The Linguist

The Linguist 55,4

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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20 The Linguist Vol/55 No/4 2016 FEATURES CHANNEL HOPPING (Clockwise from top left): The Royal Courts in St Heliers; welcome signs in St Peter Port; and at Jersey airport in English and Jèrriais; a Guernsey postbox; the Jersey Magistrate's Court; and a map pinpointing the islands Interpreter Sue Leschen finds that the legal systems of Guernsey and Jersey are a law unto themselves J ersey is the largest of the Channel Islands and, just like the second largest island, Guernsey, it is a British Crown Dependency and does not form part of either the UK or the EU. Both islands are self-governing democracies with their own financial, legal and judicial systems. For example, Guernsey has its own stamps and its pillar boxes are painted blue, whereas the website refers to approximately 1,226 laws, with around 180 new laws added every year. The Channel Islands include the separate jurisdictions of several islets, including Alderney and Sark. In 2015, I had interpreting jobs in St Helier, the capital of Jersey, and in Guernsey's windswept capital, St Peter Port. It was the first time I had worked in the archipelago, which lies in the Channel close to the Normandy coast. The islands are the last remnant of the former Duchy of Normandy (formally the Duchy of Brittany). Not surprisingly, there is still a strong French influence. In Guernsey, I stayed at Moore's Hotel, which used to be the home of one of Guernsey's oldest Norman French families, the De Saumarez family. Victor Hugo lived in exile at the nearby Maison de Hauteville for 15 years after being banished from France following Napoleon Bonaparte's 1851 coup d'état. Guernsey's official language is English, although prior to 1948 it was French. English and French are Jersey's official languages, with English being the dominant language. Most of the road signs on Jersey are in English but with French, and even Jèrriais, subtitles. These days, Jèrriais, which derives from the old Norman French, is spoken by less than 5% of the population. However, Jersey French (français de jersey), which is not very different from the French of France, is used in 'The States' (i.e the parliaments of both Jersey and Guernsey) for formalities such as prayers and ceremonies. It is also used administratively by the Jersey government in many legal documents and laws. Jersey law firms advertise the services of both English and French (property) lawyers. However, the largest ethnic group in Jersey now (after native Jersey and British expats) is the Portuguese, who mainly work in the tourist industry. Most of the staff in my hotels on both islands were Portuguese. In fact, my fellow interpreter in Jersey was Portuguese and his family run a small hotel there. Churchill's "dear Channel Islands" (despite the fact that he abandoned them during the occupation) were the only part of British territory to be occupied by Germany. The occupation lasted for five long years, but a German influence is not evident. 1 DAY IN COURT On both islands, I interpreted in impressive, oak-panelled Royal Court buildings. In Guernsey, my (civil) hearings commenced each day with a prayer, said by the clerk in French, and all of the proceedings were then manually recorded by stenographers (no longer used in English and Welsh courts). The 'advocates' (i.e. members of the Guernsey Bar) and judges wore fez-type hats called toques. Interestingly, in the Guernsey case (unlike in courts in England and Wales), most of the legal personnel seemed to have a good working knowledge of French, but not so in the Jersey (criminal) case. I was required as an interpreter as the court proceedings were officially conducted in English but the witnesses spoke only French in the Guernsey case and fairly limited English in the Jersey case. Given the French-speaking legal personnel in the Guernsey case, I was very much aware that my every word in French was being monitored – an extra strain in an already stressful situation and one which is rarely an issue for me in the English and Welsh courts. I had to familiarise myself not only with local court procedure but also with a certain amount of specialist terminology, such as 'Bailiwicks (jurisdictions) of Jersey and Guernsey' – originally administered by the royal representative, the Bailiff (in old French bailie meant village). This was in addition to my usual preparation of the particular legal terminology involved in each case, based on the (limited) advance information provided by the courts. Fortunately, after 16 years' experience of interpreting in the courts, I have legal terminology banks at my finger tips, and being a qualified lawyer gives me a head start every time. BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL In Guernsey, I hit the runway running, as I was driven from the airport to the court. With hindsight, this was not a great idea on the client's part as my flight could have been delayed. Fortunately, I wasn't due to start CHANNEL vision

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