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Template:Language Guernésiais, also known as Dgèrnésiais, Guernsey French, Guernsey Norman French, is the variety of Norman language spoken in Guernsey. It is sometimes known on the island, by the semi-disparaging name "patois". As one of the Oïl languages, it has its roots in the Latin language, but has had strong influence from both Norse and English at different points in its history.

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

Guernésiais has been influenced less by French than has Jèrriais, but conversely has been influenced to a greater extent by English. New words have been imported for modern phenomena "le bike", "le gas-cooker".

There is a rich tradition of poetry in the Guernsey language. Guernsey songs were inspired by the sea, by colourful figures of speech, by traditional folk-lore, as well as by the natural beauty of the island. The island's greatest poet was Georges Métivier (1790-1881), a contemporary of Victor Hugo, who influenced and inspired local poets to print and publish their traditional poetry. Métivier blended together local place-names, bird and animal names, traditional sayings and orally transmitted fragments of medieval poetry to create his Rimes Guernesiaises (1831). Denys Corbet (1826-1910) was considered the "Last Poet" of Guernsey French and published many poems in his day in his native tongue in the island newspaper and privately.

Que l'lingo seit bouan ou mauvais / J'pâlron coum'nou pâlait autefais (whether the “lingo” be good or bad, I’m going to speak the way we spoke back then), wrote Métivier.

The last dictionary of Guernsey French was titled "English-Guernsey Dictionary, Dictiounnaire Angllais-Guernesiais" and published by La Societe Guernesiais, April 1967 written by Marie De Garis - she received an MBE for her work.


Current status

Image:Dgernesiais welcome sign St Peter Port Guernsey.jpg
Dgèrnésiais tops this list of welcome messages at Guernsey's tourism office in St. Peter Port

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.

  • 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.
  • Dgèrnésiais is recognised (along with Jèrriais, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Manx and Lowland Scots (in Scotland and Northern Ireland)) as a regional language by the British and Irish governments within the framework of the British-Irish Council.
  • BBC Radio Guernsey and the Guernsey Press both feature occasional lessons, the latter with sometimes misleading phonetics.
  • A Guernsey language development officer was appointed (with effect from January 2008).[1]

There is little broadcasting in the language, with Channel Television more or less ignoring the language, and only the occasional short feature on BBC Radio Guernsey, usually for learners.

Despite the clear historical development of the Norman languages, many believe that Dgèrnésiais is not a language in its own right, instead viewing it as a dialect of French. As the writing system of Dgèrnésiais is based on that of French, a native French-speaker can understand much of written Dgèrnésiais.


  • 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 Guernsey. As editor of the French-language newspaper Le Bailliage, he also wrote prose columns in Dgèrnésiais under the pen name Badlagoule ("chatterbox").
Image:T H Mahy.jpg
T H Mahy, author of Dires et Pensées du Courtil Poussin
  • Thomas Henry Mahy (1862-21 April 1936) 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.
  • When the Channel Islands were invaded by Germany in World War II, Dgèrnésiais experienced a minor revival. Many locals did not always wish the occupying forces to understand what they were saying, especially as some of the soldiers had some knowledge of English.
  • Victor Hugo includes the odd word of Dgèrnésiais in some of his Channel Island novels.


Metathesis of /r/ is common in Guernésiais, by comparison with Sercquiais and Jèrriais.

Guernésiais Sercquiais Jèrriais French English

Other examples are pourmenade (promenade), persentaïr (present), terpid (tripod).


aver - have (auxiliary verb)

present preterite imperfect future conditional
j'ai j'aëus j'avais j'érai j'érais
t'as t'aëus t'avais t'éras t'érais
il a il aëut il avait il éra il érait
all' a all' aeut all' avait all' éra all' érait
j'avaöns j'eûnmes j'avaëmes j'éraöns j'éraëmes
vous avaïz vous aeutes vous avaites vous éraïz vous éthêtes
il aönt il aëurent il avaient il éraönt il éraient

oimaïr - to love (regular conjugation)

present preterite imperfect future conditional
j'oime j'oimis j'oimais j'oim'rai j' oim'rais
t'oimes t'oimis t'oimais t'oim'ras t'oim'rais
il oime il oimit il oimait il oim'ra il oim'rait
all' oime all' oimit all' oimait all' oim'ra all' oim'rait
j'oimaöns j'oimaëmes j'oimaëmes j'oim'rons j' oim'raëmes
vous oimaïz vous oimites vous oimaites vous oim'raïz vous oim'raites
il' oiment il' oimirent il' oimaient il' oim'raönt il' oim'raient


Image:Guernésiais BBC sticker.jpg
"Learn Guernésiais with the BBC
Guernsey BBC
Your voice in the Islands"
Guernésiais English French
Quaï temps qu’i fait? What's the weather like? Quel temps fait-il ?
Colloquial: Quel temps qu'il fait ?
I' fait caoud ogniet It's warm today Il fait chaud aujourd'hui
Tchi qu’est vote naom? What's your name? Comment vous appelez-vous ?
Quel est votre nom?
Coume tchi que l’affaire va? How are you?
Lit. How's business going?
Comment vont les affaires ?
Coll: comment que vont les affaires ?
Quaï heure qu'il est? What's the time? Quelle heure est-il ?
Coll: Quelle heure qu'il est ?
À la perchoine See you next time Au revoir
À la prochaine
Mercie bian Thank you very much Merci beaucoup
Coll: Merci bien
chén-chin this ceci
ch'techin this one celui-ci
Lâtchiz-mé Leave me Laissez-moi

Template:Norman language Template:Romance languages



See also

External links



an:Dgèrnésiais br:Gwernenezeg fr:Guernesiais nl:Dgèrnésiais nrm:Guernésiais pl:Dgèrnésiais

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