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Jersey's traditional language - Jèrriais

During the Occupation, locals used Jèrriais to talk to each other without being understood by the German forces occupying Jersey

What is Jèrriais?

Jèrriais is the traditional language of Jersey, which is closely related to French. It's an important part of Jersey's heritage.

Did you know that Jèrriais:

  • used to be Jersey's first language
  • was important during the Occupation, as locals could talk without being understood by the Germans
  • is still evolving: new words are added to the Jèrriais vocabulary just as they are in English

Is it widely spoken?

According to the 2001 census there were 2,874 people who spoke Jèrriais (this is around 3% of the population; although around 15% have some understanding of the language). 

Learning Jèrriais

It is important that Jèrriais remains a living language. By teaching Jèrriais to children we can make sure it has a future. There are very few parents able to teach their children the language, so it's important that it's taught at school. It's common throughout Europe to teach and learn through lesser-used languages.   

Jèrriais for children

Before the 1960s there was no Jèrriais education in schools. Now, Jèrriais lessons are offered in all States primary schools and some private schools, too. Children can continue learning in secondary school if they choose. 

Jèrriais lessons in primary schools start in year 4; however, because of a shortage of qualified teachers it's not possible to offer lessons in every year at all primary schools. In secondary schools, children will be able to study to the TGJ, the Jèrriais equivalent of GCSE.

There are many benefits to teaching Jèrriais to children:

  • it helps their intellectual development, mental agility and alertness
  • it makes it easier for them to learn other languages when they are older  
  • it helps them understand their cultural identity as Jersey citizens
  • it helps them respect people who speak different languages  
  • it introduces them to a rich tradition of prose, poetry and music  

Jèrriais for adults

Adults can learn Jèrriais at Highlands College evening classes. Check the Highlands College website for more details and how to enrol. 

Learning more about Jèrriais

You can find out more about Jèrriais from the websites listed on the right of this page.

For more information about children's Jèrriais lessons, please contact your child's school or L’Office du Jèrriais.

10 Jèrriais words and phrases to learn

  English  Jèrriais  
Good morning  Bouônjour 
2 Where do you live?  Où'est qu'tu d'meuthe? 
3 Thank you  Mèrcie bein des fais 
4 How are you?  Coumme est qu'tu'es 
5 Goodbye  À bêtôt 
6 Happy birthday  Bouôn annivèrsaithe
7 What is your name?  Tch'est qu'est vot' nom? 
8 Happy Christmas  Bouan Noué 
9 How much is it?  Combein qu'ch'est?
10 See you next week  À la s'maine tchi veint 


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