What is Guernésiais?

What is Guernesiais? Guernesiais used to be the primary language that was spoken on Guernsey, one of the British Channel Islands. It is also known as Dguernesiais, Guernsey French, Guernsey Norman French, and Patois, French for dialect. It is now considered to be an endangered language since less than 2% of the population of Guernsey are able to speak Guernesiais fluently, and most of these speakers are over the age of 50. The language is no longer being taught to children, and English has become the dominant language on the island. Some of the reasons for this language change are trade and tourism with Britain, and impacts from WWII, such as the evacuation of Guernsey children to Britain during the German occupation. If you'd like to learn more about the history of Guernesiais, here is a link to Julia Sallabank's BBC article.

This blog is where I will record my progress and challenges in my attempt to learn Guernesiais.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dictiounnaire Angllais-Guernesiais

Over the Christmas break, my university library contacted me to let me know they had located a copy of Marie De Garis' Dictiounnaire Angllais-Guernesiais.  They had borrowed a copy from a Florida University for me and I would be allowed to have use of it for three weeks. Then my library promptly closed for nearly two weeks for the holidays before I could pick it up!  So for the week I did have it in my possession I scanned a few sections that I thought would be useful.  Now, I've just found that these scans have been lost due to a file saving mishap :(

The dictionary was quite extensive, with both an English-Guernesiais and a Guernesiais-English section.  The English-Guernesiais section was at least twice the size, which has me believe that the dictionary's purpose was to be used more as a learning tool. There was a beautifully written history of the language in the preface by De Garis.  This was the third and most recent edition from 1982.

3rd Edition (1982)
I was thinking to myself how useful a new edition would be and came across this article from BBC Guernsey from 2010.  The article says that John De Garis and Bill Gallienne were working on updating the dictionary by transferring it to a computer, adding words, and correcting some spelling and grammar.  It says De Garis and Gallienne were hoping to have the revised dictionary complete by the end of 2010.  I hope they haven't given up.