Guernseyman Thomas Martin translated the scriptures into Guernsesiais more than a century ago, along with more than 100 plays by the bard and by French playwrights such as Moliere and Voltaire.
His work – handwritten into 295 school exercise books – has never been published. However, Professor Mari Jones published a linguistic study of his work in 2008 and has recently penned a foreword to a forthcoming publication of Martin’s translation of Romeo & Juliette.
‘Martin’s work coincided with a growing understanding of Guernsey starting to lose its culture,’ she said.
‘It was a time of new Regency housing emerging in St Peter Port and Guy Fawkes night replacing budloe night and this process prompted a response which included the work of people like Frederick Corbin Lukis, who wanted to show people the unique history that Guernsey had.’
In studying his Bible translation, she noted the evolution of Martin’s spelling system.
‘He starts off very French influenced, but by Exodus it’s changed,’ she said.
A professor of French Linguistics and Language Change at Porterhouse College, Cambridge, Professor Jones will also give talks on related subjects during her stay in the Bailiwick.
Last night she gave a talk in Sark about traditional Sercquais sayings.
Her illustrated talk on Martin’s work is to be held at the Priaulx Library at 7pm tonight, with all proceeds going to the library.
. Tickets are priced at £6.13 and are available through Eventbrite. Parking is by arrangement.