Jersey officials warning over native language

Jersey Jerriais was once commonly spoken across the island

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The number of people speaking Jersey's native language is rapidly declining, according to the Jerriais office.

Officials claim that over the past decade the total of users of the tongue has more than halved to about 1,000.

They say the language, Jerriais, is slowly dying with the native speakers, who are not passing it on.

Dr Mari Jones, a language expert from the University of Cambridge, said efforts to preserve the language are encouraging.

Speaking at a culture conference in the island, Dr Jones said it should be taught to primary school children or it would die out.

She said: "There is everything to be gained and nothing to be lost at bringing in Jerriais at this earlier age.

"What people don't realise is that they are probably speaking Jerriais without realising it. I have spoken English all my life but when I first came to Jersey there were words in everyday use that I didn't understand.

"It is part of your culture, once it is gone it will be gone forever. The Norman French of Alderney is gone forever, you are lucky to have this language and I think it should be treasured."

According to a social survey, about one third of the island's population understand some of the language, but fewer than 1,000 people speak it natively.

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