How hypocritical can the JEP be?
In the opinion leader of 17 December they emphasise the importance of retaining the Jersey French language, but how can it be expected to survive when they publish three articles on the same night's paper referring to La Grande Route des Mielles as the Five Mile Road?
One of the articles was from a supposedly true Jersey crapaud, 'Helier Clement'. Another case of don't do as I do but do as I say.
Perhaps it was not surprising that the reduction of the number of Jèrriais speakers detailed in the Census figures merited a JEP editorial.
It would seem to me that the Editor took too pessimistic a view of the situation. Any teaching incentive takes time to get off the ground and in the meantime even Jèrriais speakers cannot avoid the journey to the land beyond.
The Editor mentions places where Jèrriais used to be spoken such as family gatherings, cattle shows and in bars. Sadly, family gatherings are becoming rarer and cattle shows almost non-existent. Judging by the number of cars I see parked outside country pubs on most days, their trade is also in serious decline.
Not surprisingly, the modern solution to everything, ie compulsion, is mentioned as a way to stimulate the growth of Jèrriais speaking. Just imagine what the sizeable immigrant population would think about this piece of nonsense. By all means let those that wish to learn the language do so at night school or optionally at school but let's not waste everybody's time on the not-interested brigade.
However, a serious thought does spring to mind! I understand that members of the Welsh civil service have to be Welsh speakers. Just think of the advantages of a directive that insisted that all Jersey civil servants were Jèrriais speakers. One immediate benefit would be that we would have less of the, 'because the UK has done it we must also do it' line of reasoning.
The large number of civil servants imported from the UK have spent years gleefully making life more difficult for us. Most have generally left the Island immediately their fat pension cheques became available but making Jèrriais speaking a condition of employment would put an end to all this.
Obviously the number of people available to join the civil service would be dramatically reduced. As a consequence state spending would be miniscule by current standards, enabling tax, social security contributions and taxes on alcohol, tobacco and petrol to be substantially reduced. Visitors would flock back to the Island and more hotels would have to be built.
Perhaps our troubles really started with the decline in the numbers of Jèrriais-speaking Jerseymen and not with things such as the strong pound or the high cost of getting here.
The recent Census has already provided invaluable intelligence about such vital issues as the number of people living in the Island and the demographic structure of the population. Now other information is beginning to emerge which fills in the finer detail about the nature of our community. Naturally enough, not all the news is good news. Census questions about language, for example, have revealed that although a fifth of Islanders claim French as a second tongue, Jersey Norman-French is in serious decline. This is a great shame, not only because our native language is so colourful and richly expressive but also because it is among the signs of the Island's uniqueness and proud sense of individuality. It is entirely fitting that a society which enjoys such a high level of independence should cherish its linguistic heritage. Sadly, despite the strenuous efforts of many people and organisations keen to preserve Jèrriais as an integral part of Island life, the language is not being passed on to sufficient numbers of the younger generation. As the Census has revealed, two-thirds of the 3.2 per cent of the population who speak Jèrriais are now over the age of 60, which does not augur well for the future. Brittany and the Isle of Man provide encouraging examples of linguistic revival but it would seem that, if the tongue which has enriched so many family gatherings, cattle shows, public bar conversations and casual meetings down the years is to survive, even greater efforts must be made to save it. In practice, this must mean more work on the youth front. Jersey Norman-French is already taught in Island schools but only as an option. If we are truly serious about ensuring that a significant element of Jersey culture lasts into and even beyond the rest of the 21st more positive action may be required. Given the demands of the modern curriculum, many parents and educators would reject the idea of compulsory lessons in Jersey Norman-French, but that could be the only real answer to the problem of passing the linguistic baton on to future generations.
More than half of the Island's population is concentrated in a fifth of the land area in St Helier, St Clement and St Saviour, according to the latest Census results.
St Clement has also seen the highest population growth, while the number of people living in St Saviour and St Lawrence has decreased slightly.
This is the second update of results to come, from this year's Census, based on figures recorded on 11 March. Initial results in October revealed a total Island population of 87,176.
Portuguese is now the Island's second main language, spoken by 8.4 per cent of residents. One fifth speak French as a second language, but only 339 regard French as their first language.
The number of Jersey Norman-French speakers has fallen by 50 per cent since 1989. Currently 2,874 - 3.2 per cent - speak the Island's patois, and of those, two-thirds are over the age of 60. The number of divorced and separated people has risen substantially in the last ten years, from 77 per 1,000 in 1991 to 111 per 1,000 in 2001. More than a quarter of all marriages, including remarriages, end in divorce.
Months of preparation and rehearsals came to a climax when the Sethées Jèrriaises of the Jersey Eisteddfod took place on Monday and Tuesday 26th and 27th November before a large and enthusiastic audience. This year's evenings in Jersey Norman-French moved to a new venue - Haute Vallée School - and saw a greatly increased participation by school pupils who attend Jèrriais lessons. For the first time two groups of around 40 young people, from beginners to those in the third year of learning the language, started each evening's performance with a lively rendition of the traditional song Jean, Gros Jean. Jèrriais pupils also took part in reading their own choice from a selection of set poems. They had rehearsed the poems in lessons during the Autumn term, and Adjudicator Mr. Brian Vibert encouraged them to continue their studies of Jèrriais. He said that they had all acquitted themselves well, with some having achieved the highest levels of competence.
It is pleasing to see pupils who took part last year moving to higher levels, with, for example, Alexander Voisin of De La Salle College reciting a piece of his own choice, Rocque Bèr. Veronica Fulton, who was awarded a medal by the Mayor of Coutances for her recitation at the Fête Nouormande held there in the summer, also gave an outstanding performance to again win the E.J. Luce Memorial Trophy. Later in the performances, it was the turn of their teachers to take to the stage, as both Geraint Jennings and Anthony Scott Warren participated in several classes.
It is noticeable that some of those responsible for the regeneration of the Sethées Jèrriaises in the 1970s are not now participating as in previous years. The evening class students, who produced many excellent performances, are filling their places to some extent. Three mothers who accompany their children to Jèrriais lessons at school also entered the student classes, and it to be hoped that other parents may follow their example in the future.
The audience also enjoyed superb performances in the senior classes, with Audrey Lucas giving faultless recitations to win two trophies. Students from the Beginners' and Advanced evening-classes presented a selection of non-traditional songs, while students and members of the Section d'la Langue Jèrriaise of La Société Jersiaise took part in choral speaking.
Sadly, only one play was performed this year, written and performed by Les P'tits Crapauds, but nonetheless it was greatly enjoyed by both audience and actors! En 'tait-che là un Lot was set at an old Jersey country auction - with items on sale ranging from a stuffed crocodile to a rake with one tooth missing - which reminded one of the bidders of her mother-in-law. The final lot was revealed to be a very realistic-looking Mace missing from the States building - which resulted in the arrest of all the cast by Connétabl'ye Ken Vibert of St. Ouën, who appeared from the audience to lead the unfortunate cast into jail!
Island businesses which watch their language have been encouraged by a new award - the Crapaud d'Or award in recognition of their use or encouragement of Jèrriais.
The awards, which have been given by the umbrella organisation of Jèrriais language associations, Le Congrès des Parlers Normands et Jèrriais mark this year's designated European Year of Languages.
They are also part of a number of initiatives to popularise the speaking of Jersey's traditional language. The president of the Congrès, John Denize, said that a number of organisations had received awards, including Centre Ville, Harbours and Airport for their use of notices in Jèrriais, the Education Department for its help in promoting the language to school-children, the Le Riche Group in using the language in its merchandising, and to the Jersey Evening Post in recognition for its articles in Jèrriais.
The Congrès will award further Crapauds d'Or next year after the language festival, La Fête Nouormande, in June.
Mr Denize said that nominations were welcome at any time for use of signs, menus advertisements or indeed for anything else that would spread the Jèrriais word.
Jèrriais, the Island's old Norman-French language, retains to this day many words of Norse origin
Some of these are words describing everyday things, actions and situations. Examples are:
bruman, a bridegroom, brud-mannr ;
bolle, a bowl, baul ;
bra, cobbler's wax, braeda;
daoe, to urinate, daela;
flianette, to gossip, flana;
gamme, a game, gama;
ecrilyi, to slip, skrilla.
Mr Falle commented: 'It is interesting that there are no similar Norse origins for Jèrriais words relating to what, historically, would have been considered specifically woman's work or activities.
'Does this mean that the Viking element in the population was originally male, who took local non-Viking women as their wives?'
He compared this to the many Viking words to do with farming (especially ploughing and harvesting) and fishing. These may refer to the introduction of new technical practices and more intensive farming by the Viking colonists into what may have been a tired and inward-looking economy, where farming skills and equipment were limited.
Examples relating to fishing, ships and the sea:
bete, bait, beita ;
dranet, draw-net, dragnet;
flie, a limpet, flie;
greer, to rig, greidi;
haler, to haul, hala;
crabe, a crab, krabbi;
mauve, a seagull, mar.
Examples relating to farming:
enhaulader, to hobble a cow, ahalaud;
bel (eg Bel Royal), an estate or, farmyard, baeli or bol;
gard, a yard or garden, gardr ;
graie, a harness, grida;
vraic, seaweed, vrikke.
Another example is the Jèrriais word 'verp' (a pound for stray animals, from the Norse verpa), which Mr Falle has found has a western bias in Jèrriais, and thus adds weight to the probability that the main Scandinavian settlement was in the west of the Island.
Perhaps, he suggests, Vikings farmed more intensively than their predecessors, and this necessitated tighter control of animals,
There are plenty of other examples to do with the routine work of the farming cycle which show a strong Norse origin.
Whether or not a genetic link exists between Jersey cattle and 'Viking' breeds from Scotland and Iceland is still a matter for debate. There is certainly some similarity in size, but a far more obvious similarity existed between the old, now extinct breed of many-horned Jersey sheep and similar horned breeds from the north.
Anybody who might want, at this point, to make a facetious comment that cows, like Vikings, have horns on top of their heads (or helmets) might be interested to know that there is no evidence that Viking warriors wore horned helmets. Only one Viking helmet has ever been found - and that was hornless.
Examples of topographical words:
banque, a bank, bank;
becq a brook, baek;
berg, a rock, berg,
hou or ho (as in Ecréhous) a small island (islet), holm;
etac (as in L'Etacq), a stack, stakr,
-ey (as in Jers-ey and Guerns-ey), an island, ey,
hougue, a burial mound, haugr,
mielle (as in Route des Mielles), a sand-dune, melr,
nez (as in Grosnez), a promontory, nes.
It's an established fact that whatever goes in through the elegant front entrance of the noble Island breed of cattle is obliged to leave in a different form via the servant's quarters at the rear of the property
So while this is the year of the Jersey cow (or, I think more correctly, l'année d'la belle vaque d'Jèrri), it is also l'année d'buon fumyi....
Cider with rosy sunshine meant picnics on the grass and over 1,200 people visiting Hamptonne over the weekend for the annual cider-making event, La fai'sie d'cidre.
This was Island self-sufficiency demonstrated in a big way. A record crop of apples this year means that Jersey fruit only needed to apply for an interesting position in an apple-crusher, with good transmutation possibilities to become part of the Island's traditional drink.
Last year the Island was lashed with heavy storms over the annual cider-making weekend. This year it couldn't have been more different, with balmy sunny skies and warm temperatures entering into the spirit of nostalgia for temps passé....
Many of Jersey's traditional apple varieties are no longer found anywhere in the Island. A list of apples, grown for cider, eating and cooking at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries lists a total of 66 varieties.
Preserving as many of those varieties as possible has been the hobby and work of a number of people, including Brian Phillips and Rosemary Betts, or of Don Huelin, a member of the Horticultural branch of the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society, who always exhibits apples from his own trees at the society's autumn show.
Here is a list, with their properties as described by Dr Frank Le Maistre, of some of the apple varieties grown at the Howard Davis Farm and at Hamptonne:
Rouoget: Late; acid, but a good keeper.
Gros France. A large, sweet green apple, good for all purposes.
Nièr Binet: A very good, all-purpose apple. Makes excellent cider when really ripe. December.
Têtard: Cider only. Bitter-sweet, green. December.
P'tit France: A medium-size sweet apple, hard and very green. December-January. One of the best: makes cider with a special taste (and for bottling) and keeps well
Gros Romeril (Gros Rom'thi): A sweet, soft green apple, the poorest known to cider makers. Lacking in colour and taste, it is also weak in alcohol and tannin. November.
Douces Dames (Douoches Danmes): Very sweet and early. The cider does not keep well after March.
Belles Filles (Belles Fil'yes): Early, sweet and green. A good all-purpose apple. The tree bears well.
Museau d'Boeuf (Musé d'Boeu): Sour, soft striped red; a good early all-purpose apple. The tree bears well.
Museau d'Brébie (Musé d'Brébis): Bitter sweet apples, small and green. November. Makes good cider.
Caplyi: Streaked with red. October. Cider of good flavour.
Vèrt Caplyi: Small fruit, bitter sweet, grey-green. January. Good Cropper.
Gris Caplyi: Sweet, small fruit, greyish-red. February to March. Makes a nice sweet cider with good flavour. The tree bears well in alternate years.
Côtard: Green and sour. December. It makes only a small tree but bears well.
I'm a townie, born and bred as one says, and no-one in my family spoke Jèrriais. But when I was little, I liked to see the articles in the Evening Post - Les Lettres du Bouanhomme George by George d'la Forge.
I liked to see words like "pouortchi" (why) and "couôteunmes" (customs), and although I only rarely heard Jèrriais spoken and it was impossible for me to read the articles, all that caught my interest.
It was written Jèrriais that drew my interest when I was little, and I must say that it is Jèrriais literature which is still my biggest interest now. It is unbelievable when I hear people say that Jèrriais has never been written. One should be proud that it was Channel island writers who inspired the literary renaissance in Normandy in the nineteenth century, and that we have a literary tradition dating back to at least 1795.
Reading old literature, it was Elie (E.J.Luce) who became my favourite writer, and I decided that it was a great pity that it was so difficult to find pieces in Jèrriais.
Being online on the Web, it seemed a good idea to me to share pieces with other people who would want to read them via the computer. I started the Pages Jèrriaises on my home page with a few poems. In 1988, with several hundred pages, the Pages Jèrriaises were moved to the Société Jersiaise website and they have continued to grow until today when we have more than one thousand five hundred pages.
And there are still folk who say than Jèrriais has never been a written language!
I believe that Jèrriais really is the Jersey language. Jersey language and literature belong to all the citizens of Jersey: those in Town, St. Ouën, St. Martin, the English the Scots, the Portuguese... It is our language and our heritage - and with the classes in schools, it will belong to our children as well.
The Constable greeted the court and extended a special welcome to the Lieut-Governor on his first Visite Royale.
He then took the Bailiff to task over a comment he had made at the opening of the Parish Hall extension in April when Sir Philip had intimated that those in St Ouen did not speak proper Jerriais.
'Historically wise men have travelled from the east and although the first three returned I would suggest that many future travellers found the west a desirable place and decided to settle there,' said Mr Vibert.
'They brought with them not only their wisdom but the true Jerriais which wise men would naturally have spoken.'
A Mrs Hamel who lives in Devon - but I would bet that she has good Jersey connections - has sent me a cutting from the North Devon Journal.
She works as a volunteer at the museum in Holsworthy, where she lives, and one of her jobs is to collect newspaper cuttings about the town.
During one search she came across an item about a Devonian organic farmer who collects seaweed from Falmouth, Ireland and France and sells it as natural remedies to promote healthy crops and animals.
Perhaps he could even find a use for the cliaque that has turned the beach at St Aubin to a crisp and crinkly green and take it away to burn and create the nutritious ashes that once fed our own crops.
Much of what is traditionally Jersey may slowly be slipping away, despite the efforts in the schools, but even today you can often hear someone speak of so many 'pots' of something, especially when referring to milk. Pot is pronounced 'po', like the Teletubby, but what is it exactly?
The Jerseyman's 'Bible', the French-Jersey Norman-French dictionary of Dr Frank Le Maistre, makes it clear: 'A pot is an ancient measure containing four pints.'
There are two pîntes to a quart, two quarts to a pot and two pots to the gallon - but that is only since 1 January 1919, when the pînte in Jersey was designated as the exact equivalent of an English pint. In Normandy, our closest linguistic link, a pînte is a half-litre.
The pînte and pot can also be a measure of weight, so you can have a pînte of beans, or even a pînte of butter - the equivalent ofa 1lb, or 454 grams.
There are 40 liquid pîntes - or ten pots - to a cabot, although most often you will hear cabot used as a term for dry weights measured by volume, representing, for example, 32 lb of wheat or 40 lb of potatoes, so that by extension, cabot is also the name given to the container in which they were measured.
The Société Jersiaise have been presented with a doctoral thesis on the life of George d'la Forge, the American-based Jerseyman whose local tales penned in Jèrriais entertained Islanders for many years.
Annette Torode handed over the culmination of eight years' work entitled George d'la Forge, Guardian of the Jersey Norman Heritage, George Francis Le Feuvre, 1891 to 1984 - at a special reception in the Members' Room on Wednesday.
Mrs Torode does not speak Jèrriais, although as a graduate of French and being fluent in that language she does understand it. She has been fascinated by George Le Feuvre's writings since she paid her first visit to the Island in 1965, soon after marrying Jerseyman Ken Torode.
However, it was not until eight years ago that she began her research in earnest, with the help of the Jersey Evening Post.
'When I first came to Jersey in l965 I had just. graduated in French and several people produced George's articles which they thought would have been of interest to me,' Mrs Torode explained. 'I found I could read them and I became totally fascinated. 'I don't speak the language and I don't ever think I will, but I enjoy reading it and have discovered similarities and differences with French.'
Mr Le Feuvre's articles were published in the paper from 1965 until his death, and his tales of a bygone age in pre-First World War Jersey went worldwide through the pages of the Weekly Post. Prior to his association with the JEP, he wrote for the Chronique newspaper.
Mr Le Feuvre was born and grew up in St Ouen but when his parents emigrated to Canada, taking the family with them, he stayed behind, meeting up again with his brothers only on the battlefields of the First World War. After the war he joined his family and they eventually moved to America, where he rose to a high position with the Ford Motor Company.
He never forgot his home or his native language, however, and when he took early retirement in 1946 he returned for a holiday and in later life spent each year living partly in America, partly in the Island and the remainder travelling the world. In all he wrote about 900 articles for the paper and was a regular contributor to the Société Bulletin.
Mrs Torode researched her thesis on regular visits to Jersey and at home in Leeds, where she works as an administrator at the city's university - which houses a collection of books on the Channel Islands left to the university by a Jerseyman, Professor J Le Paturel.
She also met and became friends with people who had known Mr Le Feuvre, including Frank Le Maistre and Edna Clarke-Halifax.
Many hours were spent pouring over old copies of the JEP stored on microfiche in the Library, assisted by her husband, and eight years of effort resulted in the 125,000-word work which now rests with the Société.
Mrs Torode hopes she can obtain funding to publish it for general consumption, and she also intends to continue her studies. 'I'm going to keep the interest going and we're going to keep coming back,' she said.
Il vaut mieux entamer la conversation dans la langue de Shakespeare. Mais si l'îlien connaît le français, il se fera un plaisir de l'employer. « Ma mère est née à Cancale, » ou « Mon arrière-grand-père est venu de Normandie, » sont des classiques. Ça laisse forcément des traces et une langue au charme inimitable, le Jersiais, ponctué de mots issus du patois normand repassés à la moulinette anglaise.
Ouest France 20/7/2001
Manx language teachers are visiting Jersey this week to attend a first inter-island forum with their opposite numbers who teach Jèrriais.
The Jèrriais language teaching co-ordinator, Tony Scott Warren, said: 'Although Manx and Jèrriais are so different, there is a lot we can learn from each other. There has been a lot of contact already over the years and this visit will continue to strengthen those links.'
The Manx teachers are members of the Yn Unnid Gaelgagh - the Manx Language Unit. Manx language officer Phil Kelly said that he hoped this would be the first of a series of collaborative ventures between the teachers of both languages, with the aim of enhancing the learning of the two tongues.
The visit is one of the projects undertaken as part of European Year of Languages 2001, during which the Isle of Man and Jersey are co-operating as small island communities with their own unique languages and cultures. Representatives of those developing a similar teaching programme in Guernsey have also been invited.
The Manx language teachers will be accompanied by the education officer of Eiraght Ashooaght Vannin - Manx Natural Heritage, who will be participating in discussions with their colleagues in Jersey.
If you want to join in the Jèrriais revival, come along to one of our classes. They operate at three levels and are full of conversation and activity.
C'menchants - Beginners
The course starts with basic conversational phrases, asking questions and discussing everyday things, and gradually works up through some basic grammar by means of the weekly Jèrriais soap opera and the diton of the week.
This course enables students to move on and gain in confidence so that they can use Jèrriais with neighbours, friends and family.
Avanchis - Advanced
The advanced course includes conversation games, reading texts old and new and group projects. Students are encouraged to put their Jèrriais (and even occasionally Dgèrnésiais or Nouormand!) to good use by becoming involved in the promotion of Jèrriais through the performance of songs, poems and playlets. There is plenty of practice in class for fêtes and concerts, all in a light-hearted and productive atmosphere.
If you have never been able to make evening classes on a regular basis, or simply want an intensive taster in Jèrriais before committing yourself, why not try our new immersion weekend?
Put the oui in weekend by spending Saturday 4 August and Sunday 5 August learning Jèrriais from scratch with Geraint Jennings. From meeting and greeting on Saturday morning and learning our first phrases, we will move on to preparing lunch, learning cooking vocabulary in the kitchen as we go. In the afternoon we will get out into the countryside to learn more Jèrriais in the wild, returning to base for yet more practical conversation activities. Sunday's programme will follow the same pattern. The cost of lunch is included in the course fee, but drinks are extra!
Highlands College Adult & Community Education Prospectus Autumn 2001
Tout ce que la Normandie, et les iles, comptent d'enthousiastes défenseurs et promoteurs, s'est rassemblé pendant trois jours aux Unelles, les 8, 9 et 10 juin. Constat : si l'enseignement du normand s'enracine dans les iles, il n'en va pas de même sur le continent. Les langues d'oïl ont encore plusieurs combats à mener et à gagner.
Preuve du dynamisme des iliens, sur les chaises de la salle Barbey d'Aurevilly (on n'est jamais si bien servi que par ses maîtres), trônait déjà le programme detaillé des Rouaisouns 2002.
La grande réunion des cousins" normands se déroulera du 7 au 9 juin 2002 a Jersey avec parade en costume le vendredi soir, journée de féte le lendemain au Manoir de Samares et journée d'héritage le dimanche avec la Société jersiaise.
Et c'est vrai que dans les iles, le normand se porte comme un charme.
A Guernesey on ne veut pas crier victoire trop vite, mais on s'avance a petits pas vers un enseignement en second degré, des écoles primaires s'y sont mises et les adultes débutants fréquentent les cours du soir, temoigne M Thomlinson, ancien enseignant de français standard.
A Jersey avec l'appui du sénateur Le Maistre le "jerriais" s'est installé confortablement dans les écoles "au moins 1 500 élèves le pratiquent" confirme Tony Scott Warren "Et pour capter l'attention et la concentration des mousses nous mettons des quiz et des gammes sur les computers" ajoute, malicieux, son voisin.
Les outils, les Jersiais s'en sont dotés trés largement: éditées par la Société jersiaise, les Publyicâtions jerriaises" écrites sont nombreuses. Les mousses" ont leur dictionnaire normand les preunmié mille mots. Quant aux adultes anglophones ils se mettent au jerriais en écoutant les cassettes d'Ursula Taylor enregistrées sur les ondes de la BBC Radio Jersey.
A entendre adultes et entants concourir pour le prix des Rouaisouns 2001, le trac aux lèvres et le poing serré, on comprend que la partie est en voie d'ètre gagnée. Les Normands du continent ont une reconquéte à faire pour emprunter la méme voie.
La Manche Libre 17/6/2001
A Beaulieu student who learned Jèrriais from her grandfather won a medal at a Norman language festival last weekend.
Veronica Fulton (10), of St Ouen, scooped the top prize at the Fête des Rouaisouns in Coutances for her rendition of 'Not' Vièr Co'. Two other Jersey students, Alexander Voisin (14), of De La Salle College, and Thomas Bailey (13), of Le Rocquier School, also won prizes for their performances.
Miss Fulton's grandfather, Frank Carré (77), said he had been speaking to her in Jèrriais since she was born. He said: 'It is nice to sec that they are teaching it again. When I was young we heard it all the time. You only hear English now. I am always speaking to the grandchildren in Jèrriais I hope they will pick it up.
Jèrriais language teaching co-ordinator Tony Scott Warren said: 'They were the only children taking part in the event and they were a credit to the Island and our language.'
A girl who learned Jèrriais from her grandfather won a medal for her recitation at Le Fête des Rouaisouns in Coutances last weekend. Veronica Fulton (10), a Beaulieu student, won the prize for her rendition of 'Not' Vièr Co'- Alexander Voisin (14), a pupil at De La Salle College, and Thomas Bailey (13), a pupil at Le Rocquier School, also won prizes for their performances. Next year, the Fête des Rouaisouns will be held in Jersey.
Im sure Idve written in Jèrriais in reply to Rob Shipleys article about apostrophes in Jèrriais in Wednesdays JEP, but then I wouldnt have been able to show what its like without apostrophes in English.
In fact there are three straightforward rules on the use of apostrophes in Jèrriais
Firstly, to show a doubled consonant e.g. in manggie (eating) the g is pronounced double.
Secondly, to show word boundaries e.g. chest (its) shows, in exactly the same way as English, that two words have run together.
Thirdly, there is a Rule of Three Consonants which states that if three consonants are otherwise to come together in an unpronounceable cluster, then a short form must expand to a long form by adding an extra sound. Short forms are normally denoted with an apostrophe - so a word like cmînse (shirt) will change to quémînse in a phrase like eune rouoge quémînse (a red shirt) in order to avoid difficulties.
Of course there are some other apostrophes that could happily be abolished in Jèrriais, such as the one that differentiates il' (they) from il (he/it). But equally, the possessive apostrophe could be completely done away with in English.
At least our Jèrriais apostrophe system is much more logical than may appear at first sight. Its not apostrophes that need a clear-out, but accents. Wouldnt you agree?
Les « Rouaisouns » ont institué un prix pour récompenser les créations en langue normande, chansons, poèmes, textes en prose ou saynettes. II y avait d'excellentes choses lors de l'édition 2001
Le jury a voulu couronner les textes composés par trois bambins de Jersey, des petits anglophones âgés d'environ 10 ans qui ont appris la langue normande pendant les cours dispensés par Geraint Jennings et Tony Scott Warren, leurs enseignants.
C'est une petite Veronica qui a emporté le prix, et deux autres petiots de l'île ont reçu des récompenses, Alexander Voisin pour «not' viaer coq » et Thomas Bailey pour « lé grand jour ». La valeur n'attend pas le nombre des années, comme aurait dit un grand et Haut-Normand du temps de Louis XIII
Presse de la Manche 13/6/2001
Although I do not speak Jersey-Norman French and can fathom what it means on the printed page only with much head-scratching and the aid of Dr Le Maistre's excellent dictionary I am genuinely fond of the language.
On the lips of a practised speaker it sounds wonderful. Also, an inordinately large number of its expressions seem to be as colourful and vulgar as a mandrill's backside. This appeals to me and I make no apology for it.
However, despite my fondness for Jersey-Norman French, I have a doubt or two about it. Rich, ripe and vivid it might be in its spoken incarnation, but in its written form it is, frankly, a mess. Can something with quite so many apostrophes in it really qualify as a fully rounded language? To the entirely uninitiated, Jersey-Norman French looks like the printed representation of a major speech impediment.
Compared with those who are fluent and those who strive to keep the Island's culture alive, I am a child in these matters. I would nevertheless suggest that the custodians of Jèrriais would do well to lose a good many of the signs of omission and slap in the missing letters. As well as improving the comprehension of those who are as yet only on nodding terms with Jersey's vernacular, such a move might also help the language to last another millennium or two.
La fête des Rouaisouns, qui s'achève ce soir, a posé le problème de l'enseignement....
La seule bonne nouvelle, hier, on l'a trouvé du côté de nos voisins des îles anglo-normandes.
Surtout ceux de Jersey, où la langue est enseignée officiellement dès le primaire. 1500 enfants concernés! Le représentant jerriais explique la méthode avec un très joli mélange linguistique. <<C'est important qu'on a la modernité pour les p'titots. J'avons nos pt'its computers, on met des quizz et des games, les mousses sont contents!>>
Samedi, le débat sur l'enseignement du normand a constitué le temps fort de la fête.Les perspectives ne sont pas très bonnes... sauf chez nos voisins de Jersey, qui accueilleront la 5e édition des Rouisaouns, l'an prochain.
La Fête des Normands, les Rouaisouns, s'ouvrait hier matin par un très sérieux échange sur la situation de la langue normande des Îles anglo-normandes au Pays de Caux et sur son devenir .
Jersey en avance
La situation est différente a Jersey. Tony Scott Warren, aujourd hui en charge de l'enseignement du jerriais par les Etats et Geraint Jennings, lui aussi enseignant de la langue locale, reconnaissent qu'ils avancent à grands pas parce que le statut de la langue normande est reconnu et que les Jersiais sont de plus en plus demandeurs: ils apprennent leur culture et réactivent leur identité par plaisir. <<J'avons tout pllein d'enfants dans les classes pour les mousses>>, disent ils. Les outils ne manquent pas: des méthodes vivantes très bien illustrées pour les deux premières années de jerriais, un site Internet, des livres, <<des p'tits computers sus la tablle>> pour moderniser la culture, faire du jerriais une langue dans laquelle un contemporain peut exprimer toute son experience. Tout ceci avec le soutien des Etats (il y a un office du jerriais au département de l'Education) et celui d'associations comme le Don Balleine, la Société jerriaise et le Congrès des parlers normands de John Denize. Un indice: Channel TV, la télévision de Jersey (et de Guernesey) filmait le débat de Coutances! Dépassés par le succès ? D'une certaine façon, oui "La difficulté, ce sont les maîtres a trouver et a former " ...
Presse de la Manche 10/6/2001
Three youngsters will represent the Island at the biggest annual Norman language festival in Coutances this weekend.
Alexander Voisin and Thomas Bailey have been sponsored by Le Don Balleine Trust to perform pieces from last year's Jersey Eisteddfod at Fête des Rouaisouns, and they will be joined by Veronica Fulton who has won a sponsorship from the Parish of St Ouen. Adult speakers from the Island will also take part in the annual festival, which includes a programme of song, dance, story-telling and poetry recital.
Next year, the festival will be held in Jersey and plans for the event are already at an advanced stage.
La question de la promotion de la langue normande sera posée. L'Assembllaé és Normands le sait, cela passe en partie par l'école. « On aimerait bien que chez nous, les enfants qui souhaitent apprendre le normand puissent le faire en primaire. C'est déjà le cas à Jersey, où cet enseignement est officialisé ».
I was taken with this Jèrriais version of the National Anthem, which is taken from the latest issue of Nouvelles Chroniques du Don Balleine, the publication of the trust which helps to keep Jersey's native language alive, mainly by bearing the printing costs of books and booklets.
This Jèrriais anthem was sung at a meeting of the Jersey Society in London some time at the beginning of the 20th century.
'Dieu sauve le Duc, not' Roé,
Longue vie au Duc, not' Roé,
Dieu sauve le Roé!
Joyeux et glorieux;
Qui règne sus nous heutheux
Dieu sauve le Roé!'
Tes dons les pus précieux
Sus li verse des cieux
Dieu sauve le Roé!
Qui défendes nos louais;
Et d'un tchoeu et d'une vouaix
Je chant'ons à jamais
Dieu sauve le Roé!'
Of course, as everyone will have spotted, these are the words for 'God Save the King', so for Roé substitute the word Reine, and make sure that all the definite articles, adjectives and pronouns agree with the feminine noun. Any difficulty with that? If so, I'm sure that Brian Vibert, former Victoria College French master and now the Don Balleine president, will be able to help.
The Nouvelles Chroniques booklet (£3.40) is available from the president of the Congrès des Parlers Normands et Jèrriais, John Dénize, on 851133.
There was a French flavour in the air at Blanchelande College on Saturday.
Le Coumite d'la Culture Guernesiaise, which is affiliated to La Societe Guernesiaise, presented La Fete d'la Vieille Langue Normande - a Norman fete.
About 40 people from Guernsey, Jersey and France gathered for a festival in the school hall at Les Vauxbelets, St Andrew's, featuring music, dancing, singing and readings in Norman French.
Their practice had paid off as they showed with their performances.
The highlight of the day was the ladies with their coiffures and costumes of the 19th century.
Le Coumite d'la Culture Guernesiaise chairman Bill Gallienne said: 'It's gone excellently - it keeps the culture going. The Jersey and French people were dying to come over.'
Attempts are being made to keep Guernsey-French going and teach it but funds are limited. The committee could do with a few thousand pounds to produce tapes and books.
This year's census form contained questions on Guernsey-French to find out how many people can speak the language.
Mr Gallienne estimates that about 5,000 islanders speak and understand it, but accepts he may be surprised by the census results.
'It's very important to keep the tradition - we are losing our identity and some people think we are part of England. I'm not a nationalist but you can lose your identity and that's what I'm trying to avoid. We are unique.
'Otherwise we would be swallowed up by the other British nations and the culture would disappear and that would be very sad,' he said.
'The atmosphere was electric and many of the people that came last year came back and we have just finished off where we left last year,' said Mr Gallienne.
He foresees the event happening annually.
'The unusual part was to get so many people together speaking the Norman French,' he said.
After a hectic day, the gathering flocked to Peninsula Hotel in the evening for dinner, a sing-song and a dance.
Guernsey Press 7/5/2001
St Ouennais are known as lés gris ventres (grey bellies); this word comes from the jerseys hand-knitted within the parish from the unbleached wool of Jersey sheep.
Each parish has its own variant words in Jèrriais, and pronunciation tends to differ between west and east. Both variant words and different pronunciation are characteristics of St Ouen - and there is a pronounced 'lisp' in St Ouennais. (Jèrriais speakers from other parishes claim that St Ouennais cannot open their mouths properly because if they do, the wind blows their teeth away.)
Following the publication of the Dictionnaire Jersiais-Français by St Ouennais Dr Frank Le Maistre, the parish form of Jèrriais is fast becoming the 'received pronunciation' of the Island dialect, as reputedly Oxford is to English, or Touraine is to French (say parishioners).
Dr Le Maistre, who describes himself as 'un vier têtu' (an old and obstinate man), has said that at home even the cat speaks St Ouennais...
St Ouen was a colonial power. In 1565 Queen Elizabeth I granted a charter to Hélier de Carteret, Seigneur de St Ouen, authorising him to colonise the then deserted island of Sark, He did so, bringing with him as settlers neighbours and tenants from St Ouen. Sark's traditional dialect is still akin to St Ouennais.
...This panel is specifically aimed at representing the future of Jersey and the choices we have as we progress. In the centre is our heritage and the green, open land of Jersey's countryside. The Jersey cow and Jèrriais are also central to the Island's identity. Our choice in the future is whether we retain these elements or swamp them with the buildings and traffic represented by the blocks that surround them. We can choose a way of life dominated by rest and leisure or we can speed up to a frenzy of material gain.
Apple growing and cider making played an important role in Jersey life as far back as the 14th century. Du Gros Frêtchian, a red, sweet apple, large, soft and shiny and considered the best for cider making, du Doux Rom'thi, a flattish, green and sweet fruit, and des Pommes d'Ivraie, sour, bitter apples that make a long-keeping, dry cider, are all names that were once great in cider making history but have now been forgotten by all but a few.
During the past week the head teachers of all country elementary schools in the Island have been circularized by the Public Instruction Committee asking them to stimulate interest in Jersey-French in their schools. The Director of Education said: "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." The teaching is confined to comparisons and differences with the French language, and lessons can only be given in five-minute periods each day.
Jersey and the Isle of Man are to unite to promote the teaching of their languages.
2001 is the European Year of Languages, and the two islands are to pair up in July to consider ways of teaching their respective tongues.
Manx language officer Phil Kelly was in Jersey this week to talk to Jèrriais teaching co-ordinator Tony Scott Warren about ways to promote the languages which will benefit both islands, perhaps through sharing resources.
'Jersey and the Isle of Man do not have access to central funding, like other countries, so it makes sense to pair up,' said Mr Scott Warren.
'Although the languages are very different in the way in which they are structured, we are both in the same situation in that the languages are being taught to children, but not through their parents.'
He hopes that the July workshop, to be held in Jersey, will help the co-ordinators develop computer skills and exchange experiences and materials, which will mean that in the future shared material might be used.
'We are looking at things like books to which we could add our own text, but with the same pictures, or perhaps a CD-Rom, which has already been used in the Isle of Man to teach Manx,' said Mr Scott Warren.
In the Isle of Man, the Manx language has been taught as part of the school curriculum since 1992.
A LETTER appeared in the JEP on 27 January under a sub-heading ‘It is time we phased out the use of French’. ‘Ah,’ I thought, ‘a cocky incomer.’ But no, it was from a gentleman called Richardson Pallot, which sounds to me a true Jersey name. It seems a very old-fashioned idea when in Britain the Scots, the Welsh and indeed the Cornish are reclaiming their heritage, language and culture.
When I had my first two children and lived in St Ouen I was disappointed that their grandparents and father didn’t speak to them in Jersey Norman-French. Children can be fluent in two languages without any difficulty. Let me give Mr Pallot an example.
Many centuries ago the English aimed to defeat the Welsh not only on the field of battle but also by insisting that educational and legal matters were conducted in English. When my grandmother was at school in North Wales, any children who spoke Welsh in school were punished by having to wear boards around their necks. She and her brothers and sisters were fortunate as her mother spoke only English in the home and her father only Welsh!
The students at university with my brother often made a lot of noise when they were inebriated so that they were arrested and could in court demand a trial in Welsh as they claimed only to speak Welsh. With English law dominant it took many years and many students before this was achieved.
Now we have schools where all subjects are taught in Welsh and children who can speak both languages freely. And with place names and public notices Welsh stands above English translation. It has, too, enabled us to regain our culture and dignity. We have a Welsh Assembly which in time I am sure will have as much power as the Scottish Parliament. The Celtic language is the oldest in Britain, with a great fund of writing, poetry and music. If Mr Pallot doesn’t see that as modern enough, we also have very successful pop bands and film actors.
I delight in Tony Scott-Warren and Geraint Jennings’s efforts to give Jersey children back their language and their heritage. It’s the differences that make people interesting, not a bland sameness.
Where is Mr Pallot’s pride in his own history? Was it for nothing I survived being told ‘There’s a boat in the morning’ for years after I arrived here? And what about his name? Will he now become Mr Pallot with a hard ‘t’ or hold on to the Jersey pronunciation of his good Jersey name?
Bailiff launches Jèrriais vocabulary book for schoolchildren
The study of Jèrriais in schools has been given a boost by the publication of the first vocabulary book for children.
On Saturday the Bailiff, Sir Philip Bailhache, launched the first edition of 'Les Preunmié Mille Mots' (The First 1,000 Words), a colourfully illustrated word guide produced by the Société Jersiaise and published by Usborne.
It is hoped that the book will provide a useful teaching aid for the 700 primary school children who have already expressed interest in attending voluntary Jèrriais lessons after school.
'We all know how snobbery was one of the main causes of the decline of the language,' said Sir Philip in his speech at the launch. 'It is extraordinary what a short time ago it was that youngsters who spoke Jèrriais were laughed at by their schoolfriends. Now what we need to do is reverse the process and make it fashionable to speak at least a few words of Jèrriais.'
The book is the 50th in Usborne's series of children's books written in minority languages.
'We found the French version of the book while on holiday in southern Brittany,' said Ralph Nichols, who founded the Société's Jersey language section in 1995 with his wife Jayne and is now its secretary. 'When we saw it, we thought that it would be a super introductory book for children and students because of the name, "The First 1,000 Words", and the presentation, which was the most attractive we'd seen, said Mr Nichols.
'As a section, we'd had a project in mind to provide more resources for the language to support the Education Department initiative and contribute towards the Jèrriais primary school classes,' he continued.
'We found the book in 1997 and put it to the section as a project to translate into Jèrriais and produce in time for the Millennium. We wrote to Usborne with the proposition, explained the primary school situation to them, and they accepted. In fact they were very keen,'
One thousand copies of the book have now been printed and will go on sale priced £5.95 from the Société's bookshop in Pier Road and the Printed Word in West's Centre. 'We opted for a softback version rather than hardback to make it cheaper for the children,' explained Mr Nichols.
During the last two years 17 members of the section have worked on the translation. Groups of two to three members translated a spread at a time, which according to Mr Nichols prompted much animated discussion before final spellings could be agreed upon as Jèrriais can vary from parish to parish.
The words were cross-checked to ensure that they tallied with those in 'Lé Neu C'mîn' (The New Way), the textbook written by Tony Scott-Warren with which it is hoped that 'Les Preunmié Mille Mots' will be used.
Mr Scott-Warren, who organises the school classes along with a team of Jèrriais speakers, has offered to buy 50 copies.
'It's aimed at children from mother's knee to primary school age, but we've had adults at night classes who have seen copies and said "Ah, that's great!" and have almost devoured it,' said Mr Nichols. 'It's ideal for anyone who learns more easily through word association with pictures.'
'Les Preunmié Mille Mots' adds to a tiny but growing number of Jersey language guides and follows closely on the heels of 'Mille Ditons' , the book of Jèrriais sayings published late last year. In addition, the section has other projects in the pipeline, including the translation of a children's story and a Jèrriais-English version of Albert Carré's English-Jèrriais vocabulary book. 'Les Preunmié Mille Mots' will also be put on the Société's website, which currently has more than 1,500 pages of Jèrriais texts including poetry, prose and games.
'The hope is to stop the decline of Jèrriais and keep it as a social language,' said Mr Nichols. 'The point of the primary school project is that the children will learn to speak it, and the section felt that this book was a necessary move to help that initiative.'
To celebrate and promote the Jersey language, the Jersey Evening Post has begun publishing a Daily Diton.
Capturing the rich expressiveness of Jersey Norman-French, a new collection of these pithy traditional sayings has just been published by the language promotion society Le Don Balleine.
A daily extract from the book, Mille Ditons en Jèrriais, can be found on page 2 of the JEP (see below). We hope the Daily Diton will enlighten and entertain, while encouraging interest in the Island's unique language.
If there is one thing that we like to think is essentially Jersey it is des Mèrvelles, or Jersey wonders, those, twisty little doughnuts that are a must at both country fair and vièr marchi.
Surrounded by many traditions and customs, Jersey wonders, unlike their English cousins, are never sugar-coated and never have jam inside.
Efforts to resurrect Guernsey's patois could soon be made in the island's primary schools.
A trial scheme to teach Guernsey-French - mirroring that which began in Jersey in 1999 - could be in place by September.
Assistant Jèrriais language teaching co-ordinator Geraint Jennings said that materials used in Jersey had been offered to schools in Guernsey.
The organisation behind the new scheme is Les Ravigotteurs, whose spokesman, Keith Le Cheminant, said that without a scheme to teach the language in schools it could easily die out within a generation.
'By 2025 we could have fewer than 20 people in Guernsey who speak Guernsey-French unless we are successful in our attempts to teach it to children,' he said.
Jersey's scheme began with extra-curricular classes in primary schools which proved so successful that the project has been extended to secondary schools.
A new book of sayings and proverbs in Jèrriais has been launched, as well as a new cassette which is a compilation of talks in Jersey Norman-French. Alasdair d'la Crouaix reports on what the Bailiff has called 'an extraordinary revival' in Jersey's ancient language.
Speaking recently at the launch of the new book 'Mille Ditons en Jèrriais' ('A Thousand Sayings'), the Bailiff, Sir Philip Bailhache, said: 'Our ancient language has been expected to expire for so long that the undertakers must be tired of waiting.'
He continued: 'But there has been, in recent years, thanks to the initiatives of Senator Jean Le Maistre in the States and others outside the Assembly, an extraordinary revival of interest.
'Whether or not the teaching of Jèrriais in the primary schools will take a firm hold remains to be seen; what is important is that we increase the number of speakers so that it becomes a real means of communication elsewhere than in the pockets of the countryside where it survives and flourishes.'
Sir Philip was addressing guests at the book launch organised by the Don Balleine Trust and the Congrès des Parlers Normands et Jèrriais. The trust, formed 50 years ago to contribute to the preservation of Jersey Norman-French, was instrumental in publishing the book; the Congrès is the umbrella organisation for Jèrriais language groups.
The book, which Sir Philip said was just the thing for presenting to visiting dignitaries, lists 1,000 different sayings, some native to Jersey, others better known in their English version. Each saying is listed firstly in Jèrriais and then in both standard French and English translation.
Also launched was a two-cassette set of talks in Jèrriais by regular broad caster Ursula Taylor (née de la Mare).
'Mille Ditons' represents 25 years of work in compiling the list and the contributions of many people, among them Dr Frank Le Maistre, Dr Albert Carré, Philip de Veulle, Pierre Le Moine, Solicitor-General Stephanie Nicolle, Jurat Max Lucas and Brian Vibert.
The book's editors state: 'Mille Ditons en Jèrriais takes its place alongside the major post-war publications of Le Don Balleine Trust and enriches the corpus that, it is hoped, will help to ensure that the study and use of Jersey's venerable and native language will persist well into the 21st century.'
A total of two hours' listening is contained in the pack of two cassettes titled Lettres Jèrriaises, by Ursula Taylor, which were originally broadcast by her in the early 1990s.
Born in 1936 at Egypt Farm in Trinity, Mrs Taylor was one of five children born to Herbert and Sophie de la Mare. She is the niece of the late Ambassador and son of Trinity, Sir Arthur de la Mare, who wrote the regular JEP columns in Jèrriais - Les Contes d'un Ervénu - for many years.
Mrs Taylor learned Jèrriais from her parents and grandparents, who very rarely spoke English. She married a St Ouennais and moved to that parish at a time when Jèrriais was still widely spoken, After spending six years back in Trinity she resettled in St Ouen, where she is involved in helping to keep the language alive.
She still presents La Lettre Jèrriaise on a regular basis on BBC Radio Jersey.
There are 17 Lettres on the two cassettes and the pack costs £10 and is available from the Société Jersiaise offices in Pier Road or from Mrs Taylor, tel 483581.
Since 1486 the three western parishes of St Ouen, St Mary and St Peter have commemorated that year's liberation from enemy occupation by ringing their church bells on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
And today the tradition is still carried on by the parishioners of St Ouen.
La Sonn'nie d'Clioches will begin tomorrow at 12 noon with help from the many parishioners, Islanders and visitors who will gather throughout the day to tend a hand and keep the bell ringing.
In September the States decided that more than £500,000 should be spent on teaching Jersey Norman-French in schools. Given the current mood of anti-inflationary restraint, which tends to presume against all expenditure which cannot be categorised as essential, that was a remarkable decision. However, it was indicative of the importance now rightly attached to preserving the Island's language.
Now the drive to secure the future of Jersey Norman-French - or Jèrriais as it should more properly be called - has received another major boost. At the weekend, thanks to the good offices of the Don Balleine Trust and the support of the Congrès des Parlers Normands et Jèrriais, a new book, Mille Ditons en Jèrriais, was added to the small but worthy canon of works in the language.
With its translations of 1,000 sayings and proverbs into both English and French, the new book will make the wit and wisdom of Jèrriais more accessible than ever before.
As a result, the many people involved in its compilation can congratulate themselves on playing a part in perpetuating a vital part of Jersey's heritage.
Meanwhile, the Bailiff, Sir Philip Bailhache, who wrote the foreword to Mille Ditons, made it very clear where he stands on the question of Jèrriais when he spoke at the ceremony to launch the book. As well as pointing out that rumours of the death of our native tongue are gross exaggerations, he welcomed the revival which the language is currently enjoying.
That revival extends to more mature members of the population who are studying Jèrriais at evening classes, but the key to the language's long-term survival must be with the younger generation. It is therefore to be hoped that the colour and piquancy of Jèrriais will capture the imaginations of a significant proportion of the students who are now beginning to learn the language in primary schools.
It is also to be hoped that the money which the States have made available will mean that classes can be offered successfully in secondary schools, where the great subtlety of this most expressive of languages should be fully appreciated.
JEP editorial 12/12/2000
Bailiff stresses importance of language
The importance of increasing the numbers of speakers of Jersey-French bas been stressed by the Bailiff, Sir Philip Bailhache, at the launch of a new book of sayings and proverbs in the language.
The book, entitled Mille Ditons en Jèrriais, is a compilation of 1,000 sayings and proverbs in the Island's native language, and their equivalents in French and English.
It was launched on Saturday at a reception, hosted by the Don Balleine Trust, the body which has been instrumental in publishing the book, and the umbrella organisation for Jersey-French language groups, the Congrès des Parlers Normands et Jèrriais.
In a short address, the Bailiff said: 'Our ancient language has been expected to die for so long that the undertakers must be tired of waiting.
'There has been in recent years, thanks to the initiatives of Senator Jean Le Maistre in the States and others outside the Assembly, an extraordinary revival of interest in Jèrriais.
'Whether or not the teaching of Jèrriais in the primary schools will take a firm hold remains to be seen, but what is important is to increase the number of speakers so that it becomes a real means of communication elsewhere than in the pockets of the countryside where it presently survives and flourishes.'
Am I the only person who finds that the argument for raising tax on alcohol is a little hard to swallow?
It has been said that proof exists that the higher the price, the fewer the people who will purchase strong alcohol and thus drink-related problems will be reduced. It is assumed they will buy beverages which are lower in alcohol and are alleged to be cheaper.
Am I wrong in thinking that for years this has been the excuse for raising the price of alcohol? And am I wrong in thinking that it has made no difference whatsoever to the aforementioned problems?
Having spoken to many people over the years who have drunk to the extent that they have endangered their health, without exception they have told me that price makes no difference to those who want to drink to excess. Once again the hard-working average person who enjoys a drink now and again is being penalised. So much for keeping down inflation.
I am minded of Hedley Up The Road's ancient mother, who often used to say: 'J'va d'êtrain et homme d'ieau sont deux faillis annimaux' - a straw-fed horse and a teetotaller are pitiful creatures.
To help the Fête dé Noué go with a really traditional swing, there will be carol singing in Jèrriais in the town centre on Thursday, Singers - including children from some of the Jèrriais classes in schools - will be gathering outside Boots to bring you some favourite old carols in Jèrriais like Sonne les clioches (Jingle Bells) and Qué Dgieu vos garde heutheurs, bouannes gens (God Rest You Merry Gentlemen). La Chant'tie d'Cantiques dé Noué will be starting at 7 pm and the group will be singing in aid of the Christmas Appeal.
Le Don Balleine has been instrumental in the publication of a number of books, and Saturday sees the launch of an important addition - 'A Thousand Sayings in Jèrriais' (with their equivalents in French and English).
Over the course of many years there are quite a number of people who have contributed to the compilation of the 1,000 sayings or proverbs in the Island's native language and their equivalents in the other two languages. Among these are Dr Frank Le Maistre, Dr Albert Carré, Philip de Veulle, Pierre Le Moine, Solicitor General Advocate Stephanie Nicolle, Jurat Max Lucas, Laurie Huëlin and Brian Vibert. Many of the sayings were gathered from earlier publications of the bulletins of l'Assembliée d'Jèrriais and from Dr Le Maistre's chef d'oeuvre, the Jèrriais-Français Dictionary. Others came to mind and there were still others that were brought to the editors' attention by members of the older generation who had learned them at their mother's knee when Jèrriais was more widely spoken.
Many hours of research and hard labour were spent to ensure that the idiom of the Jersey 'diton' was conveyed as accurately as possible in the French and English versions. There were occasions when no English equivalent could be found, but the three editors exercised a degree of licence and produced proverbs that will not be found in any publication elsewhere!
There is a copious index of key words which in itself makes interesting reading as one notes the most popular subjects - love, God, cats, pigs, the Devil, women, men, evil, the sea, money, dogs, the weather, the land, cows...
Sayings which deal with the same theme have, on the whole, been placed together, and where the editors discovered Jersey 'ditons' which closely resembled each other, they have recorded the best-known.
The foreword to the book has been written by Sir Philip Bailhache, Bailiff of Jersey, and Le Don Balleine is indeed honoured that Sir Philip will launch this latest work in the presence of many distinguished guests.
The book will be on sale to the general public at the price of £14.99 from next Monday and will make an attractive Christmas present for all who cherish this aspect of Jersey's heritage.
Until now. I was delighted to see that this year there were 34 entries from primary schools in the event.
Congratulations go to Tony Scott Warren's school groups, who presented themselves with great aplomb and demonstrated just how much they have learned in a short time.
They were a delight, and I have heard many compliments from older members of the Island community on the enthusiasm of the young people and their readiness to learn the Island's language. Mes félicitâtions!
They are to be congratulated for their splendid efforts after little more than 12 months of tuition in the language.
Generally speaking, the entries were of a very high standard an improvement in the students' performances is noted each year and the play for the Don Balleine Prize (£50), 'Sus les Beusses', written and acted by the students of the advanced class on Tuesday evening, was an outstanding finale to two entertaining soirées which produced much laughter from the appreciative audience.
At the close of Tuesday's performance, JNF section chairman Eileen Le Sueur congratulated the competitors and in particular the students and schoolchildren who had contributed so much to the enjoyment of both evenings.
Noteworthy too, and much appreciated, was a skittish take-off from the carol 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' which was entitled 'Les Douze Jours dé Noué', mentioning all the 12 parishes etc, sung by the boys of De La Salle College.
There were special thanks, too, for the adjudicator and his adjoint, Winston Le Brun and Joan Tapley respectively, and also for Daphne Macready for writing the certificates in her beautiful calligraphy.
Mr Le Brun, in turn, thanked all those who had taken part, with a mention of the students and pupils for a very creditable all-round performance.
Thanks are also due to the secretary of the section, Eileen Simmons, and the other members of the committee not only for all their help at the soirées but for their continued support all through the year.
It is, meanwhile, heartening to see that an essential and peculiarly insular feature of the Eisteddfod continues to prosper. Jersey-Norman French might be in very real danger of extinction, but it will not die while so many Islanders - again of all ages and from diverse backgrounds - continue to take part in the Séthées Jèrriaises which celebrate this most colourful and expressive of tongues.
JEP editorial 21/11/2000
The Jersey Eisteddfod Festival of Performing Arts draws to a close this week with the final section of the festival taking place on Monday and Tuesday...
Meanwhile the Jersey Norman French speakers will be battling it out at St Martin's Public Hall from 7 pm.
Scores of schoolchildren performed in the Millennium Dome on Saturday, presenting a specially created production telling the story of Jersey...
Throughout the production, narrators linked and explained the story in both Jerriais and English.
The Millennium Dome in London will play host to over 70 schoolchildren from Jersey on 25 November as they take to the stage to chart the history of the Island...
Music, drama and dance will feature in the performances at the Dome, as will video footage charting Jersey through the years, as well as some Jersey Norman-French and a wind version of 'Ma Normandie' to illustrate the Island's past links with France.
La Faîs'sie d'Cidre has become a popular annual feature at Hamptonne and as usual there are plenty of activities taking place, with lots for the kids to see and do while work goes on in the cider barn.
The Deputy said that the future of Jèrriais and Jersey culture was now far more positive and optimistic than ever before thanks to the steps being taken to revive it, especially in terms of funding its teaching in school and the support expressed for it by politicians such as Senator Jean Le Maistre.
Conference delegates were told that it had been the energy and passion of a small group of Islanders who had initiated a two-year trial period for teaching Jèrriais as a voluntary school activity, and this had now moved forward into a growing programme.
Culture, said Deputy Dubras, was the glaze that bound a community together, and a living language was a key ingredient in that glaze.
Deputy Shirley Baudains, in her address to delegates, called the Millennium year an exciting one for all cultural activities in the Island, and mentioned the restoration of the Opera House and the creation of the St James arts centre as being among many new developments which indicated a highly vibrant cultural life in the Island.
These also included the many fairs and festivals related to tourism and culture in its widest sense, the Eisteddfod, and the efforts to protect and promote the Island's heritage undertaken by the Société Jersiaise and the National Trust for Jersey
She welcomed the debate in the Island on the implementation of a cultural strategy. 'It will show how best we can invest in the life of our communities,' she said.
Many delegates from small Commonwealth countries and jurisdictions spoke about enhancing local culture and identity, including indigenous languages.
Sandy Lee, representing Canada's North-West Territories, said that although their location might be very remote in the depths of the Canadian wilderness, they still had cable television in their homes and access through that to 100 different channels - encapsulating the danger of minority cultures becoming subsumed in the modern world.
Nevertheless, she said, there were signs of an increase in minority languages being spoken because of official encouragement.
Gregory Cornwell, representing the Australian Capital Territories, struck a familiar chord by describing how Aboriginal words and names were incorporated into streetnames.
Guernsey Deputy Patricia Robilliard also stressed the need for official encouragement of Guernesiais and said that some Guernsey schoolchildren now spoke with an Australian intonation because of their familiarity with TV 'soaps'.
'Why not a Guernsey-French soap on Channel TV?' she asked.
Yesterday's announcement that the Finance and Economics Committee have agreed to make extra funds available for the teaching of Jèrriais in schools deserves to be widely welcomed. Although Finance's initial reluctance to provide the £540,000 which the Education Committee sought over and above its £63 million budget was understandable given present strictures on public spending, the importance of the Island's language should not be underestimated.
Critics of the Jèrriais programme for primary schools will say that the language is all but dead, being spoken by only a small minority of Islanders, most of whom are elderly. As well as ignoring the current resurgence of interest in Jèrriais, this dismissive view fails to take into account the central position that the language occupies in Island heritage. Failing to take steps to ensure its survival would amount to an act of cultural vandalism.
Jèrriais lessons in primary schools - and ultimately in secondary schools - will also allow our young people to appreciate the wit and wisdom which reside in the piquant tongue their forefathers used in day-to-day conversation. In doing so, they are likely to achieve a greater understanding of why Jersey is unique and why its uniqueness must be preserved in a world in which increasing uniformity tends to crush individuality.
Given that the necessary finance is now available, it is to be hoped that Tony Scott Warren and his team of teachers will indeed discover, as director of Education Tom McKeon forecasts, that their programme goes from strength to strength.
Additional funds for the teaching of Jèrriais in schools have been made available by the Finance and Economics Committee.
During a States debate in July, Finance and Economics Committee president Senator Frank Walker said that the Education Department should find the £540,000 needed from its existing £63 million budget, but he agreed that the programme should continue.
Department director Tom McKeon said this morning: 'Finance have agreed to increase the cash limit budget so that a grant can be made to the Don Balleine Trust for the continuation of the provision.'
The Trust has been given an assurance that funding will be provided for the next five years and allows for the continuation of the programme in primary schools and its extension to secondary level at a cost of £108,000 per year.
Mr McKeon said: 'We are very pleased that the programme will continue. It has been extremely well developed by Tony Scott Warren and has been well received by pupils and parents. It seems to be going from strength to strength.'
There will be a team of eight teachers and seven assistants who will provide about 28 lessons per week. Mr Scott Warren, the programme co-ordinator, said that he was expecting about 200 children to take part in the programme.
He added that there were a few vacancies for pupils who wanted to join classes.
I am always amused at how the word 'never' has come to mean 'I don't remember it, so it never happened'.
In the case of sea lettuce, not only is it not something new, it is something so common that there is a marvellous word for it in our own language of jèrriais.
The word is cliouque, an onomatopoeic word for sea lettuce, derived from the squelchy sound it makes when a forkful hits the sand or ground.
Cliouque was collected to be dried and burned to a fine ash and reckoned then to be the best of the seaweed ashes to be used as fertiliser for the land.
Interestingly, Dr Frank Le Maistre refers in his dictionary to the old people saying: 'J'avons ieu un viage dé cliouque dans les Grèves dé la Ville' ('we have had a load of sea lettuce on the town beaches').
At the end of the 19th century farmers were prepared to pay good money for the ash made from cliouque, which was sold for 20 sous a cabot in the old Jersey measure.
A young Jerseywoman has written her first play and is to see it performed professionally in London next month at a major London theatre.
Jo Laurens, a gifted musician and former Beaulieu student, is about to see work begin on a professional production of her play The Three Birds, based on an ancient Greek myth of a king who rapes his wife's young sister and then cuts out her tongue so that she cannot tell anyone.
It is included in Ovid's Metamorphoses and a 57-line fragment remains of a play by Sophocles.
Jo Laurens's play will have a three-week run at The Gate Theatre in Notting Hill over the October half-term period.
The Three Birds is her own original version in verse of the myth and it has Jersey Norman-French in it.
'The woman is raped and her tongue cut out to silence her, but I felt it was too simplistic to make it a feminist play and decided to look at it as a broader issue,' she said.
'The silencing of minority voices is something that is happening now and the cutting out of the woman's tongue is very symbolic and graphic. I could see the way in which English as the dominant language is pushing out minority languages, so I took snippets of extinct or threatened languages like Jersey-French, proto-Indo-European, Anglo-Saxon, Irish and Welsh.'
In the play there are two of these language sections in which the chorus is divided into five groups, each saying a line in a different language. Slowly the languages evolve into English. 'When they are speaking their own languages they are dissenting, and the languages gradually mutate, and when they get to English they all agree, showing the way that minority opinions are flattened and levelled.'
Jèrriais is used more than the other languages because she has included it in other parts of the play as well.
Victor Hugo, in his "L'Archipel de la Manche", wrote: "As for the patois, it is a real language, not to be scorned in the least." But Richard Pallot describes speakers of Jèrriais as "barbarians" and rejects the rôle of Jèrriais in our education system (JEP letters 26/7/2000).
It is sad how some of us scorn Jèrriais - a language that is often more highly regarded abroad than at home. Let us not forget that it was the Channel Island writers of the early 19th century who inspired the Norman literary renaissance.
I recently attended a conference in Paris on the teaching of minority languages, and was interested to learn that other minority languages are now often seen by learners as an asset for employment.
But if one takes a purely utilitarian view of education, then one might say that it is less likely that young learners of Jèrriais will directly make money from their knowledge of the language in later life - but, then, that is just as true of English literature, French literature, music, drama, sport, history and most other subjects.
Education - especially Jersey education - must be more than just "la liéthie, l'êcrithie et lé caltchul" (reading, writing and arithmetic)!
If nothing else, the Postcards to the Future is a way of getting some decent artwork. The original idea from the exhibitions sub-committee at the Arts Centre was to mark the Millennium by getting people to design their own postcard, and put a message on the back for future generations...
And it's nice to have a bit of linguistic optimism from Geraint Jennings - his card is written in Jèrriais which, one hopes, will not confuse those in centuries to come.
The reason why the Mont de la Garenne was renamed Mont de la Guerande is that a rabbit warren is normally known in Jèrriais not as a 'garenne' but as a 'guerande' (the form given in the Société Jersiaise's 1924 Glossaire du Pâtois Jèrsiais), or in a more phonetic spelling, a 'dgerande' or 'dgethande'.
The civil servant accused of vandalism by Richard Pallot (JEP, 22 July) was therefore actually trying to give the road its old local name. He could have chosen a better spelling, but was probably following the advice of a Jèrriais speaker, given that he was (we are told) an import from England, and would not have known any better.
I am Jersey born and have every respect for Jersey culture, but I am also a Jersey taxpayer and therefore have a perfect right to comment on the way my tax money is spent.
Jersey-French is not the language of a nation. It is the pâtois of a diminishing tribe, and it does not warrant the name Jèrriais whether you spell it with an accent grave or an accent aigu, because it just is not the language of Jersey.
The truth is that it causes more aggravation than good, because when a group of people, perhaps sitting at the same dining table, could have a happy discussion, a couple of barbarians will spoil it by using this pâtois to the exclusion of everybody else. I think that people who have such bad manners should be sent to Coventry.
If you want to teach a foreign language to a student of the West first teach him Latin. This applies especially to Spanish. But for practical purposes it is absolutely useless to teach Jersey pâtois. If I had a child at school, and that school was wasting school hours teaching him pâtois, I would be seeking an urgent appointment with Senator Len Norman, because pâtois is not going to be of any help when the child goes looking for a job. If Jersey-French were of any practical value, it would be taught at Victoria College. Do what you like with the Don Balleine Trust but keep your hands off the taxes which I pay.
I was very pleased to read in the JEP of 16 July that the Attorney-General had pronounced that it would be ultra vires 'to spend taxpayers' money on the teaching of Jersey-French.
Richard Pallot, La Rocque Rest Home, Grande Route de la Côte, St Clement.
Funding the Jèrriais teaching programme is a matter for the Finance and Economics Committee and the Don Balleine Trust, says Education president Senator Len Norman.
Following the withdrawal in the States yesterday of his proposal requesting that Finance grant £540,000 for the continuation and extension of the programme, Senator Norman said that it was no longer a matter for his committee, and the trust and Finance no longer needed 'a middle man'.
'As far as the Education Committee is concerned we now withdraw, Senator Walker said clearly during the debate that the programme would continue and there is no longer a need for an intermediary or third party,' he said.
The original proposition was withdrawn following advice from the Attorney-General, Mr William Bailhache, that the Finance and Economics Committee would be acting outside its remit if it granted funds from the general reserve for the programme.
Although some Members, including Finance president Senator Walker, said that the Education Committee should fund the programme from its own budget, Senator Norman maintained that such funds were not available.
He went on to warn the House that if further funds were not found then there was a real risk that the programme would come to an end.
Senator Norman said that in real terms, over the last four years, his committee's budget had reduced.
Senator Walker said that while he supported the continuation of the Jèrriais programme he opposed the 'methodology the Education Committee have sought to employ to get the funding'.
He continued that the funds should be found within Education's budget and requests should have been made during negotiations for cash limits.
A proposition to extend funding for the teaching of Jèrriais from the general reserve was withdrawn.
Shortly after the debate began, the Attorney-General, Mr William Bailhache, announced that a request to fund an ongoing project of this type from the general reserve was ultra vires - outside the remit of the Finance and Economics Committee to authorise.
Education president Senator Len Norman, who brought the proposition to the House, said that in the light of Mr Bailhache's comments he had no choice but to withdraw it.
He warned: 'There is a real risk that the programme will have to come to a halt unless the Finance and Economics Committee can find more funds.'
The debate ended abruptly with Finance president Senator Frank Walker saying that he wanted to send a clear message that the programme must continue.
In answer to those Members who had argued that Education should be prepared to fund the programme from their £63 million budget, Senator Norman said that over the last four years his committee's budget had reduced in real terms. 'We can cut no more,' he said.
Before the proposition was withdrawn, a number of Members expressed support for the programme while others attempted to remove it from the day's agenda. A proposition by Deputy Jerry Dorey (St Helier No 1) to defer the debate was defeated by nine votes. Education's proposition would have required Finance and Economics to grant £108,000 per year over the next five years to the Don Balleine Trust to continue primary teaching of the language and extend it to secondary schools. Senator Norman said the world was witnessing the extinction of languages on a massive scale and that to prevent the decline in Jèrriais his committee had been charged with undertaking a trial teaching programme - with the help of a grant from the general reserve - which had now been completed.
He said the trial had been more successful than anyone had predicted with 170 young people currently learning the language. 'Let's make sure it does not die out,' he said.
Senator Walker said his committee fully supported the teaching of Jersey French in schools but disagreed that it should be funded from the general reserve.
'My opposition is not about that but rather the methodology that the Education Committee have employed to get the funding,' said Senator Walker.
He said that Education should have known that they would need more cash to continue the programme and included a sum in their last budget negotiations.
The Finance president continued that the general reserve did not exist to fund ongoing expenditure.
Senator Paul Le Claire, who seconded the proposition, said that he found it incredible that the debate was taking place when the matter would have been better discussed first at committee level.
Deputy Dorey said the funding of the current programme was not in danger and the debate should be deferred.
Senator Jean Le Maistre said the programme had received 'overwhelming acclaim' from parents and pupils. 'The message would be really unfortunate if we voted it down because of internal wrangling,' he said.
Deputy Maurice Dubras (St Lawrence) said he fully supported the message being sent by Finance that committees should not expect funds to be forthcoming from the general reserve.
Prior to the debate Deputy Celia Scott Warren (St Saviour No 1) declared an interest - her husband is a Jèrriais teacher and a co-ordinator of the current programme - and withdrew from the Chamber.
The result of the appel nominal for the proposition of Deputy Dorey to move to the next item on the order paper read as follows:
For. Senators Horsfall, Stein, Quérée and Walker; Deputies H Baudains (St Clement), Maltwood (St Mary), Duhamel and Le Hérissier (St Saviour), Routier, Le Main, Crowcroft and Dorey (St Helier), Layzell, Vibert and Troy (St Brelade), Nicholls (Grouville) and Hacquoil (St Peter). Total: 17.
Against: Senators Le Maistre, Bailhache, Norman, Kinnard, Le Sueur and Le Claire; the Constables of St Mary, St Helier, St Martin, St Ouen, Trinity , St Clement and, St Lawrence; Deputies S Baudains, Huet, Ozouf, Fox, Bridge and Martin (St Helier), Breckon and Farnham (St Saviour), Hill (St Martin), Rondel (St John), Dubras and Voisin (St Lawrence) and G Baudains (St Clement).Total: 25.
Teaching of Jèrriais: grant of funds from the general reserve - P.123/2000
THE STATES, commenced consideration of a proposition of the Education Committee concerning the Teaching of Jèrriais: grant of funds from the general reserve. After discussion Deputy Jeremy Laurence Dorey of St. Helier proposed that the States move to the consideration of the next item on the order paper, which proposition was rejected.
Members present voted as follows -
|One full-time Jersey Language Teaching Officer||£38,000|
|Two full-time equivalent teachers||£65,000|
He takes the trouble to find out about subjects of local interest because he is aware that compèring a show requires it. 'People like to hear a bit of local stuff,' said Mark.
In particular, his research paid off on the subject of Jèrriais, which Mark pronounced 'Jersiaise' on stage.
'I think it's always a shame when a local patois dies out. I did expect to hear a lot more of it being spoken, what with Jersey really being its own little country,' he said.
Other topics covered on stage included the 'upturned boat' café and a humorous take on the Occupation, again with reference to 'Jersiaise'.
Mark thinks we should keep it, 'Anything which keeps the Nazis baffled has to be worth preserving,' he said.
There are a number of features of Jersey life which help to make this Island of ours a special place, quite separate from not only the United Kingdom and France but also from the other Channel Islands. The Jersey cow, the Jersey Royal potato, our judicial processes, our political system and our enthusiasm for the honorary principle in public life most certainly belong on any list of the Island's special attributes. So, too, does our language, Jersey-Norman French, or Jèrriais.
It is, therefore, a shame that Jèrriais has become embroiled in the generally praiseworthy efforts of the Finance and Economics Committee to monitor and control the expenditure of public funds.
Quite rightly, Finance have questioned the Education Committee's request for just over £500,000 from the general reserve to fund the teaching of Jèrriais in Island schools during the next five years. In particular, it is easy to sympathise with their view that Education had every opportunity to forecast that this expenditure would be required and to make provision for it when they agreed their cash limits for the relevant period.
That said, objections to the way in which Education sought to secure money for this exercise cannot be allowed to wipe Jèrriais from the curriculum. The cultural consequences of such an outcome are unthinkable.
Cynics might suggest that the language of our forefathers is already doomed on the grounds that only a small minority of Islanders now understands or speaks it. That view, however, fails to take account of the recent tremendous resurgence of interest in Jèrriais and the efforts which have already been made to encourage primary school children to familiarise themselves with what, not so very long ago, was the routine means of day-to-day communication in our community.
If the £500,000 that Education require can be found, lessons in Jèrriais will be extended to the secondary system, a move which could well lead to a significant increase in the number of young people taking an interest in this vital element of our culture. On the other hand, failure to provide the necessary funds would most certainly amount to hammering another nail into the coffin of a precious feature of the Island's heritage.
A row over funding has put in jeopardy the continued teaching of Jersey Norman-French in Island schools.
Education are seeking £540,000 from the General Reserve to allow the language to be taught over the next five years. But Finance have described this as 'wholly unacceptable' and accused the committee of failing to budget for the scheme.
Finance president Senator Frank Walker said: 'If Education truly believe that the continued teaching of Jèrriais is worthwhile then they should be allocating the necessary funds from their substantial budget.'
But Education president Senator Len Norman described the criticism as 'bizarre' and explained that the extra money was not for the Education Committee, but for Le Don Balleine Trust, which is responsible for promoting and preserving Jersey culture, including the language.
Jèrriais was introduced at primary level last year as part of a two-year pilot scheme, which has so far involved 170 pupils. Senator Norman said this was only possible after his committee obtained a States grant on behalf of the trust.
His committee were charged with reporting back to the States on the scheme's success. and after carrying out an assessment, Education are supporting its continuation and the language could now be introduced in secondary schools as well.
The committee's proposition requesting £540,000 is due to be lodged au greffe on Tuesday and debated by the States next month.
Senator Norman said it would be up to the States whether the grant was given, but there was no spare cash in the Education budget to fund the scheme.
However, Senator Walker maintained that it was unacceptable for Education to seek to fund the scheme in this way.
'The General Reserve is not to be used for the funding of ongoing annual expenditure,' he said, 'but solely for meeting urgent unforeseen one off items.'
Chique Week, Hautlieu School's annual fund-raising event, is under way once again. The tradition, which takes its name from the Jersey-Norman French word for rag, is now more than 30 years old. The first event, a sponsored bed-push, was held yesterday in the town and raised £300 for the Jersey Shelter Trust and Jersey Cancer Relief
As you approach the Jersey stalls, the first thing you notice is the sound of Jèrriais being spoken.
Jersey's own language, rarely heard in public, has come to life at the Village as Islanders with a knowledge of the patois gather around the focal stand.
Jèrriais speakers, led by expert Geraint Jennings, are more than willing to teach a few words to the uninitiated as well as talk about Jersey history.
Guernsey-French is fighting for survival but just, across the water, the future of Jerriais is States-funded and almost assured. Jersey Language coordinator Tony Scott-Warren feels the same is possible here. Magnus Buchanan spoke to him
Our language is part of our heritage.
This is the simple message that won over the States in Jersey. They voted 47-1 in favour of funding the creation of classes to teach children the island's native tongue, Jèrriais, last year. 'It would have died otherwise,' said Tony Scott-Warren, Jersey Language coordinator. So far £121,000 has been spent through the initiative and more will be needed over the next five years. From September, Mr Scott-Warren hopes that there will also be Jèrriais classes available in secondary schools. Some of his students are moving up but wish to continue their study of the language.
'We've spent years spending millions of pounds keeping up stone walls at Fort Elizabeth and Castle Cornet. This is a drop in the ocean compared to that. And these languages are unique - they are a precious part of our heritage and who we are,' he said.
The influence of the Isle of Man, who acted to save Manx Gaelic in a similar way five years ago, was an inspiration to Mr Scott-Warren, who himself only started learning Jèrriais 13 years ago.
About 150 students take the classes which are extra-curricular and fitted in before school, during lunch breaks and afterwards.
Students learn about local geography, history and cooking. In this way, Mr Scott-Warren believes that there are social and cultural benefits for the integration of the community.
Indeed, what has surprised and pleased him most is the enthusiasm with which the relative newcomers in Jersey have taken to the language.
'Some of my best learners have been young members of the Portuguese community who have already had to learn additional languages before.'
One of the most important battles to win has been one of image.
'A lot of people thought that it was a peasant language and we have had to turn around that attitude. If nothing is done, we will lose the language because it is not being passed down through the parents.'
Mr Scott-Warren says that a similar initiative could work here.
'I don't see why not. It's a question of desire and finding the right people to do the teaching,' he said.
Guernsey Press and Star
Saturday 20 May 2000
Forty Jèrriais speakers travelled to Guernsey at the weekend to take part in the Fête des Rouaisouns, the annual event involving speakers of Norman-French from Normandy, Guernsey and Jersey.
This was the third Fête, the first having taken place in Montebourg, Normandy, in 1998, and the second at Hamptonne Farm last year.
Groups from the three countries gathered to perform songs, folklorique dancing, poetry and prose. John Dénize, chairman of the Congrès des Parlers Normands et Jèrriais, whose organisation helps to co-ordinate Jèrriais activities, said that the event had received wide publicity on Channel TV and TV Ouest France and in the press.
He added that Jèrriais had recently been acknowledged as part of the Island's culture in the cultural strategy being commissioned by the States to guide and support cultural development in the Island.
He said: 'In defining "culture", it was recognised that while the Island's culture was rooted in its landscape, history and its people, the indigenous language was an 'extremely important component of this, and needed to be recognised as such.'
It might date back to the Vikings but Norman French is alive and well in the 21st Century.
A special folklore fete at Blanchelande Girls' College on Saturday proved that some old traditions die hard.
The event, organised by La Société Guernesiaise president Bill Gallienne and Hazel Tomlinson, was a time for enthusiasts from Normandy, Jersey and Guernsey to get together and celebrate the language.
It was also a perfect opportunity to prove that Guernsey French is by no means forgotten.
'This event is really a concerted effort by all of us to make sure that this language is preserved,' said Mrs Tomlinson.
'Not only can we enjoy ourselves but we can also show other people who don't understand the language what it is all about, and why it is so important.'
The day's events included a display of old Guernsey costumes, photographs and demonstrations of traditional crafts. There was also traditional Guernsey food, songs and dancing and recitations.
Other entertainment included performances from a group of 17 dancers from Quettehou, who performed in traditional Norman costume and sang in their dialect of Norman French, and performances from Brehal, who come from near Granville in France.
Mrs Tomlinson hoped that States members and teachers had visited. 'In Jersey there has been a political will but here there is not the same perception of how important it is. Once it is gone it is gone forever. It is our heritage. I hope the Heritage Committee will put the same effort into preserving the language as they would to preserve an important building.'
What made the event such a great success was the enthusiasm shown by Norman French speakers from France and Jersey.
Guernsey Press and Star 22/5/2000
I can see what Senator Len Norman is driving at on the subject of our Jersey Norman-French language, although some people think it a waste of taxpayer's money.
I went to a great school New Street - circa 1927-1934 under two great headmasters, ie W M Powell and Max Le Feuvre. We were taught history - but nothing really about our own great local history.
I think that this is a good thing, especially now when maybe we shall one day need our traditions and independence.
From Ron Burch
...Culture is best described as English with a French twist. In St Helier, British high-street stores rub shoulders with small French caves and speciality shops; and Home Counties accents mingle with rough-edged Jérriais, a blend of Norse and Norman French still widely spoken. Jérriais has a philosophical, old-fashioned flavour. Vaut mus payi l'boulandgi que l'docteu, runs one expression. Better to pay the baker than the doctor, indeed.
Lunch was a four-course banquet of smoked fish, goats' cheese soufflé, salmon and scallops, and chocolate pudding. The price: an amazing £13.50. The sun shone, the sea sparkled, and the flowery Macon slipped down like honey. As the Jérriais saying has it, Tchi a bu betha: "Whoever has drunk will drink." Yes indeed. Let's have another glass. Indulgence is in the very air in Jersey. As for the Chef's Circle award, announced today, it's a shame they can't give it to the whole island.
Daily Telegraph 13/5/2000
Jèrriais could be taught in secondary schools following its successful introduction in primary schools.
It could lead to the establishment of a GCSE course in the language which was only introduced at primary level last year.
The Education Committee heard yesterday that the pilot scheme run in the primary schools had already seen pupil numbers rise since it began in 1999.
'It has been a great success. From an initial number of 150 we have risen to 170, and the indications are that the figure will rise to 200,' said Education president Senator Len Norman
He continued that 44 of the students currently studying the language at primary school would be moving to secondary school in September and want to continue their studies.
Senator Norman said that this success would now be reported back to the States and the committee would ask for a further £108,000 to cover the costs of a co-ordinator, teachers and materials at today's costs.
He continued that the biggest restriction to extending teaching of the language would be finding additional teachers.
There are currently four people who work on a part-time basis and more teachers would need to be found if numbers of interested students continued to rise.
Last October Coutances played host to a delegation from St Ouen and a charter, drawn up in English, French and Jèrriais, was signed in the flag-bedecked Hotel de Ville at a ceremony attended by the Bailiff, Sir Philip Bailhache. The Bailiff was also present on Saturday evening when the second charter was signed in front of the ancient manor house. The day ended with a vin d'amitié and a dinner in a marquee near the manor house.
It might taste the same but now Jersey Milk looks even more appetising for schoolchildren.
Pupils returned after the Easter holidays yesterday to find that Jersey Milk is now delivered in bright new cartons and comes complete with an educational message.
It still features a picture of a smiling Jersey cow, but also an address in Jersey French: Billy Bones i'dit: Bévez le lait dé Jèrri pouor souongni vôtre santé.
Roughly translated this has Billy Bones, the symbol of the national campaign to promote drinking milk, proclaiming that drinking Jersey Milk is good for their health.
Brian Le Marquand, Jersey Milk's executive chairman, said that when the firm learned that Jersey Norman French was being promoted in primary schools, it was happy to comply with Senator Jean Le Maistre's suggestion that it incorporate a health message in the language on the new cartons.
'Billy Bones is the national symbol of how vital milk is for young people to enable them to build healthy bones and it is entirely appropriate that in this context Billy should address pupils in their ancient language, which is as unique as the Jersey cow itself,' said Mr Le Marquand.
Those who take the Independent on Sunday newspaper will have noticed a recent article on the subject of minority languages to be found on the internet, a large part of which was devoted to Les Pages Jèrriaises, the website created by Geraint Jennings.
Writer Marek Kohn tells an amusing anecdote of how, during a routine inquiry on the web, he stumbled upon something that appeared to be, and I quote: 'French with a pronounced lisp. Frère had become fréthe and American has turned with a splutter into Améthitchain. The words were liberally garnished with circumflexes, possibly surplus stocks off-loaded by the Académie Française'.
Kohn continues on a more serious note, explaining more about Jersey's native tongue, and tells how visitors to the site can hear spoken phrases, consult a vocabulary read poems and see what the lyrics from Auld Lang Syne to Whispering Grass look like.
This piece, in a national newspaper, is a splendid and well-deserved accolade for Mr Jennings, who has put a tremendous amount of effort into creating the website. You too may visit it on members.societe-jersiaise.org/geraint/jerriais.
I was conducting a routine inquiry on the web the other day when I found myself reading a page of what appeared to be French with a pronounced lisp. "Frère" had become "fréthe" and "Américan" had turned with a splutter into "Améthitchain". The words were liberally garnished with circumflexes, possibly surplus stocks offloaded by the Académie Française. Clicking the link that read "R'tou à la page d'siez-mé", or "Back to home page", I learnt that this was Jèrriaise, Jersey's native tongue.
On Les Pages Jèrriaises, compiled by Geraint Jennings, visitors can hear spoken phrases, consult a vocabulary, read poems, and see what lyrics from "Auld Lang Syne" to "Whispering Grass" look like in Jèrriais. On Jersey itself, according to 1989 census figures cited by Jennings, 5,720 people spoke the language. The Pages are part of a movement to push those numbers up. And, obliquely, they are a reminder that the internet is not just transforming the way the world does business. More than any other medium, it is transforming the way the world speaks. When historians look back on the net, they may or may not recognise it as the vehicle that made the world run on information instead of things. They will almost certainly acknowledge it as the apparatus that secured global domination for the English language.
At the same time, the internet has globalised parochial languages such as Jèrriais. It connects the homeland with the diaspora, a particularly useful effect for minority languages, since emigration is often one of the main reasons for their decline. It raises their profile, and promotes the identity of the peoples who speak them.
Independent on Sunday 2/4/2000
The words of the Lord's Prayer in Jèrriais (Jersey-French) are to be inscribed on a plaque and placed in the cloisters of a convent on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
The idea came from a group accompanying the Rector of St Peter, Canon Barry Giles, and his wife Janette on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land last May.
The convent is the Carmelite Le Couvent du Carmel du Pater. By (unsubstantiated) tradition, it marks the spot where Jesus first gave the words of the Lord's Prayer to his disciples.
Mr Giles said: 'The convent has cloisters containing the words of The Lord's Prayer in languages and dialects from all around the world - from Scottish "doric" to South Sea Islands pidgin, and including, for example, Breton and Basque.
'When our group visited there last May, the seed was planted which has led to a plaque being placed in the cloisters with the prayer in Jèrriais. We think it will be the 118th plaque.'
Mr and Mrs Giles have led four pilgrimages to the Holy Land over the past eight years, and some 40 Jersey pilgrims, together with some members of his congregation at St Peter, have raised the cost of the plaque - $1,000.
'Jèrriais was never really a written language, so there were some difficulties in finding an "authorised" version. Thanks to the expertise of Dr Frank Le Maistre, Jurat Max Lucas, Tony Scott Warren and Brian Vibert, we have a text which has been agreed,' he said.
This 'authorised version' of the Lord's Prayer reads as follows:
Tch'es dans les cieux
Qué Ton Nom sait saint,
Tan règne veinge
Ta volanté sait faite sus la terre comme au ciel.
Donne-nous aniet nouot' pain dé touos les jours
et pardonne-nous nouos péchés,
comme j'pardonnons és cheins tchi nouos ont offensés;
et né nouos laîsse pon tchaie dans la tentâtion,
mais d'livre nous du ma:
car lé règne T'appartcheint,
et l'pouver et la glouaithe
à tout janmais. Amen.
Bouonjour, comme est qu'tu'es? Je sis d'charme, mercie. It may look like French, but it's a lot more complicated than that. Jerriais is the ancient language of the Isle of Jersey, struggling to survive after hundreds of years of existence. A mixture of French with Celtic, Germanic, and a little bit of English influence thrown in, Jerriais reflects the imprint different cultures have made on the island.
Like the ancient languages of the British Isles, Jerriais is making a bit of a comeback in its native land.
Tony Scott Warren, teacher and proponent of the re-introduction of the language in Jersey schools, explains Jerriais in these terms. "The best way of describing the relationship between Jerriais and French is that it is like the relationship between Chaucerian English and modern English." He explains in an almost Celtic sounding accent, saying, "it's like speaking French with the English parts of the mouth." Jerriais is a cousin of Norman French, and has remained closer to its Latin roots than modern French.
Calling the language a patois does not begin to describe its complexities. Jerriais is a language unto itself, formed over hundreds of years, influenced by the languages of neighboring countries and visitors to the isle. Everyone from Norse Vikings to marauding Franks influenced the language over time.
This hybrid language was spoken by the general population until the 1850s. After that outside influences started taking a toll on Jerriais. An influx of English and Irish laborers during the Napoleonic Wars made a linguistic impact on the island, which only increased after the wars when British military officers came to Jersey to retire.
More and more English people were moving to Jersey, but it was the islanders who had to learn the language of the newcomers. "Because English people do not learn a foreign language. As far as they were concerned, it (Jerriais) was a foreign language and the natives had to be able to speak their language," says Warren.
World War II also had an effect on Jerriais. It experienced a brief resurgence during the German occupation period as islanders used their native tongue as a secret language. " The Germans brought interpreters from Paris who couldn't understand it. Generally it was a way that people could get away with saying what they wanted to in public without much chance of them being understood by the occupying forces."
This brief resurgence came to an abrupt halt after WWII, as islanders who had been evacuated to England returned to Jersey. For five years their daily language had been English, and they continued to speak it back in Jersey. Warren muses on the rapidity with which English took over as the lingua franca. "I can't say this with conviction, but I believe that people felt that they had to show their allegiance to the liberating power. One way of doing that was to use the English language." Whatever the reason, use of Jerriais diminished during this time and was at a vanishing point until recently.
Warren's renewed interest in Jerriais started while on holiday with other islanders in Israel. Whilst touring Crusader Castle on the Mediterranean coast, a Jersey man and Jerriais authority mentioned that the people who built the castle spoke the same language still spoken back on their little isle. "I thought, what are you talking about? He said they were Norman knights who built this place, and we still speak a variant of Norman in Jersey. There we were having flown for 5 hours to get to this place, and 800 years before people had gone there speaking this language that was still sort of up and running. That, I thought was quite extraordinary."
Other islanders wanted to see Jerriais revived as well. Just a few years ago nary a soul still spoke the ancient tongue, but a combined effort of some staunch Jerriais supporters may be changing that. "It's only in the last 4-5 years, that people have started to sit up and say hang on, we're about to lose something that is actually quite important to the island."
It is too soon to say the language is experiencing a complete revival, but interest in it is evident. The Societe Jersiaise works to preserve Jersey's culture and heritage, and the island has a trust with the sole mission of sustaining Jerriais. Jersey's parliament has also shown support for Jerriais, voting to provide funds for a 2-year trial period to re-introduce the language in schools. Today Warren is one of four people teaching the language to 220 children in 20 Jersey schools.
In 1989 the estimate of Jerriais speakers was around 5,000 people, today it is probably half that. That is why people like Warren feel it is so important to start teaching a new generation to speak Jerriais. "Jerriais is such an intrinsic part of the island. It's in family names and place names and all the rest of it. It's also important in maintaining our independence as an island."
The low number of speakers is not discouraging to Warren. He cites the Isle of Man as an example of a place where the ancient language was completely extinct, then brought back to life by the interest of islanders. In time he hopes Jerriais will have the same comeback and be assimilated into everyday life on the isle.
What is the next step in re-introducing Jerriais? "Where we go from here, I'm not sure. It would be great to get a nursery school group and teach them exclusively in Jerriais. That way the children become bilingual very quickly."
Student enrollment is increasing and other groups are interested in providing Jerriais lessons, which seems to be a good start for Jerriais' future in academia. "I retire in approximately 13 years time. I want this to be an examination subject by the time I retire. I've got quite a job on my hands."
Washington Times 24/2/2000
Playing a major role in promoting the use of the language is a body called Le Congrès des Parlers Normands et Jèrriais whose president, John Dénize, has kindly provided "News from Jersey Harbours' with a glossary of nautical terms in Jèrriais.
Over the next few issues we will be publishing various sections of the glossary to give both local and visiting yachtsmen a glimpse of this fascinating language. Today we start with some terms for various types of boats and sails...
News from Jersey Harbours
Great efforts are now being made by Islanders to keep Jersey Norman-French alive into the new Millennium
For 1,000 years Jersey has had a language of its own. Known to anglophones as Jersey Norman-French and to its speakers as Jèrriais, it is sometimes dismissed as a patois or debased version of 'real' French. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth, Jèrriais is more ancient than either modern French or the English in which this article is written.
Linguists will tell you that Jèrriais is a Romance language, that it is derived from the langue d'oïl, that it is of western Norman origin and that it is full of words of Norse derivation.
Historians will tell you that it is quite close to the language of William the Conqueror and of the poet Maistre Wace, the Jersey-born author of 'Roman de Rou'.
Self-styled realists, meanwhile, will tell you that Jèrriais is dying and that only a handful of 2,000 people speak it with any degree of fluency.
All these points of view miss the real point - which is that Jèrriais is first and foremost a vivid means of verbal communication replete with sayings and proverbs and firmly rooted in traditional Jersey life. During this century pressures ranging from immigration to the occupation and from mass media of communication to tourism have forced Jèrriais on to the back foot and into the depths of the country parishes. Recently, however, it has experienced a resurgence, thanks largely to enthusiastic speakers who want others to taste the pleasures of self-expression in a language which is rich enough to have 25 separate words - from brulée to tournéoualipe - for a physical blow.
In addition, the language is once more present in schools - not as the suppressed speech of the playground but as part of the curriculum.
Any mention of Jèrriais must, of course, take into account the work of Dr Frank Le Maistre, whose mammoth dictionary and other written works represent scholarship of the highest order. His role in perpetuating what he would doubtless describe as his native tongue cannot be exaggerated.
Others, too, have brought Jèrriais to life in recent years, notably George d'la Forge (George Le Feuvre) and Sir Arthur de la Mare, both of whom wrote JEP columns.
lt is to be hoped that the latest generation of parlers, such as Tony Scott-Warren, are successful in their efforts to keep the language alive.
Jersey Evening Post 4/1/2000
As a former university teacher involved with the study of the history and structure of French in all its forms, I feel that your readers should not be subjected to the sort of misinformation contained in the article entitled 'A language more ancient than English' published in the special souvenir supplement Jersey 2000 (JEP 4 January).
It is nonsense to say that Jèrriais is "older" than French or English. One could say that Jèrriais is older than Serquiais, since the latter continues the Jèrriais of the 16th century people who colonised Sark. Contemporary Jèrriais and modern French, however, both basically derive from separate regional developments of the langue d'oïl - and before that of the spoken Latin of Gaul. Therefore, neither is younger or older than the other, any more than Jèrriais is younger or older than modern English.
The idea that Jèrriais is older seems to be based on a belief that Jèrriais has hardly changed, whereas French and English have changed a lot. This is borne out by the statement in the article that 'historians will tell you that it (ie Jèrriais) is quite close to the language of William the Conqueror and of the poet Maistre Wace' and by references on Channel Television to 'saving the language of the Crusaders' (ie Jèrriais!).
Wace did not write in Jèrriais, but in the literary language of his time, and I doubt whether William the Conqueror would have understood a tenth of what a present-day speaker of Jèrriais says, and vice versa, because Jèrriais has changed as much as, or more than, French over the centuries. One has only to compare Jèrriais and Serquiais to see how even the same vernacular can differentiate in the course of a few centuries.
It is in the nature of language to change, and Jèrriais has not had even the sort of brakes on its development that have been provided in France by the efforts of the French purists. It is of course possible to point to the ways in which Jèrriais has been more conservative in its development than French but just as easy to indicate many areas in which it has been less so.
By all means try to preserve Jèrriais as one of the distinctive features of Jersey's individual culture, but not on the basis of spurious claims that it has remained more or less unchanged since the Norman Conquest.
N SpenceJersey Evening Post 8/1/2000
(JEP = Jersey Evening Post)
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