Channel Island English

Channel Island English refers to Alderney English, Guernsey English and Jersey English and similar dialects of English found in the other Channel Islands.

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Alderney English is the variety of English spoken by some residents of Alderney. It is questionable whether this is a separate dialect: due to Alderney’s small size and high rate of immigration and emigration, particularly to/from nearby Guernsey and the UK, a high proportion of the population speaks the English of their place of origin, while many people who have been educated in Guernsey in their youth have acquired a way of speaking that is close to Guernsey English.

Thus Alderney English currently corresponds quite closely to standard English, with a tendency towards mild archaism due to the population demographic in which the over-50s are the largest group.

Its distinguishing feature is a small but significant number of loan words from Guernésiais (the variety of Norman spoken on the neighbouring island of Guernsey), Legal French (which was the language of legislation before the Second World War) and a very much smaller number of words that have come down from Auregnais (now a dead language. It is no longer certain whether there are any rememberers still alive.

An examples of a word used in Alderney that appears neither in standard English nor in Guernsey English is “Impôt” (meaning ‘rubbish tip/recycling centre’ and not ‘tax/imposition’ as elsewhere). In addition there is an idiosyncratic pronunciation of certain local surnames, “Dupont” as French pronunciation: [dipõ] and “Simon” as [symõ], rather than the standard Parisian pronunciation. Any remainder of the historic influence of Auregnais on Alderney English is very hard to discern, since Guernésiais and Auregnais differed only slightly.

Guernsey English is the dialect of English spoken in Guernsey, distinguished by having considerable influence from Guernésiais, the variety of Norman indigenous to Guernsey.

The dialect contains terms such as buncho (from Dgèrnésiais: bond d’tchu) for the English “somersault”; “it picks” instead of “it stings”, from the Guernsey equivalent of the French “il pique”; “chirry” for “goodbye”; and “Budlo Night” instead of Bonfire Night on 5 November.

Often Guernsey people will add the word “Eh” to the end of a sentence, inferring a general agreement that something is held to be true or correct. It can also be used in the context of asking a question or seeking reassurance that what was said is correct if it is believed to be a contentious issue.

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