|LOL! No, verlan is a much older story than France's postwar immigration --if anything, it's been merely adopted by the latest wave of North African immigrants... but they didn't invent it!|
The re-ordering of syllables to form new words is not a new innovation, it is thought to date back to the 12th century (see Lefkowitz,1991 pp50-54 for an account of the historical evidence for verlan). The current enthusiasm for 'verlan' among young people living in the 'banlieues' arose in the climate of social unrest in the seventies. It was adopted both as a means to obscure meaning, by those who wished to communicate about taboo or private matters, from sex to drugs, and as a means of identifying others with common interests or live-styles, in other words as an in-group marker of social identity. It is thus used in playful contexts, or in contexts where there is some threat of aggression or danger from outsiders to the group.