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French Around the Globe: Guernsey French

Guernsey gained some popularity in recent years with the film The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018) and the novel upon which that film is based. Prior to this film, you may not have heard of this small island off the French coast in the English Channel but it has quite an interesting history. First off, Guernsey French was the official language until 1948, when it switched to English. The Guernsey language is unique due to its insular island origins, but stems back to the Norman era. Second, this is due to Guernsey’s experience of occupation in World War Two.

Ready to learn more about this fascinating island country? Read on!

The Basics of Guernsey

Guernsey is part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, which is a British Crown Dependency, meaning that the island uses the Guernsey Pound (the British Pound). Prior to 1921, however, the island mainly used the older French currency, the franc. The other islands in the Bailiwick are Alderney, Herm, Jethou, and Sark. The population of Guernsey is approximately 62,800 people and its capital is St. Peter Port.

The Languages of Guernsey

Because Guernsey is a Crown Dependency, its first official language is English, which is used by a majority of the inhabitants. English is also used in judicial, governmental, and official settings. However, its proximity to France (just 48 km west of Normandy) also means that a portion of residents are native speakers of a dialect of Norman French, or Guernsey French, also called Guernésiais. Moreover, English has