Thursday, 16 February 2012

Numbers in Jèrriais

Here's a basic explanation of numbers we've put together this week:

Numbers in Jèrriais can be a little tricky if you're not used to them because different forms are used in different contexts (and there's also some difference in pronunciation in different dialects, and some alternative versions just to add to the richness and variety of numbers).

The first thing to get clear is that some numbers change depending on whether they stand alone or are used attributively, that is if they are used in combination with another word.

Numbers for counting

When we count, we count in the feminine (so all numbers ending in a 1 take the feminine ieune)

Counting up to ten is said (although not necessarily written) like this:
ieune, deux, trais, quat', chîn, six, sé, hui, neu, dgix

and, for example, counting from 20 will go like this:
vîngt-tch'ieune, vîngt-deux, vîngt-trais....

Standalone numbers

Numbers 1-10 on their own go like this:

iun/ieune, deux, trais, quat'/quatre, chîn/chînq, six, sept, huit, neuf, dgix

iun is the masculine form; ieune is the feminine form

  • iun à iun = one to one
  • ch'est tout iun = it's all the same
  • tout est neunmétho iun = everything's OK
  • iun dans l'aut' = in general
  • ch'tait iun sus l'aut' = it was overcrowded
  • iun et iun font deux = one and one make two
  • iun d'ches jours = one of these days
  • iun d'ches quat' matîns = one of these fine days
  • y'en a iun à haut = there's one (m) upstairs
  • y'en a ieune dans l'armouaithe = there's one (f) in the cupboard
  • j'en ai raîque ieune = I've only got one (f) of them
  • n'en v'chîn iun = here's one (m)
  • n'en v'lo ieune dans la tithette = there's one (f) in the drawer

Use of quat'/quatre and chîn/chînq is a matter of preference and, one supposes, register.

In six and dgix, the x is silent - these standalone forms do not occur in positions where liaison may take place.

Numbers in combination

Some numbers require different forms if they are used in conjunction with other words - sometimes with other numbers, sometimes if you want to talk about a number of things rather than just a standalone number.


un/eune are the forms to use to refer to one thing or a thing. These forms are both the indefinite article and the numeral of unity

un is used with masculines; eune is used with feminines

  • un Jèrriais = a Jerseyman, one Jerseyman
  • eune Jèrriaise = a Jerseywoman, one Jerseywoman
  • eune heuthe = an hour, one hour, one o'clock
  • eune fais = one time, once
  • un co = one time, once
  • un bouais = a tree, one tree
  • eune vaque = a cow, one cow

Note that compounds such as 21 go like this:
vîngt-tch'ieune fais = 21 times; vîngt-tch'iun ans = 21 years, or vîngt-tch'iuns louis = £21 (plural forms ieunes or iuns may be used)


This is not a strict rule, but quat' tends to be used in combination when followed by a consonant: quat' fais = 4 times, quat' chents = 400, quat' millions = 4000000; and quatre when followed by a vowel: quatre heuthes = 4 hours, 4 o'clock, quatre appartènements = 4 rooms. Note un quat'-mâts = a four-master, un quat'-quat' = a 4 wheel drive vehicle

quatre may be pronounced as quatré when followed by a consonant or consonant cluster - particularly in the numeral quatré-vîngts

The form quat's may be used when followed by a vowel, creating a liaison with -s-

Compound numbers such as 24, 34, 44 follow the same patterns.


chîn is used in combination when followed by a consonant: chîn louis = £5, chîn pénîns = 5p, chîn mais = 5 months, chîn mousses = 5 children, chîn femmes = 5 women, chîn hardelles = 5 girls, chîn hardgieaux = 5 lads, chîn chents = 500, chîn mille = 5000. Note also un chîn-carres = a pentagon

chînq is the most common form used in combination when followed by a back vowel: chînq ans = 5 years, chînq hoummes = 5 men (in this word h is silent), chînq ôtis = 5 tools

chîntch' is the most common form used in combination when followed by a front vowel: chîntch' heuthes = 5 hours, 5 o'clock (in this word h is silent), chîntch' êléphants = 5 elephants, chîntch' ûros = €5, chîntch' engîns = 5 engins, chîntch' Îndgiens = 5 Indians

However, chîn-s is a form that may be used in combination when followed by a vowel (with liaison in -z-, or in the Saint Ouënnais dialect, in -ð-): chîn-s hoummes = 5 men, chîn-s ouothilièrs = 5 pillows, chîn-s ouaîsieaux = 5 birds, chîn-s ailes = 5 wings, chîn-s églyises = 5 churches

Compound numbers such as 25, 35, 45 follow the same patterns.


siêx is used in combination: siêx vaituthes = 6 cars, siêx grandes boêtes = 6 large boxes, siêx heuthes = 6 hours, 6 o'clock, siêx louis = £6, siêx mais = 6 months, siêx chents = 600, siêx mille = 6000. Note also un siêx-carres = a hexagon

When preceding a vowel a liaison with -z- is pronounced.

siêx aîtres = 6 cells, siêx anmîns = 6 friends

Compound numbers such as 26, 36, 46 follow the same patterns.


neu is used in combination when followed by a consonant: neu neunméthos = 9 numbers, neu jours = 9 days, neu neu n'veurs = 9 new nephews

neuf is used in combination when followed by a vowel, creating a liaison with -v- : neuf ans = 9 years, neuf heuthes = 9 hours, 9 o'clock, neuf êtailes = 9 stars

Compound numbers such as 19, 29, 39 follow the same pattern.


10 follows the same pattern as 6

dgiêx is used in combination: dgiêx louis = £10, dgiêx pénîns = 10p, dgiêx ûros = €10, dgiêx dollars = $10, dgiêx dés = 10 fingers, dgiêx ortés = 10 toes, dgiêx mille = 10000

When preceding a vowel a liaison with -z- is pronounced.
dgiêx anmîns = 10 friends, dgiêx aut' extchûthes = another 10 excuses

Compound numbers such as 110, 10110 follow the same pattern.

In combination with 7,8, and 9, the numbers 17, 18 and 19 are formed: dgiêx-sept = 17, dgiêx-huit = 18, dgiêx-neuf = 19. In these compounds the x is pronounced as -z-, and the stress is on the dgiêx.


Both quatre-vîngts and huiptante are in use (quatre-vîngts - also pronounced quatré-vîngts - has, under the influence of French, displaced huiptante for many speakers). The historic form octante has fallen out of use.

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