THE NORMANDY coast is clearly visible from Jersey but the islanders' grasp of French is in a sorry state.
Where once it was common for people to be bilingual, now French street names are misspelled and public notices grammatically inaccurate. With A- level results last year well below those on the British mainland, many fear for the future of the island's gallic culture.
Robin Pallot, the honorary French consul in Jersey since 1994, is among them. He claims he was shouted down when he warned of falling standards. "I lament the watering down of the commitment to written and spoken French," he said. "The use of French in cultural life mustn't be lost, in Jersey of all places."
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In The Independent, February 14, 1999, Andrew Mourant: