Literary Local Colour
Fiction set in Jersey sometimes uses Jèrriais as local colour. Further examples gratefully received.
The Sirens Sang of Murder
'What I think is that Clemmie's going to land me with something so frantically boring she can't get anyone else to do it - going through two hundred files of correspondence in somebody's beastly office or something like that. Let's face it, I owe her a favour on account of her helping over Lillian, and when a solicitor you owe a favour to sends you to Jersey for four days there's got to be a snag somewhere. I mean, there's nothing wrong with the place itself, is there? I don't have to learn that funny Frogspeak they talk there?'
Julia confirmed that it would be unnecessary for him to master the local patois and that there was no other feature of the island which might be regarded as a drawback. She spoke, indeed, with such enthusiasm of its golden beaches and picturesque valleys, its imposing castles and charming manor houses, its abundant dairy products and tax-free wines and tobaccos, as to present a picture of something little short of an earthly Paradise.
'Unless,' she added, apparently as an afterthought, 'you happen to be frightened of witches.'
The Sirens Sang of Murder
The Darling Pirate
The Darling Pirate, a Mills & Boon romantic novel by Belinda Dell published in 1974, is set in Jersey and contains fragments of Jèrriais in the dialogue.
- Le Grand Vergi ("The name means the great orchard, you know, in Jersiais.")
- St Tamme (Jèrriais name of fictitious village)
- Tout arrangi
- Allons, viyons
- Au r'vaie
- et bouon viage
- "Jersiais - or as we say in our own tongue, Jerriais."
- "Hé, Alain!" he exclaimed, and launched into a conversation that Maggie was quite unable to follow.
- Mad'mouaiselle Maggie Jefferson
- A bétot, Maggie. A bétot, Jack.
- They've got this one son, Danié - Daniel - and he's always up to mischief.
- Ma chièthe Sylvie!
- ...crying a welcome in the old Jersey-French that seemed to come so naturally to his lips.
- À bi! A sec sé!
- When Alain spoke again it was in Jersiais.
- touos les deux
- mouons Dgi!
Rendez-vous aux Ecréhous
Rendez-vous aux Ecréhous, a thriller by Jean Legastelois published in 2007, makes use of the Jèrriais names of the islands:
- La Marmotchiéthe, dans le vieux parler jersiais, était en effet couverte de petites maisons.
- ...un îlot, Blanche île, lé Bliantch'Île...
Hilda Balleine (1878-1921) was the youngest daughter of the Very Rev. George Orange Balleine, Dean of Jersey. At her death in Birmingham, two novels written by her on Jersey themes were left. The novel "Fig-Blossom" was published posthumously in 1922. A romantic novel somewhat in the "kailyard school" style, it contains some words relating to the Jersey setting.
- ma p'tite
- At first there was a little half-hearted chatter in English or Jersey-French about what this one or that had heard in town...
- it is a pointless as a brioche
- golden strands of vraic
Rose and Laurel
Another novel by Hilda Balleine followed in 1923. "Rose and Laurel" is set in Jersey against a background of political and family rivalry in the fictional parish of St Lo, and includes seasonal customs: branchage, nièr beurre, la grand' tchéthue and so on. It refers to literature: Wace, Philippe Asplet, and the Chanson de Peirson.
Fragments of songs (originally in French) are given in English: "Man Beau Laurier" and "Chanson de Peirson".
- Preface: The island's origin is not French but Norman. The language of Paris is despised by the Jerseyman. His own speech dates back to that of Richard Coeur de Lion and of Wace, the official tongue of England up to the reign of Edward the Third...
- ma p'tite
- "Mais, mais! Chi, chi! Oh la, la, la!" The voice of the hens bore an odd resemblance to the voice of the people.
- A continuous flow of talk was kept up, partly in English, partly in French, but chiefly in old Norman-French, the language that was the official tongue of English Court and literature up to the reign of Edward the Third.
- Mait' Dit Mot
- a vraicker's salt-sea wooing
- a dish of apple-garret
- ...the rhyme of St Peter's church bell: Elisabé, la belle
- vraic cherries
- The cows came when she called them in her soft Jersey tongue: "Vet'on! Vet'on! ma p'tite, ma p'tite!"
- Mon doux! Mon doux!
- Last week we killed a pig (respec votre honneur!)
- At the back of the house a deep voice was scolding the fowls in Jersey-French.
- ...then called to his horse: "Wogue donc!" or "Bithaway donc!"
- ...and began to "notter" as it was called in St Lo; that is, to hum the notes of a tune till his voice gave out, when, without a break in the music, another man took his place from the ranks of the dancers, another and then another, till the night was done. To this primitive accompaniment many old songs and dances were performed.
- ...her hand was steady as she stirred the pêle
- ...the pigsties (respe votre honneur!)
- Ha Ro!
A Jèrriais nursery-rhyme is quoted:
Marie la Pie
Chi fé son nid
Dans les cotils
Si David l'attrappe
Il l'y coupe la patte
Et la donne a sa vieille catte!
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