ISLANDS How The Hell Sounds „Jerriais“?

Posted by on 18. September 2016

Jersey

It's closer to France, but belongs to Great Britain!

I HAD NO IDEA, THIS IDIOM EVEN EXISTED. But when I landed in Jersey’s capital St. Helier and looked for a trough, I overheard two elderly chaps at the counter – and thought they spoke Esperanto or a conversation tool they had invented in their childhood. I asked them and reluctantly they told me, that it was „Jerriais“, the arch-language of the biggest of the Channel Islands. I say „reluctantly“ because they identified me as German, and during the occupation of Jersey between 1940 and 1945, the Jerseyans had used it as secret communication. They told me, that it’s a „dying language“ since only 1000 of the 100 000 inhabitants speak it, and many of them are older than 65. Unesco regards „Jerriais“ as „extremely endangered“ and there are just three teachers left. „We have some very good pop groups who perform in ‚Jerriais‘“, the chaps told me. „You should buy some of their CDs, it sounds great!“ Like a mixture of Latin, French, English and Viking-ish. They put down on a napkin three useful phrases and suggested, I should surprise the Jerseyeans by using them: Welcome „seyiz les beinv’nu“, Good Luck –  „Bouonne cache“, Excuse me „Extchuthez-me“. „And our island’s name is not Jersey“, reminded me one of them, „it’s Jeri! I didn’t succeed in what they wanted, because when I said  „Extchuthez-me“ to a lady in a grocery shop, she remarked to another lady: „Does he speak Jerriais, or what does he mean?“

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