New life for old language


14 October 2022
Jerriais, the traditional language of Jersey, is being celebrated on a new set of stamps from Jersey Post

The Jerriais set of six stamps, which are illustrated by local artist Ron Mills, feature Jerriais words and phrases relating to the natural environment. each stamp shows a geographical or topographical feature of Jersey, a word or phrase in Jerriais and its definition and phonetic spelling. 

Jerriais, which is the traditional dialect of Jersey, is a form of the Norman language, and has had a large part to play in shaping the island’s culture and heritage. Although few people speak it today, it was used by most of Jersey’s population up to the 20th century.

This year marked the beginning of UNESCO’s International Decade of Indigenous Languages, which has the mission of drawing attention to the precarious situation of many of the world’s indigenous languages, and encouraging their preservation, revitalisation and promotion.

Stamp artist Ron Mills responded to the brief with images that fuse lettering and illustration. 

‘The design brief requested the use of typography to illustrate the meaning of the Jersey-French words and phrases,’ he said. ‘As a result, each of the stamp artworks features bespoke hand-drawn lettering and a description which fits with the style and shape of the background illustration. To go with the hand-drawn style, I decided to give the backgrounds a torn paper look. I then added some 3D elements on top to create the illusion of depth.’

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In addition to the six-stamp set, there is a miniature sheet available which features an illustration of Jersey’s iconic lighthouse La Corbière – in Jérriais ‘Corbiéthe’ – which translates as ‘place where crows congregate’.


Issue date: 6 September