George d'la Forge
Ouaithe qué j'aie pâssé la grand' partie d'ma vie en Améthique, où'est tch'i' faut pâler l'Angliais, j'ai tréjous pensé qué La Langue Nouormande-Jèrriaise, apprînse dès mes p'tits jours siez Papa et Manman ès Landes, à St. Ouën, est la pus belle et la pus expressive au Monde. Mais, dépis ma jannèche jusqu'à l'âge dé chînquante-chînq ans, j'tais trop embarrassé à gângni ma vie et mett' deux-s'trais sou d'côté pour souangni d'ma vieillèche, pour l'êcrithe.
En 1946, quand j'm'èrtithis d'affaithes et qué j'm'en r'vîns en Jèrri auprès eune absence dé quâsi eune vîngtaine d'années, lé Sieur Edmond Delaquaine mé fît l'honneu dé m'propôser d'être san successeur comme Rédacteu des ''Chroniques de Jersey". Jé n'mé considéthais pon assez bouan êcolyi pour entréprendre pathelle tâche, et pis jé n'voulais pon m'cramponner à eune nouvelle profêssion tchi pouôrrait m'empêchi d'viagi à man tchèr content, et l'Sieur Delaquaine mé dît : "Eh bein : Pouôrrais-tu m'êcrithe eune articl'ye en Jèrriais pour mett' dans la gâzette toutes les s'maines?"
Faut bein y' êprouver, j'pensis. Au mains, v'là tchi pouôrrait aîdgi à prêsèrver l'Jèrriais - sustout d'pis qué ch'n'est qué d'l'Angliaîchinn'nie qu'nou ouait partout à ch't heu. Ma preunmiéthe articl'ye, sîngnée ''George d'La Forge'', man nom-d'plieunme, m'apportis des complyîments d'Fraînque Le Maistre, à ch't heu méthitouaithement Êtchuyer et Membre d's Académies d'Upsala et d'Caën. Dévant li "Je m'arrête et m'incline" comme nou dit en Français. Il est, sans autchun doute lé miyeu êcrivain d'nouot' belle et vielle langue Jèrriaise dé touos temps. San dictionnaithe en est la preuve!
Pus tard, Mêssieux A.G. Harrison et Max G. Lucas dé l' "Evening Post" mé d'mandîdrent dé contribuer d's articl'yes dans lus gâzette, et chu livre ichîn est, en grand' partie, eune rédaction d'ches contributions-là, et d'articl'yes publiées dans les Bulletîns d'L'Assembliée d'Jèrriais, dé tchi j'ai l'honneu d'être membre fondateur. J'veurs don r'corder ma r'connaîssance à la mémouaithe du Sieur Edmond Delaquaine, à Mêssieux Frank Le Maistre, A.G. Harrison et M.G. Lucas pour lus encouothagement, et à touos l's anmîns tchi m'font l'honneu d'liéthe mes articl'yes dans l' "Evening Post". Et, en fîn d'compte, ès Mêssieux du Don Balleine tch'ont propôsé de m'honorer en publiyant chu livre, et tout partitchuliéthement à Moussieu l'Député Ph'lippe Maûgi de Veulle pour m'aver accordé s'n aîgue et l'bénéfice dé s'n expéthience încompathabl'ye pour assembli l's articl'yes et l's arrangi en forme d'livre.
Ous allez p't-êt' trouver tchiques erreurs ichîn et là. Estchûsez-les, s'i' vouos pliaît: Jé n'prétends pon aver eune parfaite connaîssance dé l"orthographe" et d'la grammaithe dé La Langue Jèrriaise, mais j'mé console à la pensée qué l'chein tch'i' n'a janmais fait d'erreurs n'a janmais êprouvé à faithe grand'chose!
George F. Le Feuvre
Jèrri Jadis - a volume in the vernacular
The appearance of a book entirely in the Jersey language is a unique and unexpected event. Not surprisingly, such an achievement belongs to George d'La Forge who has for many years entertained, enlightened and delighted Jersey-speaking folk at home and abroad with his weekly articles in the " Jersey Evening Post", which, invariably, have been reproduced in the " Jersey Weekly Post ".
Much of the book consists of extracts from those articles, but new material has been added to afford a fuller picture of various aspects of life in Jersey at the turn of the century ; and the selection recalls with emphasis the large-scale emigration from Jersey to the New World, and also to the Antipodes, to which comparatively little attention has been given by earlier writers. In its hey-day, though, this was a dominant element in the Island's life.
The author's own experiences, and those of his family, have provided him with ample first-hand material, but the book as a whole is far from being autobiographical. That material has been combined with his remarkable powers of observation and memory and his zestful affection for his native tongue to produce in "Jèrri Jadis--- a quite original piece of social history.
Indeed, it could be contended that a true insight into a community's way of life and thought can only be transmitted through the medium of the local language. In Jersey, alas, the language itself is fast becoming a mere feature of local history, and with the rapid anglicization that is taking place, only the written word is now likely to save it from eventual oblivion.
Le Feuvre is typical of the emigrant Jerseyman who, even today becomes "plus royaliste que le roi ". Throughout a business career in the USA, he not only cherished his mother tongue but in his retirement has become a prolific writer in it, displaying a knowledge of the language only matched by that of the master, Dr. Frank Le Maistre.
The standard orthography provided by Le Maistre's dictionary is strictly observed in the present work, the text of which has been checked and proof-read by Le Maistre himself. The reader will not, therefore, find any " Franglais ", "Frenglish " nor yet "Anglorican " in its pages, but he can hardly fail to be newly aware of the expressiveness of the local language in the hands of a devotee who also has the virtues of a purist.
The contents range far and wide, and include many matters about life and affairs in Jersey at the turn of the century which have not been recorded anywhere else.
There is an intimate picture of his family's life in Jersey before the parents - leaving children, including the author, in Jersey - emigrated to the Gaspé coast in search of a still meagre existence, the norms of which today seem to belong to centuries ago. Old Jersey family names and local nicknames are examined, and local superstitions, customs and attitudes that gave form to rural life are here set down with all the vividness that only personal experience can provide.
We are also given an insight into local politics and religious life, and are thus able to sense the outlook and mood of the times before Jersey became engulfed in the doubtful benefits of being a modem low-tax territory.
The later part of the book provides illuminating verbal snapshots of the settlements of Jersey merchants and Jersey folk in Gaspé, and an intimate account of the author's visits there which, for him, were in the nature of pilgrimages. Accounts of his visits to Jersey folk in Australia, New Zealand and Africa recall the urge to seek adventure in the wider world that moved young Jerseymen until a generation ago, but which has now been mollified by an easier life and better opportunities at home, and the great reduction in opportunities overseas.
Le Feuvre's writings inevitably carry a whiff of nostalgia. This may be forgiven him for the quality of the narrative and the contribution which, almost unconsciously, he has made to the recording of social life and events at a point of time within a small and compact community. Many of his readers will be led to reflect yet again upon the intense changes that the motor car and many other innovations have wrought within a couple of generations not merely in physical terms but also in circumstances and outlook that can even induce some Jerseymen today to sell their patrimony to strangers for depreciating currency.
Since language is a main distinguishing mark of a community, those who wish to see Jersey retain its distinctiveness can only applaud the efforts being made by the Don Balleine Trust (publishers of this volume) to sustain the use of our local dialect.
L'Assembliée d'Jèrriais and by the Don Balleine Trust (publishers of this volume) to sustain the use of our local dialect.
In many territories, local parlers have suffered from the strong influence of centralized government, and that opposition has often served as a spur to revival. Now, however, with the diminished significance of frontiers in Europe and the distasteful standardization of all manner of things, the search for local identity through the maintenance of a local language is rearing its head higher. This is not mere romanticism but a deep-seated desire to retrieve the marks of distinctiveness that have been lost. The recognition of that desire was inherent in the permission given by the Vatican that Mass may now be celebrated in the vernacular.
In much lesser ways, the movement is gaining ground. In the British Isles, for example, the preservation of the Welsh language - spoken by one in four of the population, and having a regular TV programme - is now being given official encouragement, and there is a revival of interest in Gaelic and Cornish. Elsewhere, the trend is the same.
It is surely not too fanciful to believe that a rising generation of Jersey people will not wish their attractive Island to be characterized only by low taxes and cheap booze. Rather we may hope they will recognize an uncommon cultural interest in the distinctive language of their forefathers, the existence of which has played a not insignificant rôle in preserving Jersey as a separate and virtually independent community with all the present benefits that flow therefrom.
Material for gaining acquaintance with the local language is not now lacking. Dr. Le Maistre's remarkable "Dictionnaire Jersiais-Français", published in 1966, has been given widened accessibility by the "English-Jersey Language Vocabulary" published last year.
Now, "Jèrri Jadis" demonstrates the Jersey language in full action. As text, it has worthy predecessors in the scattered writings of a number of. local notabilities of a generation ago. Today it has an admirable contemporary in the quarterly bulletin of the Assembliée. It is, however, somewhat of an anomaly, but a gratifying one, that it is only now, at a time when popular usage of the local language is declining perhaps faster than ever before, that we get the first complete book ever to be published in it. It may well also be the last.
Little wonder that the publishers point out in their introductory note that "Jèrri Jadis" is a rarity. Given the necessarily limited number of copies produced, it is certain that with the passage of time, it will become even more so.
Jersey Evening Post 12/10/1973
French literary prize for 'George d'La Forge'
"Jersey weekly Post" vernacular columnist Mr. George Francis Le Feuvre ("George d'La Forge") has been awarded Le Prix Littéraire du Cotentin for his "Jèrri Jadis", the first full-length book in Jersey Norman-French.
The decision to award this annual literary prize to a second Jerseyman - Dr. Frank Le Maistre was the first in 1967 - was "à l'unanimité des voix" of the jury, in spite of other nominations.
Much of Mr. Le Feuvre's book, published by the Don Balleine Trust, is based on the weekly articles that he writes for the "Jersey Weekly Post"....
Jersey Weekly Post 21/3/1974
Les publyicâtions du Don Balleine peuvent êt' acatées en lîngne siez la Société Jersiaise.
Buy Don Balleine publications on-line from the Société Jersiaise shop.
Achetez les éditions du Don Balleine en ligne à la Société Jersiaise.
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