Guernsey is an island in the English Channel. While geographically closer to Normandy and Brittany in France, it is a British Crown dependency (but does not belong to the United Kingdom). The long and tumultuous history between France and England since the Middle Ages shaped the Guernésiais language, a variant of Normand French with strong influences of Old Norse and English.
Josephine Dowding works for the Guernsey Language Commission, which is for the time being part of the Guernsey Museums. While there is no full time staff dedicated to the revitalization of the Guernésiais language, she works on the language as part of her role at the Museum and tweets for the Language Commission at @languagegg. She created several memes for the 2018 Mother Language Meme Challenge and answered Rising Voices's questions.
Rising Voices (RV): What is the current state of your language both offline and on the internet?
Online, there is an app which was launched last year and is growing organically. To access it, first download the Digital Greenhouse Guernsey App and then go to the WARRO! Section. Offline, we organize get togethers for people wishing to learn the language – and also lessons. I predict that there are currently under 100 people who would consider themselves ‘learners’ of the language worldwide.
RV: Why did you decide to participate in the Mother Language Meme Challenge?
We’re always interested in ways to raise the profile of the language – and which are effectively free of charge. It can be isolating working on minority languages but these kind of initiatives make you realize that you’re not alone, but part of a big friendly family of tiny languages around the world.
RV: Who would you like to challenge to create a meme in this language?
Umm… Barack Obama?? That would be pretty cool.
Find more memes from the Mother Language Meme Challenge in a variety of global languages by checking out the #MemeML hashtag on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. There is also a Facebook group for the Challenge with contributions from all across the world.