Language

La Société has an Audio Archive with important resources for the study of Sark French – Sertchais, Sercquiaise,  ‘Sark patois’, or Sarkese. There are about eight hours of conversations recorded in Sark in 1976 by Peter Anderson, in addition to the songs and stories recorded for the BBC in 1938 and 1957.
Our collection includes some short specialist studies, as well as dictionaries of Guernésiaise and Jersiaise.
Specialists working on the language include Dr Mari Jones, Peterhouse, Cambridge; Dr Julia Sallabank, Project for Endangered Languages, SOAS, London; Professor Henry Johnson, University of Otago, New Zealand.
La Société has plans for a project on Place Names of Sark.

The Parable of the Sower in Serchais (Sarkese)

S. MAKYU (St Matthew)
Chap.XIII
     L’chen qui sème s’n allit s’mai;
4   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.
5   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.
6   Mais l’solé se l’vitt et ou fut brulaie; et coumme ou n’avait pas d’rachinnes, ou s’quitt.
7   Une aûtre quitt dans d’s épinnes, et l’s épinnes vindrent à craitre, et l’etoupidrent.
8   Une aûtre enfìn quitt dans d’bouanne terre, et ou portit du fritt; quiq’ grâins rèndirent chent pour un, d’aûtres sessante, et d’aûtres trente.
9   L’chen qu’a d’s oureilles pour ouit qu’ il ouêt.

The Sark version owes its origin to the investigations of the distinguished philologist H.I.H. Prince Louis Lucien Bonaparte in 1862; it was the first specimen of Sarkese ever printed. The Prince was visiting Guernsey to confer with George Métivier about the island ‘dialects’. He went over to Sark, accompanied by HM Sheriff, Stephen Martin.
 A group of Sark fishermen recited to him a local version of the Sower, which he copied into Mr Martin’s notebook, representing the spoken sounds phonetically, as nearly as possible. Métivier pubished the text in the Guille-Allès Library Series, edited by John Linwood Pitts.

 ‘Man bouonhomme est bein malade’

1  Man mari est bein malade                                     Husband of mine he’s very ill
    Et je n’sais pas qu’est-ce qu’il a                            I don’t know what it is he has

2  Je m’en fus-t-en Guer-ne-sie                                 I went off to Guern-e-sey
    De Lundi au Mercredi                                            Monday until Wednesday

3  Mais quand j’ervins il ‘tait mort                            When I got back I found dead
    Et encore ensev-eli                                                 Already sewn up in a shroud

4  Je happis mes p’tites ciselettes                               I took my little scissors
    Point à point je l’décousis                                       Bit by bit I unstitched him

5  Mais quand j’appraichis p’tite gorgette                  When I reached the little throat
   Je craignais qui n’me mordisse                                I was scared that he would bite me  

6  Je l’happis par le gros orté                                       I took him up by the big toe
    Je l’env’yis avaû l’coti                                             And threw him down the cliff

7  Je priyis tous les corbins                                          I cried to all the crows
    De v’ni prier auprés d’li                                           To gather round and pray for him