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‘If Guernesiais is to have a chance we need to fund it’

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A PLAN to provide £300,000 to help save the island’s language is still a step behind Jersey, but any step forwards is a step in the right direction, stalwarts of Guernesiais have said.

Geoff Mahy, executive officer of the Guernesiais section of the Eisteddfod, thinks that the planned spend of £300,000 to preserve the language is a step in the right direction. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 28418907)

Many are encouraged to hear about Education, Sport & Culture’s efforts to ensure the island’s own language does not end with them.

Guernseywoman and Durham University liberal arts alumni Kirsty Dempster studied endangered language regeneration in her dissertation research, with Guernesiais in mind. She said the support from ESC was exactly what the language needs.

‘All minority languages that have succeeded in being revived, such as Welsh, Breton and Manx, have all benefited from significant government backing both financially and through moral support,’ she said.

‘If Guernesiais is to stand any chance of survival, the proposed funds are essential to making this a reality.

‘£100,000 per year over three years is a huge increase on the current budget of £26,000 per year, so this is a fantastic step in the right direction.’

She added that although they would welcome more, it was an encouraging start.

‘The Guernsey Press reported in January that Jersey has a budget of £1.5m. for Jerriais and I think that more financial support would ensure the sustainability of efforts to preserve Guernesiais in the future, which is extremely important.However, the proposed grant is a really positive step to hopefully kick-start Guernesiais’ increased presence in the local community.’

Geoff Mahy, executive officer of the Guernesiais section of the Eisteddfod, agreed and said there was good potential for the money.

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‘I thinks it’s a very good step forward, but then any step to preserve our language is an important step,’ he said.

‘I still think we’re miles behind Jersey in terms of the millions that they have put towards Jerriais and it’s entirely dependent on what they plan to do with it, but it’s very positive.’

Guernsey Language consultant Jan Marquis also said he was delighted to hear about the plans for the additional yearly funding.

‘I along with many other people who continue to promote the language welcome the funding,’ he said.

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‘We’re grateful for any amount of funding, we’d always like more but this is definitely a significant amount of money for us.

‘So in principle it all sounds good and I eagerly await more details about how it will be used – I think as long as it’s spent wisely on effective language revitalisation, like what other smaller jurisdictions have done with keeping their language alive with the younger generation, then that’s a place to start.’

The ESC plan to provide £100,000 a year for the next three years will be put to the States.

It would see a re-formed Guernsey Language Commission, which would be an umbrella body to help the work of existing institutions and groups, with the grant funding also allowing for a full-time development officer to be appointed.

. The Guernsey Press publishes a Guernesiais phrase and English translation, provided by Mr Marquis, in the Opinion page every Thursday.

Danielle Kenneally

By Danielle Kenneally
News reporter

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