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Saving a language - 17th November 2021 View All

Jerriais is an old language. People speak it on the island of Jersey. But Jerriais is dying. People are trying to save it.

There are only 800 native speakers today, like brothers Jean and François.

François Le Maistre: "We're the last generation. My brother, all my colleagues, we’re the last generation to speak it naturally. That's the sad part."

In the past, farmers spoke Jerriais. Children couldn't speak it. They had to learn English. English became popular. In 2019, Jerrais became an official language. Children can learn Jerriais in schools now.

Jerriais is similar to French. Susan Parker teaches Jerriais.

Susan Parker: "There's no textbooks, so my colleagues had to learn in kind of a ad hoc way. Now, the new teachers have a more structured program to follow. It's very similar to French, its heritage is Norman French, but it has its own unique spellings and words and grammar and it's not that easy to learn, so it takes a while."

Jersey is a British island. It is 22 kilometres from France. It has a special culture. Atticus Mawby says that Jerriais is important to the culture.

Atticus Mawby: "No culture is complete without its language, and there's no way you can really understand the spirit of Jersey without understanding its language. And if Jerrĺais does die, then Jersey will just become another part of Britain and it will be incredibly sad."

Jerriais is dying. It is important for young people to learn it. Geraint Jennings wants people to speak Jerriais every day.

Geraint Jennings: "The aim of revitalization is to bring back Jerriais as an everyday, living language. Not replace English, not to replace French, but to ensure that people can, if possible, live their lives with Jerriais." View Less

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