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Jèrriais 'Requires Ongoing Support To Survive And Thrive'

A new Jèrriais strategy has been published - with the aim of making sure the island's native language can 'survive and thrive'.

It centres around five themes, which are:

  • Language Acquisition
  • Language Use
  • Language Status
  • Language Corpus
  • Language Planning

Aims for the next three years include:

  • Increasing the number of children and young people learning Jèrriais
  • Securing a place for Jèrriais in the Jersey curriculum
  • Increasing the number of adults learning Jèrriais
  • Exploring the possibility of offering a GCSE equivalent qualification in Jèrriais
  • Developing a Jèrriais language learning app and an online learning resource
  • Increasing the number, variety, and locations of places where Jèrriais can be learned and spoken socially
  • Promoting Jèrriais on social media and encouraging young people to use it
  • Increasing and developing the use of Jèrriais in local media
  • Working with parishes to increase the use and visibility of Jèrriais in signs, communications and branding

The Government Plan has committed to expanding the Jèrriais teaching service.

Ben Spink, who heads up that service, says Jerriais is the DNA of Jersey.

"Ch’est ieune des choses tchi donne à Jèrri un sens unnique et spécial. Et don, j’allons continnuer à travailli sans cêsse pouor garder not’ précieuse langue en vie pouor les généthâtions à v’nîn et chutte stratégie nos montre lé c’mîn qué j’prendrons en l’faisant.”

(Jèrriais is in the DNA of Jersey. It is one of things that makes our Island a unique and special place to live. As such, we will continue to work tirelessly to safeguard our precious language for future generations and this strategy sets out the path we will take in so doing.)

The ultimate aim is for students to receive instructions through the medium of Jèrriais.

The strategy sets the ambition of creating a critical mass of learners so interest in the language can be maintained while stabilising and ultimately reversing the decline in the number of speakers.

The Assistant Minister with responsibility for culture, Deputy Kirsten Morel, says there is no doubt in his mind that continuing political support is vital if they are ever to reach a point where Jèrriais might sustain itself.

"Happily, in the few years that I’ve been a States Member, I’ve seen crucial support offered from the Assembly. Notably from my predecessor in the role of Assistant Minister, Deputy Montfort Tadier, who continues to champion the language and whose successful amendment ensured that Jèrriais became one of three official languages of the States.

That amendment was a development of a successful proposition that places a responsibility on the Government to use the public sector to promote Jèrriais. As a result, we are already seeing the language appear around us on letterheads, signs and so on, all of which raises its profile and ensures Islanders are aware of its importance. Making the language visible is a vital step forward and one in which the States has a key role to play.

Despite all this great work, the fact is that Jèrriais remains endangered and will require significant ongoing support to survive and thrive. I passionately believe that this can be done and that Jèrriais will have an increasingly important role to play as a key cultural component of our Island community that all Islanders can enjoy and be proud of using.

This strategy gives me enormous hope that the darkest days for our language are in the past and that a wonderful future for it lies ahead."

The government also wants to seek ratification from the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages.

That would make sure future governments are bound to continue supporting the island language.

Last year, Jèrriais became the 15th language to be included in the Linguascope website and mobile apps, which are already used by thousands of schools around the world.

Jèrriais dictionaries have been given out to all nursery children earlier this term.

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