The Influence of Francophone Africa on the French Language

The news site features an article on the way in which African slang has influenced the French language [fr], and informs us that Verlan is no longer a preferred language of rappers :

For a long time, there have been certain words, such as [Arabic greetings] “Salam alaykum” or “hamdu’llah”, which everyone could understand, even though they are not part of the French language. Nowadays, we are witnessing a new wave of words of African origin (black and Maghreb, among others), which fit well into the language spoken by many young people, whether they are originally from Africa or from Europe. As surprising as it may seem, this “enrichment” comes from the “bzèze” (breasts) of their mothers. Since most of them incorporate words spoken in the mother language of their parents.

For example, Ivorians have invented a slang called Nouchi [fr]. On his blog, Behem writes in his article “Top 10 most-common expressions in Nouchi” [fr] :

This is a common language created in the 1980s, which is based on French, incorporating parts of the many vernacular languages found in our country. Poorly-educated youths in Abidjan, who had not learned French well, had to invent a language which incorporated their various dialects. So, this language was associated with the image of juvenile delinquents. This can be seen in its etymology:  The word “nou”, in the language of the Malinké ethnic group, in the north part of Côte d’Ivoire, means “the nose”. Meanwhile, the word “chi” means “hair”. The conjunction “Nouchi” means “moustache”, in reference to moustachioed thugs whom everyone was afraid of. Today, in Abidjan, “Nouchi” still means “a thug”.

For a long time, Nouchi was the preserve of street children, but later it managed to expand its presence, to the point that it is spoken today by all segments of the population. The President of the Republic himself is no exception. Nouchi has also been exported abroad, thanks to Ivorian Zouglou music, and thus it has reached the entire world.


  • gpaul2110

    Thank you for your comments, to me the influence of the French language as you put it clearly and other languages as well in other parts of Africa post colonial system will always be the factor. You find that the current youth of these African nations have a sort of an attitude towards these languages that were instilled through the colonial system and they lean more to their African languages of origin, hence the quality in terms of the fluency in these foreign languages seem to be more and more on the down side. Some children do not even attend formal classes on these languages, they only pick it up language at home or at the villages. At the same time, identity is important to preserve the future of the African countries the African way.

    I was also reading articles by Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II and his vision and ideas he has on how Africa should move forward and have a sense of belonging by the way of the constitutional monarchy. Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II argues that constitutional monarchy brings about a sense of nation building, symbolism, unity, true democracy, equal rights for all and in turn improve economic development.

    Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II- Constitutional monarchy and West African Nationalism.
    The New Political Landscape – Constitutional Monarchy in Africa:

    It has become evident from rich African individuals like Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II and others, that the transformation process occurring in several African countries will require a new redefinition of relationships between the Governments and the whole range of political spectrum, including the Constitutional Monarchy. Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II is a genius at work, if you read about his brilliant ideas on how West Africa can develop and his
    understanding of how Africa best can achieve more returns on its investments.

    The objective of this article is to look into the political landscape focusing mainly on the Constitutional Monarchy in the African context.

    Much have been seen or written about various systems and leadership in Africa, especially, Western Africa. We have seen in history, countries gaining independence with a lot of promises to the people, but on the other hand less progress on Development post Colony. We only see deterioration in all aspects of people’s lives and more corruption to some extent.

    The idea of Constitutional Monarchy keeps creeping in to the mind of some prominent
    Africans, especially those that have broadly been exposed to the European system. The European system had been proven to be successful for many hundreds of years before, using the Constitutional Monarchy.

    Mr Richard Stevens in his article on Constitutional Monarchy refers to the ideas he read about Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II and his vision about the Constitutional Monarchy. It is interesting and encouraging to me as a reader and a writer to learn about these brilliant ideas and gives hope that the future could be even brighter for Africa.

    History proved to us that many countries that followed Constitutional Monarchy in Europe progressed successfully for a long time, even today, they keep progressing. I see no reason why Constitutional Monarchy system should fail in Africa. Some of the African countries had been under the same system prior independence, even though they were not in control at that time. Without duplicating or copying the European style on Constitutional Monarchy, Africa, especially Western Africa, can follow the same model in her own African context.

    Richard Stevens outlines the complete history of the Constitutional monarchy in his article, the difficulties countries had to face to achieve the transition to the system at that time. He puts it clearly that it was not easy then, indicating that it won’t be easy now, but it can be achieved with greater determination. Richard Stevens’ in-depth research on this subject and writing on the vision of Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II, makes one believe that Leopold
    Donchield Zu Leone II has a clear knowledge of the Constitutional Monarchy system. If it had to be push forward, Leopold Donchield Zu Leone is the one to drive it for the future of Africa to be bright and Africa to claim her rightful place in the world as a fastest economic developing continent.

    See also:

  • mjones3004

    I agree with GPaul, it is true that the future belongs to the youth and it is important that the African roots are instilled to the youth so that the African heritage is not diluted by the influences of the West. The decisions that are made today will determine the history of tomorrow. I am also in support of the concept of constitutional monarchy system as a system that, in my opinion, will address the question of nationalism, symbolism and self belief, while it will be in support of the government of the day. Leopold Donchield Zu Leone II has a genius mind to initiate such a debate for the benefit of the African people. Language is part of the nation’s heritage and need to be protected and encouraged, and I thinking even talking about it is a good sign that something can be done about this.

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