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Ben Spink: Chîn’ choses I LOVE about Jèrri

Ben Spink: Chîn’ choses I LOVE about Jèrri

Friday 12 March 2021

Ben Spink: Chîn’ choses I LOVE about Jèrri


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...

1. Landscape - Lé Paysage (countryside)

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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 Nordwith its p’tites sentes sus les falaises10.

2. Landmarks - Les bâtisses (buildings)

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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. 

3. Locals - Les gens (people)

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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. 

4. Liberty - La libèrté

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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.

5. Language - Lé Jèrriais

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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?

The translations...

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

14 Dolmens 

15 German bunkers

16 Great 

17 Thank you

18 Farmers, fishermen and women

19 Jersey wonders

20 The pandemic

21 Community 

22 Occupation 

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?

29 Character 

30 The future 

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