Monday 11 October 2021


 Some notes on the usage of the tréma diacritic (2 dots over a vowel) in Jèrriais



Use of the tréma in placenames seems to follow no logical pattern and seems governed by historical precedent


  • Ouën
  • Rouën
  • Caën



aï = /aɪ/


As in Guernésiais this represents a diphthong. Dictionary examples are nearly all in borrowed words, except for a couple of Eastern pronunciations reflected in spelling


  • baïette
  • baïonnette
  • capsaïzer
  • haï
  • haïjatchi
  • Jamaïtchain
  • Laïesse
  • ouaïeurer
  • païen
  • scaïte
  • suaïse
  • Thaïlandais



dividing vowel sequences


The usage of the tréma in French is to separate vowels so that they are read as separate sounds rather than, say, diphthongs. This has also been adopted in Jèrriais, but the usage can be ambiguous (cf haï)


  • astéroïdes
  • bouët
  • bouët-bouteux
  • brüéthe
  • coïncidence
  • cruëthe / crüéthe
  • frouët
  • haï
  • haïssabl'ye
  • îndgouï
  • Israël
  • maïs
  • Moïse
  • oëtte
  • pataöuarre
  • Pithouët



influence of French on spelling


This is a completely unnecessary tréma as it's on a silent e, and does not help differentiate any potential ambiguity (dgu is always to be read as /dgy/). It is influenced by French where until the spelling reforms of 1990 it was obligatory to put a tréma on the silent e of the feminine of aigu to differentiate gu=/g/ v. gu=/gy/


  • aidguë



differentiating spelling


Rather like a/à, this is a purely orthographic convention, in this case to differentiate oui=yes from hearing-related lexis


  • ouï
  • ouïes 




Checking with speakers, the ending is pronounced /we/, and it appears that the tréma has been applied by analogy with Pithouët, frouët etc


  • minnahouët


No comments: