SURÉLE / sorrel

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suréle“, s.f., pronounced [sʏrɛl(:)] 🔊, is the Sarkese generic name for “sorrel”. As in English, shorter subspecies of the Rumex family are known as “sorrel”, while taller as “doge“-dock. In Sark, five subspecies fall under the name of “suréle”-sorrel, especially “common sorrel” (Rumex acetosa).

origin: Gallo-Romance / first recorded for Sarkese: 1889 (EE) / current status in the 21st century: preserved, in use

“suréle” is a feminine invariable uncountable noun (a she-word that doesn’t change and cannot be directly counted). This means that we don’t say “one sorrel” or “two sorrels”, but “d’la suréle”, lit. some sorrel. If we want to specify a number of sorrels, we may count “flowers” or “pieces of sorrel”, f.m “ûn mórsyò d’suréle”, lit. one piece of sorrel, or “deù fłeur d’suréle”, lit. two flowers of sorrel.

Regarding the pronunciation, it should be noted that in the 21st century the word has been recalled by only one of our speakers and pronounced strictely as [sʏrɛl], which we write as “suréle” and which corresponds to the pronunciation recorded in the 20th century by P. Brasseur. Nonetheless, with regard to the known historic forms in other languages, it is possible that at some point the form could have been “suréłe”, as indicated by the alternation of “suthelle” and “sutheille” in Jersey Norman (Jèrriais). The pronunciation of the hypothetical form “suréłe” would have alternated between [-ɛl], [-ɛʎ], [-ɛlj] and [-ɛʎj].

As indicated above, the Sarkese word “suréle” is directly related to the Jersey Norman “suthelle”-“sutheille”, but also to the Guernsey Norman “surelle” and the English “sorel”, all originating in the Old Norman “surele”, which was formed from the Old Frankish word “sur”, meaning “acid” or “sour” as in today’s Sarkese, and the Gallo-Romance feminine ending “-ele”.


Citation: NEUDÖRFL, Martin. suréle/sorrel. In: Sark Norman Dictionary Online [on-line].

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