Word play

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YOUR report of the neologisms in the new Petit Robert dictionary (31 May) caught my attention. The French love playing with words, and revel in their music and rhythm for their own sake, much in the way that we used to do with Spoonerisms, Clerihews, and so on.

Actually, the derivation of chelou (strange, suspicious) is a direct result of their playing with words, by inverting the syllables (normally of a two-syllable word) in this case louche – but this has been on the go for a long time, for example beur is really arabe and ma turevoi is, of course, ma voiture. This game is known as parler verlan, an inversion of the syllables of parler à l’envers (to speak back to front).

Brian D York

Ardwall Road

Dumfries.