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Page last updated at 08:57 GMT, Thursday, 19 August 2010 09:57 UK
Modern usage for Jersey's tongue

Ryan Morrison
By Ryan Morrison
BBC Jersey

Jerriaise protest
Do you think Jersey's street signs should be in Jerriais?

Language is a funny old beast. If you're reading this you more than likely speak English - unless you're using an online translator, in which case "very much welcome are you."

In Jersey there are several languages spoken by our diverse community. Most speak English but some converse in Portuguese, others in Polish and others still in French.

Occasionally though you'll hear snippets of conversation in the islands own tongue, Jèrriais - but very rarely.

According to the 2001 Jersey Census just 2,874 of the Island's 87,186 population, or 3.3% of people living in Jersey could speak Jèrriais and two-thirds of these speakers were aged over 60.

The Census also recorded that only 113 speakers declared Jèrriais to be their usual everyday language.

An English to Jèrriais dictionary was released in 2008 with the hope of changing that and encouraging more people to use the language.

Jersey flags
Less than 3,000 people in Jersey speak Jerriais

The dictionary was produced by L'Office du Jèrriais. The publisher says it will include old and rare words as well as a botanical reference providing Latin names as yet unpublished in previous dictionaries.

Merging words

A number of new words are added to the Oxford English Dictionary on a regular basis, and the latest round saw words like 'automagically' and 'overthink' added.

With words being joined together to form something new, we wondered which common Jersey terms might make it into the islands dictionary.

Some examples we came up with included the word for spending time at St Ouen's Bay each weekend - Baycation, and if you go for a long walk in there area you could be taking a Ouender (wander).

A recent news story about the Jersey cow and Aberdeen Angus cross breed led to the term Jangus.

Some already in use in Jersey include 'a Jersey twitch' or, the practise of looking behind you to see who is there when you say something confidential.

And some call having a hair cut a branchage.

Learning J'Anglais

The Jerriais English dictionary also includes all the words any language student usually looks up first when being given their French or German dictionary.

We can't include any of them here, this is a family site after all. But we can include some more useful words than botanical references.

To get you started we asked Jèrriais expert, Geraint Jennings to give us a few words and phrases in the islands language.

Here are a list of some of the more eye-catching (but suitable for a family audience) entries in the new dictionary, plus a couple of short example texts with translations.

Jèrriais English

la clob'thie
eune pèrchéthie
eune boucl'ye dé bouton
eune douoche
un gallant
eune bourgaille
des frites micro-louêmabl'yes
eune sannouich'chie
la seurféthie
go clubbing
nipple ring
go out with, date
microwaveable chips
sandwich shop

And here is a conversation example to help you put some of the words above into context.

In Jèrriais

Would you say J'allons-t-i' clober à ces sé to a friend?

"J'allons-t-i' clober à ces sé? As-tu veu Jînmîn à ches drein?"

"Il a eune nouvelle douoche. Il est à scor'ter ch't' hardelle tchi travâle dans la sannouich'chie en Ville."

"La cheinne tch'est enann'lée? Auve les tatouéthies?"

"Véthe. Jînmîn dit qu'oulle a des pèrchéthies dé bord en autre! J'm'en vais lî texter pouor l's înviter au clobe."

"Y'a du bouon!"

In English

"Are we going clubbing this evening? Have you seen Jimmy lately?"

"He's got a new girlfriend. He's seeing that girl who works in the sandwich shop in Town."

"The one with the nose ring? With the tattoos?"

"Yes. Jimmy says she's got piercings all over! I'll text him to invite them to the club."


And so once you've established that you want to go out, where Jimmy is and just how pierced his girlfriend is - you'll want to know how to get a round in.

If it's your turn to order a round of drinks you could just say "Ch'est mé, l'convieux" or even just "un convieux".

So we know how to go out with our mates, we know how to order a round of drinks and we know how to discuss the tattoo's and piercing of Jimmy's new girlfriend.

But what about the less socially aware among us? How do the geeks of the island communicate in its historic tongue?

English Jèrriais

mobile phone
to download
broadband connection
random play

eune côssée d'audgo
un p'tit compiuteu
la textéthie
un téléphone dé pouchette
eune connexion d'laîze
la jouêthie à Dgi l'adèrt
eune mégabouochie
un vidgo

And again as with the clubbing, lets have a quick phrase to put some of the words above into context. Here will find out what we can do with a broadband connection.

In Jèrriais

Achteu atout eune connexion d'laîze nou peut dêchèrgi un tas d'musique et d'vidgos dé sus l'Ithangnie. Y'en a tch'aiment les dgaîngues dé garçons, et d'aut's tch'aiment mus rotchi.

In English

Now with broadband you can download loads of music and videos from the Web. Some people like boy bands and others prefer to rock.

What about you?

So why not try getting a few of those words and phrases, or others from the Jèrriais to English Dictionary into your every day conversations.

I'm not sure eune boucl'ye dé bouton is going to be as easy to get into a normal conversation as scôr'ter is but it could be fun trying.

Plus - it would be a good way of confusing visitors to the island or your friends at university - time for a new trend of J'anglais slang!

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The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.



The BBC should do their part, at least one news item on radio and one on the web in Jèrriais every day. TV to follow??

Phill Rogers

I've often thought it would be nice to have a localised translation of the OpenOffice.org suite so you could do your word processing with a Jèrriais spell-checker as well as all tool bars and menu options. I think it's easy to do and you could give a free copy of the localised suite to all school kids.

Jèrriais focus for major summit
09 Nov 09 |  Jersey


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