Mess ou Moussieu? – The Mister Mystery

November 11th, 2010

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Mess ou Moussieu? – The Mister Mystery

Office du Jerriaisvocabulary

Faîs'sie d'Cidre 2008 costeunmesWe did a school assembly on the theme of Jèrriais at Haute Vallée this morning, and one point came up in introductions: what’s the correct form of address for a man or gentleman? It rather depends.

  • Mess = Mr, which is the general title nowadays, e.g. Mess Lé Bro (Mr Le Brocq)
  • Moussieu = Mr, if you want to be polite to someone in authority or respectful to one’s elders, etc. e.g. Moussieu L’Bro (Mr Le Brocq). We use this as a form of address with titles of posts and jobs too, e.g. Moussieu l’Connêtabl’ye (Mr Constable), Moussieu l’Député L’Bro (Deputy Le Brocq), Moussieu l’Président (President, Chairman), etc.
  • Maît’ = a form of address used with first name, traditionally for respected (or venerable) country folk, e.g. Maît’ Jean, Maît’ Ph’lippe, Maît’ Cliém, etc.

If you’re referring to someone politely in a phrase, then Moussieu L’Bro, for example, will become, lé Sieur Lé Bro: J’allons siez l’Sieur Lé Bro (we’re going to Mr Le Brocq’s house); nou l’présentit au Sieur Lé Bro (it was presented to Mr Le Brocq).

The more rigid social distinctions of the past are not what they were, especially since the less numerous Jèrriais-speaking community nowadays is less hierarchical than used to be the case. In the past, strictly speaking, Moussieu was a title for someone of rank, entitled to be an Esquire. Things are less formally clearcut in modern society – so sticking with Mess is usually fine. However, for a select few, the formal title of knighthood still requires the appropriate form of address:

  • Messire = Sir, e.g. Messire Cliément L’Bro (Sir Clement Le Brocq), Messire Cliément (Sir Clement).

Coming soon: it’s the turn of the ladies – Madanme ou Missis?