La Section de la langue Jèrriaise

D's articl'yes et des nouvelles entouor lé Jèrriais 2002

Press cuttings about Jèrriais 2002


La langue Jèrriaise



Singing seasonal songs en Jèrriais

Everyone can dress up in traditional Jersey attire for the evening of carols sung in Jèrriais on Thursday

Sonne les clioches and Rudolf lé chèr au rouge nez are just two of the many favourite Christmas carols which will be sung in this year's traditional Jèrriais carol-singing event on Thursday evening.

The tunes will be familiar, even if the words are not, but everyone is welcome to join in the singing, even if they can't manage more than the occasional chorus in Jèrriais.

La chant'tie d'cantiques dé Noué starts at 7 pm in West's Centre and there will be a retiring collection in aid of the Joint Christmas Appeal.

JEP 7/12/2002



Happy Shopping at the Fête Dé Noué

A little bit of Jersey tradition was brought to the streets of St Helier on Sunday courtesy of L's Êtudgiants Shirley Pirouet, Tony Scott Warren and Geraint Jennings. They sang Christmas carols, read poems and gave dialogue all in Jèrriais while lined up in Redvers' shop window. The entertainment was part of Sunday's family shopping day, which saw hundreds of people heading to town for their Christmas shopping.

JEP 2/12/2002



Jersey Norman French first appeared in the Eisteddfod in 1912, at a time when the impending death of Jèrriais was forecast. Ninety years on, adjudicator E.J. "Ted" Syvret wound up two full evenings of poetry, prose, song and fun by saying that Jèrriais is still a long way from being dead and buried. It is true that audience numbers are lower than they were in 1912, when Springfield Hall was filled to capacity - indeed the audience numbers were noticeably lower than in 2001 - but the quality of competition and the overall standard is as high as ever.

Both evening performances began with groups of up to 70 children from primary and secondary schools singing "Les Mais du Coucou". After this came classes for Boys and Girls and it is evident from their performances that the programme for teaching Jèrriais in schools is resulting in great improvements. The President of Education, Senator Len Norman watched as some of the school pupils recited poetry and achieved excellent marks in their classes. Mary Cooper and Veronica Fulton jointly won the E.J. Luce Memorial Trophy, and Mr. Syvret pointed out that this was very appropriate, as when the trophy was first awarded in 1922, two contestants had shared the honours. An own-choice class for young people has been introduced and was won by Alexander Voisin of De La Salle College with his reading of the story of the Good Samaritan.

Adult students also performed in a number of classes, with much improvement in overall standards. Several have crossed over from the classes reserved for students into the senior classes, and acquitted themselves well against more experienced Jèrriais speakers. “La Clâsse Avanchie” closed the Monday evening with non-competitive songs, raising the roof with a Jèrriais rendition of the Morecambe and Wise classic “Bring Me Sunshine” - complete with dance!

“Les Grands Canons” (the big guns) took part in the senior sections, with Enid de Gruchy winning the G.W. de Carteret Trophy for a beautifully-rendered recitation of the story of “Ph'lippe et Merrienne et la mousse vont à Londres” - the hilarious story of a Jersey family's adventures on holiday. Competition was fiercest in the Own Choice Reading class, with the adjudicator forced to pay very close attention to each contestant, finally deciding to award the F.V. Le Feuvre Trophy to Jean Le Maistre.

Once again there was only one pièche dé théâtre entered in this year's competition. L's Êtudgiants had written their own play, “En Viage”, a short comedy in which passengers checked in for the first flight to a new destination - Sark! Complete with sound effects, a bearded mother, a dog smuggler and a pilot who is not above selling his plane to the opposition, it caused great amusement in the audience and led the adjudicator to remark that “L's Êtudgiants” - the students - merit a change of name!

A great deal of work goes into the two evening's competition and the results showed how seriously the contestants take the Eisteddfod - it is to be hoped that a larger audience turns out next year to support their efforts.

JEP 22/11/2002



Talking Your Language

Jerriais, the native language of Jersey, is the subject of a new programme of interactive CD-ROMs being made available in schools throughout the island in a bid to revive its popularity.

The CDs, available from language learning software company EuroTalk, target 8-12 year olds but this will be extended to 16 year olds over the next four years.

The move follows a census that revealed Jerriais speakers were mostly amongst the elderly community of the island and as such constituted just 2,600 people.

Tony Scott-Warren, Jersey language teaching co-ordinator, comments: 'We were aware of the decreasing numbers of Jerriais speakers and wanted to initiate a new teaching programme. The Isle of Man faced similar challenges when reviving Manx - in their case there were actually no native speakers. We had seen a success of their scheme, so we were keen to adopt a comparable programme for Jerriais."

Flying Colours 4 2002 (flybe. inflight magazine)



The language of business

Adam talks to EuroTalk chairman Richard Howeson

A language dies somewhere in the world every two weeks.

There are around 6,000 languages spoken at the moment and experts expect there to be no speakers for about half of these by the middle of the next century.

At the same time we're always being told that not enough of us are learning a second language.

So it seems strange that a small company in London is achieving success selling language courses in some very unusual tongues.

EuroTalk Interactive sells CD and CD-Rom courses in over 80 languages, from Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, to Zulu.

Welsh is one of its most popular courses and it plans to release a Cornish CD later this month.

Their ability to produce courses in more obscure languages rests on the design of their product, which has won them a Queen's Award for Innovation.

The computer programmes are built around a template which can be cheaply adapted for different languages.

The same programme can also teach the target language to speakers of over 80 languages.

Therefore one product can be sold all over the world.

Indeed 70% of their sales come from abroad.

Low production costs mean that EuroTalk can afford to produce a course in Jerriais, the ancient language of Jersey, which is only spoken by about 2,000 people.

The company was started 0 years ago without any venture capital or grants.

The first CD-Rom to be launched was a series of language courses using the cartoon character Asterix.

Now EuroTalk's sales are £2m and their products are available in over 140 countries.

They expect to offer courses in over 100 languages by January.

One of their CDs is now the number one selling language course in the United States.

EuroTalk chairman Richard Howeson reports that there is often strong pressure on the company to produce courses in minority languages.

In the case of Manx, spoken on the Isle of Man, the company received a phone call asking how many orders they'd need to make a course in Manx financially viable.

"We then received an order for that amount from the Isle of Man government," Mr Howeson said.

"The course is now used by the government and in Isle of Man schools."

Mr Howeson was brought up in Cornwall and is keen to encourage the learning of Cornish, also known as Kernuak.

The government will not decide on whether to give Cornish official protection under the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages until later in the autumn, but many expect that they will.

"Official status for the language would produce funds to encourage the learning of Cornish," Mr Howeson said.

It would also mean that it would be illegal for public bodies to discriminate against Cornish speakers or to suppress the language in any way.

"It's good that the European Commission is trying to protect local cultures and languages at the same time as creating a single market," Mr Howeson said.

"It was Churchill who said that there will only be peace in our time when we all speak the same language.

But I think we should all make an effort to communicate with people of all cultures."

Around 3,500 people have some knowledge of Cornish.

Five hundred people are believed to use it, but just 100 are fluent speakers.

Mr Howeson concedes that it will be hard for EuroTalk to make money on the product.

But EuroTalk is already looking to see which minority languages we will want to learn in the future.

Other than Cornish, Richard Howeson is planning courses in Hawaiian, Maori and, believe it or not, Klingon.

BBC 2/10/2002



Search mounted for teachers of Jèrriais

More teachers are needed for an increasing number of Island school children who want to learn Jèrriais, says the Island's teaching co-ordinator for Jersey-French, Tony Scott Warren.

There is also a distinct possibility that Jersey might fall behind the Isle of Man, where lessons in the Manx language are carried out within the curriculum by teachers who are part of the island's education departinent.

Jèrriais is currently a noncompulsory subject taught outside the curriculum in Jersey.

Mr Scott Warren said that there were about 240 to 250 pupils who had indicated that they wanted to learn Jèrriais an increase from 190 learning the subject at the end of last term.

'The more interest there is in the subject, then the greater the status among the pupils success breeds success, and yet more pupils want to have a go,' lie explained.

There is a budget available for a new teacher, he continued, but so far nobody has mam terialised in answer to any advertisement.

He feels that any potential applicants might be people who are not teaching as a career, or who might want to teach part-time, or even somebody who is keen on passing on their own knowledge of Jèrriais, but lacks formal teaching qualifications.

Anyone interested should contact him or his teaching colleague, Geraint Jennings, by telephoning 608609.

JEP 30/8/2002


Frank Le Maistre: A few words

We can say without any hesitation that Frank Le Maistre was a true St Ouennais - a grey-belly. Born on 19 May 1910 at Lecq, he had roots in two of the old families of the parish, the Le Feuvres and the Lucases. Frank had only one brother, Henri, who died some years ago now.

He spent most of his school life at Oxenford House in St Lawrence, being the last to study there, even after the school had closed. Leaving Oxenford House, he went to work in the Street of the Three Pigeons - known today as Hill Street - for Le Masurier and Giffard.

In 1931 he changed occupation and was employed at the States Farm, where he worked for 25 years. Over the years he took part in a number of trials for different crops, visited farms all over the Island, took charge of western gangs as controller of grain in the time of the threshing machine, during the war when everything was rationed, and after the war he played a huge role in combatting the infestation of Colorado beetle which had invaded the Island.

By the age of 46 he had accumulated an enormous collection of words and phrases in Jersey Norman-French with the help of Arthur Balleine and the encouragement of his great friend George Le Feuvre - George d'la Forge. He had a good ear and had noted the many sayings and expressions that he had heard on his rounds. In fact, he was well prepared when the Don Balleine invited him to produce a dictionary in jèrriais.

He began his task in 1956 with a determination to publish his masterpiece ten years later.

Frank had La Ferme at Vinchelez and during the day he worked in the fields and it was between 5 and 8 in the morning and between 6 pm and midnight that he put together the material that he had gleaned for his dictionary

When the price for the publication of the dictionary was accepted, the printers decided to meet the team who had produced the book. They couldn't believe that just one man had succeeded in doing in ten years what would normally have taken eight or ten men six years to do. And in the end it was Frank who read the proofs twice, all on his own

In 1966 he began farming again more seriously but continued to write - this time helping Dr Albert Carré with the English-Jèrriais Vocabulary.

He was also editor of the quarterly bulletin of the Assembliée d'Jèrriais, having been, with others, a founder member of the assembliée in 1951. From time to time, undoubtedly to keep himself busy, he wrote poetry or translated hymns. He was also extremely interested in genealogy and put together all the details of 42 families. And for 70 years he had recorded the rainfall and had been, after 60 years, the second longest recorder in Great Britain.

After the publication of the dictionary he received an enormous number of letters and corresponded regularly with 100 universities and academies. His contribution to the preservation and promotion of jèrriais is without equal and for his efforts he was honoured by the Queen, by the universities of Caen and Uppsala and by the French government, and also received the Literary Prize of the Normandy Cotentin.

A few words' ... there is so much I could add. I have failed to mention so far a part of his life which was very important to him, - his family. He married in 1936 Kathleen Amy and they were perfect partners with many interests in common. Sadly, Kath died four years ago and Frank was lucky to have the support of the next generation.

He was father to François, Edouard and Jean, father-in-law to his daughters-in-law, Papa of seven grandchildren and great-grandfather of four.

His cousins and his friends were very special to him and he appreciated enormously their visits, above all lately when he found himself obliged to be cared for at Little Grove, where he was so well looked after.

It is with great regret that we say goodbye to such a distinguished Jerseyman.

Brian Vibert

JEP 30/8/2002


Appreciation: Frank Le Maistre

We spoke the same language

Frank Le Maistre was quite simply the inspiration for me to learn Jèrriais.

When we were on holiday in Israel, back in the 1980s, he said something that stuck in my mind and inspired me to start learning.

We were visiting the Crusader's Castle in Acre and he said to me that, of course, this castle was built by people who spoke the same language that we still speak today in Jersey, because they were Normans.

That was what triggered me to start to learn. I asked him at an early stage how long it would take me to learn and he said, oh, about 30 years at the minimum for an intelligent young man like you - and I am pleased to say that I have more or less disproved him to a certain extent.

Had it not been for all the effort he put into Jèrriais over many years, the language would have died before now, and if the language has a chance of survival now it is because of the work he has done. He started work on his Dictionnaire Jèrriais-Français in 1924 and it was published in 1965.

He was hugely proud of it - and of the fact that he had more words in it than Shakespeare wrote - but even so he acknowledged that there were some words missing from it.

He was a founder member of L'Assembliée de Jèrriais (of which I am now the president, I am proud to say) and editor of the Bulletin d'Quart d'An, which ran to 100 editions, and was certainly also the main contributor to it along with Max Lucas and Laurie Huelin and others.

He had been hugely helpful to a variety of people who had been in­volved in researching different aspects of Jer­sey, from Paul Birt when he was writing his 'Jèrriais Pour Tous', which is the grammar book of Jèrriais, to Mari Jones, of Cambridge Universi­ty, who bas just pub­lished a very learned journal about Jèrriais and is about to publish a more accessible history of Jèrriais and its development, and Annette Torode, of Leeds University, who has recently produced a very good thesis about George Le Feuvre which is to be published by the Don Balleine.

Frank Le Maistre was an amazing gentleman who will be greatly missed, not only in Jer­sey but outside the Is­land as well.

I know that he was very pleased with what was happening with the language in Jersey.

When we were working on the first books for schoolchildren, he would look at them before they went for publication and then edit them.

He was very pleased with what was going on there and felt that it was the right way to go, given that Jèrriais was not being transmitted from mother to child.

I think that by the end he believed that there was more of a chance of Jèrriais carrying on into the future.

If you had asked him that in the 1930s and 40s, he might have said that if he were to live to a ripe old age, it would die with him.

In the 1920s he was col­lecting arcane words which were then already out of date, and he was a collector of written ma­terial in Jèrriais, includ­ing 17th and 18th centu­ry material which does not exist in museums. Everyone said that there was no literature in Jèr­riais, but of course there always was.

There is a lot that we lose with his passing, but what he has done has provided a basis for Jèrriais to continue.

The fact that he has gone doesn't mean that his work has finished.

What he inaugurated and is unfinished will continue, and we shall keep his flame alight.


JEP 29/8/2002



Temps Passé

50 Years Ago

I was rather taken up by some of the lovely Jersey Norman-French names given to flowers and wild plants in the list published in Thursday's Evening Post. For instance: des lèrmes d'Jacob (Jacob's tears) for quaking grass; des bliuettes, which almost describes the dainty blue flowers of the periwinkle; des Baromettes ès pourres gens (poor man's barometer) for scarlet pimpernel and des p'tites toutes nues (the little naked ones) for snowdrops. What could be lovelier?

JEP 28/8/2002



Champion of the Jersey language


Dr Frank Le Maistre, the greatest au­thority of all times on Jersey Norman­ French - who died on 13 August aged 92 - could be compared with Frédéric Mistral, the noted French writer and poet whose life's work was to restore to Provençal, the Romance language of Provence, its literary and poetic standing. This the distinguished St Ouennais did for Jèrri­ais not only through his monumental and encyclopaedic Dictionnaire Jersiais-Français but by a mass of prose and poetry that he wrote or composed throughout his remarkable life.

He was, too, the inspiration for the present status of Jèrriais. This came about when he was among a group, led by his son Senator Jean Le Maistre, on one of his many visits to Israel. As they saw the mighty castle of Acre, Dr Le Maistre pointed out in conversation with Tony Scott Warren that it had been built by the Normans, who would have spoken a tongue very similar to Jèrriais. This was the spur that led to Tony Scott Warren learning Jersey Norman-French to such an accomplished level that he is now co-ordinator for the teaching of Jèrriais in Island schools.

Born on 19 May 1910, Frank Le Maistre took his name from his father, who farmed at Lecq in St Ouen. His mother was Ada Harriet Lucas, described by her son as the one who so greatly encouraged him from his early years by the exceptional richness of her vocabulary and by her intelligence and patience. He said of her sister, Mrs Ellen (Nell) Mary Huelin, that she too had considerably contributed to his learning.

His formal education began at St Ouen's Elementary School after which he moved to Oxenford House School, where he was to become the very last pupil when it closed in 1927.

He used every opportu­nity to gain what over time became a wealth of knowledge on a wide range of subjects - from photography to psychol­ogy - and especially the flora and fauna, as well as the history and her­itage, of the Island. This was to prove so invalu­able to him in the years ahead. However, he was not just bookish, being physically active throughout his life and, more so in his youth, a strong swimmer.

Unlike his younger brother, Henri, who farmed with his father, tilling the soil was not Frank Le Maistre's first calling and he was employed for a time in Hill Street, which was then the Island's legal quarter. Later he joined the staff of the Howard Davis Experimental Farm, as it was known in 1931. A major part of his responsibilities consisted of visiting farms throughout the Island. There he learnt the names of fields, which he retained in his memory, and numbered them as they now appear on maps. In the process lie imbibed the rich dialects of Jèrriais as it was spoken in different parts of Jersey This added - to what was already becoming his vast knowledge of the origin, structure and pronunciation of the Island's old language.

He would also go out of his way to talk to fishermen and to others who plied their various trades or professions. By these means, for example, he would find out the myriad names, many of them of Norse derivation, of local coastal features and rocks. He recorded these but, sadly, with his passing, the historical and meaningful import of some of them is lost or vitiated into such terms as 'West Rock' or 'Plémont Bay'.

Another of his great interests was that of observing weather patterns and his forecasts were invariably spot-on! Being a methodical man, Dr Le Maistre was one of the longest-serving official rainfall recorders in the British Isles, and the Meteorological Office made a presentation to him some years ago as a tribute. However, he persisted in giving the rainfall measurements in inches after the change to metric and the conversion had to be made elsewhere! He also managed to amass a very fine array of farming tools and implements which led to him being instrumental in establishing the original Agricultural Museum at La Hougue Bie under the auspices of La Société Jersiaise.

In addition to being a linguist, lexicographer, philologist, dialectologist and encyclopaedist, Dr Le Maistre was a genealogist of no mean ability. Many scholars, authors and students from the world at large consulted him on all of these disciplines. Indeed much of his time was spent in corresponding with them or being visited by them. Two such savants - Dr René Lepelley, the distinguished Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at the University of Caen, and Dr Roger-Jean Le Barbenchon, another eminent Norman author - both attended the funeral for Dr Le Maistre.

Many of Frank Le Maistre's friendships were based on the profound sharing of common interests. A prime example of such close associations was the renowned local Jèrriais writer George Le Feuvre. The two men would regularly discuss various aspects of Jèrriais at Mr Le Feuvre's home, Le Mênage ès Feuvre at Les Landes.

Another good friend was the Abbé Marcel Lelégard, who was the instigator of the ongoing restoration of the abbey of La Lucerne, near Granville, and the regional director of historical monuments and the conservation of antiquities and objets d'art. It was this brilliant scholar who recommended to the French Minister of Culture and Communications - François Léotard - that Frank Le Maistre be made a Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Writing to Dr Le Maistre after the French Government had awarded him the honour in 1988, the Minister said he was particularly pleased that the recipient's great talent had been so recognised. The Order ranks next to that received by Les Compagnons de la Libération and few non-natives are ever made Commandeurs.

Twelve years earlier Dr Le Maistre had been made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, a distinction he shared with two close cousins, Senator Philip Le Feuvre and Mr Harold Myerscough.

Editor of the Bulletin of L'Assembliée d'Jèrriais from its first number in 1952 until it ceased publication in 1977, Dr Le Maistre was subsequently editor of its successor, Les Chroniques du Don Balleine. These periodicals are considered to be an important extension of his work concerning Jersey Norman-French. He had written and had published such compositions as a transliteration in the Jersey language of part of Fitzgerald's famous version of the Rubàiyàt of Omar Khayyàm, for which single work he received a French literary award.

In 1967, the year after the publication of the dictionary, Dr Le Maistre was made a Membre d'Honneur of La Société Jersiaise and in June of that year lie was awarded the Prix Littéraire du Cotentin, the oldest and most important literary award in Normandy. The following September he was unanimously elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Uppsala, Sweden. Subsequently he became a Membre de l'Académie des Arts, Sciences et Belles Lettres de Caen and later had the distinction of Docteur ès Lettres (honoris causa) conferred on him by the University of Caen.

In 1974 the Médaille de Bronze of the Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique was bestowed on him, under the aegis of the French Ministry of Education which, in 1981, appointed him an Officier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques. Dr Le Maistre was a contributor to Folksongs of Britain and Ireland, edited by Peter Kennedy, which was awarded the McColvin Medal for the outstanding reference book of 1975. Later Dr Le Maistre revised and supplemented the monumental Dictionary of Jersey Place Names, collected, amended and edited by Jean Arthur and Charles and Joan Stevens. Dr Le Maistre also helped Dr Patrice Brasseur with the compilation of the Jersey section of the massive Atlas Linguistique et Ethnographique Normand. In 1975, in recognition of his life's work in recording Jersey Norman-French, the States of Jersey Education Committee established the Frank Le Maistre Scholarship to the University of Caen and on his retirement as the senior member of the executive committee of Le Don Balleine he was made a Membre d'Honneur of that trust.

Much of the driving force in the publication of Dr Le Maistre's works was provided by Deputy Philip de Veulle, a great friend whose immense help and talents are acknowledged in the introduction to the Dictionnaire Jersiais-Français. In 1972 they further collaborated in the preparation of the English-Jersey Language Vocabulary compiled by Dr Albert L Carré. Frank Le Maistre was the primus inter pares of the St Ouen trio of his generation, which included two of his first cousins, Laurie Huelin and Jurat Max Lucas, purists and leading exponents of the methodology of Jèrriais. Dr Le Maistre was also the main source of the collected sayings used in the book Mille Ditons en Jèrriais et lus êtchivalents en Français et Angliais, and he was consulted by the Ordnance Survey team revising the map and toponomy of Jersey.

Recently those helped by Dr Le Maistre have included Dr Annette Torode, whose substantial research on the life and work of George Le Feuvre (George d'La Forge of the Jersey Evening Post) is in the process of being printed, and Tony Scott Warren in his preparation of the material for the teaching of Jèrriais.

Not surprisingly, a man of such intellect is not without complexity. He was on the one hand a generally undemonstrative and reticent person, yet always ready to enlighten an inquiring listener and share at length his enthusiasm for his Island. Perhaps sometimes to the casual observer lie might come across as a little austere. He was certainly an admirer of Calvin, eschewing pomp and ceremony wherever possible. He did possess a very dry sense of humour and a certain charm. The family - extended or immediate - mattered to him and lie was proud of his children and grandchildren.

Being an animal lover, in his old age he was especially fond of his cat Minnet and would take delight in the several daily visits of Marie, 'his' seagull, which would tap at the French windows to be fed, or in seeing the family of hedgehogs (one an albino) which would appear after dark also to be fed.

Frank's wife Kathleen, née Amy, was his devoted and patient helpmate, who was of immeasurable support to him in all his work, but never more so than when he was compiling his dictionary at La Brecquette, L'Étacq, while at the same time farming from there. She was a sounding board for all his writings and researches and did not hesitate to argue a point if she felt it could be bettered or discarded. Together they had been closely involved in the collection of costumes and artefacts for the tableau of the old Jersey kitchen at the Jersey Museum and also, for many years, they were enthusiastic participants in Island culture especially through their active membership of La Société Jersiaise and L'Assembliée d'Jèrriais. They were a remarkable partnership. When Kath, as she was known, died in 1998, Dr Le Maistre lost much of his vitality and joy of life, languishing and mostly bedridden in a nursing home for the last two years, although retaining almost to the time of his peaceful passing his sharp and unimpaired mental faculties.

Dr and Mrs Le Maistre, who celebrated their diamond wedding in 1996, had three sons: François who, following in his father's footsteps, was a senior member of the Department Of Agriculture and Fisheries as Technical and Development Officer; Edouard, Secretary of the Architectural Association (Inc) and Chairman of the Jersey Society in London; and Senator Jean Le Maistre. All of them are devotees of Jèrriais and the two who live in Jersey take an active part in the teaching and preservation of the language.

The Jersey Evening Post extends its sympathy to them and to all other members of the family on the passing of a great Jerseyman, immortalised by his lifetime's work and achievement, once described by a former Bailiff of Jersey, Sir Robert Le Masurier, as 'cette tâche énorme et exceptionelle'.

JEP 23/8/2002


Farewell to a remarkable Jerseyman

It is a poignant mark of how much Jersey has changed in how short a time that many of its residents probably do not know that, for the most part, they speak a foreign language.

So complete has been the triumph of English, here as all around the world, that it is remarkable to consider that there are many Islanders still living whose first language was a vibrant, expressive Norman dialect which, it has been said, would have been instantly understandable to William the Conqueror should he have stepped out of a time machine into modern Jersey.

Jersey Norman-French has declined dramatically - but it has survived. The lion's share of the credit for that happy fact must go to Dr Frank Le Maistre, whose death yesterday has robbed Jersey of one of its most distinguished. sons, a truly remarkable man who leaves behind an equally remarkable legacy

The proud and indefatigable champion of his native tongue, which had been dealt potentially fatal blows by waves of immigration and the tragic, unwarranted inferiority complex also seen in other distinct regions in the years when Britannia ruled much of the globe, spent ten years compiling the Dictionnaire Jersiais-Français. Published in 1966, this monumental labour of love and academic excellence rightly earned him. many honours but the one he probably treasured the most was the knowledge that, by preserving and codifying Jersey Norman-French in this way, he had laid up the store of knowledge which would enable it to continue, to inspire and inform new enthusiasts and, perhaps, to flower again.

The preservation of the language is not, as some have suggested, a dry academic matter of little relevance to the modern world, but one which is vitally connected to the maintenance of Jersey's special character and degree of independence. Binding the Island to the French neighbours with whom we share a common heritage, it is one of the most striking ways in which we remind ourselves and others that, while Jersey is proudly British, it is equally proudly and emphatically neither English nor part of the United Kingdom.

That fact has value of many different kinds - cultural, educational, spiritual and emotional, as well as hard-headedly economic - and one of the key elements which underpins all of that is the unique language on behalf of which Dr Le Maistre fought with passion, brilliance and a deep love. His name, like that language, will live on.

JEP 14/8/2002



Death of the compiler of the Dictionary of Jersey French

THE Island's foremost lexicographer Dr Frank Le Maistre died early today, aged 92.

Dr Le Maistre was a stalwart upholder of Jersey traditions, language and culture and published the Dictionnaire Jersiais-Français in 1966 - a publication which was the result of ten years of work.

Made an OBE in 1976 for his work on the Jersey language, and in particular the dictionary, he was also awarded honorary doctorates from Uppsala in Sweden and Caen.

He was the agricultural adviser for the Island in the pre and post war years and farmed from La Brecquette in St Ouen growing potatoes, cauliflowers and doing some market gardening while he compiled his dictionary.

Dr Le Maistre was the official recorder of rainfall for the west of the Island for almost 70 years.

He outlived his wifé Kathleen and leaves three sons François, Edouard and Senator Jean Le Maistre.

Obituary to follow.

JEP 13/8/2002



New technology boost for native languages

The native languages of Jersey and the Isle of Man should both receive a boost from modern technology through a new video project, believes Jèrriais teaching co-ordinator Tony Scott Warren.

He has just returned, with two teaching colleagues of Jèrriais, from the Isle of Man where they met teachers of Manx. They have launched the project together to assist children learning the languages.

In each Island a video will be produced to show the way of life, the natural beauties, the places of interest, and also featuring the children in their classes. When they are ready, the videos will be exchanged, together with an English text to enable the teachers at the other end to record a commentary in their own language.

Mr Scott Warren said that a video would be of great value to show that both languages were not things of the past, but very much a part of the present.

JEP 9/8/2002



Les Normands font la fête à Jersey

Les cousins des îles et de la Grande Terre se réunissent pour défendre leur langue d'oil

« Maintenant, je peux par­ler avec mes grands parents. » Audrey et Benoit sont élèves à Saint-Germain-le-Gaillard et au collège des Pieux du côté de Cherbourg. Ils suivent les cours de Normand de Rémi Pézeril, un prof militant des langues minoritaires. Samedi matin, de bonne heure, ils ont pris le bateau à Saint-Malo avec leurs copains et copines de la chorale. Pour la premiere fois, ils ont rendez-vous avec leurs cousins « Jerriais » à la fête normande. Ils vont chanter avec Théo Capelle, accompagné du guitariste Jean-Louis Dalmont, du groupe Magene. Les premières d'une carrière internationale...

Il ne faut pas rire. Rémi Pézeril a découvert sa culture normande... en Sicile, raconte-t-il dans le car qui nous mène au manoir de Samarès « Il y a trente ans. je suis tombé sui la célébration du 900e anniversaire de l'arrivée des Normands à Palerme. Certes ils ont dû piller et tuer, mais ce fut ensuite une période de paix et de prospérité, qui est toujours celébrée. C'est à Rome qu'on retrouve le Centre Européen d'études normandes! »

Depuis il enseigne la langue de ses ancêtres, une langue d'oil, comme le gallo, le wallon... Une langue minoritaire. « Certainement pas un patois. » Bien avant qu'on parle de mondalisation, l'enseignant a été sensibilisé aux cultures en voie de disparition. « J'ai même été chez les Indiens d'Amérique. Mais si on est capable de défendre ces cultures d'ailleurs, pourquoi pas les nôtres. La France particulièrement a tué ces cultures souterraines. »

Le Remi Pézeril Jersiais s'appelle Geraint Jennings, un barbu en catogan, il coordonne l'enseignement du « Jerriais », le normand de l'île. «Notre langue est de moins en moins parlée dans les familles, mais le Parlement nous aide à relancer son enseignement facultatif dans les écoles prim­aires et secondaires. Grosso modo, 200 enfants suivent nos cours. Quand je me promène sur les chemins, je suis heureux d'entendre parfois une petite voix qui me dit: « Bouônjour! Comme est qu'ous êtes?» (Bonjour, comment allez­ vous?) », dit-il avec un bel accent du terroir. Il s'inspire de l'exemple de l'île de Man, « Là­-bas, il n'y a plus de vieilles gens à parler le Manx, mais les en­fants, eux, le parlent. » Il y a donc de l'espoir. Comme les Bretons de Diwan, les défenseurs de la langue insistent sur les chances supplémentaires données ainsi aux gamins d'apprendre les langues étrangères.

Loin d'eux l'idée d'un nationalisme étroit, d'une frilosité régionale. « Mais nous devons défendre nos racines communes. Plus notre société est urbanisée, et plus il faut faire attention à notre culture rurale », affirme Pierre Aguiton, vice-president du conseil régional de Basse-Normandie, et créateur de la Maison de Normandie à Jersey. Si la culture est forcément un moteur dans ces retrouvailles printanières entre la Grande-Terre et les îles anglo-normandes, personne, ici, ne neglige l'économie. Et d'ailleurs, Pierre Aguiton regrette que les liaisons maritimes entre, les cousins soient nettement plus mauvaises qu'avec les voisins Bretons. « C'est plus facile de partir de Saint-Malo que de la côte normande pour se rendre sur nos iles. Mais les liaisons devraient s'améliorer cet été », precise l'élu.

Sur le gazon anglais du ravissant manoir de Samarès, Jersiaises encapuchonnées et Jersiais enchapeautés, dansent en se faisant des courbettes, sous l'oeil étonné des petits chanteurs de Saint-Germain.

Des générations se decouvrent, apprennent à se reconnaître, se renforcent. Ce serait dommage de ne pas en profiter, foi de Normands.


Ouest-France 9/6/2002



Fingers crossed for Jersey

....Jersey, one could say has three supporting pillars, or even, one might say (to keep the Middle Eastern Arab analogy going), it has Three Pillars of Wisdom: the first is its particular constitution, way of doing things and tradition of honorary service; the second, its farming industry; and the third, its historic language of Jèrriais. Blow on any one of them hard (let alone put your finger in a crack) and the whole pillar is likely to sway dangerously in the breeze.

The first two of these pillars have had their share of attention recently, and rightly so. Without wanting to be a bore on the subject, they are in danger of crashing down unless a major repair and restoration job is done on them. But Jersey's Third Pillar of Wisdom came especially to my attention this past week, with the week-long 'Fête Nouormande' and its high-point, the Grande Fête at Samarès Manor.

There are times when life in Jersey seems like one long party: Victor Hugo bicentenary, Jazz Festival, Good Food Festival, Norman-French festival, Motoring Festival, West Show, Battle of Flowers... The slightest excuse is reason for the genial cry to go forth: 'Let's have a party and celebrate it.' The Norman-French party was a perfectly pleasant one: calvados and wine, tasty things to eat from Normandy and from Jersey, dances and songs, sports, men and women in folk costume (I always admire those who can wear fancy or period dress without any obvious sign of embarrassment).

The president of the fête's organising body, the Congrès des Parlers Normands et Jèrriais, is John Dénize, to whom I talked at some length in the course of preparing a JEP interview. He told me, in effect, that any reports of the death of Jèrriais were exaggerated: witness this fête for example, or the increased number of school children wanting to learn Jèrriais as an extracurricular hobby, and the general resurgence of interest in minority languages everywhere.

Look at Cornish or Manx, he said: they had died out completely, and had become as much 'dead' languages as Coptic or Sanskrit, although without any significant corpus of literature to perpetuate their memory. Yet these two dead languages have been resurrected and are now studied and spoken with evident enjoyment by their devotees.

Jèrriais, on the other hand, has never died out, nor fallen so far, and so therefore its rise now should be easier and more rapid.

Agreed - to a point, Lord Copper. Of course it is true that minority languages everywhere are being fostered to prevent them from becoming extinct - a linguistic version of the work done for rare animals by bodies such as the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. But that is not quite the same as saying that Jèrriais is ever likely to become once again a widely popular means of expression for any significant amount of Islanders.

I have, at times, a bleak nightmare of a Jersey that has forgotten its roots entirely and where its Three Pillars of Wisdom have collapsed totally into the sands, bringing down with it the roof and leaving behind a heap of stones to show where once stood a beautiful and noble edifice.

In this nightmare, anything that once made Jersey special has been swept away; its laws and way of government have been changed to comply with what other people want elsewhere; its green fields have been built over or left to sink into rack and ruin. It is urbanised, or at best suburbanised, over-populated, and with as much of a separate or distinctive character to it as has any particular branch of the McDonald's fast food chain.

Yet despite that overall collapse, so my nightmare runs, there are still public messages and notices being written in Jèrriais, new housing estates given Jèrriais names, and a small coterie of friends gathering together to speak and to promote the language that has been forgotten by everyone else and agonising on what should be the Jèrriais equivalent for words and phrases such as 'online', 'post-modernist angst', 'genetic engineering', or 'nuclear reprocessing'.

Better that Jèrriais should sink into utter oblivion than become that sort of parody of itself, the same sort of self-parody that the construction of 19th century gothic churches in the middle of industrial towns were to the mediaeval village parish churches that they copied.

But that is a risk, I suppose, that is worth running, if there is any possibility that Jèrriais can survive as a viably popular spoken language. No single person can repair all three of Jersey's Pillars of Wisdom, but everyone can do what they can, and those who strive to learn and to maintain Jèrriais can only be congratulated on doing their bit....

JEP 13/6/2002



A Celebration of the Jersey language

Fair puts spotlight on Norman roots

Week of events to celebrate Island's cultural history ends with Grande Fête at Samarès Manor


The importance of sharing an understanding of Jersey's Norman-French roots was stressed by the Bailiff, Sir Philip Bailhache, in a speech opening Saturday's Grande Fête at Samarès Manor.

The event was the high point of the week-long Fête Nouormande, the celebration of the joint historic and cultural links shared by Jersey, Guernsey and Normandy.

Sir Philip said: 'To some it may seem strange that we want to perpetuate links that were severed 800 years ago when King John lost the Duchy of Normandy to France, but in truth, our connection with Normandy has never been broken.

'In a political sense we have gradually moved closer to England, and the English language has supplanted French and Jèrriais. But look at our domestic architecture, place names, the names of old Jersey families, and at many of our customs and traditions, and you will find an unbroken taproot that goes back to the Duchy founded by Rollo, the first Duke, in 911 AD.

'And of course, the Jersey language, Jèrriais, so closely related to Norman-French, is a vital part of these roots. Our history and our culture are the foundations of our distinct identity as Jersey people. They should be more widely understood and shared with all those who have made the Island their home.'

At the fair, organised by the umbrella group of Norman-French organisation, Le Congrès des Parlers Normands et Jèrriais, more than 1,000 paying visitors came to see Norman-French poetry, recitations, dances and songs, at the biggest celebration of Norman language and culture to have come to Jersey.

Congrès spokesman Geraint Jennings said they were delighted with the publicity given to Norman-French culture, and that both the French newspaper, Ouest-France, and the French television channel, France 2, had been at the event and would give publicity to Jersey.

The festival continued on Sunday with traditional sports - until rain stopped play - and a church service in Jèrriais. The fête was co-sponsored by Tourism.

JEP 11/6/2002



Dancing in the street

Les beaux vieux temps have returned to Jersey - at least for this week's Fête Nouormande, the celebration of the historic culture and shared links of Jersey, Guernsey and Normandy. This reaches its highpoint today at a Grande Fête being held in the grounds of Samarès Manor, including song and dance, stories and poetry, tasty things to eat from both Jersey and France, and activities for all the family. Pictured are Norman dancers enlivening West's Centre.

JEP 8/6/2002



A celebration of Norman culture and language

Sample Norman music, dance and regional foods


The high-point of the biggest celebration of Norman language and culture in Jersey takes place today, with a day-long fête at Samarès Manor.

Celebrating the Fete Nouormande will be musicians, dancers and performers in Norman-French who will present a full programme of entertainment, and to provide additional interest, producers of French regional speciality foods will be present.

The fete is hosted in a different part of the ancient Duchy of Normandy each year and brings together various performers who show off their own brands of Norman culture.

There will be a concert by a Norman folk-rock group at St James Centre this evening at 7.30 pm, and a day of talks and discussions at the Société Jersiaise tomorrow.

And tomorrow there will be guided tours in Jèrriais for visitors, traditional sports and games at Victoria Park starting at 12.30 pm, and a service in Jèrriais at Philadelphie Chapel, St Peter, at 6.30 pm.

JEP 8/6/2002



Talking my language

A celebration of Norman-French ends today with a Grande Fête. Congrès des Parlers Normands et Jèrriais president John Dénize spoke of the importance of the ancient culture to Alasdair Crosby

All you need is Jèrriais (and love, of course). That was the message from singers performing the Royal Jubilee Musical Beacon song on Monday in West's Centre - in Jèrriais. It was the start of a week-long series of activities celebrating the shared Norman-French culture of Jersey, Guernsey and Normandy, the 'Fête Nouormande'.

The singers gave a Jersey twist to the Beatles' song, so that it in Jèrriais, the Island's traditional French speech, it became 'Tout ch'que'i'faut est quj'aime.'

The president of the Congrès des Parlers Normands et Jérriais (the umbrella organisation in the Island for Norman-French organisations), John Dénize, said: 'The festival, which is non-competitive, plays a very important role in maintaining and promoting the Norman heritage of both Jersey and Guernsey, as well as identifying very closely their shared culture with that of Normandy.'

Throughout the past week there have been activities in town, and today there is a Grande Fête in Samarès Manor grounds, which was due to be opened by the patron of the Congrès, the Bailff Sir Philip Bailhache, this morning. It combines song and dance, poetry and storytelling, with lots of interesting Normandy things to eat and drink, stalls, activities, fresh Jersey produce, animals, old cars, Jersey Wonders and men and women wearing traditional costumes.

The festival continues tomorrow with traditional Norman sporting events starting at 12.30 pm at Victoria Park, and a Jèrriais church service at Philadelphie Methodist Church, St Peter, at 6.30 pm.

It is, in fact, the biggest celebration of Norman language and culture in Jersey, during which performers and language enthusiasts from Jersey, Guernsey, Normandy and further afield bring a festival atmosphere to the streets of town.

Mr Dénize said that the fête was hosted in a different part of the ancient Duchy of Normandy each year - 2000 in Guernsey, 2001 in Coutances, and this year in Jersey.

'Since the languages of Jersey, Guernsey and and mainland Normandy are very close,' he said, 'it is not too difficult to have conversations together and to appreciate each other's poetry, songs and stories. The mainland Normans (Normandy should be "the mainland", not England) are also keen to learn from Jersey's experience of teaching Jèrriais in schools, and the way we are using Jèrriais to promote tourism.'

The last time the fête was held in Jersey was three years ago, but it was held then on a far smaller scale than this year's event. For the past 18 months the Congrès members have been preparing for this bigger, better Fête Nouormande - not only an opportunity to promote cultural links with mainland Normandy, but a showcase for commercial links.

Asked about the function of the Congrès, Mr Dénize said that it had been founded in 1996 to promote the Norman 'parlers' of Jersey, Guernsey and Normandy, particularly the 'parler' of the Côtentin - the region facing Jersey's east coast. The objective is to increase awareness of Jèrriais and its cultural significance to all members of the community

And how has it done that? Well, for example, those welcome and departure signs in Jèrriais at the Airport are due to its persuasive influence. As Mr Dénize said, it reinforces the message that you are in a place that has its own, particular language and culture - one that is separate from England.

In addition, the articles and programmes in the local media in Jèrriais are prepared by members of the Congrès, as are also the lessons in the language given to school-children. 'In short, we act as a catalyst,' he said. 'Previously individual groups might have brilliant ideas, but it was far more difficult for them to achieve results that we, in unison, can achieve more easily'

Among those organisations which form the Congrès are the Assembliée d'Jèrriais, the Jersey-French section of the Société Jersiaise, and the educational trust, the Don Balleine. Members also include Jèrriais language teachers and speakers. Also a member is the former president of the Federal Union of European Nationalities organisation, Pierre Le Moine, who has instigated the participation of Jèrriais in 'Eblul', the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages. This, in Mr Dénize's words, gives the language something of an 'international status'.

But don't the words 'lesser used' just about sum up the degree with which the Island as a whole cares for and is familiar with this old language?

'The road is getting very hard,' he admitted, 'especially now that so much of the Island's population has comparatively recent roots. But it is not finished by any means; look at the success of Manx or Cornish in recent years, languages which were completely dead - unlike Jèrriais.

'There is no doubt that there is a renewed interest in minority languages. More people are now learning Scottish Gaelic, for example the Scottish parliament has even been addressed in it. Now, a Jèrriais address to the States - that would be something at which to aim.'

Mr Dénize fulfîls the definition of 'a man with a mission'. His own is to ensure that due recognition is taken of Jersey's ancient tongue and of Jersey's historic links with Normandy. 'It makes me so angry' he said, 'to see that we take so little interest in Jèrriais, and that we continually dissipate its use and seem to be quite prepared to throw it away.

'I have always been fascinated by its long history, its relationship with French, and by the fact that it was the language of England's kings and baronage for at least 300 years from the Conquest to the 100 Years War.'

That was the reason, he said, why in 1982, after he had retired from his career with ICI and returned to the Island of his birth, he threw himself into Jèrriais and Norman French causes, becoming a member of the Don Balleine, a founder member of the Association Jersey-Coutançais, and one of the organisers of the Festival France-Jersey.

But of course the history of his interest in Jèrriais goes back to his childhood days. 'The whole family spoke Jèrriais,'he said, and had done for the 600 years or so that the family has lived in the Island. My father once said to me: "Never forget that in Jersey we speak Jèrriais as a common parlance, French for matters cultural, and English only for matters commercial". That, to my mind, epitomised Jersey before the war.

'Why was I so interested in Jèrriais? I suppose because it was frowned upon when I spoke it. I remember visiting my aunt at Gorey, and speaking Jèrriais to her, and promptly getting my knuckles rapped. I thought at the time, blow me, this isn't right, getting into trouble for speaking my own language.'

At least that attitude of Jèrriais being a language somehow inferior has changed for the better, even if the language has continued its long decline. But is there a future for it, other than as a hobby for a relatively small group of people?

He replied: 'It is difficult to believe that it will ever be spoken so widely as it was in its halcyon days, before English became established as the everyday speech of the Island. But its decline was aIready under way before the war - and the Occupation provided the right conditions for an unexpected partial renaissance.

'It has declined even more since then, owing to the Island's progressive anglicisation and increases in population, but the interest now being shown in it and in minority languages everywhere guarantees its continued use in the foreseeable future. And the Fête Nouormande helps to galvanise an appreciation of Jersey's culture - and Jersey's autonomy (which is no bad thing at the moment).'

He added: 'Language is at the very heart and soul of any nation. If we lose our own language we lose our own soul.'

JEP 8/6/2002



Quotes of the week:

'You don't have to be a Jèrriais speaker to appreciate the singing or the food and drink.'

Geraint Jennings, co-ordinator of La Fête Nouormande

JEP 7/6/2002



Also on Monday the Island joined in the BBC Music Live rendition of the Beatles anthem ‘All You Need is Love’ – except that it was given a local twist and performed at the Arts Centre in Jèrriais to begin this week’s Fête Nouormande.

JEP 5/6/2002



Festival to put Jèrriais on map

Where else could you find bachîn ringing, hurdy-gurdy playing and games of choule and doque but at La Fête Nouormande, which starts on Monday?

Strap on your bonnets, the largest festival of Norman culture is coming to Jersey. The organisers claim that this year's La Fête Nouormande will be the biggest yet with a week-long programme of activities including singing, dancing, games, costumes, a parade, a plethora of visiting performers and even free Calvados tasting.

Programme and publicity co-ordinator, Geraint Jennings said: 'We're going to try to out-do the Guernsey event two years ago which was very successful. It depends on the weather but we're definitely expecting thousands over the week. We're getting plenty of publicity already in the mainland Norman media, and France3, the regional TV station, is coming over to cover it.'

The main events will take place over the final weekend, but the fête begins with some entertainment in the streets of St Helier on Monday 'We go from the ridiculous to the sublime,' Mr Jennings said. 'Our first event is the Jèrriais Singers in costume performing for BBC Music Live at West's Centre.'

This choir, drawn from students and teachers of Jèrriais, will be performing their version of The Beatles' All You Need is Love as part of the massed performance of the song around the country. 'We've worked on a translation with the students and they're going to do that with a selection of other songs,' said Mr Jennings.

Mr Jennings will join in with an unusual musical performance of his own - bachîn ringing. 'It's a tradition which has disappeared but we're reviving it for the fête,' he explained.

'The bachîn is an old preserving pan, used for all sorts of reasons including making black butter. The custom was that you'd announce mid-summer and scare evil demons away by making this awful noise with it. By holding the reed across the rim and drawing wet fingers across it makes vibrations and you get a trumpeting sound. If that doesn't attract attention to the Fête I don't know what will!'

Street entertainment on Wednesday and Thursday will be provided by folk group La Sagesse Nouormande with songs, bagpipes and hurdy-gurdy playing. 'It's interesting because they're from England, but they have a repertoire of Channel Island and Norman songs,' said Mr Jennings. 'Their name's a bit of a joke though - it translates as Norman Wisdom.'

Another visiting group with a Channel Island repertoire is Magène, a folk-jazz group from France who will be playing a concert at St James on Saturday evening.

'We've also got the Guernsey dancers (Danseurs Dgèrnésiais) coming - they're fun,' Mr Jennings continued. 'Once they've demonstrated a dance, they tend to drag members of the public up to join in. Then there's the town parade on Friday, which is a bit of an innovation. It's always happened informally before when people have had to get across town in costume with their flags. This is the first time it's been formalised and it will be an opportunity to see everyone on their way to fire up for the big event.'

The big event will be La Grande Journée d'Fête on Saturday, a day of songs, poetry, story-telling, food, drink, traditional costumes and Jersey wonders in a marquee at Samarès Manor. 'That's the big family day out when we've got most of the groups over,' said Mr Jennings.

'We're trying to offer something for everyone, you don't have to be a Jèrriais speaker to appreciate the singing or the food and drink, and those who want a taste of the literature can drop in and out of the marquee where the serious culture is being performed.'

Almost all the texts, including lyrics to songs and the hymn for the closing service, have been printed in a brochure in their original language - Jèrriais, Dgèrnésiais or Normand - and are available for enthusiasts to buy.

One of the highlights of the final day will be traditional Norman games such as choule, a hockey-like game in which you can also use your hands and feet. An expert is coming from France to demonstrate and there are plans for an informal match against the mainland - and if enough Guernsey folk are interested, even a choule Muratti - but anyone is welcome to have a go.

'We're also going to revive the Jersey game of doque, one of those playground games which has died out and can best be described as pebble petanque,' said Mr Jennings.

'We are determined that this fête is going to be the biggest yet. We're going to set up something that will put the language on the map.'

JEP 31/5/2002



Temps passé

50 years - 1952

It would seem that an official more at home “en jerriais” than in French must have drafted an amendment presented to the Public Health Committee, in which £180 is termed “cent huitante livres sterling.” The Bailiff, Sir Alexander Coutanche, suggested that it be altered to the modern French, “cent quatre-vingts.” In Jersey-French, of course, “septante” is used for 70, “huiptante” for 80 and “nonante” for 90, the latter, I am told, being also used in Belgium.

JEP 18/5/2002



Wace's epic work translated

The first English translation of an epic poem by Jersey's most eminent writer, Maître Wace, was launched on Monday in the members' room at the Société Jersiaise.

Wace, who was born in the Island but spent much of his life in Normandy, wrote the 17,000-line Roman de Rou for King Henry II of England in the 12th century, but it was not until four years ago that an English version of the work began to take shape.

The long and painstaking task of translating Wace's Old French account of the Dukes of Normandy, the Battle of Hastings and the rise of the Norman kings of England was undertaken by Professor Glyn Burgess, the head of the French department at the University of Liverpool.

However, the project was initiated by the Société as one of its projects to mark the beginning of the new millennium and it was overseen by publications committee chairman Roger Long.

At the launch, the Bailiff, Sir Philip Bailhache, who wrote the translation's foreword, said that if the English have Shakespeare, Germany Goethe, and France Molière, Jersey can be proud to say that Wace is its literary hero.

Describing the poet as 'un vrai jèrriais', Sir Philip also said that he had formed the impression that Wace was more interested in the truth than in propaganda.

That, he explained, was a Jersey characteristic, adding: 'The Jerseyman has great respect for royalty and is loyal as any subject is likely to be. But he is not going to kowtow to the king, because he knows that in a sense he is as good as the king.'

Introducing the translator, who travelled to the Island for the ceremony, Sir Philip, said: 'This is a marvellous publication and we owe a great debt of gratitude to Professor Burgess.'

Calling the Roman de Rou 'his baby', the professor said that the process of translation had given new meaning to the saying 'art is long but life is brief'.

He also paid tribute to Elisabeth Van Houts, who supplied extensive historical notes to complement the text, and to Anthony Holden, whose version of the manuscript provided the raw material for translation.

Earlier, Roger Long had explained that he had managed to persuade the contractors working on the States building to remove the scaffolding which has concealed the Wace plaque for many months.

This, he explained, would enable Lionel Wace, a member of an organisation called the Writers' Alliance for Cultural Education - WACE - who travelled from Canada for yesterday's event, to view the Island's memorial to its foremost poet at first hand.

In common with other members of WACE, Mr Wace takes a deep interest in the poet and suspects that he might even be a descendant.

Mr Long, who likes to describe Maître Wace as a 'local author', also stressed that Professor Burgess's translation is not merely a work of local interest but one of international literary and historical significance.

JEP 14/5/2002


Latest technology helps in the teaching of Jèrriais

An interactive CD-ROM to assist in the teaching of Jèrriais in schools was launched today.

The CD-ROM, designed by British-based company EuroTalk, will be used in classrooms and loaned to pupils for study at home. More than 150 children aged between nine and 13 study Jèrriais at school and it is hoped that the teaching scheme can be extended to 16-year olds over the next four years.

Jersey language teaching co-ordinator Tony Scott-Warren said that the CD-ROM would be a helpful tool. 'It is something the children can take home and study at their own speed, and it is a lot of fun,' he said. 'They will be used in the schools over the next three or four weeks.'

Jèrriais has been taught in primary schools since 1999 and the success of the subject led to suggestions that it could be introduced at secondary school level and that a GCSE course in the language could be established.

The CD-ROM produced by EuroTalk uses recordings of Jèrriais speakers Senator Jean Le Maistre and Audrey Lucas to help pupils to copy the correct pronunciations and inflections. A total of 500 copies have been ordered to help with teaching in the Island and they will be on sale through Le Don Balleine Trust.

EuroTalk were approached by the Trust to develop the CD-ROM after the success of a similar project for the Manx language in the Isle of Man. The company have developed computer software for 80 different languages at various levels.

JEP 17/4/2002



Jèrriais comes under national spotlight - thanks to Independent

How The Independent reported the efforts to keep Jèrriais alive in the 'Schools' supplement on Thursday

The teaching of Jèrriais to Jersey school-children has been featured in Thursday's Independent newspaper under the headline: Anyone here speak Jersey?'

The full-page article in The Independent's 'Schools' supplement, features the efforts being made to teach Jèrriais in Jersey, comparing and contrasting it to the teaching of Manx in the Isle of Man.


Under a large colour picture of Elizabeth Castle, it describes how Jèrriais teaching co-ordinator Tony Scott-Warren first became interested in the language when he was told as a child that it was the language of Norman crusading knights.

Asked whether there was any chance of Jèrriais becoming part of Jersey's school curriculum, as Manx has in the Isle of Man, he said he hoped so, but there was no great possibility because the curriculum was already 'over-stuffed', and the main language focus was French.

'However, the more languages you teach children, and the younger the starting age, the more receptive hey are going to be to languages in general,' he is uoted as saying.

JEP 13/4/2002



Anyone here speak Jersey?

Well, yes they do, actually. Schools on the Channel Island now teach the ancient language of Jerriais, writes Sam Green

Everyone knows that the British have an appalling record for teaching their children foreign languages. But not many people are fully aware of the rich diversity of languages that originate in these isles.

Did you know, for example, that the native tongue of Jersey - Jerriais - is the closest modern link to original Norman English? Tony Scott Warren certainly did, and he has spearheaded a campaign to get the language back in use.

Having given up his job as a television presenter to become Jersey's language teaching co-ordinator, Mr Scott Warren, along with one full-time colleague and a handful of part-time teachers, is now responsible for guiding 150 children and 40 adults through the intricacies of the language spoken by William the Conqueror.

"While on a trip to Acre in northern Israel, I visited the Crusader castle and learnt that it was built by Norman knights who spoke a language very similar to Jerriais," he says. "I was fascinated."

Mr Scott Warren started teaching primary-school pupils in 1999. The children are taught for half an hour a week and their studies continue as they move up through the school, the eldest group currently being in Year 7.

'A problem we have is that Jerriais is close to French and we have to be careful not to confuse the kids," he explains. "But it contains a lot of terms that didn't make it into modern French, so you could say it's an archaic version of French. In the 11th and 12th centuries, Norman was considered the highest literary language of France, but it was later taken over by Francien, which forms the basis of modern French."

Christopher Le Gallais, 11, has been learning Jerriais for two years. His grandparents speak the language, as did his great grandparents, and Christopher says he is proud to be keeping up the tradition. He speaks Jerriais with his friends and intends to teach his one-year-old brother.

The Jersey project has been modelled on a similar initiative started on the Isle of Man in 1992. Although Jerriais is very different to Manx, the Jersey group translated the basic format of the Manx textbooks.

Dr Brian Stowell is the secretary of a Manx Gaelic society, and as the Isle of Man's first language officer oversaw the introduction of Manx into the curriculum in 1992. Manx was the island's majority language well into the 19th century, but by the start of the 20th century only about one fifth of the island's 50,000 population spoke the language, he says. The last Manx speaker died in 1974.

“We were amazed when we sent out the circulars 10 years ago to discover that 40 per cent of primary-school children, with parental support, wanted to learn Manx," he says.

There are now 900 to 1,000 children learning Manx in schools for half an hour an week, and there are also evening classes for adults. In all areas we are rushed off our feet," says Dr Stowell. Students can work for a GCSE qualification, though Dr Stowell concedes that the number who pursue this is very small.

Breeshey Harkin, 12, has opted to continue her Manx studies in secondary school and plans to stick with them into adulthood. "I'm Manx and I don't want the language to die out," she says. “I think it should be compulsory."

At Ballacuttier School, on the outskirts of Douglas, they've gone further. Nine children, aged four to six, have been learning the full curriculum in Manx since September. The Manx class mixes with other pupils at breaks, but for the rest of the time they are taught separately.

Of the 1,689 people who claimed to speak some Manx in the last census, 46 per cent were under 19. Dr Stowell guesses there are about 60 fluent speakers among the island's 76,000 population.

When Mr Scott Warren was shown a CD-Rom that the Manx project had produced, with interactive games, voice recordings and audio pronunciation guides, he immediately contacted the company that made it, EuroTalk Interactive.

EuroTalk's chairman, Dick Howeson, says: "When I was asked about producing the CD-Rom for Manx, my first question was, 'What is it?' When I was told I said, 'You must be joking!' I told them that we would need to shift 500 copies to make it worth our while, thinking that would be the last of it, but a month later an order for 500 came in."

Besides the success of Manx and the imminent launch of the Jerriais product, Mr Howeson says that Welsh, Irish and Scottish Gaelic are all strong sellers, and that a Cornish version is being planned.

"Having sat through more than 50 recordings I realise now how much of a depth of culture there is in those languages. And while we all say, quite rightly, how dreadful it is when a little plant in a rainforest dies out, there's even more wealth stored in a language."

Is there any chance that Jerriais might become part of Jersey's school curriculum, as Manx is in the Isle of Man? "I hope so," says Mr Scott Warren. "But it's not a great possibility because the curriculum is already over-stuffed and the main language focus is French.

"But the more languages you teach children, and the younger the starting age, the more receptive they will be to languages in general. It develops a part of the brain that can benefit performance in many different subjects, not just languages."

The Jerriais CD-Rom will be in Jersey schools from 15 April

Independent 11/4/2002



Temps passé

75 years ago

The final performance of that very humorous and remarkably successful entertainment, "Les Enfuntchis d'vant l's Assises," was given last evening at the Agricultural Hall, and without any doubt it was the most successful of the lot. There was an excellent attendance, probably close to a thousand persons, and the whole show, set as it was on a stage capable of rendering valuable assistance to the production of such an entertainment went with a fine swing.

JEP 26/3/2002



Les Trais Rocques et Les Petits Prés: Also known as Le Clios des Trés Pièrres, this wet marshland is found to the south-east of St Ouen's Pond. It is dominated by three large granite standing stones in the middle of the field. Acquired by the National Trust for Jersey in 1985, folklore has it that the stones used to be carried in the aprons of the Little People or Petits Faitiaux, who reputedly used this ruse to frighten away the Turks.

JEP 1/3/2002



At the Maison de la Normandie in Halkett Place on 28 November the Bailiff, Sir Philip Bailhache, opened an exhibition entitled 'La Ville de Caen', sponsored by the Amitiés Franco-Britanniques.

Later the same evening François Saint-James, from Caen, entertained members of the Amitiés and, their guests with an interesting talk about the city, illustrated with slides of its houses, churches and fortifications as they are now, and how they appeared in the dust and rubble after the battle of Normandy in 1944.

Opening the exhibition, the Bailiff recalled the antiquity of Jersey's links with Normandy, and with Caen in particular. Jersey's own language derived from Norman French, he said, and our special safeguard of justice, the Clameur de Haro, was also imported from Normandy; according to tradition it was even invoked during William the Conqueror's coronation!

Since then, the strength of the connection has had its ups and downs, and the present time is definitely an 'up', as evidenced by the presence of the Maison de la Normandie in St Helier.

JEP 5/1/2002



(JEP = Jersey Evening Post)



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