A local lingo champion has opened up about the five things he loves about Jèrri, while giving us a Jèrriais language lesson in the process.
Ben Spink dedicates his days to teaching islanders young and old alike the island's mother tongue.
Three qualified teachers were recently appointed to join him at L’Office du Jèrriais to help guard Jersey's heritage and spread the language even further. Two will be taking up their roles after Easter and another is due to join in September.
In this special edition of 'Five Things,' Ben gives a breakdown of five of his favourite things about the island, through the words of the language he loves...
Pictured: "What sound could be more evocative than the roar of la mé3 in St Ouen’s Bay?"
If there is anything Jersey deserves to be famous for, ch’est les grèves1. Are there any in the world more beautiful than La Grève au Lanchon, La Baie d’Saint Brélade ou Bieauport2? What sound could be more evocative than the roar of la mé3 in St Ouen’s Bay?
There are few places more peaceful than our p’tites ruettes à la campangne4 that weave their way through les clios5 and down to les côtis6. Not forgetting les gardîns à pommièrs7 with their juicy apples ready for making du bouôn cidre8. Then there’s the wild côte du Nord9 with its p’tites sentes sus les falaises10.
Pictured: "Wherever you are in Jersey, you’re never far from un châté, un fort ou un tou."
Wherever you are in Jersey, you’re never far from un châté, un fort ou un tou11. Whether it’s eune salle pârouaîssiale, eune églyise ou un mênage12, historic buildings are everywhere.
From our beautiful maîsons en grannit13, to the ancient pouquelées14 dotted about the island or les bunkers Allemands15, much of our built environment reflects Jersey’s extraordinary history.
Pictured: "We’re fortunate to have a lot of mangnifique people for a small place."
We’re fortunate to have a lot of mangnifique16 people for a small place, too many to mention here, but mèrcie bein des fais17 to les férmièrs, les pêtcheurs18 and all the folk who keep our island supplied with an abundance of wonderful local produce, such as our fabulous mèrvelles19.
Then there are the creatives, conservationists, entrepreneurs and sports people, not to mention the amazing frontline workers who have kept us going through la pandémie20 and the numerous people who do incredible charitable work. All these and many others besides, contribute greatly to our fantastic c’meunauté21.
Pictured: "Not only did Jersey survive 5 years of otchupâtion, but our longstanding freedom from external governance has served Jersey very well over the years."
Not only did Jersey survive 5 years of otchupâtion22, but our longstanding freedom from external governance has served Jersey very well over the years. Our autonomy is perhaps something we take for granted. Jé n’sommes pon lé Rouoyaume Unni!23
We do not have to do what the UK does. Our independence is one of our greatest strengths. It’s now time for Jersey to lead, not follow. Sans doute24, we have benefitted from our loyalty to La Grande Brétangne25, but perhaps we have neglected our relationship with La France et La Grand’-Tèrre26 for too long.
Pictured: "Jèrriais is part of our identity, it’s in our DNA and it should be in our curriculum."
Last but by no means least, lé Jèrriais.27 Professor Paul Birt put it best when he said, “Jèrriais belongs to Jersey, and without it Jersey would, I believe, stop being Jersey.” Who are we? Or perhaps more importantly, Tchi qué j’voulons êt’?28
Do we want to be a corner of little Britain, with nothing to distinguish us from anywhere else? Jèrriais is part of our identity, it’s in our DNA and it should be in our curriculum. Are we prepared to fight to retain our unique caractéthe29? It’s easy to pay lip service to our language, but who will speak up for it? Who will be the speakers of l’av’nîn30? Will you?
1 It’s the beaches
2 Plemont, St Brelade’s Bay or Beauport
3 The sea
4 Little country lanes
5 The fields
6 Sloping fields
7 Apple orchards
8 Some good cider
9 North coast
10 Little cliff paths
11 A castle, a fort or a tower
12 A parish hall, a church or a farmstead
13 Granite houses
15 German bunkers
17 Thank you
18 Farmers, fishermen and women
19 Jersey wonders
20 The pandemic
23 We’re not the UK!
24 Without doubt
25 Great Britain
26 France and mainland Normandy
27 The Jèrriais language
28 Who do we want to be?
30 The future
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