Submitting Institution

University of Cambridge

Unit of Assessment

Modern Languages and Linguistics

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Language Studies, Linguistics, Literary Studies

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Summary of the impact

Dr Jones's research on the obsolescent Norman French dialects of the Channel Islands has had a significant effect back in Jersey, Guernsey and Sark. The island communities are extremely interested in the research and there have been events to mark it involving public figures and other members of the community (2008, 2009). Dr Jones's research is featured regularly in local media and she has been invited to collaborate in local language planning and revitalization initiatives (2008-13). The publicity this work has received has raised the profile of these dialects and her findings have given impetus and direction to their revitalization.

Underpinning research

Dr Jones has been a member of the Department of French in the University of Cambridge since 1993, becoming a Senior Lecturer in 2003 and Reader in 2010. During this time she has undertaken many periods of fieldwork in the Channel Islands, which have resulted in publications in both English and French on the local Norman French dialects (hereafter referred to as insular Norman). Between 2008 and 2013, Dr Jones's research has had two main foci, which together constitute one programme of work.

The first element of the research has been undertaking linguistic studies which analyse the varieties of insular Norman and their usage. Dr Jones's publications have used original data to reinforce the fact that all three extant varieties of the dialect are distinct from one another and of great value to the fields of French dialectology and language change. To this end, she has examined and described some of the distinctive linguistic features of insular Norman, relating her findings to both the wider Norman linguistic context and also to general theories of linguistic change during language obsolescence. Her work has also highlighted that insular Norman will disappear in the next decade or so if steps are not put in place immediately to preserve it. She has studied the language revitalization movement in Jersey and has discussed this in relation to the theoretical framework that currently underpins much existing work on language planning and has outlined strategies to ensure this is successful within the particular sociolinguistic context of Jersey Norman French.

The second main element of Dr Jones's research has been to produce a monograph, on the Guernsey French translations of Thomas Martin (the largest corpus of prose from one pen in insular Norman). Martin's work includes a translation into Guernsey Norman French of the entire Bible, all the plays of Shakespeare and also plays by Longfellow, Molière, Corneille and Racine. Prior to Dr Jones's work, this corpus had largely escaped notice — indeed, it had been believed that a large part of the 295 books of translations was missing and possibly no longer extant. Dr Jones's work revealed that the translations were all still in Guernsey, demonstrated that some of the details about them needed to be revised and highlighted their significance for French dialectology.

References to the research

1. Jones, Mari C. (2008) The Guernsey Norman French Translations of Thomas Martin: A Linguistic Study of an Unpublished Archive (Louvain: Peeters)


Evidence of at least 2* research quality:

• AHRC-funded research leave (The Guernsey Norman French Translations of Thomas Martin, 1 April 2007 — 30 June 2007). Total award: £22,179. Final grade awarded for the project was A+

• Reviewed very positively in the Journal of French Language Studies, the Modern Language Review and the Guernsey Society Review.

2. Jones, Mari C. (2008) `Identity Planning in an Obsolescent Variety: The Case of Jersey Norman French'. Anthropological Linguistics 50/3-4, pp.249-265

Evidence of at least 2* research quality:

• Published in a journal with an ERIH impact factor of A

3. Jones, Mari C. (2012) `Liaison Patterns and Usage in Jersey Norman French' Probus 24/2, pp.197-232


Evidence of at least 2* research quality:

• Published in a journal with an ERIH impact factor of A

4. Jones, Mari C. (2012) `Variation and Change in Sark Norman French.' Transactions of the Philological Society 110/2, pp. 149-170


Evidence of at least 2* research quality:

• Published in a journal with an ERIH impact factor of B

5. Jones, Mari C. (2008) `La Convergence syntaxique dans une langue obsolescente'. In F. Gadet & E. Guérin (eds), Études de syntaxe: français parlé, français hors de France, créoles (Nanterre: MoDyCo). LINX 57, pp. 91-100

6. Jones, Mari C. (2010) `Comment déterminer la syntaxe de l'oral: une étude de cas des îles anglo-normandes'. In M. Drescher and I. Neumann-Holzschuh (eds) La syntaxe de l'oral dans les variétés non-hexagonales du français. (Stauffenburg: Tubingen), pp. 137-148

All outputs can be supplied by the University of Cambridge on request.

Details of the impact

Dr Jones's research has had impact on civil society by raising popular awareness of insular Norman and influencing language revitalization groups in the Channel Islands. The Senior Language Planning Officer of L'Office du Jèrriais states that Dr Jones' `assistance to Jèrriais has been of enormous importance, as it has shown native speakers that their language is valued after decades of being told that it was worthless. Her written work ... is seen here as the standard reference for non-specialists and has made Jèrriais accessible to many people,' resulting in `a positive attitude to our language, and ... a new pride in Jèrriais within the wider community in the Island. No-one else has undertaken studies to such an academic depth, and we as a community have derived enormous benefit from this' [5.1].

Impact on public discourse has been similarly wide. Dr Jones's linguistic studies and monograph have received considerable attention in the Channel Island media (featuring 26 times between 2008 and 2011 e.g. [5.2, 5.3, 5.4]), appearing also in the French (3 times between 2008 and 2011) and British press (3 times in December 2011, e.g. [5.5, 5.6]), and in Jersey and (continental) Norman blogs (e.g. [5.7]). It has done much to raise awareness within Channel Island communities of the importance of their distinct linguistic heritage — and of the need for steps to be taken to preserve it: for example, an article of 19 December 2011 in The Guernsey Press quoted Dr Jones on the revitalization of Guernsey Norman French: `this is work that simply cannot wait until a metaphorical tomorrow'. BBC Radio Guernsey's decision to broadcast a live 15-minute interview with Dr Jones (21 December 2011) exemplifies the resulting public debate [5.4].

Dr Jones was invited by Guernsey's (non-academic) Société Guernesiaise to present a public lecture on the Martin translations to the local community, attracting a capacity audience (of 70) to the Frossard lecture theatre, Guernsey (8 April 2008) [5.8]. A reception attended by over 60 members of the public (18 March 2009) to celebrate the monograph, hosted by the then Deputy Bailiff of Guernsey (Guernsey Press, 19 March 2009), demonstrates further such public interest. Through this dissemination programme, Dr Jones has brought to the attention of the local community a body of work, described as `an extremely important part of our linguistic heritage' whose significance can `not be overestimated' (former Guernsey Language Support Officer, Société Guernesiaise Press Release 2 April 2008 [5.8] and Guernsey Press, 15 April 2008) and `a significant milestone in the study of Guernsey French' (Chair, Coumité d'la Culture Guernésiaise, Guernsey Press, 7 April 2008).

Through her research, Dr Jones has developed strong links to Channel Islands language support bodies, thereby impacting upon policy making. As a direct result of these contacts, Language Support Officers from Jersey and Guernsey attended conferences at Cambridge (2011, 2012) where they were able `to contact people working in other minority language areas and for the sharing of new ideas', which has informed their decision making, providing `new strategies to ... achieve the revival of our endangered language' (Jersey Officer). She will give the keynote address at the States of Jersey's Culture Conference (30 November 2013), attended by politicians and the general public. Dr Jones was also invited by the States of Guernsey to become the only non-Guernsey member of four founding members of the Guernsey Language Advisory Panel (inaugural meeting 20 March 2009). This Panel was designed by The States of Guernsey's Department of Culture and Leisure to help create a `strategy' for the development of the language [5.9] and `make important decisions on the shape and form the language needs to take' (The Guernsey Press, 19 March 2009). Guernsey's last Language Support Officer writes: `Dr Jones's research and publications ... have contributed to raising the profile, status and awareness of the language within Guernsey ..... The knowledge and expertise that she brought to meetings of the Guernsey Language Advisory Panel were of great value and use' [5.10].

Dr Jones's fieldwork on Sark has had impact on cultural life, leading to an invitation by the (non-academic) Société Sercquaise to act as language advisor for Sark Voices (2009), a CD containing a compilation and translation of extant recordings of Sark Norman French. Advice given drew on the research undertaken for output 4 (see Section 3); The CD's purpose is to preserve, conserve and present Sark's linguistic heritage before this dialect disappears completely and to make available authentic pieces of data for use by researchers and undergraduates (cf. Cambridge University Part II, paper Fr13). To date, this CD has sold some 650 copies (£10 each).

Sources to corroborate the impact

[5.1] Email from person 1 (The Senior Language Planning Officer, L'Office du Jèrriais).

[5.2] September 23rd 2009, feature, BBC Guernsey news website: html

[5.3] December 10th 2011 — article in The Jersey Evening Post, p.4 (by Toby Chiang) "There could be a future for Jèrriais, says expert'. See also

[5.4] December 21st 2011 — interview on the Jenny Kendall-Tobias Programme, BBC Radio Guernsey

[5.5] December 9th 2011 - article in the Mail Online (by David Richards) "Race against time to record the language of William the Conqueror before it dies out" Conqueror-dies-out.html

[5.6] December 10th 2011 - Dr Jones's work is featured in the John Ingham column of the Daily Express, p.20 `Ingy's World'. `An Endangered Species'

[5.7] Features on the Office du Jèrriais blog and on Twitter

[5.8] Société Guernesiaise Press Release 2 April 2008.

[5.9] States of Guernsey Government, Language Strategy 2011-2015 (2011)

[5.10] Email from person 2 (The former Guernsey Language Support Officer).