Jersey, the island’s ancestral language, is in danger of extinction. But its speakers are still opposed to the supremacy of English.
“How are you?” (How are you?) A teacher asks her students. “I’m beautiful” (I’m fine), a little girl responds. On the Anglo-Norman island of Jersey, the Jersey people are resisting British domination. After speaking in this language, which is derived from Norman French, the young students of St. Helier’s Beauvoir Convent School rehearse a traditional dance wearing checkered armor and scarves reminiscent of local folk costumes. Then they hear the legend told by a teacher in a jersey, a hat with feathers on the head, with gestures that help children understand.
“Language is in danger of extinction”
On an island that belongs to the British Crown but is independent of the United Kingdom, schools have integrated Jersey, or “Jerios” In their original language, in their performances in 2020. Only a handful of the 100,000 people who live on this Channel Island still teach children the language they use. “The number of native speakers is declining below 800, which means the language is in danger of disappearing, (…) so we are working very hard to revive it.”, Explains Susan Parker, one of the island’s seven jersey authors. According to the last register of 2012, 1% of citizens confirmed that they control it. “We lose speakers faster than older people than we talk to young people”, Regrets linguist Geraint Jennings.
Franோois Le Maestre, 84, admits to belonging “Last Generation” Thai language speakers. “It’s sad to lose the essence of your culture.”He testifies by eating tea and cakes in a cozy living room overlooking a well-maintained garden in the small village of St. Owen. Children, “We didn’t talk about anything else at home.”, He recalled. From now on, like almost all the people of this small tax haven located between France and England, Franுவாois Maestro speaks mainly English, which in the mid-1940s imposed itself when Jersey abandoned agriculture and returned to tourism and trade. United Kingdom. “Jersey was considered an agricultural language”, His brother Jean, 77, explains that it deserves to be protected.
An elementary school that teaches the Jersey language
Teachers severely punished children who used it. But the situation has changed a lot. 2019 has been announced by the United Nations “International Year of Indigenous Languages”. The Jersey government later added Jersey to its list of official languages, along with English and French. The decision provided an incentive to teach the language on this Anglo-Norman island. The government adopted the Isle of Man model, based on the British Crown, its original Celtic language, which was declared extinct in 1974.
“With a strong investment, a lot of time and effort, (human authorities) have revived it, and today there is an elementary school where children can learn using this language (…). But they started 40 years ago and still have a long way to go., Compares Susan Parker. Atticus Mowby, a 21-year-old student, “If Jersey dies, Jersey will become part of the UK and it will be very sad.”. So in order to revive the island’s heritage, the young man recently registered for conversation workshops in different parts of the island, five days a week, conducted by Gerint Jennings.
Stimulate youth practice through social networks
Mondays are dedicated to the business world. “We want people to say to themselves (…):” There should be inscriptions on my products or in my shop jersey “”, The linguist explains the local pound banknotes printed in three official languages. But for now, the streets lined with light-faced Victorian mansions have more inscriptions in French, the language in which Jersey laws were written for centuries, than in Jersey. Except for five minutes a week on BBC radio, no media uses this language. “Images would be helpful”, Suggests Atticus Mawby. Gerint Jennings thinks so “Social networks are the best way to reach young people” Car “They like things on demand: they wonder how to say something, they search the internet and watch video”.
New challenges are emerging: finding equivalents for modern terms “Social Websites” In a language from the past.
“Beeraholic. Friend of animals everywhere. Evil web scholar. Zombie maven.”