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 13, 2011

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - a Novel

While talking about this project to my mother-in-law, she mentioned that she had recently read a book that took place on Guernsey.  Naturally, I was interested, since I'd warmly welcome another form of research outside of academic papers.  The 2008 novel is called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

From what I've heard it's made up of letter correspondences between England and Guernsey directly after World War II.  I know the German occupation of the Channel Islands and the evacuation of most of the children to Britain during the war played a huge role in the decline of Guernesiais.  Hopefully there will be a bit of insight into the language use during this time, but either way I was in need of a book for my travels to Montréal this week.  My Anthropology Student Union is attending the American Anthropological Association's Annual Meeting, also known as the 'mack daddy of conferences' as my prof put it.

I've continued on with a few more of the BBC Guernesiais lessons and I'm wondering how I should proceed from here.  Perhaps I could compile my own vocabulary and common phrase lists or perhaps focus more on the pronunciation and orthography? Hmm...

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