Optimnen: foreign language courses from Daniel Tammet

Optimnen: foreign language courses from Daniel Tammet
Optimnem: The Official Website of Daniel Tammet

Jersey French: La Langue Jèrriaise Jersey French: La Langue Jèrriaise

Jèrriais is a minority language, a Norman dialect with an ancient heritage, spoken on the island of Jersey. It is spoken by several thousand inhabitants of Jersey, often alongside English and French, the predominant languages of modern Jersey life.

Jèrriais v. French

Jèrriais distinguishes itself from modern French in a number of ways. Jèrriais's phonology includes sounds, such as 'tch' and 'dg', that do not exist in French.

French Jèrriais
chien (dog) tchian
dix (ten) dgiêx
guerre (war) dgèrre

There are also significant orthographic differences between the two languages. Jèrriais abounds in such letter combinations as: 'ouo' and 'aithe':

pour (for) pouor
cochon (pig) couochon
histoire (story) histouaithe
vocabulaire (vocabulary) vocabulaithe

In French, adjectives mostly go after the noun, but in Jèrriais the opposite can be true.

eune rouoge flieur; à haute vouaix
une fleur rouge; à voix haute
(a red flower; in a high voice)


Other than French and Latin, many Jèrriais words are borrowed from English:

  • pot (pot)
  • gamme (game)
  • tyeur (tyre)

Jèrriais Today

The language continues to be spoken in parts of Jersey by several thousand people. Jersey's department of education supports a scheme which teaches Jèrriais in the island's primary schools on a voluntary basis.

Periodicals, poems, rhymes and other literature continue to be produced in Jèrriais, and a trust - Le Don Balleine Trust - supports their publication. There are occasional radio programmes broadcast in Jèrriais through BBC Radio Jersey (check schedules).

The Web has represented an opportunity for supporters of Jèrriais to broaden the promotion of their language; there now exists a significant body of on-line material on the language, its history and culture. You can even purchase books and tapes on-line.

http://www.societe-jersiaise.org/geraint/jerriais.html A very comprehensive introduction to the Jèrriais language: lots of vocabulary and grammar resources and links to purchase books / tapes on-line.

You can also download a word version of this exercise.


©2015 Daniel Tammet. All rights reserved. Materials may not be reproduced without permission from the author.