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Dgèrnésiais tops this list of welcome messages at Guernsey's tourism office in St. Peter Port

Dgèrnésiais, also known as Guernésiais, Guernsey French, Guernsey Norman French, or patois is the variety of Norman language spoken in Guernsey. As one of the Oïl languages, it has its roots in the Latin language.

The 2001 census showed that 1,327 (1,262 Guernsey-born) or 2% of the population speak the language fluently while 3% fully understand the language. However most of these, 70% or 934 of the 1,327 fluent speakers are aged over 64. Among the young only 0.1% or one in a thousand are fluent speakers. However, 14% of the population claim some understanding of the language.

There is intercomprehension (with some difficulty) with Jèrriais-speakers from Jersey and Norman-speakers from mainland Normandy. Dgèrnésiais most closely resembles the Norman dialect of La Hague in the Cotentin Peninsula.

Dgèrnésiais has been influenced less by French than has Jèrriais, but conversely has been influenced to a greater extent by English.

Contents

History

  • Guernsey poet, George Métivier (1790-1881) - nicknamed the Guernsey Burns, was the first to produce a dictionary of the Norman language in the Channel Islands, the Dictionnaire Franco-Normand (1870). This established the first standard orthography - later modified and modernised. Among his poetical works are Rimes Guernesiaises published in 1831.
  • Prince Louis Lucien Bonaparte published a translation of the Parable of the Sower in Dgèrnésiais in 1863 as part of his philological research.
  • Like Métivier, Tam Lenfestey (1818-1885) published poetry in Guernsey newspapers and in book form.
  • Denys Corbet (1826-1910) described himself as the Draïn Rimeux (last poet), but literary production continued. Corbet is best known for his poems, especially the epic L'Touar de Guernesy, a picaresque tour of the parishes of Guernesy. As editor of the French-language newspaper Le Bailliage, he also wrote prose columns in Dgèrnésiais under the pen name Badlagoule ("chatterbox").
  • Thomas Henry Mahy (born 1862) wrote Dires et Pensées du Courtil Poussin, a regular column in La Gazette Officielle de Guernesey, from 1916. A collection was published in booklet form in 1922. He was still publishing occasional pieces of poetry and prose by the start of the 1930s.
  • Thomas Alfred Grut (1852-1933) published Des lures guernesiaises in 1927, once again a collection of newspaper columns. He also translated some of the Jèrriais stories of Philippe Le Sueur Mourant into Dgèrnésiais.
  • Marjorie Ozanne (1897-1973) wrote stories, published in the Guernsey Evening Press between 1949 and 1965. Some earlier pieces can be found in La Gazette de Guernesey in the 1920s.
  • Métivier's dictionary was superseded by Marie de Garis' (born 1910) Dictiounnaire Angllais-Guernésiais; first edition published in 1967.

Current Status

  • L'Assembllaïe d'Guernesiais, an association for speakers of the language founded in 1957, has published a periodical. Les Ravigoteurs, another association, has published a storybook and cassette for children.
  • The annual Eisteddfod provides an opportunity for performances in the language, and radio and newspaper outlets furnish regular media output.
  • There is some teaching of the language in voluntary classes in schools in Guernsey.

References

See also

External links

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