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Sark children take part in own language

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A SPECIAL event happened at the Eisteddfod on Friday when a group from Sark took part in the Guernesiaise section for the first time.

Proud Sark School Pupils with the Dr David De Lisle Trophy after performing a song in the island’s own native language, Sercquais, in the Guernesiais section of the Eisteddfod. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 27465456)

Singing a traditional Sark folk song in the island’s own version of French, Sercquais or Sark Norman, 14 youngsters aged six to 13 entertained the audience and adjudicator at the Frossard Theatre.

The song turned out to be particularly appropriate given the current coronavirus scare. It was titled Man mari e ben malade, which translates as My husband is very sick.

The school’s knowledge of the local language came about thanks to the work of a student from the Czech Republic.

Martin Neudorfl, from Charles University in Prague, has been working with the children via Skype on the language as part of his PhD.

Sark School head teacher Dr Nicholas Roberts and three teachers and helpers accompanied the children to Guernsey for their one-off performance, after which they were each given a copy of the book The Gruffalo in Guernsey-French.

Adjudicator Pierre Tostevin also presented the group with the Dr David De Lisle Trophy, after they scored 87 marks.

‘How delightful it’s been to be here this afternoon,’ he said. ‘That was extremely well done.’

It was the second time the children had performed the song, and Zack Perree, 10, said they also sang it in the Island Hall. ‘I liked doing it,’ he said. ‘But it took a long time to learn how to say the words.’

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Roxanne Shuttleworth, 10, said she had also enjoyed taking part: ‘I get nervous sometimes.’

Roxanne said her grandpa could speak a bit of Sercquais, and Zack said his gran was a speaker, too.

Both children said they would like to learn more of the language and perhaps do another song.

. The adult Guernesiais classes which were due to be held today have been called off, but the committee hopes to find a new date later in the year.

The junior classes scheduled for next Monday at Forest School are still on at the moment, but participating schools will be consulted early this week.n The Guernesiaise adult classes take place at Shiloh main hall in the Vale on Monday 16 March, starting at 7pm. The children’s session is on Monday 23 March at Forest Primary School, starting at 4.30pm.

Mark Ogier

By Mark Ogier
News reporter

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