speakers=approx. 15, with several dozen more understanding it

_ro. Sercquiais also known as Sarkese or Sark-French ( _ro. Lé Sèrtchais) is the Norman dialect of the Channel Island of Sark. In the island it is sometimes known, slightly disparagingly, as the "patois", a French term meaning "regional language".

Sarkese is in fact a descendant of the 16th century Jèrriais used by the original colonists, 40 families mostly from Saint Ouen, Jersey,ref|colonists who settled the then uninhabited island, although influenced in the interim by Dgèrnésiais (Guernsey dialect). It is still spoken by older inhabitants of the island. Although the lexis is heavily anglicised, the phonology retains features lost in Jèrriais since the 16th century. Most of the local placenames are in Sarkese. In former times, there may have been two subdialects of Sercquais. []

It has suffered greatly in recent years due to a large influx of tax exiles from England who have moved to the island, as well as official neglect.

It is also closely related to the extinct Auregnais (Alderney) dialect, as well as Continental Norman.

Written Sercquiais

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. Dame Sibyl Hathaway, who was a speaker herself, claimed that it could "never be written down", and this myth has continued in the years since then.

The earliest published text in Sercquiais so far identified is the "Parable of the Sower" (" _ro. 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:

:" _ro. L'chen qui sème s'n allit s'mai ; Et tàndis qu' i s'maitt une partie d' la s'menche quitt le long du ch'mìnn et l's oesiaux du ciel vìndrint et i la màndgirent. Une aûtre quitt dans d's endréts roquieurs, où alle n'avait pas fort de terre; et ou l'vist ossivite, parçe que la terre où al' 'tait n'était pas ben avant. Mais l'solé se l'vitt et ou fut brulaie; et coumme ou n'avait pas d'rachinnes, ou s'quitt. Une aûtre quitt dans d's épinnes, et l's épinnes vìndrent à craitre, et l'etoupidrent. Une aûtre enfin quitt dans d'bouanne terre, et ou portit du fritt; quiq' grâins rèndirent chent pour un, d'aûtres sessànte, et d'aûtres trente. L'chen qu'a d's oureilles pour ouit qu' il ouêt." ("S. Makyu. Chap. XIII. 3-9")

:"("A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop — a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear." Gospel of St Matthew, NIV)"


:(Note: Sercquiais not possessing a standard orthography, examples are given according to Liddicoat's "Lexicon of Sark Norman French", Munich 2001)

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.

Gemination occurs regularly in verb conjugations and gerunds, as in Jèrriais but in distinction to Dgèrnésiais.

ee also

*Norman language


*cite book |title=A Grammar of the Norman French of the Channel Islands: The Dialects of Jersey and Sark |last=Liddicoat |first=Anthony J. |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1994 |publisher=Mounton de Gruyter |location=Berlin |isbn=3110126311 |pages=
*cite book |title=Lexicon of Sark Norman French |last=Liddicoat |first=Anthony J. |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=2001 |publisher=LINCOM Europa |location=Munich |isbn=3895864110 |pages=
* [ Société Jersiaise]

External links

* [ Lé Sèrtchais (including comparative glossary)]
* [ Jèrriais and Sercquiais today] by Dr Mari C. Jones - from the BBC

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