Jersey Legal French

Jersey Legal French
Jersey Legal French
Français de Jersey
Spoken in Jersey
Native speakers 17,000  (date missing)
Language family
Official status
Language codes
ISO 639-3 fre
This official stone which marks the inauguration of a municipal office in 1999 bears the names of the Connétable and the Procureurs du Bien Public of Saint Helier.
Îles de la Manche (Channel Islands) used in a Jersey passport

Jersey Legal French, also known as Jersey French, is the official dialect of French used administratively in Jersey. Since the anglicisation of the island, it survives as a written language for some laws, contracts, and other documents. Jersey's parliament, the States of Jersey, is part of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie. The English language has been allowed in parliamentary debates since February 2, 1900; the current use of French in the parliament is generally restricted to formalities (prayers, ceremonies, formulæ).

Jersey's two official languages are French and English.

Jersey Legal French is not to be confused with Jèrriais, a variety of the Norman language also called Jersey Norman-French, spoken in the island.

The French of Jersey differs little from that of France. It is characterised by several terms particular to Jersey administration and a few expressions imported from Norman.


List of distinguishing features

It is notable that the autochthonous appellation of the archipelago is îles de la Manche (Channel Islands) — îles anglo-normandes (Anglo-Norman Islands) is a somewhat recent invention in continental French.

Like in Swiss French and Belgian French, the numbers 70 and 90 are septante and nonante, respectively, not soixante-dix and quatre-vingt-dix (compare the use of nénante for 90 in Jèrriais).

The names of days and months are usually written in capital letters.

Messire is used for the title of knighthood (continental French uses sir, often lower case ) - for example, the former Bailiff of Jersey, Sir Philip Bailhache is correctly addressed in French as Messire Philip Bailhache.


Jersey Legal French French English
barguin affaire bargain
chelin shilling shilling
en désastre en banqueroute bankrupt
impôts droits de régie customs and excise duties
principal contribuable du rât principal (ratepayer of a certain value)
quartier unité de valeur de propriété foncière quarter (unit of ratable value)
rât paroissial taxe foncière parish rate
taxe sur le revenu impôt sur le revenu income tax
taxer le rât voter la taxe foncière lors d'une Assemblée de paroisse set the rate (by vote at a Parish Assembly)


Jersey Legal French French English
bannelais road sweepings (used for fertiliser)
charrière passage between rocks used for vraicing (collecting seaweed for fertiliser)
fossé haie hedge
hèche barrière gate
heurif tôt early (e.g. potatoes)
vraic varech seaweed (used for fertiliser)


Jersey Legal French French English
mandataire voting representative of a ratepaying company
perquage chemin de sanctuaire (so-called) sanctuary path
Procureur du Bien Public elected attorney (legal and financial representative) of a Parish
rapporteur porte-parole spokesperson (of committee)
Visite du branchage inspection of roads
Visite Royale inspection of a Parish by the Royal Court
vingtaine administrative division of a Parish
Vingtenier Honorary Police officer
voyeur témoin assermenté sworn witness
Centenier senior Honorary Police officer
écrivain notaire solicitor
Connétable maire Constable (elected head of Parish)
Deputé-Bailli bailli adjoint Deputy Bailiff
Juré-Justicier juge (elected) judge
levée de corps enquête judiciaire inquest
lier à la paix relâcher sous condition bind over to keep the peace
loger au Greffe déposer (un projet de loi) lodge (table) a bill etc.

Real estate

Jersey Legal French French English
icelle borne ladite borne the said boundary stone
corps de bien fonds parcelle de bien-fonds Latin: corpus fundi
côtil steeply sloping field or other land
côtière côté d'un édifice où le mur n'est pas en pignon external wall of building other than gable end
becquet de terre champ de terre parcel of land
borne borne (établie) (established) boundary stone
bail à fin d'héritage vente (de propriété foncière) sale
bail à termage bail (de propriété foncière) lease
issues strip of land alongside road
lisière bande de terrain strip of land
pierre ou devise borne (à établir) boundary stone (newly established)
au pourportant de la même étendue co-extensive
relief strip of land on other side of wall or hedge

Influence of Jersey Legal French on Jersey English

Jersey English has imported a number of Jersey Legal French titles and terminology. Many of these, in turn, derive from Jèrriais. The following are examples likely to be encountered in daily life and in news reports in Jersey: rapporteur, en défaut (in default, i.e. late for a meeting), en désastre, au greffe, greffier (clerk to Court or the States), bâtonnier (lawyer in charge of Bar, particularly for legal aid), mandataire, autorisé (returning officer at elections, or other functions), projet (parliamentary bill), vraic, côtil, temps passé (time past), vin d'honneur (municipal or official reception), Centenier, Vingtenier, Chef de Police (senior Centenier), Ministre Desservant, branchage (pronounced in English as the Jèrriais cognate even though spelt in the French manner - trimming hedges and verges on property border; also used jocularly for a haircut), Seigneur (feudal lord of the manor).


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