The number of people who understand some Jèrriais turns out to be far higher than previously suspected. The results of the 2012 Jersey Annual Social Survey have revealed that more than a third of Jersey residents can recognise some common words or phrases spoken or written in Jèrriais – earlier estimates had been that only about 15% would have some understanding of the language, so these latest figures represent a real boost for Jèrriais supporters. It’s all the more encouraging that 32% of islanders said that they are able to understand some spoken and written Jèrriais when just 48% of people are born here in Jersey.
We had expected a low number of writers of Jèrriais as nobody had been taught to write the language in Island schools until the launch of the teaching programme by L’Office du Jèrriais in 1999. Even so, a creditable 4% reported that they can write some common words and phrases. It is clearly desirable to increase the number of Jèrriais writers in order to serve the much higher proportion of readers!
While less than one person in a hundred claims to be a fully fluent speaker of Jèrriais, more than one in eight (13%) can speak some common words and phrases – once again, a far higher proportion than was previously estimated. Unsurprisingly, there are far more residents in the upper age-groups able to speak Jèrriais fluently – around 3% of those over 65 years old, and another 4% of these are able to speak a lot of Jèrriais.
What all this means is that if you are a Jèrriais speaker, there is a better chance that you will be understood if you use the language than you might have thought! Businesses can also be assured that using Jèrriais in branding will find a ready and receptive audience.