In the classroom, the teacher gives a marked copy to her student.
"It's drool," she hears him say.
"How do I drool?"
You don't have to talk to me like that! ”
"But no madam, it was to thank you," the classmates then explain to her.
In slang, "drool" means that something is right.
A "bavon" is a person you can rely on.
This verbal misunderstanding is not the first to have caused tension between Suzanne Bah and her students at the Pierre-Mendès-France vocational high school in Ris-Orangis (Essonne). Certain not to be the only one in this situation, she decided to call on Julien Barret, a linguist. “There are times when we don't understand each other,” admits the teacher. They often tell me that teachers speak like they do in books. And I am sometimes lost in the face of their expressions. With my colleague, we really wanted to put an end to these misunderstandings. But also to push them to better understand their language, its evolution, in a fun and educational way. "
Since last October, Julien Barret regularly intervenes in this class of first management administration, to “dissect” their words.
With one project in mind: to create a dictionary of Essonne.
The objective: to select and explain a hundred slang words that young people use in their daily life, while finding their etymology.
"Le Petit Robert with the words used in Evry, Corbeil and Grigny"
“We want to do like the Petit Robert, but with the words used in Evry, Corbeil, Grigny.
We will give the definition but also synonyms, antonyms, concrete examples, details Julien Barret.
Essonne is known to be the source of many slang words.
This can be explained by the fact that the inhabitants live together in large, very landlocked complexes.
The fact that many people of different origins live together also plays a role.
When we ask them where they first heard this word, we get several answers.
It can be with friends, in rap songs, on social networks.
They draw from everywhere to build their language. ”
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First example: "Sah".
you're serious, seriously
in real life
" translates Bakoclaye, one of the students.
“It looks a lot like an interjection, analyzes Julien Barret.
The word comes from Arabic. ”
As often, it is the social networks that make the success of this slang.
In this specific case, it all started with a tweet, that of a person feasting on the idea of drinking long coffee.
"Sah what a pleasure," he wrote.
Expression quickly taken up by many Internet users.
Punchlines to make each other understood faster
But knowing the definition of a word is not always enough. The context also plays a role. As if to "prick". “We can understand that the person was upset, hurt. Or else she fell in love, ”Fatime develops. The schoolgirl completes: "It's an expression that served as the title in a Bryans song."
In both cases, Julien Barret makes a hypothesis on the origin of the senses.
“We can draw a parallel with Ronsard, this 16th century French poet.
The man, stung by Cupid's arrow, falls in love with a woman.
But it is also reminiscent of a stinging needle.
It hurts, like when you are upset.
Their connection is that once stung, a person's mood changes.
This expression makes it possible to make a shortcut, to quickly translate a feeling, by imaging it.
It's very common in slang and even more so with social media.
We want to go as quickly as possible.
They are fond of punchlines. ”
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Other times, the etymology of a word remains a mystery. Like "kichta", in other words a wad of banknotes. "Maybe it's a mix between a quiche and kefta?" launches as Fatime hypothesis. And "sten"? Maybe a mixture of the words zen and stone? “Not at all,” says the student. There is no connection with drunkenness or drug use. Stone is way too strong. Being sten is really to be relaxed, quiet. Zen, it makes you think too much of the world of yoga. This is something that belongs to us. ”
“Sometimes we do not manage to trace exactly the etymology of a word, recognizes Julien Barret.
It's like “wo”, we can't find where it could come from.
From England ?
The United States ?
Everything is possible.
What is even more astonishing with this word is that it is used to refer to something or someone ugly, except in Corbeil, where it would mean pretty.
The reason ?
We do not know, but it can be an antiphrase use where we use the opposite of its true meaning by irony or euphemism.
A bit like being a bomb or it's bullet. ”
No, but sir, that is old-fashioned! "
To complete this future dictionary, Julien Barret has done a lot of research to also be a source of proposals. Which sometimes boils down to failure. "How do you feel about being flex?" he suggests. "No, but sir, that is old-fashioned", they answer him. "You coco then?" he raises again. “You can't hear it here anymore. It's old. We used it when we were in college. Now we just say
”we explain to him.
The high school students in this class still have one year to produce this dictionary, and have it edited.
A work which falls within the framework of their project of “masterpiece” in the grand oral of the bac.
"We hope that it will be finalized in time to be presented at the book fair," anticipates Suzanne Bah, who notes a real difference in the attitude of these students since the beginning of the year.
“I find them growing up, more mature.
And they express themselves more freely by now paying more attention to the choice of words. "
“This pushes them to think about their own language, the meaning of the words used,” concludes Julien Barret.
But also to realize that we do not use the same language when talking to a friend or a teacher.
This will necessarily serve them in the world of work.