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L' Sâint Évàngile Siévant Sâint Makyu 1863 (Georges Métivier)


Guernésiais is the form of Norman-French spoken on Guernsey in the Channel Islands. It is related to Jèrriais spoken on Jersey. Guernésiais is recognised as a regional language by the British and Irish governments within the framework of the British-Irish Council. Since 2013 there has been a Guernsey Language Commission operated by the Guernsey government to preserve their linguistic culture.

Georges Métivier

Georges Métivier was born on Guernsey in 1790. He was sometimes dubbed the "Guernsey Burns". He published the Rimes Guernesiaises in 1831 under the pen-name Un Câtelain. He was the first to produce a dictionary of the Norman language as used in the Channel Islands. His Dictionnaire Franco-Normand was published in 1870. His poems were published in Guernsey newspapers from 1813 until his death in 1881. Louis Lucien Bonaparte visited Métivier on Guernsey in 1862, when he commissioned him to translate the Gospel of Matthew.

Gospel of Matthew

The Gospel pf Matthew was commissioned by the philologist Louis Lucien Bonaparte (1813-1891), who was nephew of Napoléon Bonaparte. He moved to London in the early 1850s, setting up home at 6-8 Norfolk Terrace, Bayswater, and became an active member of the Philological Society. He was fluent in Italian, French, Spanish, English and Basque. Bonaparte's particular interest was in minority languages. He would pay for the pruinting of many translations of portions of the Bible that he commissioned in Scots Gaelic, Guernsey French and other languages and dialects.

Georges Métivier adapted the Gospel of Matthew into Guernésiais from the BFBS 1855 edition, of the 1667 French version which had been translated by Louis-Isaac Lemaistre de Sacy (1613-1684). The Guernésiais Gospel was entitled L' Sâint Évàngile Siévànt Sâint Makyu (or Le Saint Évangile selon St. Matthieu in standard French).

Original Edition

Originally 250 copies were published by Strangeways and Walden of 28 Castle Street in London in 1863. This included 3 pages of Observations on the pronunciation of Norman Guernésiais and its orthography written by Louis Lucien Bonaparte. In the original print each verse is set on a new line, and the first word of each chapter was in capital letters.

Digital Edition

This Gospel of Matthew was digitised for the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) from an original copy in their archives at Cambridge. It was digitised with the help of Mission Assist in September 2016. It is part of an ongoing project to digitise biblical texts in the languages of the British Isles. 

British & Foreign Bible Society


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