The sound of Sonne les clioches - jingle bells in Jersey-French could be heard from the Airport on Saturday, as some 700 people attended a schools Millennium carol concert in the departure lounge. The concert was organised by the St Brelade Ecumenical Committee, with a retiring collection in aid of Orbis, the charity which is dedicated to curing avoidable blindness worldwide, and almost £600 was raised for the charity.
La Moye, Mont Nicolle and St Peter's primary schools joined Les Quennevais School and the brass and steel bands from Les Quennevais, as well as a hand bell team from the Jersey Scouts, in the concert, while all three primary schools joined together in the Jersey-French words to the carol.
Two Waterfront Enterprise Board projects have received prizes for the best externally and internally lit buildings to be completed this year. They are the new Maritime Waterfront Gardens and Maritime House, which received the top prizes in the annual Ecliaithi Jersey lighting competition, sponsored by Thorn lighting. The name of the competition and its aim comes from the Jèrriais: 'Pour êcliaithi l'héthitage et la bieauté d'Jèrri' - to highlight the heritage and beauty of Jersey
C'est un hasard qui a fait que la fête désormais organisée en Normandie vers la fin avril et qui a pris le nom montebourgeois de "fête des Rouaisons" (ou Rogations: fête instituée pour demander à Dieu la protection des biens de la terre) coïncide à peu près avec la Journée Internationale des Langues, célébrée au plan européen aux environs du 20 avril. L'appui divin ne serait pas de trop pour assurer la protection de nos pauvres langues qui, peu à peu, émergent bien péniblement.
Au moins la Normandie occidentale fait-elle preuve de détermination dans ses manifestations d'attachement au patrimoine linguistique. L'an dernier, c'était Montebourg qui accueillait les premières Rouaisons; des défenseurs passionnés s'étaient regroupés, venant de Jersey, de Guernesey, du Cotentin et du Bocage virois. La seconde édition a eu lieu cette année à Jersey, le samedi 17 avril; elle consistait, comme l'an passé à Montebourg, en des r'citations de poèmes ou de dialogues, mais aussi on y avait ajouté des démonstrations de jeu de boules et de jeu de palet, tandis que des Vikings expliquaient leurs jeux et leur mode de vie. Le choix de l'endroit, il est vrai, n'était pas innocent : sous l'impulsion d'associations comme l'Assembliée d'Jerriais et le Congrès des Parlers Normands et Jerriais, soutenus par une vaillante publication, Les Chroniques du Don Balleine, héritières du Bulletin d'Quart d'An fondé jadis par Frank Le Maistre, les États de Jersey ont voté pour 1999 une somme de 51000 livres, soit cinq millions de francs, pour fonder un véritable enseignement concerté du jerriais dans le monde scolaire. Un néo-locuteur du jerriais, Tony Scott-Warren, d'abord chargé à Channel TV des émissions en jerriais, s'est vu confier la tâche de mettre en place l'enseignement du jerriais dans les écoles, avec l'accord de 23 directeurs d'école sur 24; il s'appuie en ceci sur une demande explicite de 700 parents ayant manifesté le souhait de voir leurs enfants apprendre le jerriais, certains même ayant ajouté qu'ils aimeraient bien l'apprendre eux-mêmes. Les opérations devraient donc commencer, pour les 9-10 ans, à la rentrée scolaire d'août 1999, au rythme de trente minutes par semaine. Pour le moment, Tony fignole son manuel d'apprentissage; son problème, et il est le même en Cotentin: trouver des enseignants compétents qui seraient ses relais dans ce travail.
L'autonomie de l'île sur le plan de la politique intérieure joue manifestement un grand rôle: aux portes de l'aérogare et de la gare maritime, ce sont des inscriptions en jerriais qui souhaitent aux visiteurs arrivants d'être "les beinv'nus" et qui leur disent, dans le sens du départ "à bétôt et à la préchaine". Mais qui sait si, grâce à la Charte Européenne des Langues, ce ne sera pas bientôt légalement possible aussi en Normandie...
And those who value Jersey's heritage will be cheered to hear that the Jèrriais section was a success as well.
'One of the highlights of the festival was when I saw six or eight boys from De La Salle, all about 11 or 12 years old, reciting a poem in Jèrriais, which to me is marvellous, and then François Le Maistre, who does our adjudication, got up and delivered his remarks in Jèrriais, and it was plain that the boys didn't have a clue what he was saying,' he laughed.
'But getting young people involved in the language shows that Jèrriais will not die as people fear,'
Jersey Evening Post 27/11/1999
The 20th century is drawing to a close... and there are many Islanders who have travelled with it for most of its course. Frank Le Maistre, author of the definitive work on Jèrriais, features in the latest of a series of articles which evoke memories of those who were born when the century was young.
Looking back on his life Frank Le Maistre spoke bluntly about the Island of his birth. 'The Jersey I knew is 90 per cent gone. I used to know the Island very well but now I don't know it at all,' he said, with sadness in his voice.
This famous St Ouennais still lives in the parish of his birth, where his family have been farming since 1500. The changes Mr Le Maistre has witnessed in his 90 years are felt as equally in the area where he lives as in all facets of Island life.
Mr Le Maistre has lived at L'Etacq for 30 years. When he moved there 56 people spoke Jerriais, the Island's language he has done so much to preserve.
'From Le Haut de L'Etacq to Le Bas de L'Etacq everyone spoke Jerriais, now there are only seven left - including me,' said Mr Le Maistre.
Before the last war the population of the country parishes spoke nothing else, now there are less than 2,000 speakers Islandwide.
'Very few use it now. There is a revival taking place but it's a bit late in the day - as usual,' he said.
Mr Le Maistre recalled how useful the Island's language proved to be during the Second World War: 'We all spoke Jèrriais in the Occupation because the Germans did not understand it.'
That dark period in Jersey's history provided the catalyst for change as Mr Le Maistre pointed out wars usually do. 'It was after the war that life in general began to change, it is barely as we knew it and in a little place like this it is more noticeable. Mr Le Maistre recalled the day the First World War broke out. 'I remember the date of the declaration - 14 August 1914. My father went off to the arsenal to be accoutred, he collected his rifle and military dress and when he got back into the yard at home he told my mother war had been declared. It felt terrible for a child of four years,' he said.
Mr Le Maistre was born on 19 May 1910, the elder son of Frank and Ada, who was a member of the Lucas family before her marriage. He was educated at St Ouen's Elementary School and at Oxenford House school in St Lawrence, which was founded in 1834.
He left school at the age of 17 to work at Le Masurier and Giffard (now Ogier and Le Masurier) in Hill Street where one of his duties was lighting the fires, sometimes with damp wood.
In 1931 Mr Le Maistre joined the scientific staff at the States Experimental Station where he was an agricultural inspector for 25 years, before taking up farming. From 1924 he spent most of his spare time, sometimes burning the midnight oil through the night until dawn, working on his Norman-French dictionary, Dictionnaire Jèrriais-Français. More than 40 years later, in 1966, the fruits of his labours were published to scholarly acclaim. To the Savants (intellectuals) in Normandy it is the greatest compilation of its kind.
The author is justifiably proud of his definitive work, which has sold worldwide.
He even found a copy in Moscow University. 'Shakespeare wrote under a million words, my dictionary has more than one million words,' Mr Le Maistre proudly pointed out.
Official recognition followed in many forms, some of which mean more to him than others. In 1967 Mr Le Maistre was made an honorary member of the Société Jersiaise. In the same year he was awarded the Prix Littéraire de la Basse Normandie and also unanimously elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Uppsala, Sweden.
He has been honoured twice by the French Ministry of Education, and various bodies in Normandy where the University of Caen made him an honorary doctor of letters. In 1975 his own Island recognised his life's work when the Education Committee established the Frank Le Maistre Scholarship to the University of Caen.
Pointing to a selection of his decorations on headed paper, Mr Le Maistre said: 'The OBE comes first but it is not the most important one. That is the last one - Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres - from the French government.'
This rare honour is accorded to those who have distinguished themselves in artistic or literary fields, or by the contribution made to French and world arts and letters.
As Mr Le Maistre's life has been dedicated to preserving his mother tongue he is also steeped in Jersey's fast-disappearing culture and customs.
'St Ouen was an agricultural parish where life revolved around the church and the chapel,'he said.
Religion has played an important part in his life. 'We were partly Methodist as my mother was Methodist and my father Anglican. We went to church in the morning and chapel in the evening,' he recalled.
Lamenting the demise of religion in the parish Mr Le Maistre referred to the disused St Ouen's Chapel. 'I've seen that full with 800 people on a Sunday, now it's crumbling. The last time it was full was for JJ's (Le Marquand) funeral.'
Mr Le Maistre met his wife, Kathleen Amy, at church, they were married on 28 November 1936 and had three sons, François, Edouard and Jean.
Until the dramatic changes of the post-war period the agricultural year revolved around the seasons with social gatherings linked to particular crops. Farmers worked together to help each other planting and harvesting and farmers' children were allowed off school to help plant potatoes.
'Every farm had an orchard and everyone kept cattle, pigs, poultry and rabbits, but hardly any do now. There are only three herds left in this parish,' said Mr Le Maistre, adding that there were even purpose-built brick rabbit hutches at his old family home, Lecq Villa Farm.
Mr Le Maistre regrets how local farmers have lost the knack of good husbandry. 'They rotated the crops but now it is a monoculture. Also the Island had apple orchards by the hundreds and was very much more wooded. Then there were the hedgerows with trees all over the place hawthorn by the thousands and apple trees of all sorts and everyone made cider,' he said.
On Saturday the country folk went to town to shop. Mr Le Maistre's parents would take him and his brother, Henri, to St Helier by horse and van to stock up on supplies, buy clothes and shoes at the Old Soldier in New Street, but mainly to window shop.
'Another thing which has changed is that a Jerseyman would never buy anything he could not afford. Nowadays everyone borrows, they must have everything even if they can't afford it.'
The influx of people from the UK and elsewhere has changed the face of the Jersey Mr Le Maistre grew up in and loved. 'When you see the names on Godfrey's map of the Island in 1849 so many of them have disappeared,' he said.
The sea and beach played an important part in most people's lives, even those who made their living off the land.
Men and women spent days gathering vraic to spread on the fields. 'When the work was done they would eat des galettes à vraic (vraic buns),' recalled Mr Le Maistre.
'In the summer I would go sand eeling at L'Avarizon (Seymour Tower). Before the war I went with my father by horse and van and after the war by car. We would park at Mary Le Vesconte's near the Seymour Inn and walk out,' he said.
Mr Le Maistre reflected on how the close-knit parish community he grew up in has been eroded so rapidly since the end of the Second World War.
'Jersey hospitality has disappeared. What exists now is nothing in comparison to then,' he said, pausing to cast his mind back. 'People do not know each like they did before.'
The inspector of schools in 1897 wrote: 'The children at Trinity School cannot speak either English or French,'
'I had never heard any other language apart from Jèrriais and I never learnt to have a good understanding of English at the elementary school and that is why I did not pronounce it well but I was able to read it without difficulty.' These words were written by George Francis Le Feuvre - Georges d'la Forge - and I have heard a lot of you telling me that you would be able to say more or less the same thing.
But what a change has taken place today. Almost everybody has given up Jèrriais, even in the parishes. In the census of 1989 we find that less than one tenth of children under the age of fifteen years understood Jèrriais, yet there were still plenty of people who did not want to see the language disappear.
For instance Arthur Balleine left a lot of money in his will for the preservation and promotion of Jèrriais and Frank Le Maistre worked hard to change the attitudes toward Jèrriais, because the majority in his day considered that it was nothing more than a patois.
It was the Internet that gave us the opportunity to have regular contacts throughout the world with those who were interested in minority languages. In the Isle of Man, Brian Stowell, the officer for the Manx language, offered us some help. Jean Le Maistre asked the opinion of parents with children aged from six to eleven years and found, in principle, that there were more than 700 in favour of lessons in Jèrriais.
The States voted money to the Don Balleine to undertake a two-year trial and my work started. Dr Stowell sent me some books, which were used in the Isle of Man, and I spent many hours translating them from Manx into Jèrriais, I decided that it was necessary to print the books in colour and Le Don Balleine bought a magnificent computer which enabled me to design each page. When the first book was ready I carried out a trial at Grouville school for seven weeks Françouais Le Maistre and I taught Jèrriais to a dozen pupils. It was a great success and the children particularly liked the site I had made on the Internet.
Then I asked the parents again, telling them that we were going to have classes in Jèrriais, and this time 180 families enrolled their children from 21 schools.
A very interesting thing is that the majority had no tradition of speaking Jèrriais; sixty told me that they had parents who spoke it but more than ninety had not. Unfortunately it was not possible to offer classes in all the elementary schools this year but nevertheless I believe that we have made a good start.
I have two teaching assistants, Françouais Le Maistre and Geraint Jennings, but I want to find some volunteers to help us. If you wish to help for an hour each week, give me a call. We have a lot of work to do before we start in schools, books to print, preparing lesson plans and flash cards as well as updating the website on the Internet.
What is the point of all this? First of all it is to introduce Jèrriais into the school curriculum and in future to have regular classes to encourage children to take an interest in Jèrriais, and to put new life into the language.
In the future, we aim to establish a GCSE qualification. Never tell me that teachers lead a quiet life!
Tony Scott Warren - traduit par JRD
Liéthe l'articl'ye en Jèrriais
Tony Scott Warren
Teacher of Jersey Norman-French
MY favourite book I think is Rimes et Poèmes Jèrriaises, but then I'm weird.
It was published in about 1860 and is long out of print now, It's not just a book of poetry, it's got things like the 1846 account of Queen Victoria's visit, done as a dialogue between two women, and things like the opening of Rozel Barracks with lists of who was there and who they were.
People do say that Jèrriais is a spoken language rather than a written language, but I have got 12 big A4 folders chock full of Jèrriais from 1780 on, and I haven't even touched the JEP.
I don't have much time to read the English, it's only when I go away that I will read, usually things with an aviation theme, something like Richard Bach's short stories.
About 180 primary school children in 20 schools are starting a two-year course this term in Jèrriais - Jersey's traditional Norman-French language.
The first lessons were due to be held today at Springfield and Plat Douet Schools. The teachers are Jèrriais language teaching co-ordinator Tony Scott-Warren and Geraint Jennings, who has already put 1,000 pages of Jèrriais on to the Internet.
Both are members of Le Congrès des Parlers Normands et Jèrriais, a group which aims to increase the public's awareness of the Island's native language.
Mr Scott-Warren, who has studied the language for 14 years, has been teaching it in evening classes and last year ran a series of ten lessons in the language at Hautlieu School.
He said: 'There is an increasing interest in Jèrriais at the moment, reflected in the number of children interested in learning it, despite the fact that the lessons are extra-curricular. There is so much pressure on the timetable that it makes it impossible at the moment to give space for Jèrriais on the curriculum.
'In due course, one of the aims is to get it on to the Island curriculum. I think it will only be a matter of time before it is there.
If the current two-year course is successful, we hope to have Jèrriais taught in secondary schools and to have the equivalent of a GCSE exam in the language - as has already happened with Manx in the Isle of Man.'
Lessons are being given to children in years five and six, before or after school hours, during lunchtime or during the time that school assembly is held. Les Landes School is holding lessons at 7 pm in order to make the lessons more of a shared community event for children and their parents. Classes range in size from three to 15.
Lessons are orally based and enable the students to ask and answer simple questions and speak short conversational sentences. A text book entitled Lé Neu C'mîn (The New Way) has been prepared, based on a similar venture for learning Manx. Two further booklets are being prepared at the moment, and sponsorship is being sought to cover the costs.
The Jersey-French pages - begging their pardon, les pages Jèrriaises - on the Internet will soon reach their 1,000th page.
Webmaster - or again, to give him his authentic Jèrriais title, lé maitre-pêtre Geraint Jennings, has told me that the honour of filling the 1,000th page will go to the winner of a competition for sending in the best page.
Competitors should send their page to Mr Jennings by the end of this month and all entries received will be published on Les Pages Jèrriaises.
The winner will receive a bottle of calvados or the cash equivalent, whichever he or she prefers.
Mr Jennings has also made an index of the Jersey French titles which can be found in the St Helier Library, and he has indexed the articles by George d'la Forge, the pen name of George Le Feuvre, who wrote a Jèrriais column in the old Chroniques and the JEP from 1947 to 1981.
A display to promote Jersey Norman-French has been set up in the Library.
Entitled 'Jersey Norman-French is Fun', it includes publications dating back to the last century, music, excerpts from books, prints from the Internet and a book list to guide people through what the library has to offer on the subject.
The display is on show for two weeks, until 4 September, and senior reference librarian Heather Morton said that as material in Jersey Norman-French was scattered all over the library, this gave an overview of what was available.
'It is to promote the use of the language in the Island and interest in it, and that can only be a good thing,' she said.
Jersey Milk are expecting controversy over a slogan appearing on the new school milk cartons which are being introduced in January.
The new design follows an outcry earlier this year when Jersey Milk introduced school cartons with black and white Friesian cows, and schoolchildren complained about the absence of the Jersey breed.
The Jèrriais slogan 'Billy Bones dit: "Béthe le lait pouor d'meuther véthitabliément sain"' will greet schoolchildren when the milk cartons, showing a character representing the link between milk and healthy bones, are introduced, The slogan is a Jersey-Norman French translation of: 'Billy Bones says: "Drink milk to stay really healthy."
But there is more than one way of translating it into the Island's native language, according to Jersey Milk spokesman Peter Tabb. He said the Jersey-French scholar used by the company probably produced a St Ouennais translation and that the slogan would have been written differently in other parts of the Island.
Mr Tabb said: 'I am sure we are going to have a certain amount of criticism, A St Martinnais would translate it differently from a St Ouennais.
'It would always read the same, but the way the words are structured would change from one part of the Island to another. We are not trying to court controversy, but there may perhaps be a semantic discussion among Jersey-Norman French scholars and a bit of gentle controversy.
The new cartons will replace the black and white Friesian-themed design which prompted schoolchildren earlier this summer to put a petition together in protest.
Mr Tabb said: 'We bought the cartons because they were more user-friendly and came with pierceable holes for straws, but nobody noticed that they weren't Jersey cows. We have admitted it was an error and are having these cartons designed especially.
Devançant la "Journée mondiale des langues" de quelques jours, les Normands avaient choisi Jersey (dites "Jèrri") pour faire la fête autour de leur parler, avec les nuances et les saveurs de celui du Cotentin, du bocage virois et de celui des îles. Le nom de le fête est désormais consacré: les "Rouaisouns".
Les "Rouaisouns" (ou "Rouvaisons") étaient une tradition des pays catholiques qui se déroulait dans les jours précédant l'Ascension destinée à attirer les bénédictions de Dieu sur les récoltes et les travaux des champs. Joli symbole qu'ont choisi les défenseurs du normand pour appeler sur ce cher parler les faveurs de Dieu ou de ses saints, notamment le ministre de la Culture... Les "Rouaisouns" pour la défense et l'illustration du normand ont été célébrées pour la première fois en mai 1998 à Montebourg : des passionnés du parler de la province sont venus du Cotentin, de Guernesey, de Jersey, du Coutançais et du Bocage dire et chanter des textes anciens ou de leur composition. Au cours de le fête, Marie De Garis, une Guernesiaise qui avait consacré sa vie à écrire un "Dictiounnaire du dgernesiais", a reçu un chaleureux hommage pour son oeuvre.
Rendez-vous avait été donné à la conclusion des "Rouaisouns" de Montebourg pour celles de 1999, que Jersey était très tenté d'organiser. Ainsi assistait on à ce que tous ceux qui pensent que le normand est un fondement de notre identité espèrent voir devenir une tradition.
Le temps des pionniers
C'est en octobre 1996 qu'une poignée de Normands du continent et des îles avait décidé de faire front commun pour défendre, illustrer et pro mouvoir la langue normande. La première réunion rassemblait un petit groupe de Jersiais emmené par John Denize et le sénateur Jean Le Maistre (le fils de Franck, l'auteur du célèbre dictionnaire français - jersiais) et une délégation de Normands de la Manche, membres de l'Association Jersey - Coutançais et de l'équipe rédactionnelle du "Viquet" (traditions et parlers normands). L'objet: partager les expériences d'illustration et de promotion de la langue normande et faire front commun pour la dé fendre
A Jersey, à travers une revue, "Les Chroniques du Don Balleine", la langue normande continue son bonhomme de chemin. On a même créé une rencontre dans l'année où l'on présente devant jury ses compositions (poèmes, textes, dialogues), que l'on soit auteur en culottes courtes ou avec un talent déjà reconnu. A Coutances, l'Université populaire a sorti récemment un remarquable travail de grammaire du normand (ce qui n'avait jamais été fait). A Cherbourg, "Le Viquet" parle de lui-même et, dans le cadre de l'Université populaire, des soirées d'initiation à la pratique de la langue normande ponctuent l'année "scolaire". Il y avait là un travail suffisamment solide pour servir de base à une mise en commun continent - îles, d'autant qu'on était loin d'avoir épuisé tout ce qui se fait de part et d'autre du passage de la Déroute (des cours dans cinq collèges de la Manche, des veillées linguistiques à Guernesey animées par un groupe de jeunes "fêlés" de la langue de leur île et, si l'on s'étend à toute la Normandie: des classes patrimoine sur le thème de la culture et de la langue normande, des passages à la radio, à la télé ici ou là, sans compter l'immense travail des nombreux groupes folkloriques du bout de la Hague aux bords de la Bresle et de la forêt du Perche).
Fédérer tous les Normands
A la suite de la première rencontre d'octobre 1996, les Normands de chez nous sont allés à Jersey. Se sont alors constituées quatre commissions de travail l'enseignement du normand, la relation aux médias (pour une visibilité du travail accompli), les relations publiques et la commission folklore, traditions, fêtes.
A Jersey comme dans la Manche, les commissions ont commencé à travailler et l'on y retrouve, côté Normandie continentale, l'équipe du "Viquet" autour d'Eric Marie, Jacques Mauvoisin, Rémi Pézeril, des membres de Jersey -Coutançais comme Jean Levivier qui fait de son manoir de la Héronnière à Annoville un lieu de célébration de la culture normande, Hubert Godefroy, responsable du Musée rural de Boisjugan à Saint-Lô.
Pour la plupart, ils sont engagés dans les travaux de défense et de promotion des langues d'oïl aux côtés de Wallons, de Picards, de Bretons du pays gallo (la Bretagne non bretonnante), de Poitevins, de Mor vandiaux... Ils ont d'ailleurs publié un recueil de beaux textes de cette aire linguistique mal connue (car étouffée par le français dit "standard"), livre dans lequel la littérature du Cotentin et de Guernesey - Jersey côtoyait celle du Bessin, du Bocage et du Pays de Caux.
Alors, si à travers l'Association nationale de défense des langues d'oïl, on se côtoie entre Normands de l'Ouest et de l'Est, pourquoi ne pas le faire chez soi? Ainsi a germé l'idée de la fête, sa première réalisation à Montebourg en 1998 et les "Rouaisouns" de Jersey, samedi.
Jersey : un exemple
Jersey est un exemple de la prise de conscience de la nécessité de donner à la langue normande les moyens d'assurer sa promotion. Un "congrès des parlers normands et jèrriais" s'est créé, sous la présidence de John Denize, un normannophone distingué et passionné, et les Etats de Jersey ont voté pour 1999 la somme de "chinquante et eun mille louis" (51000 livres, soit cinq millions de francs) pour préparer une véritable politique du jèrriais auprès des scolaires, avec une prévision de doublement de la subvention pour l'an 2000. C'est ainsi qu'un ancien de Channel TV qui s'était déjà spécialisé dans les émissions en jèrriais, Tony Scott Warren, a été chargé par le département de l'Education de mettre en place l'enseignement de la langue normande dans les écoles primaires de l'île. "J'ai parlé à tous les directeurs des écoles de l'île, explique Tony. Un seul a dit non : il y a trop de Portugais dans ses classes. Les vingt-trois autres ont dit oui. Il faut dire que, lors d'un sondage réalisé auprès des parents d'élèves, plus de sept cents parents ont dit qu'ils aimeraient que leurs enfants apprennent le jèrriais et certains ont même ajouté qu'ils aimeraient l'apprendre eux-mêmes". Pourtant, seulement 2 500 Jersiais parlent couramment la vieille langue sur 85 000 habitants (et 6 000 autres le comprennent sans le parler) : une minorité.
Si donc ça marche si fort pour le normand de l'île, c'est que Jersey ressent comme "un risque pour son identité s'il perd sa langue originale."
Tony Scott Warren, dans ce contexte, se dit "hardi encouragé" dans sa tâche "Y a tant de bonheur à pâler lé jèrriais et à le faire aimer." Comblé, mais la tâche est immense : décision est prise de commencer les cours chez les 9 à 10 ans au rythme d'une demi-heure par semaine dès le rentrée d'août 1999 Tony vient de passer trois mois à préparer les livrets qui vont servir à l'enseignement du jèrriais, selon la méthode vivante de l'apprentissage des langues. Avec l'espoir de sortir un CD Rom "dans tchiques annaèes' Son problème de l'heure, c'est surtout de trouver des enseignants qui le relaient.
Jersey tient à sa langue. Et l'affirme très officiellement : sur les portes de la gare maritime, on est accueillis d'un sympathique "Séyiz les beinv'nus à Jerri" Et dans l'autre sens, on nous dit "A bétôt et à la préchaine"
La troisième édition des "Rouaisouns " aura lieu en 2000 et il y a même deux concurrents pour son organisation Guernesey et le Bessin. Pour Jacques Mauvoisin, l'objectif est bien de la rendre itinérante à travers la Normandie, des îles au Pays de Caux. Signe intéressant : il y avait trois jeunes d'Yvetot, près de Rouen, samedi à Jersey.
La Presse de la Manche 19/4/1999
A taste of France - Normandy to be precise - is being offered at Hamptonne Country Life Museum today, when La Fête Normande is held.
Starting at 10am, visitors will be able to enjoy songs and poems from Normandy, both live and over the PA when the performers are taking a break. Among those participating will be local Jerriais speakers Tony scott Warren, François Le Maistre and Eileen Le Sueur, and guests from Normandy and Guernsey will also be taking part.
Texts have been produced to help the audience folow the words of the songs and, no doubt, to join in with the singing if they like!
A number of stands will also be set up, with exhibits from L'Assembliée, Don Balleine and La Société Jersiaise to be browsed through, while a local basket maker will be showing off his weaving skills.
The café will be open to provide refreshments, with a full Jersey menu to include bean crock, conger soup and Jersey wonders. So don't miss out on this chance to spend a day with our French cousins during this celebration of language and culture which brings together the peoples of Jersey, Guernsey and Normandy.
A language teaching co-ordinator has been appointed for the teaching of Jèrriais in the Island.
Tony Scott Warren, who will take up the post in January, was appointed by the executive committee of Le Don Balleine trust and will be based at Highlands College.
'I am absolutely delighted. It is a major step forward for the language which is great news. It means that the future for teaching Jèrriais is more secure,' he said.
He added that the full-time position would initially be on a two-year trial basis and would involve devising a curriculum and selling the idea to teachers and parents.
Mr Scott Warren is a member of Le Congrès des Parlers Normands et Jèrriais, a group of Jèrriais speakers who aim to increase the general public's awareness of Jersey's native language.
He was a student of the language for 14 years and has been teaching it in evening classes for the last year.
In September he became one of three tutors running a series of ten lessons in the language at Hautlieu, a course which was taken up by 11 students.
One of the projects that Mr Scott Warren hopes to oversee is a new GCSE in the language. He said that the success of re-establishing Manx as a language in the Isle of Man was something those involved in reviving Jèrriais were hoping to replicate in Jersey.
The last native speaker of Manx died over 20 years ago, but with the help of tapes of people speaking the language its revival in schools has been a success and a GCSE course is available.
Having written a PhD thesis about Jèrriais, and published two books and ten articles or book chapters about it, I do not think that I can be accused of a lack of interest in it - or of being incompetent to speak about it.
I am genuinely sorry that it has gone into decline, but I think we must be realistic about things.
I have listened to Tony Scott-Warren on the radio telling us that Manx and Cornish Gaelic were dead, and have been resurrected - so how much easier it will be to save Jèrriais, which is not dead. Far be it from me to reproach Cornish and Manx patriots for trying to bring their Celtic vernaculars back to life - but their efforts, let us face it, are pretty artificial, since no one really knows what the dead language sounded like, and only a minuscule number of enthusiasts are involved.
As far as I know, nobody has suggested making Cornish or Manx compulsory school subjects, as seems to be on the cards here, with plans to introduce Jèrriais classes in the primary schools. There is another significant difference between the linguistic history of Cornwall and the Isle of Man, on the one hand, where Gaelic was ousted by English, and that of the Channel Islands, where English has largely ousted not only Jèrriais (and the vernaculars of the other islands), but French as well.
Mr Scott-Warren has made a start with voluntary classes at Hautlieu involving 11 volunteers from the sixth form. I can see no objection to voluntary classes, though we should not expect too much from them.
Local enthusiasts may think that children can be taught languages at school in no time, when the history of compulsory French in the primary schools should have taught them that language acquisition is not that easy, given that the standard of spoken and written French in Jersey is not at all high, except in families of French extraction, and not always in those.
It seems to me that to try and add classes in Jèrriais to existing classes in French is going to result in an even lower standard of attainment in the latter, since children will certainly tend to get the two mixed up. That is, of course, quite apart from the problem posed by adding another subject to a curriculum which is probably full enough.
It is perfectly reasonable to regard Jèrriais as part of Jersey's heritage. Let us not forget, however, that it is equally true that French is also a part of that heritage.
I was rather surprised to discover recently that the minutes of the parish assembly in St Martin were kept in French until 1969. We must not forget either that the language of the States and of religious services in rural parishes was not Jèrriais, but French in the first decades of this century.
We now have a situation where people are planning to drop French even from legal conveyancing, while others want compulsory classes in Jèrriais, even for the children of people who have no ethnic connection with Jersey, and no desire to learn it.
If we wish to have closer relations with Normandy - and most people seem to be in favour of that - that aim will be better served by building up greater competence in French than by trying to learn Jèrriais, which would be largely incomprehensible there, let alone in other francophone areas.
A lot of parents and children may have said they want classes in Jèrriais, but enthusiasm could well evaporate when children have had an actual experience of learning it, In other words, let us not rush blindly into compulsory classes because some enthusiasts think it would save Jèrriais; there is no way that they can replace learning a language at one's mother's knee - which has now become more or less impossible for lack of Jèrriais-speaking parents.
Compulsory classes would take up school time, they would cost money (£100,000 a year has been mentioned), they would confuse children unless they replaced lessons in French (which few people would surely favour), and it is far from clear that they would be successful in producing competence in Jèrriais or a love of it.
Hautlieu leads way with Norman French
HAUTLIEU is the first Island school to offer Jersey Norman-French (Jèrriais) lessons as part of the curriculum,
The series of ten Jèrriais lessons have been introduced as an option in the school's enrichment programme for sixth formers and 11 students have already taken it up.
Head teacher Lesley Greenwood said: 'What we are trying to do is make sure that young people can converse in the language of their island and understand their natural heritage,
'We are incredibly fortunate that we have some wonderful Jèrriais speakers,' The classes will be taught by members of Le Congrès des Parlers Normands et Jèrriais, a group of Jèrriais speakers who aim to increase the general public's awareness of Jersey's native language. The classes will be taught by at least three tutors at a time to express the different accents from around the Island.
Mrs Greenwood said: 'Who better to teach the language than those who speak it naturally and understand the history of the Island? These are people whose heritage is important to them and they want young people to learn about it.'
Tony Scott Warren, a member of Le Congrès and one of the tutors, was a student of the language himself for 14 years and has been teaching it in evening classes for the last year.
'You can't separate the language from the traditions of the Island, so we are integrating the two,' he added, 'Hopefully the students will be getting to see the Eisteddfod and even black-butter making. The language on its own would be awfully dry otherwise,' Senator Jean Le Maistre, also a member of Le Congrès, explained that when a questionnaire was distributed to primary schools around the Island a year ago, 740 families responded expressing a desire for their children to learn Jèrriais.
It was then discussed by Education and there are now ideas to perhaps embark on offering a two-year course in primary schools, although this has not yet been decided by the States.
Senator Le Maistre said that, as things were at the moment at Hautlieu, he thought it was 'quite remarkable' that 11 students had chosen to take up the subject. 'Language skills are vital,' he said, 'When a person has learned a second language, it is a springboard to a third and fourth. One of my objectives is to develop language skills in primary schools. 'Not many people know that Jèrriais is older than French and it is incredible that students are learning about the link between Jèrriais and Latin,
'It explains things like place names of the Island which people know nothing about and I think the students will enjoy learning Jersey names.'
Senator Le Maistre is hopeful that by the end of the ten weeks students will be able to express themselves with a range of words.
...The recent introduction of a course in Jerriais at Hautlieu School and the securing of States support for the funding of the study of Jerriais at primary schools demonstrate the determination of the Committee to promote Jersey's unique heritage and culture.
States of Jersey Education Commitee Five Year Strategy Plan
BECAUSE Jèrriais was spoken in temps passé, there is a tendency to believe that the only application of the language lies in the brave old days when Jerseymen were like brothers. and people kept their own cows and went to black butter evenings.
To prove that Jèrriais is also a contemporary language, Société Jersiaise (section de la langue Jèrriaise) member Geraint Jennings was asked to provide a few useful examples of vibrant and up to date Jèrriais - the sort of thing one might use every day He began by quoting top UK chanteuses Les Fil'yes d'Epice:
'Dis-mé chein qu'tu veurs, chein qu'tu vraîment, vraîment veurs . . .'
('Tell me what you want, what you really, really want . . . ').
Showing an impressive command of current affairs, Mr Jennings continued:
'J'tais brantchi la niet enchiéthé à seule fin dé dêchèrgi lé rapport dé Starr entouor lé Président Améthitchain sus l'ithangnie,'
('I was online the whole night in order to download the Starr report about the American President on the Web. ')
As for fashion . . . 'Mais M'mée, si la fil'ye à la Princesse Rouoyale peut aver la langue pèrchie, mé j'peurs aver eune boucl'ye d'bouton!'
('But mum, if the Princess Royal's daughter can have a pierced tongue, I can have a nipple ring!').
Moving on, and demonstrating a heartwarming degree of political incorrectness, Mr Jennings was prepared to brave the wrath of the animal rights harpies:
'Av'ous veu la dreine gamme dé compiuteu pouor les mousses Jèrriais? Lé gângnant est l'chein tchi tue lé pus d'mauves!'
('Have you seen the latest computer game for Jersey kids? The winner is the one who kills the most seagulls!').
And it becomes quite clear that Mr Jennings, too, watches television's most compulsive investigators of the paranormal. This is his convincing example of Foxtalk:
'Es "Dossièrs-X", à la télévîsion, Mulder dithait en Jèrriais: "Véthe, Scully, ma soeu fut enl'vée par eune souotâsse volante. La véthithé est là-horte. I'faut êt' ouvèrt ès possibilités extrêmes."
('In the "X-Files"on TV, Mulder would say in Jèrriais: "Yes, Scully, my sister was abducted by a flying saucer. The truth is out there. One must be open to extreme possibilities. " )
More examples of Jèrriais can be found on the Internet at http://members.societe-jersiaise.org/geraint/jerriais.html
Thoroughly modern Jèrriais
Jersey Norman-French is now being offered by Hautlieu School as a curricular subject for the first time.
ALASDAIR CROSBY finds that reports of the death of Jèrriais have been greatly exaggerated
IN 1066 the Norman army won the Battle of Hastings. One of the penalties of defeat for the English was that for the following three centuries they all had to learn Jersey Norman French - an experience from which the English language has never quite recovered.
However, the boot was on the other foot by the time the flood of English-speaking immigrants settled in Jersey from the 19th century onwards and began to send Jèrriais into what was always believed would be an irreversible decline.
The umbrella group for the Jersey Norman-French and Norman language associations, Le Congrès des Parlers Normands, is responsible for many recent initiatives, including the Jèrriais course at Hautlieu.
Its chairman, John Denize, said: 'Despite the influence of English, especially in St Helier, Jèrriais continued as the native language of many Jersey people until the years after the last war. Then many young Jersey people returned to the Island after their pre-war evacuation but not as Jèrriais speakers.
'The postwar years saw an influx of English tourists, Welsh tomato packers, Breton and then Portuguese farmworkers, English workers in the finance industry, and schoolteachers who saw no value in Jèrriais, and who laughed at children who spoke it at school. And of course there has been the pervasive influence of the modern Americanised subculture, dominated by the TV.'
In view of this, said Mr Denize, it was surprising that Jèrriais had survived at all. Yet it had, and it was enjoying a revival now because that was the case with minority languages everywhere.
Jèrriais had a head start on such languages as Manx and Cornish, he said, as both of those had actually died out (although they were now being resurrected with great success). In Jersey, on the other hand, Jèrriais was still a living language.
In 1989, the census found that out of a population of 82,809, just 5,720 were Jèrriais speakers. The vast majority of these were over 40, and almost half were over 65. It has now been estimated that there are about 5,000 Jèrriais speakers in the Island.
Many learning opportunities were available, said Mr Denize, from welcome signs in Jèrriais at the Airport to Jèrriais on the Internet, on the radio, in the pages of the JEP, and also now on a school's curriculum. 'Les Crapauds avanchent,' he said. 'The Crapauds are on the march!'
JERRIAIS, like all living languages, is evolving. To the melting-pot of celtic Gaulish and germanic Frankish from which modern French emerged, a Scandinavian element was added by the conquest by 9th century Viking freebooters of the part of France which became known as the land of the people of the North - Normandy.
When Jersey itself became part of the Duchy of Normandy in 933, the language of the Island became Norman. However, its geographic isolation, followed by its political isolation after the loss of Normandy by the English crown in 1204, caused the language of Jersey to develop differently, even from the closely related Norman-French which was spoken on the mainland.
An example often quoted arc the Jersey names incorporating 'Les Mielles', meaning 'dunes' Although modern French and English now both use the word 'dune', Jersey Norman-French has hardly altered the Norse word 'mjelr'.
Songs and poems
The works of the mediaeval Jersey poet Maistre Wace, notably 'Le Roman de Rou' (which has been called the first epic in modern European literature), contributed to the development of literary French, but the first known modern work in Jèrriais was penned in 1795 by Matthieu Le Geyt, who wrote some lines praising the beneficial effect of tobacco.
Among 19th century writers in Jèrriais were the satirist Philippe Asplet, and the Bailiff Sir Robert Pipon Marett, whose songs and poems were called by a contemporary critic 'little masterpieces of emotion and tenderness'.
Other names within the past century include the writers Henri Luce, Augustus Asplet Le Gros and Philippe Le Sueur Mourant, who wrote the comic adventures of the proud St Ouen 'Chent'yi' (Centenier) and farmer, Bram Billot.
Since 1908, competitions in Jèrriais have been a part of the annual Eisteddfod. Despite a continual anglicisation of Island life, there has been an equal determination not to let the light of Jersey's traditional language burn out.
More recent times have seen the publication of the 'Dictionnaire Jersiais Français' (1966) by Frank Le Maistre, and works by many other writers, These include author and columnist George Le Feuvre, who wrote a JEP column titled 'Les Lettres du Buonhomme George' and the Jersey-born diplomat Sir Arthur de la Mare, who in his retirement wrote the column 'Les Countes d'eun Ervenu' by 'le vièr Trin'tais'.
The JEP will shortly be publishing a series of articles researched by Le Congrès des Parlers Normands et Jèrriais.
There is to be a States grant for a few children to learn Jersey Norman-French. Probably they will only have each other to talk to.
Both avid promoters of this minority mother tongue have good old Jersey names - Scott-Warren and Jennings.
Radio Jersey have a totally boring session on Mondays which most people switch off, so let those who want to learn pay for evening classes, like most of us do for any other subject.
A Two-year pilot programme to teach Jersey Norman-French to schoolchildren was given the go-ahead by the House.
Only one Member voted against Education's proposition to spend a total of £121,000 from the General Reserve teaching Jèrriais to 7-11 year olds.
The debate was opened by the president of the Education Committee, Senator Len Norman, who said that the House had a great opportunity to preserve a language that he thought was going to die.
He said that he was overwhelmed by the response that a recent questionnaire had received from children and adults interested in learning Jersey's traditional language, with almost 1,000 giving a positive response.
Senator Norman told the House that they were being presented with the proposition for funding because, if it were put to decision-conferencing, 'there would be no way we could justify it'.
But although speaker after speaker supported the plan, Deputy Jerry Dorey (St Helier No 1) was unimpressed.
He said that there was a danger of confusing young children who were also trying to learn French, and added that just 'throwing money at something' was not a solution,
He said that learning a language needed motivation and, although he supported the principle of Jèrriais, the proposition might fail to realise its intention.
But Maurice Dubras (St Lawrence) appeared to speak for many when he responded to Deputy Dorey's comments by saying: 'This is an issue of culture, and you can't put a price on it.'
One of the most powerful advocates of introducing the language back into school, albeit on a temporary, pilot basis, was Senator Jean Le Maistre, who said that it was crucial that the Island preserved its 'living language' ,
He added that in the past it was forbidden to speak Jèrriais and that people would be punished if they dared utter the Island's native verse.
But Senator Le Maistre said it was important that it was preserved, not just for cultural and historical aspects, but for simple language development.
'It is a fact that research has proved that children instructed in a second language have aptitude to pick up a third, fourth and even fifth language,' he said.
Taking up his theme that additional languages were to be applauded were Senator Corrie Stein, Deputy Imogen Nicholls (Grouville) and Deputy Henry Coutanche (St Lawrence).
But Deputy Simon Crowcroft (St Helier No 2) queried the figures contained in the proposition.
In the first year of the scheme a Jèrriais language officer will be employed on a salary of £36,000 and a study development cost will be £15,000.
In the second year, in addition to the language officer, £28,000 has been earmarked for assistant teachers with another £6,000 for course materials and expenses. Also concerned was Senator Stuart Syvret, who said he supported the proposition but added that just the mere teaching of a language would not revive it. He said that it 'needed to be spoken'.
St Ouen Constable Ken Vibert, however, said that more than 40 per cent of the visitors at his parish hall spoke to him in his traditional mother tongue.
Finance and Economics president Senator Frank Walker explained how, originally, the committee had been unable to support the proposition and its demand for funding from the General Reserve.
The committee had argued that the money should come from Education's £55 million budget, but the Senator said that, during the weekend, he had thought about the matter and now admitted that his committee had got it wrong.
He said that funds would be forthcoming from the General Reserve provided Education gave three assurances.
These were that the pilot scheme ran just two years, that the figures in the report were not exceeded and that, if it continued, Education would fund the programme from their own cash limits,
The result of the appel nominal was as follows:
For Senators Shenton, Horsfall, Rothwell, Le Maistre, Stein, Quérée, Bailhache, Syvret, Norman, Walker, Kinnard; the Constables of St Clement, St Mary, St Brelade, St Peter, Grouville, St Helier, St Martin, St Ouen, St John, Trinity and St Saviour; Deputies Baudains and Le Cornu (St Clement); Le Sueur, Baudains, Johns, Routier, Le Main and Crowcroft (St Helier); Coutanche and Dubras (St Lawrence); Le Geyt, Pullin, Duhamel and Breckon (St Saviour); Layzell, Vibert and de la Haye (St Brelade); Nicholls (Grouville); Hill (St Martin). Total: 41.
Against: Deputy Dorey (St Helier). Total: 1.
The Education Committee are planning to carry out a survey to establish whether parents would support the teaching of Jersey Norman-French in primary schools.
Senator Jean Le Maistre approached the committee in June with a proposal for introducing the subject as an extra-curricular activity in a similar way to the teaching of the Manx language in the Isle of Man. He believes that the teaching of Jersey Norman-French would help to ensure that an important part of the Island's heritage was preserved and would also have the benefit of improving language skills in young children.
'It is becoming important for today's business people to be multilingual, and this is especially true of the tourism industry, which is so important to Jersey,' said Senator Le Maistre.
Senator Le Maistre said that Education had responded enthusiastically. 'They said they would be happy to pursue the idea in primary schools if there was a good enough response from parents. It is my understanding that they were proposing to carry out a survey early in the new school year.'
Education president Deputy Len Norman confirmed that this was still their intention, but said that in the meantime they had asked Senator Le Maistre to investigate the availability of tutors for the subject.
'If we do decide to introduce Jersey Norman-French, it will have to be as an extra-curricular subject because of the crowded timetable,' he said.
Senator Le Maistre has now written to heritage groups such as Le Don Balleine and the Société Jersiaise to canvass their opinions. He has already had positive feedback from some organisations. He is confident that the proposed survey of parents and families will also produce a favourable response.
'We are in a similar position to the Isle of Man, which has been making strenuous efforts to promote and preserve its own language and history,' he said. 'In the Isle of Man in 1989 a MORI-type poll indicated that 40 per cent of parents would support the teaching of the Manx language in schools.'
On those figures, the Manx Education Committee estimated that between 500 and 600 pupils would take up the opportunity to study the language at primary school level, but in fact when the programme was set up they had 2,000 children enrolling in the classes.
Senator Le Maistre said: 'They now employ two full-time peripatetic Manx language teachers to cater for children who opt to study it as an extracurricular activity - and demand is still growing.
'This is extremely impressive when you consider that the size of their school population is similar to ours.'
The richness of Jersey's history and heritage is mirrored by the expressiveness of its language, says Mari Jones.
Miss Jones, a lecturer in French at Cambridge University, has been spending the last few weeks in the Island researching the differences in speech patterns and pronunciations found within the Jersey Norman-French language.
She intends to use the material she has collated to raise awareness of the Jersey language and to highlight the similarities that exist with the Norman language spoken by William the Conqueror nearly 1,000 years ago.
'It's incredible that for such a small place there is so much variation in the way the language is spoken in the different parishes,' Miss Jones said.
'I have heard at least five or six different accents and noticed lots of small differences in the pronunciation of certain words and phrases.'
In order to carry out her research - which has taken the form of 50 tape-recorded interviews with Jèrriais speakers from all parts of the Island she has had to learn the language herself.
Remarkably, this was accomplished in a few short weeks, although Miss Jones explained that the task was made easier because of her understanding of the formation and structure of both standard and old French 'which in many ways are very similar'.
'I am very interested in languages anyway and don't find picking up new ones very difficult, but Jersey Norman-French was fun to learn because the language is so expressive,' she said.
'For example, there is no direct translation of the phrase 'to show off' in Jersey Norman French; instead you would say that someone is competing for attention in much the same way as a dog would do, which is such a pleasing and vivid image.'
As well as researching material for her article Miss Jones explained that part of the course she taught at Cambridge explored the development of the French language in places such as Senegal and Quebec and that she was keen to incorporate Jersey Norman-French into this area of study.
'One of the most interesting characteristics of the Jersey language is its similarity to the old French which was spoken pre-1200 and a lot of my teaching involves the study of Norman-French texts from this period,' she added.
While in the Island she has also spent time checking out gravestones in the parish cemeteries as the wording on the inscriptions are an excellent indication of the language in use at the time.
'It is noticeable that from the 1940s and 1950s onwards they show a big surge in the use of English as opposed to the native Jèrriais,' she said.
Although Miss Jones is returning to Cambridge this weekend she intends to return to the Channel Islands next Easter to carry out further research once she has finished her other current project - a book investigating the evolution of dialects within the Welsh language.
Indeed she is well steeped in the Celtic language, having been born and brought up in the Rhymney Valley.
She then attended a Welsh-speaking school from 4 until the age of 18, before going on to study for her first degree at Aberystwyth.
'I am looking forward to returning to Jersey especially as 1 have been made so welcome during my stay. Everyone is very friendly and 1 have really enjoyed myself.'
But then as Les Jèrriais would say, 'A rithe et à badinner nou n'sé câsse pon les dents' (to laugh and to joke you don't smash your teeth!)
In other words, 'be happy'.
Jersey Norman French could be taught in primary schools if parents give the go-ahead in a survey being prepared by the Education Committee.
In an effort to preserve the almost extinct local dialect Senator Jean Le Maistre has approached the committee, with a view to introducing classes as an extra-curricular activity.
His reasoning is that as well as going some way to ensuring that Jersey's traditional language is maintained and introduced to young people, the classes would improve language skills among children.
Education president Deputy Len Norman said their intention was to carry out a survey early in the new school year, although the lack of availability of tutors for the subject - as well as the already busy school schedule could present problems.
'If we do decide to introduce Jersey Norman French, it will have to be as an extra-curricular subject because of the crowded timetable,' he said.
Senator Le Maistre has the support of some of Jersey's local heritage groups who wish to see some form of local culture, distinct from that of the UK, maintained.
He is confident that the proposed survey of parents and families will also produce a favourable response.
'We are in a similar position to the Isle of Man, which has been making strenuous efforts to promote and preserve its own language and history,' he said.
'It is becoming important for today's business people to be multilingual, and this is especially true of the tourism industry, which is so important to Jersey.
However, Senator Le Maistre has yet to demonstrate how learning a local dialect can prepare children for today's business world, which is becoming increasingly international, or argue its effectiveness in the outside world.
Life for a clerk in Hill Street in 1931 was little changed from the time of Charles Dickens, according to an article in the latest edition of Les Nouvelle Chroniques du Don Balleine.
L L Huelin describes the daily chores of copying contracts and letters, and dusting parchment pages with chalk to stop the ink running, which he experienced as a 16-year-old junior.
In those days all the employees of Crill and Benest at 24 and 26 Hill Street were Jerseymen and Jersey Norman-French was the language commonly used between them.
Mr Benest always spoke to them in Jèrriais but Mr Crill always addressed them in English and young Huelin earned the princely sum of £20 a year for his efforts.
The Nouvelles Chroniques are always a veritable bran-tub of hidden treasures, and this edition includes a thought-provoking poem by Anthony Scott Warren about the memories that words bring us. Say 'cahouain' - Owl - and in his mind's eye he can see every feather, and 'the silent death of the imprudent mole'.
Joan Tapley points out, in one of her fascinating articles on the Jersey language that the custom of calling each new generation of children by traditional family names, like Philippe and Edouard, once led to a profusion of nicknames to identify friends and neighbours.
You might have Ph'lippe lé Plionmi, who was the local plumber, or Jean Lé Pitcheux, who worked as a stonemason.
Some names were given in fun so that,' when tall Jean married little Eva they were known as 'la P'tite Vainne et l'Grand J'va', that is 'the little cart and the big horse'.
The introduction of Jersey Norman-French into primary schools came one step closer on Saturday at a meeting organised by l'Association Jersey-Coutançais at Carteret.
Teachers of Norman-French in Coutances and the surrounding area exchanged ideas with teachers of Jèrriais and representatives of organisations promoting Jersey Norman-French, including the Société Jersiaise, L'Assembliée d'Jèrriais and Le Don Balleine.
The Education Committee have agreed to carry out a survey of parents to assess the level of interest in Jersey Norman-French, initially as an extra-curricular subject held either after school or at lunchtime.
The weekend meeting was the first time that speakers from both Jersey and Normandy had come together to share their common language and resources.
Discussion ranged from promoting the language through the media and the Internet, to raising the status of Norman French among young people and the publication of teaching materials for use in schools.
Senator Jean Le Maistre, who attended the meeting, said he was also investigating the possibility of encouraging school exchanges to Normandy.
He explained that whereas there were links between Jersey schools and areas of Brittany, there were currently few exchanges with the area that gave Jersey its cultural and linguistic roots.
At the time of the 1989 census report there were 5,720 speakers of Jèrriais, but less than one per cent were under 15 years of age. The vast majority were over the age of 40, and 45 per cent were over 65.
The chairman of l'Association Jersey-Coutançais, John Denize, said that the situation was serious and the first task would be to combine expertise from both Jersey and Normandy to try to change the attitude of the population. Sub-groups have been set up and the group hope to meet again in Jersey in the spring.
Congrès des parlers normand et jerriais, samedi, à Carteret. Une cinquantaine de participants dont dix-sept Jersiais, ont mis en commun les actions menées des deux côtés de la Déroute pour sauvegarder leur langue. Première urgence: réhabiliter la langue normande auprès des plus jeunes.
Membres de l'Université populaire normande ou du groupe Charles Frémine, rédacteurs du « Viquet » ou de « Don Balleine », enseignants de jerriais et normand, depuis de nombreuses années, ils se battent pour sauvegarder leur langue. Une langue commune entre « Normands de la grand terre » et « cousins des îles ». Une langue qui, pourtant, tombe en désuétude et ne serait plus parlée que par les aînés. Devant l'urgence, Normands et Jersiais ont tenté d'envisager ensemble les actions à mener. Pour Jean Levivier, président de I'Université populaire normande du Coutançais, « il faut maintenir ce qui peut étre sauvé du normand et développer si possible».
THE recent monthly meeting of L'Assembliée took place at St Lawrence Parish Hall, where members were treated to an evening's entertainment from Les Conteurs Singers.
As usual, the standard of singing was excellent. The repertoire included songs ranging from 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' to 'Love Changes Everything' and 'Onward Christian Soldiers' and was much appreciated by the packed audience.
A surprise was in store when soloist Barbara Pallot sang 'Ma Normandie' to loud applause, and conductor Eric Le Conte sang 'Dix Pids d'Haut'- albeit in English!
In order to allow the singers to catch their breath, Eileen Le Sueur and Constance de Gruchy each performed recitations which the audience greatly enjoyed.
L'Assembliée president Howard Cabot thanked Les Conteurs Singers, Mrs Le Sueur and Miss de Gruchy for their entertainment and the social committee for organising such an enjoyable evening, which ended with a 'suppe', after which members made their way home still humming their favourite melodies.
Jersey Evening Post, Friday 6 May 1994
The January meeting of L'Assembliée was organised by the student members and was judged an outstanding success with over 140 members and friends enjoying an evening at the award winning Jersey Museum.
The evening was entitled 'Le Vrai Jerri Ervue' and began with a film show of old film arranged by Jon Carter of the Jersey Film Archive Service.
Such was the demand that three showings took place during the course of the evening and members much enjoyed looking back at Jersey's past with some of the film dating back as far as 1910.
As well as the film show, mernbers were free to wander around the Museum itself, which remained open ail evening, and had an opportunity to study the many displays and artefacts arranged by Michael Day and his team.
Everyone expressed themselves delighted with the results, but resolved to press the Museum Service to more fully recognise the rôle of Jerriais in the Island's past.
During the evening a two minute silence was held in memory of two members, Harold Vibert and Edwin Cabot, who had recently passed away.
L'Assembliée president Howard Cabot thanked the students and museum staff for ail their hard work.
Jersey Evening Post, Tuesday 15 March 1994
The annual Christmas Service was held as usual on the Saturday before Christmas at St Andrew's Church and was well attended with nearly 200 members and friends celebrating the festive season with a traditional service of carols and lessons.
Leading the service this year was Mrs Kathleen Le Maistre, and L'Assembliée choir and readers all contributed to make the celebration one to remember for all present.
The monthly meeting was held afterwards in St Andrew's Hall with the minutes being taken by the secretary, Mrs Joyce Gilbert.
Following this a most enjoyable supper was enlivened by the appearance of Papa Noue with presents for ail, this year accompanied by his Fairy Helper.
Mr Howard Cabot, the president, made a short speech thanking the Committee Dramatique for organising the evening and the Rev Springham for allowing the use of the church and hall.
The president reminded members that outstanding subscriptions should be sent to the new treasurer, Mr Graham Ireson, and he wished all the members a Bouonne Noue et Bouonne Année before confirming that the next meeting was to be held at the Jersey Museum on Friday 28 January starting at 7.30 pm sharp, and was to be an evening of films shown by the Jersey Film Archive Service.
Jersey Evening Post, Tuesday 11 January 1994
Le prix littéraire du Cotentin 93 remis dans le cadre de cette assemblée normande a été attribué aux « Nouvelles Chroniques Don Balleine » de Jersey.Les « Nouvelles Chroniques Don Balleine » sont une revue trimestrielle intégralement rédigée en "jersiais", le patois de l’île de Jersey très proche de notre patois du Cotentin, comme "une fidélité aux liens historiques". Les meilleurs écrivains de l’île s’y expriment et traitent des sujets les plus divers relations de voyages, questions de vocabulaire, agriculture, pèche, problèmes actuels du monde, souvenirs d’enfance etc. Cette “fidélité aux liens historiques" a été cette année récompensée par le prix littéraire du Cotentin. La délégation de Jersey qui a reçu le prix était présidée par John Pépin Le Sueur, connétable de Saint-Jean. La Presse de la Manche 23/8/1993
John Pépin Le Sueur a offert à ses hôtes de l’Assemblée normande, dimanche à Quettehou, quelques mots d’un humour anglais pétillant agréablement au patois normand. Le connétable de Saint-Jean de Jersey recevait, au nom de l’équipe du « Don Balleine », le grand prix littéraire du Cotentin.Attribué pour la troisième fois depuis sa création à des "Jerriais” (Jersiais), le prix littéraire du Cotentin récompense pour la première fois un ouvrage collectif, les Chroniques du Don Balleine. L’appelation demande quelques explications. Ecrites en pur jersiais, c’est-à-dire en vrai normand (rien à voir avec ce « français déculotté » dont se gaussait l’abbé Lelégard), les « Chroniques du Don Balleine » sont la mémoire normande d’une île qui ne sait plus aujourd’hui que commercer en anglais. Elles portent le nom de leur mécène, Arthur Edwine Balleine qui fit don de son bien, à sa mort en 1943, pour la préservation de la langue jersiaise, la vraie, la sienne, la nôtre, la normande. A l’origine, en 1951, lorsqu’elles furent créées par "l’assembliée d’Jerriais", ces chroniques portaient le nom de "Bulletin de Quart d’an" (une appelation plus jolie que "bulletin trimestriel"). Franck Le Maistre, auteur d’un dictionnaire jersiais-français, en assurait la publication, Elles durent interrompre leur parution en 1977, mais furent relancées en 1981, sous leur nom de « chronfques du Don Balleine ‘. En 1988, Franck Le Maistre, victime d’un accident de santé, passait la main à une équipe de passionnés et les "Chroniques" devenaient les "Nouvelles Chroniques". Elle sont toujours au rendez-vous et leurs auteurs, à voir leurs airs réjouis dimanche, semblent contents du résultat dû "au travail et à la ténacité d’une poignée de gens descendus des ancêtres normands et huguenots", lis ne sont pas les seuls à en être satisfaits puisque l'Assemblée Normande leur a remis le Prix littéraire du Cotentin, ce qui est "du prestige pour nous" soulignait John Pépin Le Sueur en empochant prestement, ("je suis un vrai Normand") le chèque accompagnant le prix. Ouest-France 23/8/1993
He was just 14 months younger than the newspaper whose columns he illuminated for so long with a clear vernacular twinkle and, in more ways than one, George d'la Forge was from another world.
In the purely physical sense, his writing, crammed with childhood souvenirs and simple wisdom, came home to its Jersey roots from the vast, brash world of North America, which he made his home for 65 years.
More importantly by far, it also came from a long-gone, turn-of-the-century world whose values were framed by farm, Church and Militia, and where the good neighbours of a community half the size of today's almost all spoke Jersey's native tongue as fluently as George Le Feuvre, son of a St. Ouen blacksmith, was later to write for us in over 900 Norman-French articles.
The decline of that fully-formed, expressive and unique language in the face of rampant anglicisation is nothing short of a tragedy, but - thanks in large part to the dedication of men like George Le Feuvre and his fellow scholars from the western parishes - it is not yet a disaster. swept almost out of earshot for half a century, it survives against the odds, and there are signs of a revival of interest to encourage those who must now continue the work interrupted by his peaceful death at a venerable age.
It is vital work, for Bouanhomme George's world of hearth and harvest, and the words which he invoked it, are far more than quaintly bucolic irrelevances to anyone who genuinely cares about Jersey's claim to an independent identity.
It is not fanciful to suggest that George d'la Forge gave a voice to the spirit of the land and, in celebrating his fine achievements, it seems fitting to echo the old Jersey toast that wishes "...Et l'Paradis à la fîn d'vos jours."
Many also of course spoke "Le haut Français", the standard French of the time, as also English - although the latter much less so in toto.
To repeat, Jèrriais was indeed the very normal language spoken, not only by the "common people" but by almost "toute la noblièche dé l'île" (all the nobility of the Island). It was indeed their mother tongue. Many, of course, knew no English at all - there was no occasion for them to know that language. However, a great number were tri-lingual. The latter today, en passant, would still be some 10,000 or so.
The change in language as in everything else is, I know, unbelievable, but as regards the speech, especially of the population, there were still some 30,000 who could converse in Jèrriais up to the last war, out of over 50,000. And, again, not only by the "common people"!
Dr. Frank Le Maistre
Le Don Balleine, the trust set up under the will of the late Mr Arthur Balleine to preserve and promote the Jersey Norman-French language, has taken its third major step towards achieving that aim.
The trust has asked language expert Mr Paul Birt to start work on the preparation of a textbook, incorporating a grammar, that will enable readers to teach themselves the language.
His book, when finished, will complement Dr Frank Le Maistre's "Dictionnaire Jersiais-Français", published in 1966, and the five double-sided tapes of the spoken language, each accompanied by a booklet, which were released in 1979.
Mr Birt is the assistant editor of the Welsh Academy's new English-Welsh Dictionary and is based at the University College of North Wales, Bangor.
His interest in the study of bilingual societies, and the general problem of minority interests, stems from a period when he lived in a French-speaking region of Canada.
Mr Birt later returned to Wales to study French, Welsh, and philosophy, gaining a BA Honours degree, and subsequently he went on to study Breton, Cornish, and modern Irish, obtaining an MA degree for his work.
He became interested in Jersey Norman-French following a visit to the island in 1975.
He said: "I had heard of the language before then, but I was not sure if I would actually hear any spoken while I was in Jersey. To my delight, though, l was able to eavesdrop on some fishermen in Grève de Lecq, and one of them was kind enough to teach me a few words."
"I bought George d'la Forge's book, 'Jèrri Jadis', read the 'Dictionnaire Jersiais-Français', and began corresponding with Dr Le Maistre. But I was not able to speak the language until l eventually received the tapes."
Apart from the opportunity of practising the language, Mr Birt explained that the purpose of his present visit was half holiday and half discussions with Le Don Balleine to determine what sort of book the trust want.
He explained that the book would be along the line of the Teach Yourself books "It will not be an academic work, but more a handbook that anyone could use", he said.
Mr Birt said that he believed the Jersey language would survive, but only if a lot of young people began to learn it.
He added: "It really needs to be taught in the schools, and l understand that some people are talking along those lines, with the book being used in some form, perhaps in the sixth year."
"But once a movement is started and young people become interested then a language will thrive, which is what we have found in Wales and other countries."
Mr Birt was accompanied to the Island by his wife, Siân, a Welsh speaker who also has an interest in the Jersey language.
Another award has come the way of Dr. Frank Le Maistre, the Prix Olivier Basselin for a poem in the Norman-French section of the open competition "Renaissance de la Poésie en Normandie". It was organized by the Délégation Régionale de Normandie de la Société des Poètes et Artistes de France.
Dr. Le Maistre's winning entry, composed during the Occupation, was his interpretation in Jersey Norman-French of Edward Fitzgerald's famous translation of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.
The award is named after Olivier Basselin, the 15th century poet of Vire, Normandy, who composed satirical songs that were at first in vogue in the Val, or Vau, de Vire, the Valley of the Vire. Becoming much more widely known, these Vaux de Vire were eventually called vaudeville.
This latest distinction comes within a year of Dr Le Maistre being made by the French Government an Officier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques.
His other honours include Docteur ès Lettres (honoris causa) of the University of Caen; Member of the Royal Academy of Upsala, Sweden; Member of the Academy of Arts, Sciences and Belles Lettres of Caen and a Membre d'Honneur of La Société Jersiaise.
Dr Le Maistre has also won the Prix Littéraire du Cotentin and is the holder of the Bronze Medal of the National Centre for Scientific Research accorded by the French Ministry of Education.
Jersey Norman-French is not dead, said Senator Reg Jeune, president of the Education Committee, in reply to a question from Deputy Dick Buesnel (St Helier No. 2)about the steps the committee are taking to encourage the preservation of the language.
Deputy Buesnel asked "In order to preserve and encourage the speaking of Jèrriais, will the president initiate a five-year programme of substantial prize awards in both junior and senior categories to promote our cultural heritage?"
In reply, Senator Jeune said that provided sufficient numbers of students enrol and tutors are available, then adult education classes at Highlands and Les Quennevais will continue.
The committee would be pleased, he added, to receive any specific suggestions from Deputy Buesnel, other States Member, or member of the public as to any reasonable steps the committee should take to assist.
The brief discussion was ended by Deputy Jean Le Maistre (St Helier No. 3), who made a statement in Jèrriais, which he explained afterwards was a light-hearted jibe at Deputy Buesnel and Senator Jeune.
Some time ago I received a letter from the BBC. My name was picked out of the telephone directory and I was asked whether I would answer questions about the Radio Jersey programmes - my likes and dislikes - which I duly did.
As I understand that Jersey Norman-French is on the decline, I mentioned that occasionally a conversation in the language would be appreciated.
The other day I was talking to the manageress of the dairy in the market and I was telling her about it. I heard her talk in Jersey Norman-French and she was ever so excited and more or less took it as a fait accompli.
Now what have I done! When I mention it to others they all think it is a good idea - nothing like the Welsh - too stupid for words. Surely there must be someone in the Island that can invent a family like the Archers on radio or Coronation Street or Crossroads concerning the Island.
In the Evening Post you have a letter from George de la Forge. I can't speak our language, only French, but I can sort it out. On the rare occasion I can't make out certain words, I can guess them. I usually cut out these letters and send them to friends in Normandy, Brittany, Paris, Provence, Canada, even Tahiti - they all love them and of course they all speak French.
I can't do anything on my own. I need help and advice. What do your readers really think of the possibility?
I know it would take time but I still think it is a good idea and might do a good turn to someone in the Island with imagination, so I leave it to your readers to decide what to do.
Miss J. Boudin
After reading Meridian recently concerning the late remarkable Philip Luce and his equally remarkable sister Eva, now in her 97th year, I would wish to add just a few more notes.
We corresponded for many years, always in our native Jersey language, and he contributed on several occasions rhyme and prose also in Jèrriais to L'Assembliée's Bul. d'Quart d'An... He was 64 years away, but remained tri-lingual throughout his long life, his sister and he frequently conversing in the Jersey language. He could never understand why many folk here in his native Island, of Jersey stock, had become so indolently content, as he would say, "to bother only with English". At my instigation, in 1963 or 1964, he specially recorded on tape in a perfect Jersey Norman-French as he had spoken it in his youth, an account of his 60 years of life away - of extreme historic interest...
Dr. F. Le Maistre, OBE
...The 824 pages of this monumental work include a section entitled "Songs of the Channel Islands", in the preparation of which Dr. Frank Le Maistre collaborated closely with the editor. Because this weighty volume had to be priced beyond the reach of many a pocket, Le Don Balleine, the body that seeks to preserve and promote the Jersey language, thought that access to the Channel Islands section would be greatly eased if it were available as a separate booklet...
"Folk Songs of the Channel Islands" might perhaps stimulate L'Assembliée d'Jèrriais to emulate the Guernsey folk singers of La Guaine du Vouest in making recordings of these traditional songs.
...In his acceptance speech, Dr. Lebarbenchon especially praised the dialectal and lexicographical work of Dr. Le Maistre, who later received the Médaille de la Ville de Querqueville...
...latest work is entitles "Des filles, une sorcière, Dame Toumasse et quelques autres"...
...Dr. Lebarbenchon not only scored a major "first" with his doctoral study but has also proved an innovator in publishing this anthology on the theme of women of Jersey, Guernsey and the Cotentin as depicted in the verse of some of their vernacular poets...
...Sir Robert Pipon Marett, August Asplet Le Gros and Dr. Frank Le Maistre, of Jersey... provide their own particular evocations, be they humorous, merry or fanciful, nostalgic, gentle or dramatic. Some 150 years of published works are covered by the collection...
During the course of his long and productive life-time, the promise of the "American Dream" has been turned into a reality by Mr. George Le Feuvre, a man perhaps better known in Jersey as George d'la Forge...
Although the language in which he chooses to express himself, and the affection he feels for that language mark him as a true Jerseyman, Mr. Le Feuvre has been a naturalized citizen of the USA since 1933...
In fact, on his retirement in 1946 at the age of 55, he chose to divide his time between his birth-place and his adopted home...
His home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is only one of the interesting addresses which may appear at the head of his letters to the JEP. He often stays with his daughter, who lives in san Antonio, Texas, or one of his surviving brothers, whose homes are in Michigan.
Jeray and the Jersey language - which he insists is not a patois, having been a fully-formed language at the time of William the Conqueror - are central interests in George Le Feuvre's life.
Besides his contributions to the JEP, which have so far numbered well over 700 letters, he has written two books in the only tongue he knew until the age of seven...
Unfortunately, he feels that it is inevitable that both Jersey-Norman French, and the culture in which it is based, are doomed.
One is forced to agree. Fewer families are bothering to pass on the linguistic skills of previous generations to their offspring, and Jersey itself is rapidly gaining a bland identity scarcely distinguishable from any other part of Britain...
The other afternoon in Minden Place, a man in his late 40s met another man and his wife. They were conversing loudly and convivially. Neither English nor French visitors passing by could have possible made sense of the cross-talk. Their bewilderment would have been because the conversation was being carried out in Jersey Norman French.
I found the fact slightly unusual because the trio were by no means elderly. It seems that even in town the vernacular may be heard still on occasion, as in script it may be read in your newspaper.
...I conclude with a well-known Jersey saying - "Tous n'vaient pon du meme yi". And this reminds me to tell Monsieur Wood our ancient Jerriais is a language in its own right, and that the pejorative term "patois" is more aptly to be used for much of the English spoken and heard in this Island and elsewhere today.
Dr. Frank Le Maistre
It is strange how news travels to distant parts of the world through this newspaper and the Jersey Weekly Post. Reports of the unfortunate death of a member of the JEP tour party in Bangkok last October finally reached George d'la Forge in Trenton, Michigan, and from there he sent his weekly article in Jersey Norman-French that appeared recently.
He wrote: "J'ai r'gret d'vaie qu'eune pèrsonne en viage auve lé tou organîssé par vouot' gâzette eut l'malheu d'êt' prînse malade dans l'Hotel Siam Intercontinental à Bangkok en Thailand, et qu'ou trépâssit là-bas."
One marvels in a small way, South-East Asia, the United States and a sad incident, and all tied together in the JEP through the ancient language of our forefathers.
There was another anniversary of a historic incident recently. George d'la Forge, in his column on Saturday, recalled that ten years ago, on July 20, two Americans were the first earthmen to set foot on the moon.
Reading his column, it seemed strange, to say the least, that the Jersey-Norman French of our joint ancestors should have been used to express the writer's ambition to do as Armstrong and Aldrin did in 1969. It was a delightful example of the ancient (and I do not refer to Sire Le Feuvre) and super-modern neatly mixed.
...Addressing the Royal Court in Jersey Norman-French was not merely a masterstroke of diplomacy, but a gracious gesture which set exactly the right note for the next five years in Jersey's unique relationship with the British Crown.
On behalf of the great majority of our readers, we join in wishing Sir Peter and Lady Whiteley a sincere "beinv'nue", in the hope that their stay in the Island will be as happy as its opening days promise.
The House took pleasure in Lady Whiteley's local family connections, he said, and was also delighted at Sir Peter's intention of mastering Jersey Norman-French.
Going to Jersey - the most southerly of the British Isles - is rather like going abroad. Many of the street and place names are in French, the laws are different to ours, many of the islanders speak a strange Norman-French patois and, with its French-style cuisine and its mixture of British and European holidaymakers, the island has a distinctly Continental air.
Times (London) 29/1/1977
The September meeting of the Central African Channel Islands Society was held at the very end of September... The meeting was well attended and there was probably more Jersey Norman-French spoken than at any other meeting... JWP ?/10/1976
...Dr. Brasseur has been introduced by Dr. Frank Le Maistre to islanders whose Norman-French is representative of their particular part of the Island and our picture shows the two of them conversing at his residence, Beauvoir, St. Mary, with Jurat R.H. Le Cornu, whose native tongue is typical of one of the "ilots linguistiques" (Linguistic centres) of the Island...
Some of Jersey's particular parish pronunciations are already extinct, notably those of St. Helier and, seemingly almost so, of St. Saviour and St. Clement. Also apparently no longer heard are such district variants as those of Faldouet, where, instead of "péthe" or "pér'" (father) or "véthe" or "vère", people would say "péze" or "véze respectively...
...Dr. Le Maistre's February warning that "Le temps f'tha tout vaie" (Time will tell) has proved overwhelmingly right.
The work of Dr. Frank Le Maistre as a lexicographer, vernacular poet and writer is legendary and has already been recognised elsewhere. Rightly proud of his heritage, his Island and its customs, he is honoured particularly for his work on the preservation of Jersey Norman-French. It is as it should be....
The OBE for Dr. Frank Le Maistre, the citation says, is for his study of Norman-French, culminating, after 40 years' work, in the publication, as a permanent record of the Jersey language, of the "Dictionnaire Jersiaise-Francais", considered a unique achievement in lexicography, by one man and also for the publication of other related works...
...The Lord Mayor of London... delighted the House, having referred to the number of overseas Heads of State he had welcomed during his period of office and his "command" of their languages, by extending greetings to the States in Jersey Norman-French...
I have an idea that the turnover of country bakers, in fact any bakers who deliver bread and cakes in the country parishes, must show quite an appreciable increase at this time of the year - the planting season - for an essential part of "la plyiant'tie" is "la bouochie," the always welcome refreshments which the good lady of the house invariably takes out to the planters at mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
JWP 11/3/1976 (reprinted from EP 5/3/1951)
The monumental achievement of Dr Frank Le Maistre, who compiled the massive Jersiais-Français dictionary, can never be detracted from. But I can't help wondering whether, when the chips are down, and fewer and fewer people were left each year who can speak their respective patois as naturally as breathing, a tape recorder might prove more useful in the short term.
To hear Jersey Norman-French or patois being spoken in a shop or a pub, or simply in the street, is a rare treat these days and seems to be becoming more so - paradoxically at a time when Jersey, and every other small community, needs all the comforting sense of regional identity can get. Besides, Jersey Norman-French is not only reassuringly unique; it can be practical as well. It fooled the German cryptographers 30 years ago, so the story goes, and who knows what tricky diplomatic spots it might get Jersey's future Common Market negotiators out of? Show me a patois-speaking Jerseyman, and I'll show you a man can give the Belgian Foreign minister something to think about, albeit briefly.
Human nature being human nature, my affection for a language I never learned has grown as the number of people who did learn it dwindles, and, in a week when l'Assembliée d'Jèrriais paid their poetic contribute to the indefatigable chronicler of the language, George d'la Forge, I was reminded the definition of Jersey Norman-French I heard many years ago. Jersey Norman-French, it went, is one-third conventional French, one-third conventional English and one-third hand signals.
I do not know the appropriate Jersey Norman-French words to frame a reply to that. But I'm getting on quite well with the hand signals.
Jersey Evening Post 6/9/1975
During the recent Royal Visit, Her Majesty the Queen Mother met the President of L'Assembliée d'Jèrriais, the Constable of St. John, Mr. W.J. Tomes, who gave her the greetings of his society in Jersey Norman-French. No translation was necessary, for the Queen Mother assured Mr. Tomes that she understood the greeting perfectly. She thanked him and said she was pleased traditions were maintained. For the record, Mr. Tomes' words of greeting were:
"Vout' Majesté, d'la part des membres de L'Assembliée d'Jèrriais, j'vos apporte lus meilleurs souhaits sîncéthes."
Over the years the islands have become culturally part of Britain, and only the French place names and the old Norman-French patois spoken in remoter parts of the four main islands serve as reminders of the French connexion.
Times (London) 19/9/1974
Jersey Weekly Post 28/3/1974
"Jersey weekly Post" vernacular columnist Mr. George Francis Le Feuvre ("George d'La Forge") has been awarded Le Prix Littéraire du Cotentin for his "Jèrri Jadis", the first full-length book in Jersey Norman-French.
The decision to award this annual literary prize to a second Jerseyman - Dr. Frank Le Maistre was the first in 1967 - was "à l'unanimité des voix" of the jury, in spite of other nominations.
Much of Mr. Le Feuvre's book, published by the Don Balleine Trust, is based on the weekly articles that he writes for the "Jersey Weekly Post"....
Jersey Weekly Post 21/3/1974
The appearance of a book entirely in the Jersey language is a unique and unexpected event. Not surprisingly, such an achievement belongs to George d'La Forge who has for many years entertained, enlightened and delighted Jersey-speaking folk at home and abroad with his weekly articles in the " Jersey Evening Post", which, invariably, have been reproduced in the " Jersey Weekly Post ".
Much of the book consists of extracts from those articles, but new material has been added to afford a fuller picture of various aspects of life in Jersey at the turn of the century ; and the selection recalls with emphasis the large-scale emigration from Jersey to the New World, and also to the Antipodes, to which comparatively little attention has been given by earlier writers. In its hey-day, though, this was a dominant element in the Island's life.
The author's own experiences, and those of his family, have provided him with ample first-hand material, but the book as a whole is far from being autobiographical. That material has been combined with his remarkable powers of observation and memory and his zestful affection for his native tongue to produce in "Jèrri Jadis - a quite original piece of social history.
In a solems and impressive ceremony in the council chamber of the University of Caen on Saturday afternoon, Mr. Frank Le Maistre, of La Brecquette, L'Etacq, St. Ouen, had the insignia of Doctor of Letters honoris causa conferred on him. He is believed to be the first Jerseyman, at least in modern times, to have received this distinction, the highest that this old and leading university can award.
A further honour - and the most important so far - has been conferred on Mr. Frank Le Maistre, of La Brecquette, L'Etacq, St. Ouen. Already a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Uppsala, sweden. Membre d'Académie de Caen, and a Membre d'Honneur of La Société Jersiaise, he is now, by official decree of the French Ministry of Education published in the Official Journal of the French Republic on April 19, a Doctor honoris causa...
Jersey Weekly Post 3/5/1973
...They always speak Jersey French in the house, and English "only when we are compelled to." They belong to L'Assembliée d'Jerriais, whose aim is to preserve the local dialect, and attend its meetings every month.
Jersey Weekly Post 19/4/1973
A Norman-based patois is still spoken in rural areas, and varies from island to island. Many French names occur time and time again (there are four Le Marquands in the Jersey States), and some are still associated with one or other of the islands. To an outsider it is confusing to know that some names are pronounced the French way, others the English way, and an occasional one both ways. In spite of ancient links with the French mainland near by, the islands have gradually become more anglicized. The patois began to disappear more quickly after the war when a large proportion of the young population was evacuated to Britain and brought up with English only as a native tongue. Local terms remain for features such as the côtils (steep land) and the vraic (seaweed, once gathered on a large scale).Times 25/1/1973
...I noticed, too, there is no more "lettre du bouanhomme George". What happened to him? I used to take pleasure in making out his Jersey Norman-French. I even have office colleagues who are crazy about his column...
Leonard Turcotte, 885 Ontario Ave., Ste-Foy, Québec 10, Canada.
October 19, 1972
(George d'La Forge has resumed his regular contributions to both the "Jersey Evening Post" and the "Jersey Weekly Post". Editor.)
Writing from 22 Hallett Road, Ansford, Castle Cary, Somerset, Mr. P.W. Matthews says: "Having just seen one of the wild flowers of Jersey postage stamps, I am wondering why the Jersey names for the flowers have been omitted. (I assume that as the wild flowers are of Jersey origin they do have a Jersey name.) In 1950, or thereabouts, Mr. Frank Le Maistre was kind enough to provide me with some 40 or more Jersey names which were printed as a supplement to "Common Farm Weeds Illustrated", now out of print. There may, of course, be a class distinction between a weed and a wild flower but I doubt if botanists recognize it; in any case wouldn't the inclusion of the Jersey names have given an extra cachet to the stamps?" In reply, I can only say that I have no doubt Mr. Le Maistre would have been happy to have supplied the native names of the four wild flowers. Here again is an instance where a wider interest - the many countries where the French tongue is used - might have been secured.
The importance of encouraging the younger generation to learn and speak Jersey Norman-French was stressed by several of the speakers at the annual dinner and dance of L'Assembliée d'Jèrriais held at Les Arches Hotel last Thursday evening. It was felt that this was the only way the native language of the Island could be preserved for years to come...
In introducing the next speaker, Mr. F. W. Guénier, the director of Postal Administration, Deputy W. J. Tomes said that although Mr. Guénier had been away from the Island for 35 years he had not lost his knowledge of Jersey Norman-French...
...Turning to the local language she said she did not agree with the opinion that the vernacular was useless and felt that, if it disappeared, Jersey would lose much of its character. In present times youngsters were much influenced by English newspapers, radio, television, and books....
...but felt a pocket-size English Jersey Norman-French dictionary would be more beneficial to Islanders who wished to learn it. She said she wondered whether l'Assembliée would consider undertaking this.
Jersey Weekly Post 4/2/1971
Deputy P.M. de Veulle gave a most interesting talk in French on his recent visit to the Soviet Union in company with Mr. Frank Le Maistre and Mr. George ("d'la Forge") Le Feuvre...
...Seen were many buildings in the vast complex of the Kremlin, where any eavesdropping secret policemen might well have been confused by the three tourists conversing in voluble Jersey Norman-French!
Jersey Evening Post 18/11/1971
...which appeared in a copy of "The West Australian."...
The people speak a French patois says the writer, more like the French spoken by William the Conqueror than any modern language...
..."Try translating some of the old Jersey-French stories," Peter suggested. "If this Island were my home that's the first thing I would do..."
The homecoming Jerseyman will find only one notice to greet him at the airport in his native tongue, put there by an Irish firm whom world famous product is of course cheaper in Jersey than in Britain.
Younger generation Jerseymen do not teach their children the language, and the policy of employing English teachers instead of Jersey teachers in the schools has resulted in Jersey French declining. It is kept alive by the Assemblie de Jerriais which meets monthly to speak it; by the Jersey French competitions that are part of the Island's amateur festival, called, curiously enough, the Jersey Eisteddfod, and by Jersey French classes at Brighton Road School Adult Education centre.
Soon the patois may die completely, so the Jersey States have subsidized the publication of F. Le Maistre's monumental dictionary of Jersey-French and French which costs 12 guineas outside the Island and three guineas in Jersey - a dual price practice followed by some other Jersey publishing houses
M. Le Maistre is a St. Ouen farmer, and it is in the country parishes where Jersey French is still heard, though real French is just as common, since most of the farmhands come from France. Milk is still paid for by the Pôt, not a gallon, the Visite du Branchage ensures that Jersey's roadsides are still kept tidy, unlike Britain. Newcomers to the Island who buy property will soon meet the language. They are not expected to be able to read or write, so their lawyer signs their deeds though they will swear in the Royal Court that they understand them! If they do read French they will find their property measured in vergées, not hectares or acres; the deeds may well refer to Côtils, the steep slopes famous for the earliest potatoes. None of Jersey's beaches is called Plage; though several are called Greves.
Jersey French is extremely hard to comprehend when spoken, since it is clipped and shortened French, filled with phrases unknown in France, and pronounced with a strong English accent. When written, it can be understood after a fashion by French speakers but it is hard to write and many speakers cannot write it well. (Le Roy le veult and Honi Soit qui Mal y Pense are two phrases retained in the United Kingdom from 1066 days.)
Francophiles forget that Jersey has never been French, but the Anglicization of Jersey has proceeded rapidly, since new laws were written in English, from 1956. Deputy C. P. Billot of St. Martin's still sometimes addresses the States in Jersey French though a number of its members do not know what he is saying.
Channel Television, serving all the Islands, broadcasts only in English, with a news service in real French for viewers on the neighbouring Normandy coast. Many French people overlook Jersey's separate entity and time honoured language, when this is pointed out to them. Well aware of the Islanders' nationality, they dismiss Jersey with: "Pouf, c'est Angleterre."
The Times 2/1/1969
Mr. Arthur de la Mare, who is to be our next High Commissioner to Singapore.....
Mr. de la Mare comes from Jersey as is known even among his few fellow islanders in the Diplomatic Service for his fluency in Jerriais, the Norman French dialect still spoken in country parishes of the island...
Times (London) 12/12/1967
This was the second time that Mr. Taunton, who is studying law, has put Jersey to the fore at this exhibition. Last year the theme of what he displayed was the Norman Conquest and featured this time was the Jersey cow. Miss Dabbs, a student at the London college for Speech and Drama, was dressed as a Jersey milkmaid and a Jersey heifer from an Elstree farm helped to complete the picture, together with milk cans, etc. Mrs. Frank Le Maistre, of La Brecquette, L'Etacq, St. Ouen, had made a large batch of "mérvelles" for the occasion and the Queen Mother tasted one of these Jersey wonders and said that it was delicious. In addition, the Jersey Milk Marketing Board had co-operated and guests present were also able to sample richer milk than that to which they were accustomed.
Scrabble, the word game, is very popular about this time of the year as a family after-dinner game. For the uninitiated the object of the game is to build words on a point-scoring basis and there are set rules about the type of words used. But a colleague was posed a real problem recently when his wife - a true Jèrriaise - made up the word V R A I C at a very crucial stage of the game. The lady was quite adamant that the use of the word was in order and her husband had to admit defeat.
Jersey Weekly Post 30/11/1967
Guernsey, November 17.
A party of members of the dramatic section of L'Assembliée d'Jèrriais travelled to Guernsey yesterday to give a concert for members of L'Assembliée d'Guernesiaise at Saumarez Park Rink last night.
In all, some 30 people made the trip, the party being headed by Senator P.J. Romeril, president of L'Assembliée d'Jèrriais, and they were entertained at Moore's Hotel for the concert by their hosts. They were welcomed by Conseiller J.C. Le Noury, senior vice-president of L'Assembliée d'Guernesiaise.
The concert was produced by Mrs Eileen Le Sueur, president of the dramatic section, and was very much enjoyed by the audience.
Elementary and advanced classes in the tuition of Jersey Norman-French are included in the syllabus issued recently by the Institute of Further Education.....
An allegation that the licensee of a local public house - the White Horse Inn at The Dicq - placed a ban on his customers speaking in Jersey-French has annoyed locals, upset visitors and resulted in two "vrai Jèrriais" leaving the establishment and one of them swearing never to go there again. But licensee Mr. James H. Lea says that if he said anything at all about banning Jersey-French, he said it jokingly. "There is definitely no ban," he told me.
Last Friday evening, when Mr. Peter Desvergez, who is over 70 years of age, and lives at Dicq Road, met an old pal, Mr. E. G. "Shiner" Hacquoil, who lived in St. Ouen until moving recently to Le Squez Estate, they had a chat over a pint of beer in the public bar. Mr. Desvergez has been using this pub, on and off, for over 40 years, and Mr. Hacquoil since the time that he moved into the area. They naturally spoke in their native tongue - Jersey-French.
Several visitors were in this little bar and were intrigued to hear the language being spoken. They had no objection to it, but the licensee is said to have told the two to converse in English or not at all.
At first they ignored him. But when the request was repeated, they left the pub amid a certain amount of uproar.
When I questioned Mr. Lea, he told me that he did not deny mentioning, more in a joking manner, that the two concerned should speak in English, "as they might well be talking about me." But the incident was so small in his view that he hardly remembered it.
But Mr. Cyril Le Cras who was fishing at The Dicq slip at the time, told me that he heard such a babel of raised voices, both in English and Jersey-French, that he left his tackle and went to see what the fuss was all about. He found both locals and visitors extremely indignant that Mr. Desvergez and Mr. Hacquoil should have been treated this way.
I visited the same bar on Saturday evening, when Mr. Maurice Goddard, who had witnessed the incident the previous night, greeted me with the claim: "You are 24 hours too late, you should have been here last night when two old Jerseymen had no option but to leave because they were speaking in Jersey-French."
Several of the locals present confirmed that there had been an incident regarding speaking in Jersey-French. The claimed they had been given the option of speaking in English, or leaving, and they were thinking of making a complaint to Ann Street Brewery.
Two visitors who left on the mailboat on Monday said they were surprised and indignant about the way in which "two colourful characters" had been treated. They has enjoyed listening to a strange tongue which added local atmosphere to the bar. They have been frequenting the Farmers' Inn at St. Ouen for this very reason.
Locals at the Farmers' Inn say that they remember "Shiner" Hacquoil as a regular of their pub when he lived in St. Ouen. He always spoke in Jersey-French.
Mr. S. Goodrich, managing director of Ann Street Brewery Co. Ltd., said on Monday that he had certainly not received any complaint so far. There would certainly never be any objection to any language whatsoever being spoken in any Ann Street public house.
In fact, in the White Horse Inn, as many locals pointed out and Mr. Lea agreed, many of the Portuguese and Italians employed in hotels in the area gather during the winter and not unnaturally converse in their native languages.
Deputy A.C. Quérée, president of L'Assembliée d'Jerriais, told us "It is the Island language and part of the Island life. If the use of it was ever banned in public, it would kill the language. We all speak it in my home, and there is more spoken in the Parish of St. Ouen than anywhere else in the Island."
Jersey Weekly Post 28/9/1967
The Jersey Education committee - the only authority of its kind in the British Isles to include recreational classes in its curriculum of further education - plans to run evening classes in the Jersey Norman French language this coming autumn and winter. But this will be done only if the number of students who come forward is sufficient to pay the salary of a competent teacher.
As will be seen elsewhere in this newspaper, the committee is advertising for a teacher, either male or female, with sufficient ability and fluency in the language to take these classes. Applications should be addressed to the Director of Education at the Education Department, Pier Road, before June 30.
The president of Education, Senator John Le Marquand, said this morning that the committee had been approached by l'Assembliée d'Jèrriais - the Jersey Language Society - and asked if such classes could be arranged. "The object of this exercise is to run it for a short time in our evening classes to see if there is sufficient interest. I have explained to l'Assembliée d'Jèrriais that such classes would have to be self-supporting - in other words, that a sufficient number of people must take part to pay the salary of a teacher," he said.
Senator Le Marquand added that if a sufficient number of people were interested in learning the language of the Island, the committee was willing to put on an elementary class for those wishing to go deeper into the language.
If a competent teacher can be found, the committee will then advertise the classes, which would take place both at the St. Helier and the Les Quennevais centres.
...This is in recognition of his arduous work over many years in research and study for the preservation of the Jersey language which culminated in this publication. "The dictionary will remain a monument to his zeal and devotion."
A remarkable tribute was paid by Vivian Ogilvy on a B.B.C. programme last Thursday to Mr Frank Le Maistre and his monumental dictionary of the Jersey language. The speaker ended by hoping that a West Country university would be the first to have the honour of conferring a degree on Mr. Le Maistre...
The Jersey Society in London last night celebrated both the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings and the seventieth anniversary of its formation with a dinner at Overseas House. There was a stretch of the Bayeux tapestry decorating the menu and an announcement that a Jersiais-Français dictionary - the genuine Jersey patois - was freshly in print.Times 15/10/1966
Dear Sir, - Thank you for the interesting letters from George d'La Forge in the "Weekly Post." Besides helping me keep up my Jersey-French, they enable me to re-live the trip I made four years ago through "Jersey-French eyes."
Jersey Weekly Post 12/9/1964
..."I still speak the patois," Mr. Blampied said last week, not with a little pride.
Jersey Weekly Post 15/8/1964
...he regularly contributed the vernacular feature, "Ph'lip et Merrienne"...
He was rarely seen without his pipe and he always had a cheery word for everyone, more often than not this being in Jersey-French...
Jersey Weekly Post 18/4/1964
...His pipe, his glass and the robust humour of the vernacular, in which he expressed himself so vigorously and with a turn of phrase that none could emulate... No longer will one read in his "Ph'lip et Merrienne" column, "A la s'maine tchi veint, Moussieu," for the long days and years have caught up with him and it is now "A bétôt, man Ph'lip."
Jersey Weekly Post 18/4/1964
Proposing the principal toast at the annual dinner on Jan. 23rd of L'Assembliée d'Jèrriais, the society for the conservation of the Norman-French language of the Island, Mr Frank Perrée suggested that classes to instruct young people in the tongue might be organized within the society...
Jersey Weekly Post 1/2/1964
The fields "are tended by Norman-French peasants, whose families have lived on the Island since Jersey was part of the Duchy of Normandy in 1066 and all that. Barrel-chested and barrel-bellied, they have raw, red faces and shrewd piggy eyes and look as though they could walk to France and back with a Jersey cow over one shoulder... Many of them have never wandered further than the fields they tend, except, perhaps, to spend an evening in a local pub and yarn about the cabbages and tomatoes in a languages known as Jersey-French." So writes "Des" Colquhoun in "The Sun", a Melbourne newspaper - perhaps he spoke to a certain taxi driver during his visit to Jersey!
Sir, - It was indeed disappointing to hear over the radio last week that Jersey-French is a "patois" and as a comparison to "good" French the implication that our old language is obviously "bad" French, and that was said by a member of l'Assembliée d'Jèrriais which publishes a quarterly in la vielle langue Normande du pays - la langue Jérriaise, la language much older than standard French.
It is to be hoped this society can put forward a worthier "ambassador" on any future occasion. Perhaps they think, though, as many do, these programmes are not of sufficient importance to bother.
Dear Sir, - I think "Countrywoman" is in error.
Jersey-French is a patois - unlike Bréton, which is a "langue".
There are many variations in the Norman patois, the Jersey-French being most closely related to that spoken in the area between Cherbourg and Cap la Hague - except that Jersey "Parler" becomes "precher".
Words foreign to Norman-French - a "foreign" language - just as words foreign to Jersey-French come from English, also a foreign language.
Y faut mus r'garder avant dé sauté, missis.
Sir, - Indeed "Countrywoman" is quite correct in her assertion that Jèrriais is a language. Your other correspondents are quite wrong. There is not much point in arguing with such a galaxy of pundits, and I don't wish to do so anyway. But they must stand corrected, and I shall merely quote one authority, out of many, Dr. N.C.W. Spence, M.A. Ph.D., a university Lecturer in mediaeval French, and one who wrote a thesis for his Ph.D. degree on the Jersey language. These are his words, at a lecture fiven a few years ago to the Rotary Club of Jersey, and also previously, I believe, to la Société Jersiaise - "Jersey Norman French is not a corruption of present French but a true language..." He showed on those occasions how it was a distinct language, deriving from the Latin spoken in Normandy and taken there by the Romans, and how gradually the language of the Paris area, similarly derived, gained a prestige from the Court and became the accepted French tongue.
So, correspondents, you are all seriously up against, not only this authority, but all other philiogists!
Yes, you will hear Jèrriais called "Jersey patois." But you have also heard, have you not, many other ignorant expressions here in Jersey as elsewhere. for instance, what of the mode of expression of the majority of men in the street? Whould you argue English, because they are the vast majority?
The fact that Philip Le Sueur Mourant called his book "Patois stories" cuts no ice. He honestly thought, like too many others, Jèrriais was a "patois". He was wrong. The term "bouon Français", used by many Jersey folk and first introduced by the snobs of the day who would not speak their native tongue (just as we have plenty such in 1963 who will only speak English!), crept in some 100 years ago replacing the expression, the better expression, "Le haut Français". It has always been rendered since in English as "good French". Again, quite wrongly.
Now for "Viking". He is partly answered in the above lines. But Jèrriais is not "most closely related to that spoken in the area between Cherbourg and Cap La Hague..." Nonsense! It is most closely related to the Coutançais which is quite different. His next paragraph makes little sense, so no need to bother about it. His last sentence merely shows he cannot write Jèrriais.
Finally, I am not in a position to comment on the broadcast which was the original subject matter of thes correspondence, as I did not hear it myself. I do know, however, like "Countrywoman", that much that is "dished out" is just poor entertainment and trash.
Members of l'Assembliée d'Jèrriais were present at a unique occasion on Friday May 17th, when Her Majesty's Ambassador to Afghanistan, Mr. A.J. de la Mare, C.M.G., addressed them at St. Martin's Public Hall. The presence alone of this distinguished son of Jersey would have ensured a packed hall, but two other eminent Jerseymen, Mr. P.M. de Veulle, joint honorary secretary of The Jersey society in London, and the Rev. George Whitley, and a prominent Norman jurist, M. François Auger, were there to make the evening more memorable.
Speaking in faultless "Jèrriais," full of the idioms of the vernacular which he might well have been excused for forgetting during his many years abroad, Mr. de la Mare said that on his retirement he would not be averse to being approached to take office as Connétable of Trinity. As one member of the audience said of his talk, "A Jerseyman in diplomatic life", "Nou-sétha resté toute la séthée à l'êcouter". Mr. de Veulle's address of thanks could not have been bettered and nonagenarian Mr. Whitley showed that he retains his gift of oratory despite his years. Monsieur Auger, who hails from Fécamp but practises in Paris, afterwards spoke of the evening as a highlight of his holiday visit to the Island.
Dear Sir, - Just to say "même opinion " to your correspondent who wishes to retain the local names for fishes. I happen to know the late lamented "Ronnie" Le Sueur was very interested in these and insisted on having them all for inclusion in his treatise on the fishes of the Channel Islands, which was to have been published soon, I believe.
I am not too sure, of course,, what your correspondent means by "local" names. There are indeed quite a few local English" terms, such as "snipe", "flobber", "spider crab,", etc., the real Jersey names for which are orfi, "fliabeu, "pihangne - all having extremely interesting etymological histories. I have never met anyone who realized that "flobber" was an anglicized adaptation of the central and south Jersey word! In the east this fish is "un bouothé" and in St. Ouen "eune tabûle.
Incidentally, the "snipe, longnose or garfish is "orfi this, being an older form than the French orphie"; and every Jerseyman says "de l'orfi " (short vowel "i":) Why modern French spelling should use the "ph" is not very clear, since the term would appear to have a Norse origin. The Guernsey form Is erfi and, Continental Norman olfi.
Evening Post 29/3/1963
At Thursday evening's annual dinner of L'Assembliée d'Jèrriais. Mr. S.W. Bisson, the Commis Greffier Judiciaire, told the story of the two seagulls from La Corbière and the pair from Grosnez. The latter, late for a "dinner date," gave the excuse that it had been such a fine evening that they had walked instead of flying. The tale was an admirable illustration of the vast differences in the idiom of the Island vernacular and the language which has so rapidly engulfed it - English. In Jersey Norman-French, with the full savour given to it by Mr. Bisson, it brought the house down. Translated. the story barely raises a smile. The vernacular humour - unlike so much of what passes as such in English - rarely, if ever, has to depend on smut for its effect.
...even though Alderney is now entirely Anglicized in speech, whereas a Norman French patois (slightly different for each island) is still spoken, to varying extents, in Jersey, Guernsey, and Sark.
As well as the commencement of a report on the ninth Franco-British Pharmaceutical Congress held in Jersey recently, the May 20th issue of The Chemist and Druggist contains A Current Causerie concerning the journey by vedette to the Island of 73 of the French delegates to the conference. The writer wittily quotes from Ph'lip et Merrienne to demonstrate the fortitude of these delegates, who had to endure a crossing of several hours. Only one word of Ph'lip's patelinage (blarney), as he calls it, stumped the contributor. This was tchan in the phrase malade comme un tchan - and he should have guessed it as dog, for he had the other words, as sick as a - . The Chemist and Druggist, by the way, coins a good slogan for Jersey: Sunny Days of Reunion in the Connétable Country.
Among the articles on the stalls were to be found Christmas trees and pumpkins, kindling wood and knitted garments. Interest, for much of the time, centred around one stall which stood under a banner proclaiming: V'nez acater des fricots dé Jèrri. Attended by ladies speaking Jersey Norman-French and wearing sunbonnets, it had for sale many of the Island's traditional delicacies, including mèrvelles, brawn, crêpes, bourdélots, and a variety of gâche.
Ye Olde Towne Crier rang his hand-bell, took a deep breath inside his purple and grey coat and called lustily to the crowd Oyez, oyez, oyez."
A lieutenant in the red-and-black uniform of the 18th century ascended the rostrum in the Royal Square and called on the Bailiff to open the 18th century Vièr Marchi with these words :
"Salut, Moussieu l'Bailli. J'ai l'honneu d'vos d'mander s'ous pliaît d'ouvri not'e vièr marchi, tchi 'tait à chutte pliaiche ichin y'a pus d'deux chent ans. Merci, Moussieu l'Bailli."......
There was plenty to see. In the centre of the square stood an old market cross and at one side an ominous-looking set of stocks on a platform for the punishment of miscreants.
Girls in many of the stalls were wearing the traditional Jersey bonnets, while the men dressed up with top hats, bowler bats and any olde worlde clothes they could la hands on. Under a long stall called simply Le Vièr Marchi", bonneted women were selling verjus, pèthes, poumes, carottes, patates, pais, navets et caboches.
Further on, at the Café de la Cour. and La Boutique du Pain, home-grown or home-cooked Jersey produce was on sale. Honey, Jersey wonders, cabbage loaves, and all sorts. A top-hatted man at the "Boutique Poingdestre" had a large crowd around his pile of spider-crabs fresh from the sea this morning.
He held a couple of the crabs aloft. " All alive and kicking " he called out - and got his fingers pinched for his pains.
Les Femmes d'la Campagne were doing brisk trade in a wide range of bric-a-brac, and milk, eggs, honey and other produce were changing hands quickly at "La Boutique au Lait.
There were flowers at the flower stall and clothes at the clothing stall. Jellied eels, lobsters and prawns were available at a stall called "Paissonyi" and blankets, towels and rugs under a sign saying "Fabriques de Lancashire......
...I was interested to read comments in your paper on the reading of Jersey-French by people in Switzerland. You will be interested to learn that the Jersey-French articles are pored over each time we get the "Post", by Mlle. Groleau, Head of the French Department at Westminster Girls' High School, her assistant Mme. Haight, and by the Language Head of the School, Stephen Adams. They collectively make a fair job of translation. They also use the articles in class to the great interest of their students.
Jersey Weekly Post 18/6/1960
The "Ph'lip et Merrienne" articles that appear each week in the "Weekly Post" have been causing quite a bit of excitement in a small Swiss village. I am told that in Montana, a beautiful village in the Valais district, live a learned professor and his wife who are kept fully occupied compiling a dictionary of the Norman-French language. When one of "Ph'lip's" letters came their way they were delighted to discover a hitherto unknown (to them) branch of the language, and they spent hours comparing it with the Normn-French in which they are acknowledged experts.
Jersey Weekly Post 14/5/1960
...Taken further, it is possible, although unlikely, that a person who came to Jersey before the educational regulations were as strict as now could have learned only Jersey-French and still be ineligible for naturalisation.
Jersey Weekly Post 30/4/1960
"Frottes, pay demain, mir benthe" and "rivorleau"! According to a report in the "Guernsey Press" on a W.I. meeting. a Mrs. Le Quesne from Jersey gave a talk and demonstration in Guernsey on traditional Jersey cooking, and the above were some of the recipes mentioned. I Imagine that the person concemed wrote them down as they seemed to be pronounced. After some thought I concluded that what was really meant was "fliottes", a dish which was eaten in many Jersey homes yesterday ; "pais d'mai", french beans ; "nièr beurre", black butter ; and "bourdélots," baked apple-dumplings. Samples of these and of Jersey "mervelles" were handed around afterwards, so, who knows, Jersey cooking might be adopted in Guernsey!
Evening Post 16/4/1960
It is now nearly four years since an appointment was made which will ensure that the Jersey Norman-French language, now almost submerged by the increasing adoption of English throughout the Island's life, will be recorded comprehensively for posterity...
...The classification and integration of all this material is of such magnitude that, when completed, this unique work (which is a task of years) will not only be a comprehensive dictionary of Jersey Norman-French but a record of an Island way of life, much of which is already history. glossaries do exist containing several thousand words, but these will be dwarfed by the extensive range of knowledge which the current work will embrace...
Jersey Weekly Post 6/2/1960
For eventual publication on the quarterly bulletin of L'Assembliée d'Jèrriais is a most interesting and extremely well written article by Mr. George F. Le Feuvre. It deals with the life of the late Mr. Eugène Bouillon...
Jersey Weekly Post 16/1/1960
...Howver, how many remember the game - country folk knew it as "les tchilles" - as it was played before the war?
Jersey Weekly Post 16/1/1960
Last Issue ...the newspaper had a very strong vernacular tradition, most of the best of the indigenous language writers having contributed to its columns either in poetry or prose. Not the least of these is Edward Le Brocq, the creator of the inimitable country couple, "Ph'lip et Mêrrienne", the weekly report of whose life at Portinfer we are happy to continue as a link with "Les Chroniques".
Jersey Weekly Post 9/1/1960
...Over Christmas and during the next few weeks, Mr. and Mrs. Renouf will be able to brush up their Jersey Norman-French for, although they have not forgotten it, they have little opportunity of using it in Canada.
Jersey Weekly Post 2/1/1960
...I continued to publish unhindered by censorship for three months until the German authorities suddenly remembered there was a French nespaper in the Island. Then they descended on me like a ton of bricks! By that time I had revived an old series of articles in Jersey French written by the late Mr. Le Sueur Mourant, under the nom-de-plume of 'Chentn'yi Bram Billot'. The Germans could not understand the language so they decided that it must be a secret code of some sort. I was summoned before the Gestapo, at College House, and informed that I was a spy. Eventually the articles were sent to be studied by experts in Paris, who decided that they were quite harmless. After that quite a few Germans became interested in learning the vernacular."
Jersey Weekly Post 2/1/1960
Before 6 o'clock yesterday morning a farmer at Trinity was lighting a fire which was kept burning for more than 18 hours. This was the final stage in the observance of an old Jersey custom, work for which had started two nights previously. Then the ladies of Augrès Methodist Church had met - as they did too on the Tuesday afternoon - to prepare the Belles Filles, the Têtards and the Bramley apples for a black butter evening, which was held at Clos Durell, Trinity, the home of Mr. and Mrs. D. J. Henley.
With the apples peeled and cored and quartered, and with the spices, sugar and liquorice purchased, the whole of yesterday was spent by some of the men from Augrès, led by their minister, the Rev. Norman Wooldridge. in keeping the fire alight underneath the "pêle", in which the apples were transmuted into a tasty delicacy much in demand.
There were two purposes in view of all the many helpers who engaged in this old custom - to satisfy the orders which had been received for "nièr beurre" and to raise funds towards the bazaar soon to be held at Augrès, in clearance of the debt incurred in replacing the floor of the chapel there.
When "The Evening Post" photographer arrived at Clos Durell yesterday evening he found the company of some 40 people garbed in a variety of costumes, old and unusual. stirring the confection until the moment when the mistress of ceremonies, Mrs. G. E. Mourant, declared that it was ready. Then willing male hands lifted the great "pêle" from its tripod on to a horse-collar. From this moment the ladies took charge. and, with the addition of spices, lemon and liquorice. blended the tasty confection.
During the evening many helpers lent a hand: much talk of many things, in Jersey-French and in English, were heard; chestnuts were roasted in the embers of the fire; supper was eaten amidst much merriment; and a general air of rural humour enlivened the passing hours.
When the work was done, and the party had dispersed, by moonlight, to their homes in the early hours of the morning, more than 200 lbs. of black butter had been made and packed into jars. It is estimated that, from this evening, the funds of Augrès Methodist Church will benefit by about £50.
EP Octobre 1959
The following is true. A local tradesman fairly regularly visits London for the purpose of selling goods in famed Petticoat Lane. In fact it pays him to ship his articles over from here and to fly across and do his own selling - with the assistance of an agent. One Sunday, just to add colour to the proceeding, this live-wire gentleman put on an old hat and coat and gave a racy description of his goods in Jersey-French to the big crowd surrounding his stall, "Who is this fellow?" asked one interested onlooker "Why, he's a Hungarian refugee," answered our friend's agent, "talking his own lingo." 'Well I will buy some of his goods" replied the onlooker, much impressed, "we must help them along," The news got around and a roaring trade was done, all to help the "Hungarian refugee."Temps passé - 50 years ago: 1957 Jersey Evening Post 8/6/2007
At the sale, on behalf of La Société Jersiaise, was Mr. Frank Le Maistre and among the articles he acquires for the Agricultural Museum were two very fine specimens of threshing trestles ("soubatteux"), a set of three "pelles à grain" (wooden wheat shovels); an "aisselet" (a forecarriage, about 100 years old, for the wooden plough of former days); a set of three wheat sieves; a "hale-chours," an implement, now extremely rare, which was formerly used for pulling out Jersey cabbages....
Evening Post 2/11/1955
... Along La Chasse du Marais I came across a Jerseyman who asked to be directed to La Seigneurie. He was a man of about 30 years of age, and sported a handle-bar moustache with an auburn colouring.
He addressed me in Jersey-French (though I sensed that he was equally fluent in English,) but being a little backward in trying out my very meagre knowledge of La Langue Jèrriais, I persisted in replying in English. Our Jersey visitor, however, was equally persistent and would not depart from what he had evidently set out to do - compel me to answer in the same tongue. Anyway, I understood his Jersey-French to the extent of directing him along the right paths and he had no difficulty in understanding my English!
Thinking it over later in the day, I concluded that it would be an excellent idea of all Jersey-French speaking people would follow the example set by the man with the flowing moustache and make up their minds before leaving for Sark that they would speak in no other language - sooner or later we would all be doing it!
Evening Post 3/8/1955
The occasion was the official opening if an exhibition of paintings by Edmund Blampied, R.B.A., at the Barreau Art Gallery on Saturday afternoon. The time was 3.15. For one minute, in their frames around the walls, the familiar Blampied farmers stopped conversing and Blampied horses seemed to cock an attentive ear. "Eh Bein," they heard. "Eh bein, bouons gens, j'peux-t'i vouos dithe on Jèrriais qué j'ai grand pliaîsi en décliathant l'exhibition ou'èrte."
And then the people who had come through the rain from all parts of the island to see the first Jersey exhibition in three years by this distinguished local artist, and who several times outnumbered the 59 pictures on display, applauded Lady Nicholson, for it was none other than the charming wife of Jersey's Lieut.-Governor who had so appropriately opened the exhibition in Jersey-French.
Evening Post 4/12/1954
...Many tales could be told by those who came in contact with the German censor. Exception was taken to most innocent remarks in some of the scripts, while obvious ones were passed unnoticed. It did not necessarily follow that what the Germans had cut would always remain so, and, according to the nature of the news at the time, many observations were quietly inserted to raise a smile. Very few Germans attended the shows and it was fairly easy to get away with it. A most glaring example was a play in Jersey-French given in one of the parish halls which was as patriotic as could possibly be, and though on this occasion a few Germans who were stationed nearby attended the performance the patois had them "fixed" and they could not understand a word!
A 9 heures 40, par radio dont un poste émetteur avait été fixé sur le People's Park, un message d'hommage de la part des Iles de la Manche fut envoyé à sa Majesté la Reine. C'est en patois que Leonard Picot, du club des jeunes fermiers de Jersey, adressa ce message à Sa Majesté la Reine, notre Duchesse. Ce souhait était à l'effet suivant: Des Iles normandes loyales j'env'yons des salutations les pus sincèthes à votre Majesté. Eune longue vie à notr' Duchesse. Dgieu sauve la Reine!
Chroniques de Jersey 3/1/1953
Following upon a preliminary advertisement in "The Evening Post" recently, an influential and enthusiastic group of ladies and gentlemen from various parts of the island met in the R.J.A. and H.S. Board Room at 3 Mulcaster Street, on Friday evening, November 23rd, to consider ways and means of furthering the study and preservation of the Jersey language.
After a long discussion concerning possible methods of suscitating and maintaining interest in the old language, which unfortunately, is ever dwindling in face of anglicization, it was decided to form a society, the name of which is to be agreed upon by the executive body.
The following officials were elected:-
Patron - Jurat F.V. Le Feuvre
President - Senator Hedley Le Riche Edwards
Vice-Presidents - Mr. Frank Trachy and Mrs. K. Le Maistre
Hon. Secretary - Mr. G.F. Le Feuvre
Assistant Hon. Secretary - Miss Florence M. Hacquoil
Hon. Treasurer - Mr. George W. Bertram
Exectutive Committee - Mmes. Marie Trachy and A. Perchard, Messrs. Winter du Tot, John Richard, T. A. Moignard and Frank Le Maistre.
The society will meet on the last Friday in each month, commencing January 25th, 1952. The subscription was fixed at 10/- per annum, and it is hoped that the many Islanders who are genuinely interested in the very worthy objects of the group will give it their support. An earnest appeal for membership is particularly made to the vast concourse of enthusiastic Jersey people each year attend and enjoy La Séthée Jèrriaise in connection with the Eisteddfod. The nature of activities and study will be largely determined at the January meeting.
Evening Post 3/12/1951
I have an idea that the turnover of country bakers, in fact any bakers who deliver bread and cakes in the country parishes, must show quite an appreciable increase at this time of the year - the planting season - for an essential part of "la plyiant'tie" is "la bouochie," the always welcome refreshments which the good lady of the house invariably takes out to the planters at mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
EP 5/3/1951 (reprinted JWP 11/3/1976)
During the past week the head teachers of all country elementary schools in the Island have been circularized by the States Public Instruction Committee asking them to stimulate interest in Jersey-French in their schools.
The Director of Education, Mr. J.P. Morison, told an "Evening Post" representative: "It is the Committee's considered policy to try to maintain and further the interest in Jersey-French as far as is possible in the country schools."
It was also learned that the teaching is confined to comparisons and differences with the French language, and that, because of the full curriculum, lessons in Jersey-French can only be given in five- to ten-minute periods each day.
Puis on entre dans la "bliaze" pour employer une expression jersiaise, car il est dit qu'on ne voit pas l'utilité de l'article 6, remarque le Sénateur Le Feuvre, sur quoi le Député Venables de dire que puisque cela existe dans la loi anglaise cela doit avoir sa raison d'être.
Séance des États 22/5/1950
Chroniques de Jersey 24/5/1950
One day last week, the B.B.C. broadcast several items from the Guernsey Eisteddfod, including some Guernsey-French, and it was remarked (in the broadcast), that when the Germans were in occupation of the Channel Islands, the only language that baffled them was Guernesiais. This was a mistake.
The Germans had been in Jersey some time before they discovered Les Chroniques, but one day some of them appeared in the office and interviewed the Editor (M. de Laquaine). Presently they came across a proof of a weekly article in Jersey-French, and immediately they became suspicious.
It beat them all
It was no use telling them that the article was in the local dialect. They scrutinised it with the greatest care, suggesting that it might be some sort of secret code. Finally, they went off to College House, with the proof, having warned the Editor that he must on no account publish the article until he had received their sanction.
At College House, the experts couldn't make head or tail of it, so the proof was sent to headquarters in Paris, and submitted to the most erudite Professors available. It was not a bit of good, and eventually the article returned to Jersey still untranslated and (to the Germans) untranslateable. The Editor was then allowed to publish it, but permission was ungraciously given, and it was clear to Edmond that his name had been placed on the list of suspected persons. Not that he cared!
Morning News 18/11/1949
A little while ago I wrote out a list of a dozen Jersey-French words, and invited my readers to give their meaning. Here are a dozen more which may interest them.
Vréton, rapipiotté, ragrotons, Rostocome, pliantuche, sabouothet, sangrénu, scouotrise, semnigache, maniscorbulé, ouoripiaux, mâqueféthaille.
Most of these are out of common use, even in that Jersey-French stronghold, the parish of St. Ouen's. But they are the right stuff, for all that.
Morning News 6/9/1949
Un incident se produit lorsque M. Le Marquand commence à parler en jersiais, le Capt. J.A. Hilton protestant que ce n'est guère poli à l'égard de ceux qui ne comprennent pas pareil patois. Sur quoi le Député Le Marquand de répondre que comme jersiais et St. Ouennais, il avait parfaitement le droit de parler ce patois. Et un grand nombre de ceux présent d'appuyer ces remarques.
Chroniques de Jersey 6/7/1949
Brazilian resident's gift
A few minutes before the College assembled, two country members met in the Royal Square. They shook hands and agreed that the weather was still dry, then -
Pour tch'y qu'tu vote? asked one.
Blessed if I know, was the reply. What about you?
I don't know either. to tell you the truth, I haven't thought about it.
Well, perhaps we'd better go in and see what the others are doing.
Morning News 13/5/1949
...and in our editorial columns we offer our own good wishes, both in English and in Jersey-French.
Evening Post 15/12/1948
Springfield Theatre packed
...But even if it should be freezing, à pierre fendre, on Jersey-French night, nobody will complain, for it's going to be a crowded hall, and people will keep each other warm. Year after year one is told that Jersey-French (Norman-French, if you prefer it) is dying out so rapidly that presently it will be stone dead except in the innermost recesses of St. Ouen's. Yet, year after year, wet or fine, Springfield Hall is crowded to the doors for the Jersey-French session. And don't let anyone imagine that the people there are all from the country.
I understand that an effort will be made this time to cut down the programme to reasonable limits, and this won't be altogether a bad thing, because last year, it looked at one time like lasting into the small hours. Even the most enthusiastic supporter of Jersey-French will admit that it's possible to have an overdose of it...
Morning News 30/10/1948
The following message has been sent by La Société Jersiaise to The Jersey Society in London, which will hold its annual dinner at the Waldor Hotel, Aldwych, this evening, when numerous distinguished guests will be present:-
Acouothe eune fais a Société Jèrriaise dé Jèrri à l'grand pliaisi d'env'yer touos ses bouons souhaits à La Sociêté Jèrriaise dé Londres. En vouos châtchant la main à travèrs la mé 'ou b'thez un p'tit lèrmîn pour l'amour du vièr temps!
Evening Post 14/10/1948
At St. John's there will be a contest for the Constableship. Well, why not? As a parishioner said on Saturday: Il est temps qu'j'ayons un mio d'rêvillion.
They will want a new Constable at St. Mary's, and possibly one at St. Martin's, where Mr. Billot talks of retiring.
Morning News 8/9/1948
...furthermore, there was the barrier of language (the Island tongue being then the only language in common use in Jersey) the little Jersey community should have been very remote and unknown. Yet in all generations there seemed to be a number of brilliant Jerseymen who made their mark outside the Island confines...
...A remarkable thing was that Her Majesty's warship Orion, commanded by Sir James de Sausmarez, was manned by 590 men all islanders and all the orders were given in Jersey-French...
Evening Post 17/8/1948
My friend Mr. G. W. Bertram has sent me a copy of a "Rapport de Ronde" dated the 19th February, 1705, relating to the Militia guard on the Front at St. Lawrence. It was signed by a Lieutenant Philippe Le Maistre, and addressed to Math. Gosset, Esq., Colonel of the St. Lawrence Battalion. The Lieutenant's remarks at the foot of the report will be appreciated by all lovers of Jersey-French.
"Jeay trouve bonne sentinelle et tout bonne ordre sinon la table a le pid rompu et le bant a une plianche rompue et les souffles de pichis, le poqueur romput. La lanterne a les cornes hortes."
To those unfortunate people whose education was neglected, I would explain that everything in the guardroom was in perfect order, except that the table had a leg broken, the bench had a plank in the same condition, the bellows couldn't blow, the poker couldn't be used and the horn lantern was out of commission. Otherwise everything was quite all right.
What is evident, however, is that in those days Jersey-French was very much the national language, even if the spelling of a certain junior officer left something to be desired. And, talking about that, I was given clear proof on Saturday evening that in the parish of St. Lawrence it is still very much alive.
I attended a Jersey-French entertainment at the parish hall there, which had been organised by that enthusiast Mr. Jack Le Marquand. The weather was not so good, and Saturday is generally reckoned a bad night for a country show. But the big hall was packed, and there wasn't a dull moment in the course of an entertainment which lasted nearly two and three-quarter hours.
It was, of course, a mixed grill, by which I mean that all the items were on the same high level of excellence. But there was one song by a charming lady (whose apparel showed no signs of austerity) which was worth more than the entrance money, and the very pretty girl acrobat and dancer was excellent.
I consider that the little play at the end would have won top marks at the Eisteddfod. Then, of course, there was Mrs. Blampied, who in certain roles is unsurpassed, and also Mr. Le Ruez, in a very clever and tremendously funny act. My only regret is that I can't say more about an evening which I found altogether delightful.
And yet, yes, there is one thing more, and this is of the highest importance. In the audience was one of our Jurats who suggested to me that, in his opinion, it would be a very good thing if men who couldn't speak Jersey-French could be barred from membership of the States. Personally, I consider it a grand idea. I shall ask Deputy Krichefski what he thinks about it.
Morning News 9/2/1948
...Where Jersey-French is spoken the pupil gathers a large vocabulary in his head...
Evening Post 15/8/1947
Within the past few days I received the 1946 Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica... Our literary life receives short shrift. "The old Norman French patois is dying out. None of the dialects has received much literary cultivation. Jersey was the birthplace of the Norman poet (Wace) in the 12th century."
Morning News 8/1/1947
...Mr. H.A. Journeaux, speaking on behalf of the J.F.A., caused much amusement by starting his speech in Jersey-French...
Morning News 30/5/1947
There was at first bewilderment, then great jubilation at Portinfer, earlier in the week, when the postman delivered a letter bearing the Sudan postmark, and address to Ph'lip and written in excellent Jersey-French...
...The writer of the letter was formerly Miss Olive Mayo, one of the daughters of the late Mr. T. Mayo, who for many years resided at St. Peter's. Her husband, Mr. arthur Amy, is a son of Mr. C.V. Amy, and brother to Mrs. Leslie Watson, of Villa Bonita, Mont Félard. He went to Wau to start his work there in the autumn of last year.
Wau, plainly marked on the map, is situated some 700 miles south-west of Khartoum.
Morning News 2/8/1947
...Fortunately, in this changed and changing Jersey, the local patois is still alive; it even got a fillip during "the occupation" for it was the one tongue to which the enemy had no key, so that they were unable to say rude things about "Jerry" with impunity...
Morning News 3/4/1948
The local patois is the tongue of Wace, the Jerseyman who became the national poet of Normandy....
Times (London) 9/8/1944
M. le Bailli prend la parole remarquant que sous les circonstances il a pour ainsi honte de ne pas s'exprimer dans l'vièrr patois. Il fait allusion au secret que l'on vien de revéler au sujet de ses intentions futures et dit que cette réunion lui rappelle un fait d'à propos lorsqu'en sa capacité judiciaire il eut l'occasion de se rendre jusqu'à Samarès pour passer un contrat. Sans être animé par cet esprit de curiosité que possèdent certains jersiais il arriva que l'on entama la conversation avec celui qui passait le contrat et lorsqu'il demanda à l'intéressé pourquoi il avait décidé de vendre ses terres celui-ci raconta que son neveu avait décidé avec un camarade de se rendre au Canada et dans ce but s'était rendu dans les bureaux de l'agence Bellingham pour obtenir les billets voulus, faisant un dépôt envers le coût des billets. Il arriva que le neveu se mit à réléchir et remarqua à son camarade qu'il était assez inclin à abandonner se projet sur quoi l'autre lui répondit: Philip, y faut stander ton ground et tu ne peux batchi hors achteu. En fait c'est ce qui lui arrive actuellement car il ne peut guère batchi achteu de ce qu'il a dit au sujet de ses intentions.
Chroniques de Jersey 11/12/1937
Certaines adressés récemment à votre confrère du soir me poussent à marmotter, en riant: Le pouaure Moussieu' d'Gruchy.
Ces lettres doivent sûrement lui rappeler à la mémoire le proverbe arabe:
Les tchens wassent;
Les caravanes passent.
Un St. Bréladais
Chroniques de Jersey 6/3/1937
C'est iun des privilèges des siens qui pâlent ou qu'êcrivent le Jerriais, que quand i' sont à court d'un mot, i' peuvent tréjous en fabritchi iun.
N'en dépliaîse à touos les critiques.
Les Chroniques de Jersey 25/7/1936
Certaines personnes ont reçu la semaine dernière une carte d'invitation dont voici copie exacte:-
La Société Jersiais vos invite de v nir vais la chuisine Dimanche prochain le 25me Octobre entre treis et qurte heures l'arlévée.
Or, la Société Jersiaise fut fondée en 1873 Pour l'étude de la langue du pays et la conservation des antiquités de l'île, - l'ancien parler inclu.
Chroniques de Jersey 31/10/1931
First in the list for auction to-morrow at St. James's-square, by Messrs. Hampton and Sons, stands Gouray Lodge, Gorey, a Jersey estate of 15 acres. It is near Mont Orgueil Castle, "gorre" in the local patois, called, in Norman records, Castellum de Gurrit.Times 13/7/1925
The question is often asked whether the inhabitants of Jersey are English or French, and the answer is "Neither; they are Jersey." And the dialect is neither English nor French, but a survival and corruption of the old Norman-French mixed with some English words.
It has been stated that the Jersey patois can be understood by the Welsh and the Celts, but this, I gather, has yet to be proved. The Jerseyman can with an effort speak intelligible modern French, but, like his English, it is strongly accented, and does not please a cultured ear.
Jersey: An Isle of Romance
Blanche B. Elliott
Le Glossaire ou dictionnaire de patois jersiais que la Société Jersiaise se propose de publier en Janvier prochain, est un recueil des plus intéressants comme l'on peut s'en rendre compte par une épreuve des deux premières pages que l'on peut voir à notre bureau.
Pour en obtenir un exemplair, faites vous inscrire à notre bureau et versez le montant de 5/-, coût de cet ouvrage.
Chroniques de Jersey 22/7/1922
Le Comité Exécutif de la Société Jersiaise ayant décidé de publier, au commencement de l'année prochaine, un Glossaire ou Dictionnaire du Patois Jersiais, désire donner l'occasion à ceux qui ne sont pas Membres de la Société de souscrire à cet ouvrage, dont le prix est fixé à chinq chelins.
Ceux qui veulent prendre avantage de cette offre doivent s'inscrire dans les courant d'un mois de cette date, soit à notre Bureau, Place Royale, soit à la Beresford Library et en même temps verser le prix du livre.
Ce 27 Mai 1922.
Chroniques de Jersey 27/5/1922
La séthée. - Aujourd'hui Mercredi et demain Jeudi, séthée de nièr beurre dans la salle paroissiale de St.-Ouen.
Chroniques de Jersey 26/10/1921
Comme on le sait, dans presque toutes les paroisses l'on avait pris la précaution d'avoir des enclos pour vieillards et infirmes, de manière à ce qu'ils puissent voir passer le cortège royal sans être bousculé ni exposé aux dangers de la foule. Le nombre de ceux en ayant profité fut très limité. Peut être que ceux qui auraient pu en profiter étaient du même avis que ce St. Pierrais, âgé de 85 ans, qui, en entendant un des membres de sa famille suggérer d'envoyer son nom pour une place à cet endroit spécial s'exclama: Ch'est buan pour de vieilles gens mais pon pour mé!! - Absolument authentique.
Chroniques de Jersey 16/7/1921
Au moment où le cortège se présenta à l'entrée, le sergent hallebardier abaisse son hallebarde dans une position défensive et s'écrie: Tchi va là! A cela le Bailli répond: Le Roy, et le sergent hallebardier de s'écrier: Passez.
Chroniques de Jersey 13/7/1921
Their own language is not a mongrel patois, as is too often supposed, but is a genuine survival of the old Norman-French tongue, in which the KING'S assent to Acts of Parliament is still given. In each island the language has its own local peculiarities and differences, but the dialect of the Sark fishermen and peasants is said to be the purest, and is probably closely akin to the speech of the Norman invaders of England.
Times (London) 11/7/1921
Virtually all the islanders are bi-linguists - to say nothing of their own ineuphonious patois, which, by the way, communicates its harshness to the voice itself - and in native exceptions in which only one language is spoken it is English that is unknown...
Times (London) 9/7/1921
...Mr. John Lock (we were glad to welcome him after his somewhat long illness) also gave one of his inimitable Jersey-French recitations.
Evening Post 15/1/1917
The above Society held a grand patriotic concert at the Lecture Hall, Industrial Bureau, Winnipeg, on Thursday, November 23rd, half the proceeds to be forwarded to the L.C.I. Fund and half to go to the ladies' auxiliary of the above Society.
The large hall was gaily decorated for the occasion, and a good sized crowd was in attendance. Mrs. Langtry (The Jersey Lily), who was appearing in "Ashes" at the Orpheum Theatre, was approached by the Committee, and kindly consented to appear on the programme, which, needless to say, was easily the feature of any patriotic concert held here this year. The programme was one of the finest seen on local boards this season, and the large audience showed their approval in unmistakable fashion.
Mrs. Langtry, on appearing, was given a great reception, and recited "Verdun," "The Death of Kitchener," and being further recalled, gave a short speech about Jersey, which she finished with some Jersey-French poetry. A beautiful bouquet of flowers was presented to her by little Maud Abel...
Evening Post 23/12/1916
Just a word to remind our readers of the Jersey-French Sethèe that is being held in the Oddfellows' Hall this evening. There are only a limited number of seats left.
...As regards the programme, we enjoyed it immensely. We were, in fact, heartily glad that it was our happy lot to be able to understand and appreciate to the full that peculiar - but to the true Jerseyman ever-pleasing - dialect in which le vrai Jerriais loves to talk, and of which last night's programme entirely consisted...
....Le Procès was good, but our favourite item was a farce entitled L'Annonce. It was a scream from end to end. In fact it was too much of a scream, inasmuch as the laughter was so prolonged and unceasing that many of the jokes were drowned in the volume of laughter greeting those that had preceded them. But, after all, that was a fault on the right side...
Morning News 25/5/1916
Le Mêcredi 22 Mars, ceux qui veulent passer un bon moment, et rire jusqu'aux larmes, n'auront qu'à se rendre à 8 heures du soir à la Salle Paroissiale de St. Louothains pour assister à une Séthée d'Jerriais, au profit des Soudards bliessés - comme l'aute sai à St. Jean - les mêmes artistes; tant à qui est nécessaire est encore plus de public. On nous dit que le Caouain est à se parer les plumes pour éblouir ses voisins dans la Salle. Espérons qu'il ne va pas recommencer à critiquer l'un ou l'autre des artistes, comme il l'a fait à St. Jean, par pure jalousie.
IMPORTANT. - Les personnes ayant des billets sont priés d'être à lus pièches à 7.45.
Chronique de Jersey 18/3/1916
In one of the general military hospitals, attached to the Expeditionary, doctors and nurses were at their wits' end to make some Walloon wounded patients (natives of lower Flanders) understand what was required of them.
They tried to converse in French, but to no pupose. Several other languages were also tried, but without success.
At length a Jerseyman named Mollet, the hospital orderly, hearing the vain efforts of the doctors and patients to understand each other, noticed a similarity to the Walloon patois to Jersey French, and suggested that he should address the patients in the patois.
This he did, and to the satisfaction of all concerned was able to carry on an intelligent conversation with the patients, between whom and the doctors and nurses he now acts as interpreter.
Jersey Weekly Post 2/1/1915
...The proceedings were unique from many points of view, notably by reason of the fact that all the business connected therewith was transacted in Jersey French. Men of the bouan vier Jerriais type - and they were exceedingly well represented - simply revelled in the whole programme, and the event may be set down as having been one of the most delightful and successful phases of this year's festival.
Jurat G.P. Crill, in the course of a speech at the commencement of the proceedings, said that he felt somewhat at a loss at being called upon the platform at a moment's notice. He found himself like an èstampèrche (laughter). He was proud of his Island's patois and deplored present day Morgâches and Sifaiches. He reminded those present that that evening's competitions were due to the kindly initiative of the Jersey Society in london, which, by the way, he once visited in company with the late Mr. Ph. Baudains. The Jurat, continuing, convulsed the audience by quoting a verse from La Picagneresse and from articles by Peter Pain and Laizé in The Morning News.
Morning News 16/11/1913
Le Capt. C.H. Robin épouse Mlle. Yvonne Lemprière
...Cette hospitalité se trouvait admirablement exprimée dans les vers qui figuraient dun côté de la grande bannière à lentrée principale du domaine.
Nouvelle Chronique de Jersey 20/9/1913
The inscription, which was in Jersey patois, freely translated, was as follows:- "Proud as Cyrus, my old friends, I open you, the door, the door of my house."
Morning News 18/9/1913
A correspondent sends us the following amusing extract from Punch, of August, 1846 (...)
The English Government does not care a button about assimilating the Jersiais to England in language, and the people of that country may go on talking the patois and gibberish as long as they please, for it is very likely that what they have to say is not worth the trouble of trying to comprehend....
Morning News 24/5/1913
...Mr. John Lock kindly obliged by giving his favourite Ma Cour-té Pipe, and delighted all with this recitation in the Patois.
Morning News 19/3/1913
...Out in the country districts old folks still speak the patois, half French, half English, which is such a stumbling block to both French and English visitors. They have books printed in the patois and there is only one firm that can print them...
The Christian World, reprinted in Morning News 13/1/1913
Mr. W. De Guerin, of the Halkett Library, has hit upon a happy and what should prove exceedingly popular idea with respect to Xmas and New Year Cards.
The usual stock of these cards is of course very large and splendidly assorted but among them will be found and especially interesting series i.e. neatly printed folding cards bearing the Jersey Coat of Arms and inscribed with greeting in Norman French. These greetings are nicely worded and connot but appeal to all Jerseymen, especially to those who reside out of the Island. The novelty of the idea is bound to ensure a quick sale, so those who would procure a few of these cards had better lose no time in paying the establishment a visit.
Morning News 6/12/1912
...The Dean, previous to the concert, expressed his gratification at the growth of the Eisteddfod during the past five years. Where were the prophets who had prophesied failure? One might look for them (applause). The answer to criticism of the name Eisteddfod was find us a better. So he would suggest that a special prize should be offered for a really good Norman-French name which could be applied to the Eisteddfod.
Morning News 30/10/1912
Nous avons le regret davoir à enregistrer le décès de lun de ces vieux Jersiais dont le passé démontre lamour pour le petit pays.
Alfred Messervy, écr., ex-Juré-Justicier, est en effet mort, hier laprès-midi, à une heure 30, à son domicile Strathmore, St. Marks Road, après une longue maladie, qui le clouait au lit.
Il était natif de la Trinité dont il fut le Connétable pendant quelques années ayant précédemment rempli dautres fonctions honorifiques.
Cest en 1877 quil fut élu à la charge de Connétable de sa paroisse, poste quil occupa jusquen 1884 lorsquil fut élu Juré-Justicier.
Il devint ensuite Lieutenant-Bailli et il y a quelques années il se retira complètement de la vie politique.
M. Messervy était marin de profession, commençant sa carrière comme contre-maître à bord dun navire belge appelé Brabant nom quil donna plus tard à sa propriété de la Trinité. Plus tard il commanda le navire Rescue. Il était un mathématicien hors pair et avait même inventé un certain calendrier perpétuel vraiment remarquable. Cest lui qui prépara le projet sur le système décimal et comme on le sait, nous devons lui être reconnaissant de ses tableaux concernant les rentes.
De sa première épouse il laisse cinq fils et une fille.
Il se maria en secondes noces, il y a quelques années.
A la famille, quil nous soit permis de présenter nos sincères condoléances.
Les funérailes auront lieu Samedi et les personnes qui désirent y assister sont priées de se réunir au cimitière de St. Sauveur à 3 hrs. 20.
Chronique de Jersey 3/4/1912
It is ten thousand pities that there are so many language maniacs in Jersey. They always manage to get on some local body, and invariably succeed in having their asinine remarks quoted in the papers. Somebody objects to somebody else speaking in French, or grows purple in the face because a question put in English is answered in the official language, or because a certain expression is not strictly Parisian. And so the old foolish wrangling begins over again. These folk never seem to recognise the glorious constitution of this Island which makes the two languages equal. Whether it was right or wrong, or something betwixt and between, matters nothing now. The thing was done; and we have now got to accept it without making bigger nuisances of ourselves than we can help. If a man like to talk in French he is entitled to hurl it around for hours at a time, though nobody in the audience has any idea of what he is talking about. And if somebody else reply in English amongst a host of Jerseymen who know their patois better than anything else, he is equally within his rights. That the thing may be foolish, or theatrical, or merely due to conceit, has nothing to do with the question ; and the fact that the speaker may not be understood is immaterial, because it is a hundred to one against him saying anything worth listening to. The chief thing is to keep your finger out of other folks' language. Mangle your own tongue as much as you please, but, for goodness sake, give the other fellow the same privilege. This is a free country. A man has a perfect right to be misunderstood in any language he likes, and make a bally fool of himself in half a dozen if he have the time.
The Jerseyman 24/2/1912
Here's a specimen of the greetings we are constantly receiving, showing that The Jerseyman has already made a hit amongst les vrais Jerriais." It is signed Unanimus," and reads as follows :- Votre gauzette ma fet du bain. J'espethe quouze ethez tou pian de good luck, ait guouze allez, prospethai dans chauque ouze avez entrepreins. A Samedi chi vain, mon garcon."
The Jerseyman 6/5/1911
....That the jilted young sailor has taken things with a pleasant smile.
That he arrived in the Island last week looking the picture of health, and was at the Opera with one of the most charming young ladies of the neighbouring village, apparently enjoying himself.
That his belle was also there, and was the talk of the evening.
The only consolation the young salt gets is:- "Ton et bein de ton kierji, mon garçon, ch'est tout pour les sous. Ya enco du paisson dans la mer."
The Jerseyman 14/9/1912
The members of St. John's Central Y.M.C.A. were entertained last night by a lecture by Mr. E.J. Luce, on Sir Robert Marett. The Rector of St. John's presided, and the lecture, as dealing with an undoubtedly eminent Jerseyman, was of great interest.
Sir Robert Marett was first dealt with as Barrister and then Constable of St. Helier in 1856. While he held that post he was instrumental in acquiring for the Parish the Royal Parade, Lower and People's Park, and was also responsible for the widening of a number of roads, notably Cheapside, the Sea Front to First Tower, and other valuable improvements.Besides being a member of the States and a Crown Officer, Sir Robert was also the author of the Law on Realty, which represented his life-work for some 30 years before the Bill was finally passed in 1879. The lecturer quoted Advocate Simon's words: The day will come when all the granite in Jersey will not suffice to erect a monument worthy of the author of that Law. The aims and results of the law, the improving of title-holds and the reducing of useless and costly litigation were other points dealt with. As Constable, Sir Robert found the parish coffers empty, and a 5s. Rate, but not content with this he raised the rate to 8s. to pay for the great improvements carried out. The lecturer considered his subject the greatest Jerseyman who had lived and died amongst us.
During the evening Miss H. Le Masurier read Les Aviers, and Mr. Luce recited Le Grounneux, and La Picagneresse, also acting the comediette L'Annonce, (by Elie.)
Morning News 24th February 1911
Jersey has ambitions. Most countries are content to be uni-lingual ; a few aim at being bi-lingual, including Jersey. But some folks in this land are determined that it shall become multi-lingual. Not content with English and French, our newspapers contain, not only Jersey patois, but correspondents writing upon questions they know nothing about, must needs, introduce German and Greek to air their university training. If the idea catches, and Jersey makes progress, we shall evolve a kind of twentieth century Tower of Babel.
People will think in English, express themselves in a mixture of French and Jersey-French, softened by a modicum of some patois from Sheeniland, and carry on their correspondence in Esperanto. And when the good housewife interviews the fruit and vegetable merchant at the back door, she will address him something like this : Dekko, tum schein, chaique twa la. Your rotten naartjes are très petites. Ich habe genug, so long by the stoep. Git!" And a Jersey newspaper in 1950! Gee whiz! It will look as if all the type used in the setting up of fifteen different dictionaries in fifteen different languages had been mixed up in a mortar machine, and a volume printed from the residue, so to speak.
The Jerseyman 30/9/1911
...The Christmas pudding in Guernsey is le wiësh pott, here le poddin de Nouë.
On New Year's day our ancestors sang:-
Bonjour, Monsieur! Bonjour, Madame!
Je n'vos ai pas vu acouare chut an,
Et je vos souhaite une bouânne année,
Et mes irevieres s'il vous plyait.
And out would come a penny from grandmamma's pouchette and un morcé de gâche de corinthe....
Jersey Week by Week 29/12/1906
Monsieur, - J'érons du macré bétôt car l'âne de Balaam a pâlai!
L'explication de ce dit-on est que le Maquereau étant un poisson migratoire n'arrive sur nos côtes qu'au Printemps et ne nous quitte qu'à la fin d'Octobre. Quand nos pères entendaient lire à l'Eglise la première leçon du soir (le premier Dimanche après Pâques) qui donne le récit de l'âne de Balaam, etc., ils se disaient "les viers" comme ci-dessus: j'érons du macré bétôt car l'âne de Balaam a pâlai.
19, Chevalier Road,
Nov. 4, 1904.
Nouvelle Chronique de Jersey 5/11/1904
(JEP = Jersey Evening Post)
(JWP = Jersey Weekly Post)
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