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, November 27, 2011

I've joined the Guernésiais Facebook Page!

Today I've joined the Guernésiais Facebook page.  It hasn't been very active and there aren't many members.  Like me, those who have posted have an interest in learning the language, but are having trouble finding resources.  In my post I mentioned the BBC Archive of Guernsey French lessons with the voice recordings and the Grammatical Survey by De Garis, and I asked if anyone knew of any other available resources.

Over a month ago, I asked a librarian at my university to help me locate Marie De Garis' Dictiounnaire Angllais-Guernésiais .  There is one on reserve at another campus (a 5 hour drive from here), but the librarian said she would check with other universities in Canada and the US, if need be, to see if there was a copy available to loan.  This dictionary is quite rare and the latest edition was published in 1982, so I haven't been holding my breath...I should go in and check on the status anyways though.

While trying to find a photo of the the Dictiounnaire Angllais-Guernesiais, I came across a much older Dictionnaire franco-normand (1870) by Georges Métivier.  The book is available online from google books and after reading the first few pages I found that Métivier has focused on the Guernsey dialect!  The word collection, as he calls it, is written in French, and he makes linguistic observations and links many words to Celtic, Teutonic (Germanic), and Roman origins. 

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