extinct=by mid-20th century (some rememberers)

Auregnais, Aoeur'gnaeux or Aurignais was the Norman dialect of the Channel Island of Alderney (French: "Aurigny", Auregnais: "Aoeur'gny/Auregny").

Very little Auregnais survives in written form. It was closely related to the Guernésiais (Guernsey), Jèrriais (Jersey), Sercquiais (Sark) dialects of the neighbouring islands, as well as Continental Norman on the European mainland.

One reason for the demise of the language was movement of the population. In particular, the influx of labourers from the United Kingdom employed by the British Government in the construction of the abortive harbour project and other fortifications, as well as the stationing of a sizable British garrison among the small population, served to relegate Auregnais to a lesser status for communication. It is thought that the evacuation of nearly all indigenous Aurignais to the British mainland during World War II (the island was occupied by the Germans, and heavily fortified) was a major factor in the final loss of the spoken language. The language suffered greatly in later years due to a large influx of tax "exiles" from England who have moved to the island, as Alderney is a tax haven.

Another reason for the language's demise was official neglect, especially in the education sector where it was not taught at all. This led to a situation in which, as was noted by the Guernsey newspaper "Le Bailliage" in 1880, children had ceased to speak the language among themselves.

Along with the decline in Auregnais went the decline in the use of French. French ceased to be an official language in 1966 in Alderney. It should be noted that the official French used in the Channel Islands differs slightly from Metropolitan French and greatly from the vernacular Norman.

Examples and modern traces

The following is the Norman language wikipedia article on Auregnais. It is written in the language:

:"L' Aoeur'gnaeux (âorgnais) 'tait la vieule laoungue Nourmaounde d'Aoeur'gny. Ch'té laoungue n'eüst pu. Les draïns craîgnouns à prêchyi en Aoeur'gnaeux, ch'tait d'vaount la prémyire dgeurre, et oupreû la draïne dgeurre, persounne tchi sount arvénuns en Aoeur'gny n'prêchaeiunt daouns leus viar laoungadge."

:(Auregnais was the old Norman language of Alderney. That language is no longer. The last children to speak Auregnais were prior to World War I and no one has spoken it since World War II.)

Although extinct, traces of the language still exist in many, if not most, local placenames. Many of these have been gallicised, but some notable examples include Ortac (Or'tac), Burhou (with the "-hou" suffix) and the first element of the name ""Braye" Harbour".

One or two words linger on in the local English, e.g. "vraic" (seaweed fertiliser - a word common throughout the Channel Islands), and the pronunciation of certain local surnames, e.g. Dupont and Simon as IPA2|dipõ and IPA| [symõ] rather than the standard Parisian pronunciation. A few older people can still remember it being spoken, and know a word or two.

Les Casquets

Unusually, for such a small dialect, Auregnais had a "colony" of speakers out on Les Casquets for a number of years. Swinburne based his poem "Les Casquets" is based on the Houguez family who actually lived on the islands for 18 years. The Houguez family came from Alderney, and the evidence points to them being Auregnais speakers - in fact the daughter married a man from Alderney. During this time, they were isolated and would have had few visitors, but would have spoken Auregnais most of the time, perhaps in their own idiosyncratic way.

External links

* [ L'Aur'gnais]


* Le Maistre, F., "The Language of Auregny" (1982)

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