La Section de la langue Jèrriaise

In Peirson's Days


E.G.V. Gorey (Edward Gavey)


In Peirson's Days Un livre en Angliais publié en 1902 entouor la Batâle dé Jèrri dans tchi nou trouve tchiques phrases en Jèrriais et eune distchussion entouor la langue. (Edward Gavey mouothit en 1919)

A novel in English published in 1902 about the Battle of Jersey and Major Peirson in which phrases in Jèrriais and a discussion about language can be found.



Words and phrases in Jèrriais extracted from the text:


A bétôt
la buonne femme et les p'tits
la gran'-mère
La Rue ès Sablons
La Rue ès Trés Pigeons
La Rue Drière
La Vielle Prison
Le Marchi des Cuochons
Les Halles ès Boeufs
Les Mielles
Pas d'gnolin, man garçon, j'm'envais vos chulbuter bétôt.
p'tit païs
r'habilli de kauches
son vier fusi
Vier Marchi


La guièrre! La guièrre! Les Français sont ichen! I' son dans not'e Vier Marchi! Le Gouvèrneur ès prisoniet! Assembièz vite!


Qu'les .......... de Français vainge ichen la s'conde fais, j'leu coptheait la tête coum j'cop' les têtes ès chours là.


Chest-là l'Gen'ral t'chi nous faut!


La Rue ès Cuochons


Pourchi qu'nou' n'marchons pas à l'enemin, pourchi chu r'tardément.


Man puore Jean! Man brav' Jean!


La Vielle Eglise


Le brav' gen'ral, le buon jeun' hom', t'chi bain ch'il a fait devant muorir  

Coquelico, j'ai mal au daight,
Coquelico, t'chest qui t'la fait?
Coquelico, chest man valet.
Coquelico, ou'est qu'il est?
Coquelico, il est à traire.
Coquelico, dans t'chest qui trait?
Coquelico, dans san bounet.


L'Alouette a fait son nid
Dans la main au p'tit.
Oulle a passai par là,
Ch'tichein la happaie,
Ch'tichein la plieummaie,
Ch'tichein la mangie,
Et le p'tit Pierrot des p'tits
N'en a pas ieu une mie, mie, mie.


Bon jour, Mait'e Ph'lip, commen' q'tu-ès?

De charme, mercie.

Et la buonne femme?

Ah, Man vieux, ou n'est pas bain. Ou'll est tréjous a pensé ès Français. Depis la bataille dans la baie de St. Ouen l'annaie passée ou'll pense qu'les Français veindront ichen sans avis, et nou' s'rons touos meurtris dans nos liets.

Ma fé, Mait'e Jean, la buonne femme a raison. Tout est tranchille acht'eu, mais bétôt l'yéra la guierre. Le v'chin not's buon Recteu.


Oui, Mou'sieu l'Recteu, nous paslons des Français, et j'disais à Mait'e Ph'lip que ma buonne femme est tréjous à rêvé et badré sa tête de ches mauvais sujets-là. Ou' pense qui veindront dans la niet et i' prendront not'e p'tit païs. Chest minsérable de vais la buonne femme coum' ch'la.




Here is a discussion of language from the book:


"'But, to change the subject," continued Peirson, "I have noticed during my residence in the Island that English is spoken only by the wealthy and educated classes. The people cling to their Norman French. In England, the Norman endeavoured to force his language on the people, but had failed. With the exception of terms in chivalry, law, diplomacy, and dead meat, the Anglo-Saxon speech had burst through all impediments and conquered the conquerors.

There was a laugh when Peirson coupled dead meat with diplomacy, &c., but he justified the allusion by giving examples. A sheep, dead, is "mouton"; a pig, "porc" ; an ox, " boeuf "; and a calf becomes “veau,” and so on. This conquest of one language over another was an interesting fact. There must be some great law at the bottom.

"There is," said the Rector. "I believe a time will come when even our cherished 'langue d'oil' will have to bow to the inevitable. The reason is obvious. It is not a written language, and our literature boasts only one proud name - that of Wace. The spelling of its words is purely phonetic, depending upon the local pronunciation, e.g., 'gran'-mère' is pronounced 'gran'méthe' in some parts of the Island, and what a townsman calls 'La Rue Drière' is called 'La Rue Driéthe.' Besides, its vocabulary is not extensive. As soon as the people are taught to read and write English, then will its death knell be sounded. I look for a time when even our States will allow its speakers to address the Assembly in English."

"If that time comes it will be destroying one of our most cherished privileges," said La Cloche. "If you broach that in your parochial assembly, Le Couteur, your parishioners will mob you, for though they are loyal to the core (and a change of language will not make them more so), they will never give up one single privilege without a struggle."

"That may be, still the fact remains as I have put it, and I go further and say, that after the States have allowed English to be spoken in its debates, the complement is sure to follow, viz., the official language shall be English."

"I see nothing terrible in this," observed Durell. “All our sympathies are with England, not with France. We owe to her our protection in time of war and in peace her markets are open to us. She listens to our complaints and in some respects treats us as her 'enfant gâté.' It is wise policy to do our utmost to strengthen the bonds that unite us to the Mother Country."

" Yet," remarked La Cloche, "a people that gives up its language ceases to be a nation, and we Jerseymen are proud of our nationality, however small we may be in numbers. When the day comes for substituting English for French as the official language, the people will cry out 'La Patrie est en dangit.'”

" I look at it from a commercial point of view," remarked Mr. Robin, one of Jersey's merchant princes. "I consider a knowledge of both languages, especially of English, an absolute necessity. It is well to maintain the right to govern ourselves, but, after all, our dependence on England for protection both in peace and war, and our gratitude for the past, should come in as a modifying influence, and our legislation should be based so is to harmonize with that view. Our commercial prosperity depends on England and on England alone, therefore let us do all we can to encourage the English language in our midst."

"I quite agree with my old friend Mr. Robin in his view of the case," said Captain Hemery, “but it will be a long time before that comes about, for I do not know a people so tenacious of their rights and privileges as my countrymen. Once a Jerseyman has an idea in his head it takes a great deal to knock it out, in fact, in some cases, it would be impossible to do so without a surgical operation. We have a word that describes that tenacity to an opinion : it is 'téteoine.'"

All the company laughed, except the Major, who enquired what it meant. For answer, he was told that it was "the quintessence of stubbornness."


An interesting passage showing switching from one language to another - and the influence of Jèrriais on Jersey-English:


After the service, most of the congregation repaired to their beloved "Vier Marchi," and here the battle was fought over again. Listen to one stout militiaman who, with head erect and the air of a conqueror, is relating to "la buonne femme," and an admiring crowd, what he did on that memorable day. "Sthe ichen que je tua l'Français. Il vint a mé avec sa bajonétte pour me tué, mais devans ch'il eu fait chunnà j'li bailli une cliamuse a la goule avec le gran' but d'man fusi, en disans: Prenéz chunnà, man garçon. Apres ch'la, j'li donnit une tappe a la tête, et dans une minute il etait mort." His recital is received with cries of "Brav' Mait'e Jo ; r'gardez ta buoune femme, ou'lle est bain fiere d'vous. Le Gouverneur té f'ra sergeant pour ch'la."

A little further off a group is gathered round a smart young fellow, who, in Jersey-English, is endeavouring to describe the battle in which he took part. In fact, his story may be called: "How I won the battle of Jersey." "Well, my byes, it was like to this. I was 'long with Captain Lumsden, to the Highlanders. We marched down 'La Grande Rue,' an' who should come up at us ? Why old Corbé. My good ! you should have heerd our men grind their teeth at 'im. He puts up 'is 'ands an' tals us not to shoot, but at onst we gave 'im som bullats that sent 'im about 'is bizness. Then we pass at the double into Lib'ry Place, but som' of us got 'it by the big gun; "Mais, ma fé,'' we run quick an' soon knock over the gunners. " Ah bain ! " we got into the "Vier Marchi," an' then, my byes, that was a time. You know Tom Le Gresley. Well, pore bye, he was kill'd just 'longside to me, an' I had three shots to my 'at. After that, just then, the French cry out "Victoree," an' we ask, what for? The cry comes down the "Marchi ": "Peirson is killed." " Man dou d'la vie," that made us mad, an' I sez to Ph'lip Muorant, " Look heere, Ph'lip, I'm goin' to shew to them who's got to the victoree. You shoot that 'rein chi valle' De Rullecour on the steps theere.'' I fired first an' 'it 'im in the jaw, an' Ph'lip 'it 'im in the body. That settled 'im. Now I sez, byes, 'Shoot at Corbé,' for we all looked at 'im as a French enemy; but nobody could kill 'im that day - all he got was two shots to 'is 'at as he made to carry De Rullecour into "La Cohue." After that we all got jammed up like a lot of conger in Uncle Jean's boat. It was push heere, an' 'it theere, but we couldn't load our "vier fusis." Ah! it was a time, an' no mistake. The French they kick to us like mad, an' we gave 'em som' good "patawarres" with our fists. Never in all my life have I heerd such a "train" as the French made; but we kept shouting to one another - "Remember Peirson," an' each time that cry was made we went for 'em like to the 'ammer an' tongs. Well, my byes, they fighted well, an' no mistake; but we were too many for 'em, an' we had 'em like rats in a trap. Well then, at 2 o'clock they cried out : "Sauve qui peut," an' ran like a lot of rats into the houses an' shops. Then we make 'em all prisoners, an' the Captain sez to me, " Well done, Tom Vautie'. I'll mantion you to the Governor as the man that killed De Rullecour, an' won the battle of Jersey," an' that's what is it.


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