Jèrriais Lecture – An Invitation

Jèrriais, our Language. A Real Gem in our Heritage Treasure Chest! A lecture at Jersey Museum on Monday 27 June at 5.15pm.

The Trustees of Le Don Balleine Trust invite you to a Reception and Presentation by Dr Mari Jones, Reader at Cambridge University, Erin McNulty, Student at Oxford University and Kit Ashton of “Badlabecques”.


What is language for? Is it just to communicate efficiently, or does it embody something deeper about who we are? Jèrriais is Jersey’s unique language – ‘a complete, very rich and unusual language’, in the words of Victor Hugo, one of the Island’s most celebrated visitors. Through Jèrriais we can connect with our unique heritage, but also with each other as we express our “Jersey-ness” together as a community. Visitors can also enjoy this special flavour of our culture. It also connects us with the wider world for it has the same roots as the language of William the Conqueror which, hundreds of years ago, helped forge the English we take for granted today, as well as the Norman-French of our cousins in Normandy.


This year is the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings! Jèrriais is also studied academically, and has been the focus of many books, conference papers and articles in academic journals. Thanks to the efforts of l’Office du Jèrriais, it is taught to children and adults in Jersey. Students also study it at the University of Cambridge where the distinguished academic, Dr Mari Jones is one of its most persuasive advocates, and has recently been invited to lecture on Jèrriais to large audiences in Japan, New Zealand, Germany, France and Sweden. This year is also the 50th anniversary of the publication of the celebrated Dictionnaire Jersiais-Français by Dr Frank Le Maistre, OBE. In recent years the folk band Badlabecques has delighted audiences at music festivals and ceremonial occasions with contemporary settings of Jèrriais songs. Only weeks ago, the group’s leader Kit Ashton was awarded £55,000 PhD research funding by the Arts and Humanities Research Council UK to study how music can aid the revitalisation of Jèrriais.


However, in spite of all this, Jèrriais remains endangered as its last generation of native speakers grows older: if we do not act now to save it, it will be lost for ever. The American linguist Noam Chomsky described the potential loss of Jèrriais as ‘tragic from a linguist’s point of view’, likening it to the loss of a species. “But”, he said, “that’s the least of it…. a language is a repository of cultural wealth, of our traditions, of historical consciousness, of community solidarity.” This presentation will explore how action now can help to preserve and promote this important aspect of Jersey’s cultural heritage. Please do not let this unique opportunity pass!

This special event is supported by The National Trust for Jersey, La Société Jersiaise and Jersey Heritage. RSVP to……….. rsvp@jerseyheritage.org by Wednesday 22nd June 2016