Native to Guernsey
Native speakers
200 (2014)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 nrf (incl. Jèrriais)
Glottolog dger1238[2]
Linguasphere 51-AAA-hc

Guernésiais, also known as Dgèrnésiais, Guernsey French, and Guernsey Norman French, is the variety of the Norman language spoken in Guernsey. It is sometimes known on the island simply as "patois". As one of the langues d'oïl it has its roots in Latin, but has had strong influence from both Old Norse and English at different points in its history.

There is mutual intelligibility (with some difficulty) with Jèrriais speakers from Jersey and Continental Norman speakers from Normandy. Guernésiais most closely resembles the Norman dialect of Cotentinais spoken at la Hague in the Cotentin Peninsula.

Guernésiais has been influenced less by Standard French than Jèrriais, but conversely has been influenced to a greater extent by English. New words have been imported for modern phenomena "le bike", "le gas-cooker".

There is a rich tradition of poetry in the Guernsey language. Guernsey songs were inspired by the sea, by colourful figures of speech, by traditional folk-lore, as well as by the natural beauty of the island. The island's greatest poet was George Métivier (1790–1881), a contemporary of Victor Hugo, who influenced and inspired local poets to print and publish their traditional poetry. Métivier blended local place-names, bird and animal names, traditional sayings and orally transmitted fragments of medieval poetry to create his Rimes Guernesiaises (1831). Denys Corbet (1826–1910) was considered the "Last Poet" of Guernsey French and published many poems in his day in his native tongue in the island newspaper and privately.

Wrote Métivier, Que l'lingo seit bouan ou mauvais / J'pâlron coum'nou pâlait autefais (whether the “lingo” be good or bad, I’m going to speak as we used to speak).

The most recent dictionary of Guernésiais, Dictiounnaire Angllais-guernesiais. Société guernesiaise. 1967.  (revised edition published 1982), was written by Marie de Garis (1910–2010). In 1999 De Garis was appointed to the Order of the British Empire for her work.

Current status

Dgèrnésiais tops this list of welcome messages at Guernsey's tourism office in Saint Peter Port

The 2001 census showed that 1327 (1262 Guernsey-born) or 2% of the population speak the language fluently while 3% fully understand the language. However most of these, 70% or 934 of the 1327 fluent speakers are over 64. Among the young only 0.1% or one in a thousand are fluent speakers. However, 14% of the population claim some understanding of the language.

There is little broadcasting in the language, with ITV Channel Television more or less ignoring the language, and only the occasional short feature on BBC Radio Guernsey, usually for learners.

The creation of a Guernsey Language Commission was announced on 7 February 2013[5] as an initiative by government to preserve the linguistic culture. The Commission has operated since Liberation Day, 9 May 2013.


T H Mahy, author of Dires et Pensées du Courtil Poussin


Metathesis of /r/ is common in Guernésiais, by comparison with Sercquiais and Jèrriais.

Guernésiais Sercquiais Jèrriais French English

Other examples are pourmenade (promenade), persentaïr (present), terpid (tripod).


aver - have (auxiliary verb)

present preterite imperfect future conditional
j'ai j'aëus j'avais j'érai j'érais
t'as t'aëus t'avais t'éras t'érais
il a il aëut il avait il éra il érait
all' a all' aeut all' avait all' éra all' érait
j'avaöns j'eûnmes j'avaëmes j'éraöns j'éraëmes
vous avaïz vous aeutes vous avaites vous éraïz vous éraites
il aönt il aëurent il avaient il éraönt il éraient

oimaïr - to love (regular conjugation)

present preterite imperfect future conditional
j'oime j'oimis j'oimais j'oim'rai j' oim'rais
t'oimes t'oimis t'oimais t'oim'ras t'oim'rais
il oime il oimit il oimait il oim'ra il oim'rait
all' oime all' oimit all' oimait all' oim'ra all' oim'rait
j'oimaöns j'oimaëmes j'oimaëmes j'oim'rons j' oim'raëmes
vous oimaïz vous oimites vous oimaites vous oim'raïz vous oim'raites
il' oiment il' oimirent il' oimaient il' oim'raönt il' oim'raient


"Learn Guernésiais with the BBC
BBC Guernsey
Your voice in the Islands"
English French
Quaï temps qu’i fait? What's the weather like? Quel temps fait-il ?
I' fait caoud ogniet It's warm today Il fait chaud aujourd'hui
Tchi qu’est vote naom? What's your name? Formal: Comment vous appellez-vous?
Colloquial: Comment t'appelles-tu? / Comment tu t'appelles?
Quel est votre nom?
Coume tchi que l’affaire va?
(kum chik la-fehr va)
How are you?
Lit. How's business going?
Comment vont les affaires ?
Quaï heure qu'il est? What's the time? Quelle heure est-il ?
À la perchoine
(a la per-shoy-n)
See you next time Au revoir
À la prochaine
Mercie bian Thank you very much Merci beaucoup
Coll: Merci bien
chén-chin this ceci
ch'techin this one celui-ci
Lâtchiz-mé Leave me Laissez-moi


  1. Guernésiais at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Dgernesiais". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. 1 2 "Learn Guernsey's language in a lunch break". IFC - Guernsey. 2013-10-11. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
  4. "Guernesiais promoter starts work". BBC. 29 December 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  5. "Language commission to be formed". Guernsey Press. 8 February 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  6. The Guernsey Norman French Translations of Thomas Martin: A Linguistic Study of an Unpublished Archive, Mari C. Jones, Leuven 2008, ISBN 978-90-429-2113-9
  7. P'tites Lures Guernésiaises, edited Hazel Tomlinson, Jersey 2006, ISBN 1-903341-47-7

See also


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Guernésiais.
Norman language (including Guernésiais) edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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