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If you are learning French you’ll know there are not just regional dialects, formal terms and acronyms – there is of course, slang! This ‘everyday language’ is perhaps one of the most challenging to learn. A mix of informal abbreviations and symbols used in email, text messaging (SMS), social media and chatrooms – the terms and phrases are changing all the time!

In this article we take a quick look at understanding French – SMS style!

Basic principles

Short and simple

The idea of texting is to use as few characters as possible. Importantly, you’ll need to have a basic understanding of French phonetics, because many abbreviations are based on the ‘sound’ of the words, rather than how they are written. For example:

1 → un, en, in
2 → de
C → c’est, sais, s’est
É → ai, aie, ais, ait
G → j’ai
K → qu, ca
O → au, aux, eau, o
T → t’es, tes

Back to front

Yes, unfortunately for those of us trying to learn it forwards, some French do actually reverse their words as well! This is known as ‘Verlan’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verlan)  – a form of slang commonly used in everyday conversations. It inverses syllables in a word, ie ‘l’envers’, becomes ‘verlan’! Confusing? Oui !

Basic text forms

In summary, there are three basic methods used in French texting – (and it really doesn’t matter whether the letters are upper or lowercase, or a mixture of both) :

  1. Abbreviate words using just their first letter (ie CPG for C’est pas grave)
  2. Use a mix of letters and numbers that are pronounced like the words (ie 12C4 for un de ces quatre)
  3. Drop silent letters, especially at the end of a word, (ie pa for pas)

Here are just a few of the terms you may come across!

French SMS Terms & Translations

French SMSFrenchEnglish
12c4un de ces quatreone of these days
22les flicsthe cops
2ri1de rienyou're welcome
2vandevantin front, facing
@2m1à demainsee you tomorrow
a+ / aplsà plus (tard)see you later
alpà la prochainesee you next time
amaà mon avisin my opinion
askipà ce qu'il paraîtapparently
attà tout de suitesee you soon
b1surbien sûrof course
balboite aux lettresmailbox
bapbon après-midigood afternoon
bcpbeaucoupa lot
bgbelle/beau gossegood looking
bsrbonsoirgood evening
c1blagc'est une blagueit's a joke
cadc'est à direthat is to say, meaning
c cac'est çathat's it
cpgc'est pas gravenevermind
ctc'étaitit was
ddddemande de discussionwe need to talk
dqpdès que possibleas soon as possible
entken tout casanyway
fdsfin de semaineweekend
gtj'étaisI was
jtmje t'aimeI love you
jppje n'en peux plusI can't take it anymore
mdrmort de riredying of laughter
nimp/nptkn'importe quoinevermind
pehpour être honnêteto be honest
qdnquoi de neuf ?what's new?
qqcquelque chosesomething
rafrien à fairedon't care/nothing to do
rstpréponds s'il te plaîtplease reply
tkt(ne) t'inquiètes (pas)don't worry
tlmtout le mondeeverybody
tmts/tmtctoi même tu saisas you well know
vnrVénère (enerver en Verlan !)annoyed

And after all that, if you still can’t figure out the text, read and say the letters and numbers out loud – or ask for the words in normal French!

Annette Morris

Annette is Renestance’s 'go to' girl for all things marketing and social media. Bilingual and originally from Surrey in the UK, Annette has lived in France since 2008. In addition to her web design and marketing consultancy, Annette is the founder of Languedoc Jelly (a network of free events across the region for anyone working from home) and also Urban Sketchers Languedoc (part of a global community of people that like to draw or paint on location). A fan of all things French and Franglaise, she also has a Citroen 2CV called Beryl.

All articles by: Annette Morris

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