|sercquiais, lé sèrtchais|
Sercquiais (French pronunciation: [sɛʁkjɛ]) , also known as lé Sèrtchais, Sarkese or Sark-French, is the Norman dialect of the Channel Island of Sark (Bailiwick of Guernsey).
Sercquiais is a descendant of the 16th century Jèrriais used by the original colonists, 40 families mostly from Saint Ouen, Jersey who settled the then uninhabited island, although influenced in the interim by Guernésiais (the dialect of Guernsey). It is also closely related to the now-extinct Auregnais (Alderney) dialect, as well as to Continental Norman. It is still spoken by older inhabitants of the island and most of the local placenames are in Sercquiais.
In former times, there may have been two subdialects of Sercquiais, but today the dialect is relatively homogeneous. The phonology of the language retains features lost in Jèrriais since the 16th century.
Relatively little Sercquiais has been transcribed, and as there is no widely accepted form, it has received a certain amount of stigma as a result. A notable ruler of Sark, Sibyl Hathaway, who was a speaker herself, proclaimed that it could "never be written down", and this perception has continued in the years since.
The earliest published text in Sercquiais so far identified is the Parable of the Sower (Parabol du smeaux) from the Gospel of Matthew. Prince Louis Lucien Bonaparte, linguist, visited the Channel Islands in September 1862 in order to transcribe samples of the insular language varieties, which he subsequently published in 1863:
Which in the NIV is translated as:
By the year 2022 there are 3 native speakers. Czech linguist Martin Neudörfl is trying to preserve the language by encouraging children and teaching them Sarkese. Since 2019 the language has been taught in schools.
Sercquiais does not have the voiced dental fricative which is such a distinctive characteristic of St. Ouen in Jersey where most of the colonists came from.
|fere||féther||to iron||repasser (ferrer: to clad in iron)|
Palatalisation of velars /k/ and /ɡ/ (see Joret line) is less fully developed in Sercquiais than in Jèrriais. Palatalisation in Jèrriais of /k/ to [tʃ] and /ɡ/ to [dʒ] has the equivalent in Sercquiais of /kj/ and /ɡj/. For example, hiccup is hitchet in Jèrriais and hekyet in Sercquiais; war is respectively dgèrre and gyer.
Palatalisation of /tj/ in Jèrriais leads to [tʃ], but in Sercquiais /t/ is generally retained: profession, trade in Sercquiais is meeti, whereas Jèrriais has palatalised to mêtchi.
[dʒ] is retained in Sercquiais where Jèrriais has reduced to [ʒ], as in to eat: mãdji (Sercquiais) – mangi (Jèrriais).
Final consonants of masculine nouns in the singular are in free variation with null in all positions except in liaison. Final consonants are usually pronounced at ends of phrases. Final consonants are always lost in plural forms of masculine nouns. A cat may therefore be kat or ka in Sercquiais, but cats are kaa. For comparison, Jèrriais cat is usually pronounced /ka/, and the plural has the long vowel as in Sercquiais. It can also therefore be seen that length is phonemic and may denote plurality.
Sercquiais has also retained final consonants that have been entirely lost in Jèrriais, such as final /t/ in pret (meadow – pré in Jèrriais as in French).
Metathesis of /r/ is uncommon in Sercquiais, and in Jèrriais, by comparison with Guernésiais.
The palatalised l, which in Jèrriais has been generally palatalised to /j/ in initial position and following a consonant, is maintained in Sercquiais.
(li representing /j/)
|blyakyĩ||bliatchîn||shoe polish (blacking)|
Gemination occurs regularly in verb conjugations and gerunds, as in Jèrriais but in distinction to Guernésiais.
|dje dmãdde||jé d'mand'dai||je d'mànd'rai||I'll ask|
However, Sercquiais does not geminate palatal fricatives, unlike Jèrriais:
In the second half of the 19th century the language changed considerably. We can observe this in the 40 idiolects that can be heard today. An important part of the language is the usage of diphthongs, which affects the pronunciation. It is unclear how words are pronounced because there are many possible ways to pronounce them depending on where they are in the phrase. It is important to codify the language since not even the native speakers follow all the rules.
The St. Ouennais origins of Sercquiais can be seen in the 2nd and 3rd person plural forms of the preterite. Sercquiais uses an ending -dr which is typical of the St. Ouennais dialect of Jèrriais, but generally not used elsewhere in Jersey (nor nowadays by younger speakers in St. Ouen).
|i vuliidr||i' voulîdrent||i' voulîtent||they wanted|
|uu paaliidr||ou pâlîdres||ou pâlîtes||you spoke|
|i füüdr||i' fûdrent||i' fûtent||they were|
|uu prẽẽdr||ou prîndres||ou prîntes||you took|
Type: language Subtag: nrf Description: Jèrriais Description: Guernésiais Description: Sercquiais Added: 2015-02-12 / Type: region Subtag: CQ Description: Sark Added: 2023-02-07