A WORK IN PROGRESS FEATURE LENGHT DOCUMENTARY PRODUCED BY AND IN COLLABORATION WITH L'OFFICE DU JÈRRIAIS IN JERSEY, CHANNEL ISLANDS
“When you lose a language, you lose a culture, intellectual wealth, a work of art. It's like dropping a bomb on a museum, the Louvre.”
Professor Ken Hale.
“There are few languages I know with such a richness of expression, some of her idioms are poetry…Jèrriais belongs to Jersey, and without it Jersey would, I believe, stop being Jersey.”
Professor Paul Birt
This is a documentary about a people; the people who spoke, and still speak, the Jèrriais language. This is their story; the story of an ancient language passed down through generations of native speakers, but, in recent times, perilously close to being lost.
This is also the story about the growing movement to revitalise that language; the story of all the people who care passionately about the importance of Jèrriais as a vital part of Jersey’s culture, heritage and identity.
Ultimately, this is a call to arms. A rallying cry to a new generation of enthusiasts, learners and speakers to take up the challenge to ensure our precious language can thrive again.
Language is a fundamental part of our identity, both as individuals and as a community. When a language is lost, we lose not only the words but a piece of ourselves. At a time when identity seems to have a greater significance than ever, a time when social cohesion has never seemed more fragile or more important, Jersey has an opportunity to use its indigenous language as a vehicle for enhancing islanders’ sense of belonging and well-being.
This documentary aims to create a greater awareness and understanding of the recent history of Jèrriais, whilst acting as a call to arms for Jersey folk to join the revitalisation movement and be part of something bigger than themselves, for the benefit of our island and future generations. In doing so, we might find that not only can we revitalise a language, but a language can revitalise us.
Viewers will see that the decline of Jèrriais was not an organic process. They will hear the stories of native speakers and how they were ridiculed or beaten for using their first language. They will learn that the demise of Jèrriais was not, and is not, inevitable.
We have a chance now to restore the respect for the language that had been lacking and to reinstate Jèrriais to its rightful place as a spoken language, transmitted across generations for the foreseeable future.