We are not a lawyer, but we had a call this afternoon about “life enjoyment”. L’Office du Jèrriais is not a legal advice service, but people occasionally get confused by the term “Jersey French” and turn to us for help. Interestingly, just like Jèrriais, the French language is perfectly able to distinguish between the Jersey language – le jersiais – and the Jersey dialect of French – le français de Jersey – but the English language, lacking an adjective for Jersey, gets itself in a twist about such straightforward matters. This is why it’s much simpler all round to call the Jersey language by its vernacular name – Jèrriais – and refer to the Jersey dialect of French as used in contracts and laws as Jersey Legal French.
Anyway, we had a call this afternoon about the phrase “life enjoyment” (or in the Latinate terminology – usufruct). The Jersey Legal French term found in contracts is “usufruit” and this legal term has also found its way into Jèrriais (although, as one might expect, one may come across a more Jèrrified version of “usufrit” – frit = fruit). An alternative to usufrit is jouissance la vie duthant. Jèrriais also has the word usufruitchi to describe an usufructuary (the holder of an usufruct). The Dictionnaire Jersiais-Français records the ironic expression: il est usufruitchi d’sa veuve = he has invisible means of support (literally: he’s his widow’s usufructuary). One can assume that the Jèrrified form usufritchi might also exist.
The Jèrriais expression for “reversionary interest” is nue propriêté, presumably an adaptation from the Jersey Legal French expression.