BŁUÉT* / cornflower

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błuét“, s.m., pronounced [bʎ(ʏ/w)ɛt] 🔊, is the Old Sarkese name for “cornflower”, recorded already in 1889 by E. Edmont, but forgotten by the 21st century. Since none of our last native speakers could unfortunatelly recall the word, it is treated as reintroduced.

origin: Gallo-Romance / first recorded for Sarkese: 1889 (ALF) / current status in the 21st century: forgotten, reintroduced

“błuét” is a masculine countable variable noun (a he-word that may be counted and changes in plural). We may say “ûn błuét”, one/a cornflower, and “dê błuê”, (some) cornflowers, etc. The pronunciation of the reintroduced word is set to regular [bʎwɛt], with a soft ‘ł’, though E. Edmont recorded the word in 1889 with the unsual hard ‘l’, as blúét, so [blʏɛt].

On the origin

The Sarkese “błuét” is directly related to the French “bleuet”, meaning cornflower as well, and to the Jersey Norman “bliuet” and “bliuette” which in the Old Jersey Norman varieties used to be used for several different flowers, especially bluebells, known as “cůců” in Sarkese, but cornflower too. A similar equivalent is not known for Guernsey Norman.

The word, in the languages cited above, is a simple derivation from the adjective for blue, “błu” in Sarkese, combined with the masculine diminutive “-ét”.

The Sarkese name was first recorded by Edmond Edmont, who came to the Channel Islands in 1889, although with the unusual hard ‘l’, so “bluét”. Although this doesn’t have to be authomatically an error or a typo, given taht such a form his hardly acceptable for today’s Sarkese and given that the word was forgotten anyway, it was reintroduced as the regular “błuét”.

The reason why the word was forgotton may be related to the agricultural decline in Sark, commenced in the first half of the 20th century, which concernes several other flowers too. In the first place, less farming led to people loosing general knowledge about the flora, nevertheless, it also had an impact on many weed field flowers, among which cornflower belongs. With the gradual loss of traditional cultivated land on the island, the agelong weed flowers, so well known and disliked by the Old Sarkese, lost their natural habitat and even became extinct – not only in Sark, but in the Channel Islands in general.


Citation: NEUDÖRFL, Martin. błuét/cornflower. In: Sark Norman Dictionary Online [on-line]. https://www.bonjhur.net/sndo-vocab-flora-bluet

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