded as socially unacceptable by the upper and middle classes. Hypocorrection and covert


16 prestige occur in the fa miliar register and demonstrate the tendency to ward knowingly deviating from the normative referential variety of a given language. Hypercorrection is most often exhibited by the working class attempting to speak in a more formal, (Calvet 2009: 53). Although hypercorrection is regarded as a sign of linguistic insecurity, there is no data supporting the hypothesis that hypocorrection demonstrates linguistic security. It is important to note that the lexicon of spoken language evolves before the acceptance of the new elements of the lexicon in written form. Today French youth from the middle and working classes seem to be trending toward an oral form of hypocorrection instead of hypercorrection with respect to spoken French amongst pee rs although normative referential French is still the most widely accepted written form of the language At the beginning of the 21 st Century, the greatest influence on the French language comes from the contact between the French language and immigran t languages, especially Arabic, and American English I n addition to these external linguistic pre ss ure s on the French language, internal pressures such as argot, verlan, and the adoption of extensive word borrowing have resulted in a rapidly changing lexico n and tendency toward hypocorrection rather than hypercorrection. Music and lyrics have often served the dual purpose of being both a way of expressing oneself as well as influencing and introducing new verbal forms into a given lexicon as they can be view ed as a direct reflect ion of the society that produces them In the 21 st Century, this is most noticeably achieved in the French language through the phenomenon of French hip hop and rap. With the popularity of French rap on the rise, this music form has s erved as a vehicle for the normalization and adoption of the previousl y stigmatized


17 deviation from normative referential French by the classes that would have otherwise shunned it and one has to wonder what if any permanent effect this will have on contemp orary French In essence, French hip hop and rap have paved the way for hypocorrected words and phrases to enter the everyday lexicon If this is indeed the case, one must ask what the long term impact of hypocorrection will be on the French language? The following examples from Lodge (2001:247) demonstrate the difference between a question in the normative referential variety of French and a hypocorrected version of the same question. O est ce que tu vas? Where are you going ? Que tu vas ? Where a re you going? The first example is typical of what any L2 learner would learn in class or that any person speaking French in the normative referential variety would recognize as a standard question form. However, in the hypocorrected vers ion of the questi on, the O ) has been omitted and the F rench question word est ce que is truncated to Que Although the second example might get the point across in a rudimen tary fashion, it is certainly not in correct grammatical form according standard, prescriptive French However, the other form is more economical as it decreases the syllable count from six syllables in the standard French form to three syllables in the hypocorrected form while still getti ng the message across to the listener je veu


18 I want to sit down but the only bench is the one of the accused. I want to sit down but the only bench is the one of the accused. 75 Degrs ) Lin es three and four highlight the difference between normative referential French and 75 Degrs The first example is constructed je veux ced [ il y a [ilija]. In example number four there are two occurrences of h ypocorrection within the je veux je contracts veux to form the single syll able v]. This il y a h ough the loss of the pronoun in its entirety in this case does not affect the pronunciation of the rest of the construction the rejection the first phoneme from An an alysis of both the UF 2011 Hip H op Corpus and the je le me ce te in oral French In most cases, where it is possible that elision can occur in French hip hop and rap, it does. Hip hop and rap artists utilize the popula r register to appeal to and connect to their targeted demographic, mostly immigrants and the working class. It is possible that through their lyrics, rappers e mploy hypocorrection more than the average popular French dialect speaker to bring their lyrics t o life and to give the rappers street credibility By utilizing


19 the popular register, the artists are attempting to forge solidarity with their audience through a shared, common language. A common l anguage is very important in creating and reinforcing a n identity. Although customs may change from one part of a country to the next, language serves as a unifying force in forging a national identity for its citizens. As the popularity of hip hop and rap music continues to augment in France, one has to wonder if the hypocorrection found in French hip hop and rap lyrics might eventually serve to diminish national French unity and identity as more and more people stop struggling to attain the Traditionally, the inability to attain and produce standard French by immigrants and the working class has served as both a class and identity marker enabling those who speak the normative referential variety of French to stigmatize and discriminate against the working class. However, today the verlan, argot, and the practice of borrowing wo rds from other languages found in French rap have come to serve as a new linguistic code for French youth who have been excluded by those who speak the prestigious form of standard Fr ench. The use of hypocorrected French as opposed to hyperco rrected French as well as argot, verlan, and borrowing from other languages, are all com mon in the popular dialects of the working c lass and aim to exclude those who have previously been excluded o n the basis of their linguistic unconformity This sudden role reversal has become worrisome not only for the Acadmie fra naise but for anyone who works to preserve the purity of the French language and culture by rejecting word infiltration from other d ialects as well as other languages According to Lodge, English speakers tend to underestimate the importance of the


20 l unity in 2001: 260) as we do not have an offici al language in the United States of America and might not understand the ties between linguistic and national heritage. Therefore, the concept of national identity being so closely tied to a specific language might seem peculiar to the average American. To explore the notion of French hypocorrection and its implication for the French language, I will use French hip hop and rap Utilizing this material will allow me to use French hip hop and rap as a base of reference to explore various forms of hypocorrecti on such as argot, verlan, and extensive word borrowings from languages other than French.


21 CHAPTER 4 ARGOT History Argot is a language designed specifically to exclude the non initiated or to distinguish its speakers from others through word and phrase en cryption. cryptic nature that distinguishes argot from any other type of speech (Sourdot 2002: 29). The necessity of encrypt ing a message and to retain information within a specified group of initiates, is what Sourdot (2002:29) claims to be t he reason for the birth of argot Although Guiraud has traced argot back to the twelfth century, the first written documentation of argot is attributed to the fifteenth century when the world of organized crime be gan to emerge in Paris (Guiraud 1985: 10). W hile undergoing torture in France, a group called the Coquillards revealed to their torturers what is considered to be the first glossary of argot dating b ack to 1455 (Sloutsky and Black 2008: 310). In the nineteenth century, authors such as Balzac wrote of ten about crime and utilized argot in 2008: 310). Although many believe argot to be a relatively new form and/or register of speech that originated amongst the working clas s need ing to create a vocabulary specific to their jobs and social networks this particular type of hypocorrected speech is rooted much words and phrases that the worki ng class cr eated to communicate with each other more efficiently as argot, in essence what the working cl ass created was a technolect not argot.


22 Technolect and A rgot A technolect and argot are not to be confused as they do not fulfill the same functions within a give n speech community. Argot is an encrypted form of speech designed to exclude those who are not part of an intitiated group whereas a technolect is designed to facilitate communication between members of a given community and is readily shared with those ou tside of the immediate speech community. Another important difference between a technolect and argot is that the terminology associated with a technolect tends to be relatively stable until a new technology is introduced into the speech community whereas a rgot is constantly evolving due to its encrypted nature. Once an argotic term or phrase has lost its secretive nature, another encrypted term or phrase must be created to replace it in order for members of a given speech community to continue to exclude n on initiated. For example, if a given speech community is often monitored by the police, the members of that speech commun ity might create an encrypted language in which the police are excluded from understanding what is being said. However, when the argot ic phrase or word becomes understood by law enforcement, the speech co mmunity must create a newly encrypted word or phrase to replace it. It is within the constant cycle of encryption/discovery/re encryption that argot is being recycled, refined, and renew ed. Tables 4 1 through 4 3 have been adapted from Sourdot (2002:38) to illustrate and highlight the differences between argot and a technolect. It is of interest to note that with the exception of the apocope criterion, the two types of speech are diametri cally opposed to one another. In order to exclude others, argot must change on a regular basis lest those


23 ds, that they utilize. A speech community will utilize argot as a sign of both recognition and acceptance to and within a specific group. Argot in Contemporary France full of children creating, utilizing and contributing to the lexicon of argot. Heavily influenced by older siblings and by the ever increasing popularity of French rap and rap culture, argot can be found on any campus in France. Although students are still taught to attain the normative standardized version o f French and are encouraged to do so within the classroom, during a c lass break or during recess, argot can be heard in varying degrees peppering the speech of young learners. On a recent trip to Paris, I had the privilege of observing students at the pres tigious th arrondi s semen t in Paris. The girls only util ize the normative referential French deem ed acceptable by the Acadmie f ranaise within the classroom. However, during their free time and even at lunch, a rgot slips easily in and out of their everyday speech patterns. It is interesting to note that in th is case, the girls utilize argot for a dual p urpose; the first purpose is to exclude the other girls and eavesdroppers from their conversation and the secon d in an effort to demonstrate that th being able to both understand and utilize the register and lexicon of the working class Although this type of language is disdained when communicating with family members, there is a growing desire amo ngst the youth of the aristocracy to communicate amongst themselves with lower class speech Today in the context of French hip hop and rap, we see linguistic diffusion from the bottom up as the covert prestige of argot and verlan are no longer uncommon in the middle and upper classes as well as within the aristocracy. As an example of this phenomenon


24 occurring at the dawn of the 20 th Century, de La Grassire (1907 :45) notes that it is According to Sourdo t ( 1991:14) communicative activity within the interior of a specific group There is a need to continually alter argot to For exampl e, a French term like beur was once considered argot as it was a cryptic way to refer to a young French Arab born of immigrant parents. However, as its usage became more widespread and eventually worked its way into everyday French, beur lost its status as a word of argot because its meaning is well kno wn even used by the media, and it is no longer cryptic. According to Ayn (1930:26) argot is the most difficult register of a livin g language to master because it is ever changing. Bachmann and Basier (1984 : 172 ) identify the following four functions of argot: 1. A word game 2. A social ritual that requires initiation 3. Encryption 4. Defiance and solidarity Truncation and Reduplication Truncation of word forms is an important aspect of argot as it acts to shorten the number of syllables required to encrypt a message. Truncation is perhaps the most basic and easiest form of argot to understand and employ to the non initiatied. In French, truncation is most often achieved by way of apocope, eliminating the final syllable (s) of a word and occurs most often in the familiar register. However, it is not uncommon to find truncation by apheresis in which the first syllable or syllables are


25 removed from the first part of the word. Common examples of truncation in the French lang uage include the following examples: cin for cin ma le bac for le baccalaurat manif for manifestation prof for professeur bus for autobus The truncated form of many French words becomes the basis for the verlanized form of the word which will be discus sed in detail in Chapter 5. Reduplication of truncated forms also occurs in French hip hop and rap. With previously covert words being exposed at an increasing rate through the popularity of French hip hop and rap, occasional reduplication occurs in an eff ort to re encrypt a specific word. One of the most commonly reduplicated wo rds in French hip hop is rap are ter ter Ter is a truncated form of the French word territoire for the place or territory in which one sells drugs (Le Dictionnaire de la Zone). No t only has the word territoire undergone truncation, but it has also been reduplicated. Argot and Immigration French hip hop and rap enjoy a specialized lex icon and have made argot readily accessible to the masses and even fashionable for those who would o therwise be excluded from the initiated speech community O nline access to rap videos, rap fan sites and even online rap dictionaries have served to augment interest in French hip hop and rap music, French rap vocabulary as it pertains to argot, and the r ap lifestyle. Recurring themes within French rap such as drugs and alcohol, sex misogyny violence, cars, family, death, religion, law and dystopia have provided am ple breeding grounds for lexical evolution. After careful examination of the 2011 UF French Hip Hop


26 contribution to the argot utilized by rappers rapping in French is borrowed from the Arabic language I t is important to understand that the majority of recent immi gration in France has come from African countries that utilize French as an official language as well as former French colonies in Africa such as Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia; all countries with strong ties to the Arabic language, culture and Islam ic rel igion Many of t backgrounds and embrace the Muslim religion and culture or were brought up in neighborhoods with strong cul tural and ethnic ties to the Arab ic language and culture. For example, the rap Zaire, Guinea, the Ivory Coast, and France. Of the eight members that constitute parents were born in France. In a corpus analysis performed on the 2011 UF Hip Hop Cor pus by Patten, it is interesting to note that of the 20 rap groups represented, 10 of the groups had a member or members born outside of France in such countries as Morocco, Senegal, the Congo, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Mali, Guinea, Zaire, the Comoros Is lands, Haiti, and Argenti na. Table 4 5 analysis. The table above indicates the name of the rapper or rap group, their gender and country of origin. Of the twenty rappers or rap groups, half of them immigrated to France fro m other countries with Africa being represented the most heavily. Table 4 6 lists in descending order for each word. Where gender is ascribed to a noun, I have ind icated it next to the noun as either m (masculine) or f (feminine). The argotic word is indicated at the far left, followed by its English translation, and the


27 frequency of occurrences of each word within the lyrics of the album. All of the argot ic terms l isted below were verified at the website, www.dictionnairedelazone.fr for both spelling and meaning. vitaux it is interes ting to note that several of the terms utilized are merely variations on common themes, indicating the importance of these topics to the everyday life of not only themselves, but their listeners as well. According to the corpus the most important thing to establish within the world of hip For example, the word Paname is the most commonly used word in the corpus at 25 occurrences, garnering 19.5% of the 128 instances of recurrent word usage and when coupled with the word s tiek at 3.9% of the corpus and the word baraque as it pertains to a domicile (2.3%), represents 25.8 % of the of the 128 occurrences of recurrent words within the the specific neigh borhood within a city to which one belongs is of great importance in where one resides the next most important marker of identity is identifying and describing with w hom one associates. Within the corpus examined, between both the singular and plural forms of the word for friend ( poto/potes ), a total of 19 occurrences g arner 14.8% of the most recurrent words in the corpus indicating that f riendship and belonging to a p articular group are important sociological and linguistic factors that not only establish but maintain With respect to categor izing the importance of recurrent themes throughout the es points vitaux several


28 interesting elements come to light that are not indicated within the table above. For daron/daronne ) the father figure is never refer red to in a positive way. O ften the father figure is des pised and is accused of abandoning the family and being the root of all familial problems. If the father is p resent within the family he is referred to as a drunk, a drug user, abusing family members, and being unemployed. In the following example from Bo Ouest side the father in Je me souviens exemplifies the type of violence often associated with a father figure in hip hop and rap. Parc'que le soir mon daron cognait ma daronne, s'prenait pour Mike Tyson Because my father knocks my mom around at ni s Mike Tyson. In contrast, the mother figure is revered and if lyrics are not praising her directly, the lexicon utilized express es how she struggles to make ends meet. Becau have slipped almost effortlessly from the category of argot into everyday speech. Estelle Liogier ( 2002:43 ) cites the example of the word bouffon which translates roughly as With respect to bouffon as utilized in the current sense with respect to argot it can mean several different things depending on its usage as a noun, adjective, or as an intransitive verb. As Liogier (2002:43) expl a ins, in 2002 the argotic use of bouffon as a noun translated to the American Englis h equivalent, creep However, upon further investigation in 2012, it was discovered to have additional meanings in its argotic form. Ten years after Liogier published her article in 2002 bouffon can also now mean a white or red bean, someone that cannot


29 be taken seriously, someone who smokes dope, a glutton, or someone who is over zealous. As an adjective, bouffon can be used to describe someone or something in a caricatur al way, as grotesque, farcical or zealous. As an intransitive verb, bouffon er means to act like a fool (Dictionnaire de la z one). The evolution of the word bouffon over the last decade is a classic example of an argotic word undergoing semantic change and that unlike a technolect, argot is not semantically stable and must forever be in a state of evolution to retain its cryptic status. Although argot is the focus of the discussion here, it must b e understood that languages are living entities that undergo c onstant change producing linguistic changes that can e ither be temporary or permanent.


30 Table 4 1 Technolect and argot functional, dynamic, syntax C riteria Functional Dynamic Syntax Cryptic Identity Play Economic Changing Stable Change class ar got + + + + + technolect + + Table 4 2 Technolect and argot semantic and word borrowing Criteria Semantic Word borrowing Metaphor Metonym Synonym Polysemy False borrowing argot + + + + + technolect Table 4 3 Technole ct and argot formal Criteria Formal Composition Derivation Apocope Apheresis Redoubling Verlan Sigle argot + + + + + + technolect + +


31 Table 4 4 Stage Name Real name Birthpla ce Country in which he grew up Matre Gims Gandhi B ilel Djuna Kinshasa, Zaire France Democratic Republic of the Congo Lefa Karim Fall France France Senegal and Morocco Doomams Mamadou Bald Guinea France Guinea Black Mesrime s Alpha Diallo France France Guinea Barack Adama Adama Diallo France France Senegal and Guadeloupe Maska Bastien Vincent France France France JR O Chrome Karim Ballo France France Mali L.I.O Petrodollars Lionel Dahi Ivory Coast France Ivory Coast


32 Table 4 5 ist of gender and origin of artists in the UF 2011 French Hip Hop Corpus Artist Gender Country of Origin Ol Kainry Male France La Fouine Male Morocco Keny Arkana Female Argentina IAM Male France Booba Male France Canardo Male Morocco Rohff Male France Disiz La Peste Male France Mister You Male France La Rumeur Male France Bams Female Cameroon Diams Female France Black Barbie Female France Soprano Male Comoros Islands MC Solaar Male Senegal Oxmo Puccino Male Mali Abd Al Malik Male Congo Kery James Male Haiti Male France Male Guinea, France, Ivory Coast, Zaire


33 Table 4 6. The 25 most recurrent vitaux Word English tr anslation Frequency Paname Paris 25 poto (m) friend 10 potes (m/p) friends 9 hass (f) troubles 8 caisse (f) car 8 taf (m) work, job 6 baraque (m) either house or a muscle bound person depending on the context 6 tiek (m) neighborhood apocope of the ver laniz 5 tune / thune (f) money 5 daronne (f) mother 4 daron (m) father 4 gueuche (m) Drugged/stoned apocope of the verlaniz ation of schlague ( gueuchla) 4 flinguer to kill with a gun 4 sbars (m) a cigarrette of cannabis or haschich 4 se barrer to leave/ to go 3 guesh (m) Portuguese Apheresis of the French word for Portuguese (portugais) 3 nique to fuck 3 molo doucement 3 clope (m/f) cigarette 3 carotte (f) a theft by ruse, cheating, or being duped 3 fric (m) mon ey 2 naze (m/f) an idiot or someone who is very tired 2 gamos (m) car 2 o seille money 2


34 Table 4 7 The most recurrent themes with associated argotic terms in Sexion Category Words Occurrences Percentage of the 128 occurrences Place of residence Paname, tiek, baraque 33 25.8 Friends poto/potes 19 14.8 Descriptions of people baraque/guesh naze/gueuche/ 12 9.4 Cars caisse/gamos 10 7.8 Money fric/oseille/thune 9 7 Trouble hass 8 6.3 Familial relations daron/daronne 8 6.3 Commiting a crime flinguer/carrotte 7 5.5 Smoking (cigarettes or drugs) clope/sbars 7 5.5 Work taf 6 4.7 To fuck nique 3 2.3 To leave/go se barrer 3 2.3 molo 3 2.3 Total: 25 128 100 .0


35 CHAPTER 5 VERLAN History Verlan is a type of argot that involves the permutation, rearrangement, and sometimes creation of syllables within a given word. According to Sourdot (2002:37) verlan was used much less at the dawn of the 19 80 s Using verlan is first and foremos t a questio n of register. The use of verlan is considered a familiar register, even vulgar at times, and even though Mla (2000:29) states that verlan is rarely more than a coded form of standard ref erential French she does not take into account the influ ence of immigrant languages on the contemporary French lexicon, especially as it pertains to verlanized words Initially associated with beggars, and criminals, verlan has been recorded in official trial records dating as far back as 1837. The two examples from the trial involving a Mr. Vidocq are in reference to the prince to whom he refers to as Linspr (le Prince) and Lorcef (a prison at La Force) ( Bachmann and Basi er 1984: 173) Although these examples may not appear to be straightforward examples of co ntemporary argot, deconstruction enables us to see the mechanics of how Mr, Vidocq arrived at these verlanized words. For the first example, Linspr it is essential to begin with the word in its traditional form: le prince The first transforma tion occurs when Vidocq drops the schwa in the definite article, le The next step reveals that the word prince has been rewritten in a form reflecting the approximate phonetic transcription of the word and inverted to render the phonetic equivalent inspr.


36 ] Because the French language prefer s open syllables in the style, V CV, or CV CV, and further obscures the original meaning of the wo rd. i nspr e] V CV When the article is agglutinated to the new noun form, le prince has transformed into its verlanized form, linspr. l inspr Le prince l linspr The second example of verlan offered by Vidocq is the word lorcef originally La Force method of verlanization. The first step in the transformation of La For ce into lorcef occurs when Vidocq drops the letter a from the definite article, la l force The next step reveals that the word force has been rewritten in a form reflecting the approximate phonetic transcription of the word and inverted to rend er the phonetic equivalent lorsf l orsf Once again as the French language prefers open syllables in the style, V CV, or CV CV, Vidocq not only adds an e to the end of the verlanized word but he inserts a


37 schwa between the c and the f which again makes it easier to pronounce and further obscures the original meaning of the word. lorsef [l CV CV CV La Force lorcef Another example of early verlanization is given in Argot when he explains that people in 1585 spoke in secrecy about the French king by verlanizing the s last name, Bourbon, so as not to be imprisoned. They utilized the word b onbour to designate the Bourbon king During the second half of t he eighteenth century, Louis XV became known as Sequinzeouil by his detractors (Calvet 2009: 60). It is interesting to note that in this example of argot, the French word for fifteen, quinze, stays intact while the word Louis is inverted, split in half and appears on either side of quinze. If we begin with the original form of the name, the deconstruction and transformation of sequinzeouil would begin with Louis XV (quinze) the word quinze we are left with the proper name, Louis. Louis XV (q uinze) The next step is to divide the name, which would seem at the outset a simple task. stabilizing an otherwise latent s In adding the schwa and pronouncing the s the verlanists essentially changed the masculine name Louis [lui] into its feminine


38 counterpart, Louise [luiz]. It is possible that this was done purposefully to add additional insult to the king but also served to further obscure t he name Louis. Louis [lui] Louise [luiz] Making the latent s stable also aided in division of the syllables as well as pronunciation of the name in its final verlanized form. Because the schwa occurs at the end of the word, the speaker has the option to pronounce it or not and in this case the schwa is pronounced in the verlanized form of Louise. However the verlanists did not stop there. Instead, they chose to transform the new form of the name agai it, as it now ends with an l When this last form is divided and the word quinze reinserted, we end up with Sequinzeouil It is important t o note, however, that during the last transformation, instead of retaining the z sound of the s that the schwa provides, the s reverts back to its original pronunciation as an s Sequi nzeouil According to Sloutsky (2008:314) the famous French writer Voltaire, created his name as a verlanized form of the French town he was born in. The name of town where Voltaire was born was called Air vault. In a simple reversal of syll ables, Air vault


39 becomes Votlaire. However, ault in French is pronounced o in American English, the lt being silent and it is clear that Voltaire chose to pronounce the t in the verlanized form of Air Vault. The addition of the t also makes the name easier to pronounce. Air vault [ Vault air Voltaire One of the difficulties in mastering verlan is that at any given time many variations exist as it is not a standardized variety of the language and is ever evolving. For example, there are dialectal variations of verlan based on where one lives in the city, the composition of immigrant populations, as well as verlan associated with spec ific neighborhoods (Mla 2000: 31). Verlan is often used to code references to sex, drugs, crimes and fight ing and the emotions most often coded in verlan are those associated with anger, shame, pity, or even joy in some cases (Mla 2000 : 31). T he most widely accepted theory of the origins of the word verlan is that it was t aken from the French word me aning However, Natalie Lefkowitz (1989:312) offers another possible origin of the word verlan langue verte The term langue verte is use d to describe part of the lowest register of speech normally associated with th e working class and immigrants, and is considered to be quite vulgar and unacceptable by the speakers of the more formal normative referential variety of French. Verlan often disguises and softens its vulgar aspect by the recoding of its syllabic structur e. Linguistic Function Verlan serves many linguistic functions, the first and foremost being that of a secret, and codified language. Just as important as being a secret language of sorts, verlan allows disenfranchised youth the opportunity to differentiat e themselves and


40 establish an identity apart from those who speak normative referential French while still maintaining ties to the French language in verlanizing the normative referential French lexicon. Not only does verlan serv e as a linguistic code defi ning exclusion from and inclusion in a specific group, but it also serves as a n assault against adults as it gives the speaker the power to confuse, control or dominate the discourse between an authority figure and a subordinate. Verlan is also a way for students who are failing in the French school system, as well as failing to learn and master the normative referential variety of French, to excel in express ing their creativity through word games with the normative referential standard version of French, thereby exacting a sort of revenge against the syst em that marginalizes them (Mla 1997: 31). When it comes to the gender of French nouns gender traits are generally disregarded when it comes to the verlanization of a word, usually in favor of the masculin e form (Ml a 1997: 28). T he phonetic changes i n both noun and verb usage render verlan nearly impossible to understand by the non initiated. When undergoing verlanization, verbs are often rendered unrecognizable to many non initiated Francophones as the ver bs lose their recognizable endings and the root of the verb becomes an infix (Mla 1997: 28). For example, in its infinitive form the French verb marcher (to work) becomes chmar. In a phrase made famous by French slam artist, Grand Corps Malade from his so a peut chmar the phrase a peut marcher (That could work) became a peut chmar and confused the non initiated for quite some time. I n examining the s tructure of the verb marcher [ma it is typical of any er verb: the verb root is march and the infinitive verb ending is er


41 marcher march er However, before undergoing verlanization, the er ending is dropped in favor of a truncated phonetic spelling of the ending march er march When the verb is finally verlanized, it becomes unrecognizable as a verb in its infinitive form by those who speak normative referential French. Although march is the past participle of marcher it does no t make sense within the phrase if used as a past participle. march [ma chmar T here is a lack of verlanization pertaining to intellectual pursuits while action verbs and verbs associated with movem ent are often verlanized (Mla 1997: 31). For example, the French verb mater [mate] (to watch) undergoes the same process as the verb marcher with respect to modification, truncation, and verlanization to become tma [tema] in its verlanized form. mater [mate] mate [mate] tma It is interesting to note that in recent years verlan has not only been used with the normative referential variety of French to create new words, but has been known to incorporate Arabic, African languages, Vietnamese, Eastern European languages, and creoles. On one side of the equation, it could in dicate a possible distancing from not only the standard variety of the French language, but French culture in general. Another perspective might indicate that those utilizing the familiar register are more willing to


42 assimilate diverse languages and groups into their sphere of influence than the speakers of normative referential French. On a psy chological level, verlan is perceived as an attack on normative referential French as words ar e and phonetic sounds are changed aggressively. E thnic pronunciation s such as Arabic affrication abound, creating a n imagined, aggressive sound to the language when heard by users of the normative referential variety of French. (Mla 1997: 31). From a sociological perspective the adoption of the banlieue or cit ( equivalent t o accent symbolizes for out of group speakers a certain degree of identification with the street culture that i s common to all French speakers in the banlieue (Jamin 2006: 169). However, Lefkowitz (1989:317) has iden tified the following situations in which it is considered inappropriate to use verlan: 1. In public and/or potentially formal settings 2. With authority figures or figures worthy of respect 3. With the non initiated 4. For serious behavior According to Martinet ( 1968) Guiraud (1979) and Cohen (1919) verlan parallels argot or slang in the following ways: 1. Unu sual phonological combinations 2. Systemic deformation of morphemes 3. Tend ency toward truncation 4. Free linguistic borrowing from foreign languages 5. Doubling of voca bulary 6. Metaphor ization (the use of images, symbols, and implicit comparisons, in a non literal context) 7. Oral nature Verlan and Immigration The great number of North African immigrants as compared to other migrant populations and their earlier arrival in the French cities explains their greater linguistic


43 influence on other migrant populations shari ng the same space (Jamin 2004:175) The covert prestige that street culture conveys coupled with intense peer pressure within adolescent peer groups are import ant factors influencing the accepta nce and practice of the banlieue accent (Jamin 2004: 172). According to Mla (1997:31) the incorporation of words from other languages into verlan is a way for marginalized immigrant youth to establish a connection betwee language while maintaining ties with the country they are now living in as well as the French language It is pri marily marginalized Arab, male youth who see themselves as the innovators of these linguistic word games and phenomena. In an excerpt from Bachmann and Basi er (1984:174) the following excerpt was uttered by a twelve year old girl born in Africa but cu rrently living in Goussainville a depressed area north of Paris near the Charles de Ga ule airport with a heavy immigrant population. This excerpt from Bachmann and Basi er (1984:174) demonstrates the frequency with which the subject utilizes verlan in her speech. The first line is her verlanized phrase the second line of the excerpt is the normative referential variety of French, and the third line of the excerpt is the translation from standard French to American English. Ziva. Vas y. Tu en connais des mots? L ? Verlan and the Me dia At the end of the 1980 s, verlan became more and more popular when the media began focusing on the banlieues chaudes areas of the city with overpopulated housing projects known as HLMs ( habitation loyer modr) with high immigrant populations,


44 where gangs, drugs, and crime are a part of everyday life. Rife with impoverished immigrants these marginalized people living in the banlieues chaudes were described as having their own culture and language (Mla 1997:16). Covert Prestige Although generally dis dained by the professional and elite classes, the ability to speak v erlan h as come to reflect cultural sensitivity, initiation, and awareness of the working class (Lefkowitz 1989: 313). Identifying linguistically with the working creates the impression of s olidarity with the working class and an underlying understanding and acknowledgement of social problems and social trends (Lefkowitz 1989: 319). Some French youth have utilize d the language of the banlieue reflected an effor non racial 528). However, adoption of verlan by the non initiated necessitates the need for verlanists to continually find creative ways to keep their language codified. Important to note, however, is that not all are eager to embrace verlan. Amongst the upper class the professionals, and the intellectuals there are many who do not advocate the usage of verlan nor do they wish to associate themselves with th e working class (Sloutsky 2008: 315). The Verlanizati on Process As in the case of any other process verlan requires rules such as formation, interpretation, and how and when to use verlan If one does not understand the rules of a game, one risks being excluded from that game. Of importance to note is that one never verlanizes every word in a sentence (Mla 1997: 30). In fact, the general rule is that verlan does not replace every word in a sentence and is never used to replace more than 50% of a sentence (Bachmann and Basi er 1984: 175). With respect to rap


45 an d hip hop lyrics, it is unusual to see more than ten to twenty percent of a phrase coded in verlan. First of all, it is important to understand that verlan favors monosyllabic and disyllabic words. In the case of a monosyllabic word in verlan, phonologicall y it consists of an onset a rime, and a coda. Personal pro nouns, especially the first and second person singular are often verlanized. With respect to the first person singular pronoun, moi [mwa] is verlanized to oim [wam]. The second person singular pron oun, undergoing the same process is turned from its normative referential French form, toi [twa] to its verlanized form, oit [wat]. For monosyllabic words terminating in a vowel, after resyllabification, the word terminates wi th a consonant (CV) VC. The following examples are taken from the a. pas [pa] ap [ap] b. moi [mwa] oim [wam] c. mater [mate] tma [tema] Disyllabic words such as the verb garder enabling the creation of verlanized words by the simple inversion of syllables. For


46 example, the word garder respectively (Mla 1991:76) When inverting S1 with S2 we obtain the verlanized form of the word garder or dgar Thus, (S1 S2) S2 S1 (Mla 1991:76) It would appear that dividing a word into two the rules for the syllabification of normative r eferential French words. The schwa as a position final vowel in normative referential French is unstable, allowing the speaker to choose whether or not to pronounce it thus allowing for multiple variations of the same word in verlan. In fact, all consonant s followed by an epent hetic schwa. T he word pre [ English and both i t s resyllabified and verlanized form is examined in the following schematic.


47 Therefore, in the example before resyllabification, the verlanized form of pre would be rep repe ] depending on personal preference. It is even possible to verlanize short phrases compo sed of two monosyllabic words which imitate the division of a disyllabic word Mla (1991:78) offers the following examples of short, verlanized phrases a. comme a [sak m] b. par terre c. vas y [ziva] d. fais voir Trisyllabic word s pose the greatest challenge in ver lan as there are several ways that they can be verlanized. The first option is to divide the word into three syllables and simply invert them (S1 S2 S3) (S3 S2 S1) (Mla 1991:81) Following this type of verlanization, t he trisyllabic French word possible [p ] would undergo the following permutation :


48 p si po S1 S2 S3 S3 S2 S1 Another way to obtain verlanization of a trisyllabic word is by dividing the the word into two parts which renders the ver lanization of the word unstable as it is up to the speaker to decide where to divide the word. Using this method of verlanization we could obtain any of the following variants of the word p ossible This example is designed to illustrate the many ways in wh ich the word possible may be verlanized but is certainly not all inclusive. a. possible ] siblepo [sibl po] b. possible [pos ibl pos] c. possible posi] d. possible possib] Alth ough following the rul es of the verlanization process by dividing a trisyllabic word into two parts, the last example would not be a choice that most speakers would make due to its close approximation of the original word form. Yet another solution to the trisyllabic word dilem ma is the truncation of longer word forms to shorter word forms. Often this allows the verlanist to verlanize formerly trisyllabic words as though they are monosyllabic or disyllabic words. Although verlanists generally adhere to and apply rules to the ver lanization process the most important thing for the verlanist is the sound of the verlanized word. Basie r 1984: 176). In general, the verlanized word form that sound s the best will be the variant that is most readily adopted into the lexicon. Reverlanization Because of its semi acceptance into the lexicon of standard French verlan has a tendency to lose its cryptic significance once adopted by the masses. W hen a


49 ver lanized word is adopted by the non initiated, the initiated reverlanize the word, thus retaining its origi nal encrypted value. The reverlanization of a word once again renders that word nearly incomprehensible to the non initiated. For example, the term be ur is the verlanized form of the word arabe Originally a derogatory word, beur is now assimilated into everyday French and now simply refers to a French person of Arab descent living in France. In order to protect its cryptic nature, beur has been reverla nized as reube or reub Another interesting example is the verlanization and reverlanization of the monosyllabic French argotic word flic [flik], which translates as cop in American English. [flik] fli] f Reverlanized form: k feuk It is worth noting that the pronunciation of the reverlanized French word flic parallels the p ronunciation of the American English word fuck Aside from its cryptic pr operties, verlan can also be utilized to create humorous links to other well known languages like American English. Although I have not seen any evidence to either confirm or deny the fact that flic was reverlanized to render its phonetic properties closer to the American English word, fuck, the parallel remains both uncanny and humorous. ords In order to remain consistent throughout my thesis, I chose to work with the mmonly used verlanized words from their album The results are found in Table 5 1. Where gender


50 can be identified by the presence of the nouns within the context of the lyrics, I have included the gender markers, (f) indicating a feminine noun and the masculine marker, (m) to indicate the presence of a masculine noun. I have also included the phonetic transcription of the words next to the verlanized word. All words were confirmed by the use of the website www.dictionnairedelazone .fr T he propensity to verlanize monosyllabic and disyllabic words far outweigh the verlanization of trisyllabic words. With respect to monosyllabic words, 8 (32%) of the 25 most common verlanized words in this table are monosyllabic In the case of disyll abic and trisyllabic w ords, the table demonstrates first and foremost the importance of syllabic inversion, the most important factor to consider when verlanizing a word. In the process of syllable inversion, words are often truncated to accommodate the ne ed for encryption as well as increase the speed at which one can speak. Therefore, the o ral reorganization of the inverted word is extremely important when considering the verlanization of a word because if a word cannot be pronounced, it will be abandoned Finally, orthographic choice follows the oral reorganization of the verlanized word and in many cases a disyllabic or trisyllabic verlanized word is hyphenated although the hyphen has no bearing on pronunciation. In the example of the d isyllabic French w ord quartier the word tiek has been verlanized and truncated in the following manner: 16 of the 25 most common verlanized vitaux are d isyllabic (64%) reinforcing the notion that verlan favors d isyllabism. The noun, New York is the only example of a trisyllabic word in the table However it is important to recognize that New York is a disyllabic word that has been converted to a


51 trisyllabic word post verlanization In this case, the choice has been made by the author/speaker to add an epenthetic schwa to the end of the word following the /k/ in New York allowing for the following permutation: (S1 S2) (S1 S2 S3) (S3 S1 S2) New York is also the only case of a borrowed word from another language, in this case, American English. Verlan is a linguistic phenomeno n that has both social and linguistic implications for its speakers as well as for those who do not understand it. At its most basic level, verlan reveals the fundamental societal need for individuals to both belong to a particular group as well as forging a group identity that distinguishes that group and the i ndividuals in that group from other group s Verlan also serves to exclude the non initiated by rejecting a language and a culture in which the speakers of verlan have traditionally been marginalized and have become disenfranchised. In essence, verlan is a linguistic process designed to exclude the non initiated from the initiated.


52 Table 5 1. The points vitaux Word Original Form Langu age of Origin Occurrences f] femme French 10 Ap [ap] pas French 9 t ma [tema] mater French 8 al [al] l French 6 oim [wam] moi French 4 mif (f) [mif] famille French 4 quar or tier car (m) quartier French 4 tits petits French 3 ien bien French 3 pieds French 2 vsqui [veski] esquive French 2 oid [wad] doigt French 2 lobotomis French 2 tro metro French 2 teau cou [toku] couteau French 2 bte French 2 squette casquette French 1 fle gi [fl giffle French 1 sage visage French 1 ke New York American English 1 ti sor [ti sorti French 1 pompe French 1 jet projet French 1 s po [zepo] pos French 1 oi b [wab] boissson French 1


53 CHAPTER 6 BORROWING Word borrowing is a cross cultural phenomenon whereby one language borrows word s o r phrase s from another language. Word borrowing cannot take place unless two cultures and their respective languages somehow manage to come into contact with each other. Haugen (1950: 81 one language of pattern For our purposes, we will examine the influence of American English and Arabic on French hip hop a nd rap. As American English has come to dominate the world linguistically as the language of politics, technology, science, an d entertainment, it has become a language of prestige in many countries. Hebblethwaite ( 2007:9) adds that A mong borrowings, loanwords import morphemes and meaning with relative (low, partial or total) phonological Although French hip hop and rap artists borrow words from American English they place the words in the same word order in which that we would find them in normative referential French. Because hip hop and rap originated in the United States of America it is not surprising that wor d borrowing occurs in French hip hop and rap. However, some might find the frequenc y of American English utterances that occur in the repertoire of French hip hop and rap artists surprising Although American English is currently the dominant linguistic fo rce contributing to the new words infiltrating the French lexicon, it should be noted that within the history of the French language linguistic changes and choices have occurred over the centuries to shape standard French into the normative referential var iety currently taught worldwide in scholastic settings. Cutler (2007:525) th


54 rappers, they tend to use the domin ant language of the society Although this may have been true initially, if rappers can rap in a language that will allow them to achieve greater album sales, they will generally rap in that language and then borrow words from other lang uages such as American English, Arabic or their native tongue. Paris as the Linguistic Melting P ot For centuries Paris has been representative of a type of linguistic melting pot With the industrialization of France during the eighteenth and nineteenth c enturies, mass emigration ensued from rural settings and small villages to the city where the promise of work loom ed larger than life. V illagers emigrating from the French countryside to Paris brought with them their own brand of local and regional dialect s and when settling in Paris, generally tended to settle where there were others who spo ke the same variety of French that they did. With respect to Parisian immigration, Higa suggests that one of the reasons that Parisian immigrants tended to cluster lin their need to belong in the new environment, and that obviously coupled with their desire to show the progress of their iga 1973: 80). In the 20 th century, France fought two major wars on their soil: World War I and World War II in which the French were exposed to American culture and American English first hand on a massive scale. In the latter half of the 20 th century, in 1 962 France saw the return of the pieds noirs expatriates and their children who had formerly lived in Algeria during period of colonization before the Algerian war (Sloutsky 2008: 311). Although the former French colonists from Algeria and their children spoke F rench, it was marked by a slight Arabic accent and was peppered with words coming from other languages


55 and dialects. D uring the 1960s and 1970 s waves of immigrants from former French colonies, especially the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) and Wes t Africa, began to arrive in France (Sloutsky 2008: 311). It was at this time that the proliferation of ethnic words began to encroach upon the normative referential variety of French (Slou tsky 2008: 311), with Arabic exerting the most linguistic influence o n the French language during this period of time. Although Arabic continue d to be a contributing factor to contemporary French, during the 1980s and 1990 s it was the internet that helped to push American culture and American English to the forefront By us ing the internet, the French suddenly had access to news and info rmation on a worldwide scale. Popular C ulture The American culture has not only come to be embraced and accepted, but emulated by many French youth. The French youth have been quick to adopt the fashions t hat American youth wear such as jeans, t shirts, high tops, basket ball caps, skateboarder attire, and of course attire associated with hip hop and rap. American music has been at the forefront of the global music scene since the latter half of the 20 th century, offering the world such genres as jazz, blues, gospel, rock, rhythm and blues, pop, rap, and hip hop. With respect to entertainment, American films are now readily available for French youth to watch in movie theaters in their origina l versions, meaning that the films are not dubbed into French but are often subtitled. Through personal observations while in France, I observed that American television series such as Desperate Housewives and House are viewed regularly in French household s and are currently among the most popular in France, lending to the myth of every American enjoying an affluent lifestyle and living in neighborhoods that look like Wisteria Lane in


56 Desperate Housewives Whereas previous generations had less access to Ame rican films or music, thanks to the internet it is now available by the simple click of a mouse. American English has been utilized by the French media, including television, radio, and newspapers further augmenting the prestige of American English in Fran ce. Based on a search for all occurrences of new lexical borrowings in a corpus based on newspaper sources in 2010, Chesley (2010:231) determined that: new Anglicisms outnumber all other new borrowings combined. When cross checking these results against t he online archives of another French newspaper, it is found that the Anglicisms are more productive than borrowings with similar frequencies from other languages. Additionally, qualitative findings show that new Anglicisms are more likely than other borrow ings to be integrated into the French lexicon. Chesley utilizes information based on newspaper sources, and one has to wonder if the same tendency is true within the banlieue setting. W ith a predominately Arab influence, it would not be surprising if Arab ic borrowings were greater than American English borrowings within the banlieue Because the oral form of a language changes more rapidly than its written form, one has to wonder if Arabic will be the next great influence on the French language, eventually displacing American English. English is widely studied in France, and the distinction between British and American English is often made, the British English enjoying more prestige in academic settings while the A merican English variety enjoys greater pre stige in the business arena especially in certain fields (computer science, electronics, mass entertainment, sports, life styles, etc.) (Thogmartin 1984: 448). Often at the forefront of technology, American words such as e mail and click have made their wa y into the French lexicon. The reason for this is that the French have been slow to create new words in French to


57 replace the American English intruders. Thus the word s e ml mail, and the verb clicker have made their way into everyday French vocabulary a lthough in the case of e mail, a French alternative exist s, the word courriel uling However, not all French embrace American culture or American English. In fact, in 1994 Jacques Toubon introduced a law outlawing anglicisms which has been relati vely not enforceable and the French are slow to come up with French equivalents for words. On the occasions that French words have become available, the French in genera l seem to prefer the American English versions. For example, the word hamburger was deemed unacceptable under the Toubon ruling and although the recommended alternative, stea k hach was introduced into the French language, hamburger remained the most popu lar, and stea k hach has all but disappeared from the language. The word cheeseburger uling did have support from certain parts of the public, one c McChicken, a hamburger, or even a Cheeseburger Royale (Grigg 1997:378). A ccording to Article 28 (2) bis of (www. wikipedia.org/wiki/Toubon_Law .) at least 40% of the music played on the radio in Fran ce must be Article 28 (2)bis : The substantial proportion of musical works in the French language or performed in a regional language being used in France, which has to reach a minimum of 40 percent of French language songs, with half of which at least comi ng from new talents or new productions, broadcast during significant listening times by all radio broadcasting services licensed by the Conseil suprieur de l'audiovisuel, for the share of its programs comprising musical entertainment.


58 However, faced with some difficulties in implementation, the legislators decided to introduce greater flexibility to the 40 percent quota system. The regulatory authority (the Conseil suprieur de l'audiovisuel ) has some discretion to apply the quotas and to offer a differen t solution to certain specialized radio stations. partially responsible for the rapid augmentation in popularity of French hip hop and rap. Social Prestige and Authenticity Aside from the obvious linguistic dominance that American E nglish enjoys worldw ide, social prestige and linguistic authenticity become important players in French hip hop and rap for two reasons. First and foremost, the United States of America is the birthplace of rap and hip hop and a ccording to Higa (1973:80) People who want to exhibit their familiarity with foreign cultures, especially so called prestigi ous cultures, tend to use foreign words as proud evidence of such familiarity. In utilizing American English vocabulary, French rappers are acknowledging the as well as displaying a certain sense of irreverence toward the French language In choosing to utilize American English words, the rappers are in a sense rejecting the French language and opting for the social prestige and authenticity that a few American English words inserted into their lyrics can provide Herbert Pilch (1976:152) even suggests that: a modest amount of knowledge of the prestige language is ... socially considered a hallmark of higher education. Int erspersing one's dis course with bits and pieces from the prestige language is taken to bespeak an admirably progresssive attitude in all walks of life.... Typically, it is believed that this sesquilingual discourse is due to the absence of suitable terms in the inferior langua ge. The terms exist, of course (or may be coined at will), but they do n ot sound distinguished enough. Authenticity or street cre d because the fan base wants to believe that a rapper comes from an auth entic, but not


59 necessarily the same, background as they do. In theory, the rapper would represent the thoughts, feelings, attitudes and experiences of the fan through his or her lyrics. Therefore, by emulating the fashion, attitudes, philosophy, and lingui stic proclivity of American rappers, French rappers are establishing an identity that not only ties them to their fan base, but acknowledges rap and hip ertoire is rap in American English and will from time to time pepper their flow with an occasional Spanish word whereas French rappers utilize borrowing from several lang uages, verlan, borrowed words from the album, in Table 6 1 demonstrate borrowing from four languages: E nglish, Arabic, Malien (Bambara ), and Italia n in addi tion to the primary language of expression, French. Other languages such as Romani, Vietnamese, and other African dialects are not uncommon within the UF 2011 Hip Hop C orpus sentative of a typic al rap group due to the large number of rappers that com prise the group. Therefore, the greater the number of individuals associated with a given project, the greater the number of potential linguistic influences T able 6 1 also illustrates the 25 most bor rowed words on the album, the language of origin, the English translation, how many occurrences for this particular album, and the source (if any) consulted to make the translation. Table 6 2 takes into account the origin of the 25 most borrowed words From this album 1 6 ( 6 4 % ) are of


60 English origin with a total of 113 (55.66%) occurrences out of the total 203 incidences of the most borrowed words It is also interes ting to note th at the most recurrent borrowed word is love at 33.6%. The next most significant borrowing comes from Arabic with 6 (24%) occurrences out of the 25 and 51 (25%) of the 203 incidences of borrowing. In addition to English and Arabic, an African language is al so represented b y the appearance of two Bambara words from Mali which although only represent 8% of the borrowed words, accounts for 17%, or 35 instances out of the 203 of the top 25 most borrowed words. Taking into account the fact that only two words pro duce 35 occurrence s indicates that they are significant. The final language that appears on the album is Italian, yielding only one word at four occurrences or only approximately 2% of the 203 borrowed words. Word and phrase b orrowing are an almost unavoi dable linguistic phenomenon in s digital age; however linguistic borrowing into the French language has been going on for centuries. Although there will always be participants in a given linguistic community that resist and even try to stop linguist ic change and borrowing, any time that two cultures with their own languages come into contact, the potential for wor d and phrase borrowing exists. When one language enjoys a dominant social status, as is the case with American English in France, the tempt ation and tendency to borrow from that language is even greater. Language is not a static entity, language is ever changing and evolving, and attempting to deny, or even halt borrowing is almost impossible, especially given the technological and digital ag e of the 21 st century and the role of American English within that system


61 Table 6 1. The vitaux Word Language of origin Meaning Occurrence s Source love [luv] English Love 38 wati [wati] Malien (Bambara ) Waatib can mean either all of the time of without limits 31 www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wati_B akhi Arabic My brother 23 Mustapha Sami ble d Arabic Country of birth 8 www.dictionnairedelazone.fr/ black [blk] English Black; designates the African race 8 OK [oke] English OK 7 kick English To kick 6 cool [kul] English Mellow, OK 6 job English job 6 night English night 6 fuck English To have sex with someone; also used as an expletive 5 flash English Love at first sight 5 www.dictionnairedelazone.fr/ beef [bif] English u n argument 5 shit English Drugs; also used as an expletive 5 ghetto Italian A disadvantaged neighborhood 4 fr.wikipedia.org/wiki /Ghetto flipper [flipe] English To flip out 4 www.dictionna iredelazone.fr/ belek Arabic Pay attention or to watch out 4 www.dictionnairedelazone.fr/ go [go] Malien (Bambara ) A girl or female 4 www.dictionnairedelazone.fr/ seume Arabic Hate 4 www.dictionnairedelazone.fr/ flow [flo] English To rap in a fluid style 4 flop [flap] English A failure 4 khey Arabic Brother 4 Mustapha Sami


62 Table 6 1. Continued Word Languag e of origin Meaning Occurrence s Source pro English Professional 4 back [bk] English 4 dealer [dil English Drug dealer 4 www.dictionnairedelazone.fr/ Total: 203 Table 6 2 Percentage breakdown of the 25 most borrowed words from Sexion Language of origin Total number of occurrences Percentage of the 203 borrowings Number of occurrences within the 25 Percentage of the 25 most borrowed words English 113 55.7 16 64 Arabic 51 25.13 6 24 Bambaric 35 17.2 2 8 Italian 4 1.97 1 4 Total: 203 100 .0 25 100


63 CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSION Among young people in France l anguage games such as argot and verlan constitute an important mode of express ion Because of these popular word games, the French lexicon is constantly undergoing unpredictable changes at a rapid rate. In less n to and discussion of the French spoken by urban youth has expanded to reveal four important dimensions in the usage of this variety o f French : age, sex, ethnicity and the conce pt of the working class (Fagyal 2004: 45). Fagyal (2004:56) suggests that thes e l inguistic innovations indicate solidarity within a specific linguistic and social group and enables them to distinguish themselves from the larger linguistic community and the attainment of standardized referen tial French Although argot and verlan ha ve existed for centuries within the French lexicon, the recent attention by the media has only served to highlig ht and accelerate its usage in social circles that would have never accepted its usage before. This is due mostly to coverage of s uburban plight and the projects that have pushed verlan and argot to the foref ront linguistically by proposing that these linguistic anomalies have become the basis for a new brand of French According to Fagyal (2004:58) if it was no t for the French media, considered a distinct variety of French and the suburban youth from working class families would continue to engage in these word games French rappers use the entire linguistic repertoire available to them inc luding regional and social dialects as well as forms of word play such as argot, verlan, and extensive borrowing from Amer ican English and Arabic (Cutler 2007: 526). Although the cient for an


64 (Cutler 2007: 527) it is important to note that just in the French rap sce ne is centered on the use of local or oft en stigmatized linguistic variations entwined with American English hip 2007: 533). According to Cecelia Cutler (2007:523) the rap and hip hop lexicon is constantly undergoing expansion as new words and expressions take the place of those words and expression s that fall out of use As music is often a reflection of what is happening within a given society, studying the effect of American English on contemporary French through hip hop and rap has several important implications. Fir st and foremost, it is becoming more and more would have b 1997: 383). This is demonstrated by the recurrent usage of American English words not only in music but in advertising campaigns, newscasts, radio programs, movies, television programs, and in print. Secondly, the infiltration of American English words and expressions into the French lexicon over the last twenty years has intensified a t a rapid rate due to instantaneous access t o information t hrough the use of the internet Grigg (1997:383) insists that while the intrusion of American English into the French language has the potential to reduce the importance and relevance of the French vocabulary (if not yet its syntax and other areas of grammar), a major aspect defining However, any aspect of contact between two cultures with their own languages means that the potential for both linguistic change and exchange exists


65 thro ugh word and phrase borrowing T he dominant l anguage accorded more prestige will ultimately exert a greater linguistic influe nce on the less prestigious language than the less prestigious language will exert upon the dominant language. Such is the case of American English influencing the French language in the first half of the 21 st century.


66 LIST OF REFERENCES Androutsopo ulos, Jannis and Arno Scholz. hop in PhiN 19 (2002) : 1 42. Print. Paris : ditions Nilsson, 1930. Print. B achmann, Chr istian and Luc Basier Mots 88 (1984) : 169 187. Print. Bthune, Christian. Pour une esthtique du rap. Paris : Klincksieck 2004. Print. Blondeau, Thomas and Fred Hanak. Combat Rap II. Bordeaux: Castor Music 2008. Print. Booba. Ouest Side Tallac Records. 2006. CD. 46 (1983) : 98 105. Print. Calvet, Louis Jean. La Sociolinguistique. Paris : Presses Univ ersitaires de France, 2009. Print. --a rgot. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 199 4. Print. Chesley, Paula. French Language Studies 20 (2010): 231 251. Print. (1919) : 67. Print Language and Linguistics Compass (2007) : 519 538. Print. Davies, Eirlys E. and Abdelali Bentahila Multilingua 25 (2006) : 367 392. Print. Fagyal, Zsuzsanna. iolinguistique. 9 (2004) : 41 60. Print. Goudaillier, Jean Langue franaise 90 (1991): 10 12. Print. --. La Linguistique 38.1 (2002) : 5 23. Print. Grand Co Midi 20 Universal, 2006. CD.


67 Grigg, Peter. English Studies 4 (1997): 368 384. Print. s de France, 1985. Print. --Les Jeux de mots. Paris : Presses Universitaires de France, 1979. Print. Language, Essays of Einar Haugen Stan ford: Stanford University Press 1972. Print. Hebblethwaite, Benjamin. Switching Among Miami Haitian Creole English Bilinguals. 2007. TS. Hebblethwaite, Benjamin, Kelly Wiechman and Jordin Patten. Hop v1 (1973):75 85. Print. Jamin, Mika l. y of linguistic diffusion in La 8.2 (2004): 169 176. Print Jamin, Mika l and Cyril Trimaille and Mdric Gasquet la divergence: le cas des quartiers pluri French Language Studies 16 (2006) : 335 356. Print. In F.Dell, D.Hirst & J.R. Vergnaud eds. Forme sonore du langage. Paris: Hermann, 1984. Print. : 312 322. Print. approaches thoriques pour la descript ion du franais parl par les jeunes des cit La Linguistique 38.1 (2002) : 41 52. Print. Lodge, R. Anthony. French : From Dialect to Standard. New York: Routledge, 2001. Print. Martinet, Andr. Le langage. Paris : Gallimard, 1968. Print. Mla, Vivienne : 73 94. Print. --. : 16 34. Print. :Les diteurs libres, 2007. Print.


68 Paternostro Roberto. accent parisien multiculturel : innovation, crativit, mtissage(s). AFLS 17.2 (2012) : 32 53. Print. Patten, Jordin. A linguistic representation of women in French rap. 2012. TS. Pecqueux, Anthony. Le rap. Paris : Le Cavalier Bleu, 2009. Print Perrier, Jean Claude. Le rap franais : dix ans aprs. Paris : La table ronde, 2010. Print. Pilch, Herbert. Empirical Linguistics. Munich: Francke, 1976: 152 54. Print. Saugera, Valrie. Th e French Review, 79.5 (2006) : 964 973. Print. Wati B, 2010. CD. --A poge Wati B 2012. CD. Sloutsky, Larissa and Catherine Black. The French Review 82.2. (2008) : 308 324. Print. Sourdot, Marc. Langue franaise 90 (1991) : 13 27. Print. --. :25 39. Print. Thogmartin, Clyde. (1984): 447 455. Print. Walter, Henriette. L Paris: R. Laffont, 1988. Print. 2012 TS. www.dictionnairedelazone.com Internet www .google.fr Internet. www.wikipedia.com .Internet


69 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Kelly Wiechman (ne Van Horn) was born in and grew up in the City of Orange, CA. She earned her B.A. degree in administrative s tud ies from the University of California at Riverside in Riverside, California in 1990. After having successful a career with NIKE in Califor nia, she move d to Charleston, SC, in 1996 where she worked for DHL in int ernational tracing and customer service and for UPS Supply Chain Solutions clearing shipments through Customs for Philips Electronics In 2006 she left her full time employment to earn her degree in French and Secondary Education at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina At the Uni versity of Florida, she taught both the first and second semesters of French at the beginning level for two years, and earned her M.A. in French and Francophone studies in 2012. Kelly is currently working while she pursues her Ph.D. in French and Francophone studies at the University of Florida