A quick guide to the Cornish Language

August 25, 2020 by Alexander No Comments
Sampling some traditional Cornish fare on Falmouth Harbour

On holiday in Cornwall, chances are you might bring back more than just a souvenir when you return home. The famous Cornish dialect is known all over the country thanks to TV shows such as Doc Martin or Poldark and during your stay chances are you’ll pick up new words to add to your vocabulary.

Useful Cornish Phrases

Dreckly

Cornish for ‘I’ll get to it when I get to it’, this useful and very non-committal phrase for an undefined unit of time can be used for anything from promises to finish the washing up to getting the homework done. Said to be from the English word ‘directly’.

Ansom

An affectionate greeting that can also be used to describe a job well done. Loosely based on ‘handsome’, but a few letters short.

Proper job

Similar to ‘Ansom’ this phrase conveying satisfaction or contentment can be used to oneself when taking the first sip of a cold beer after a busy day or paired with a high-five after completing a perfect sandcastle. Use in conversation next time you want to convey something along the lines of ‘brilliant’.

Bird

Used interchangeably with “Darling” or “Love”, this term of endearment is one of our favourites.

Wasson

“What’s happening?”, “What’s the news?” or simply “How are you doing?”

Diddy?

This contraction of “Did he?” can be used to say things like “Is that true?” “Did you?” or “Did he?” and is usually accompanied with a raised eyebrow or two…

Helpful Cornish Words

Although there are some turns of phrase to hear when you are down south, did you know that Cornish is more than just a dialect? The Cornish language dates back to Celtic times, and you can see evidence of it all over Cornwall in place names and street signs.

We’ve put our heads together and compiled this list of our favourite Cornish-language words that might just be useful to use on your next holiday to Cornwall.

Sea – Mor

Beach – Treth

Boat – Skath

River – Avon

Harbour – Porth

Falmouth – Aberfal

Seaside – Trethvor

Dolphin – Pyffyer

Fish – Pysk

Seal – Reun

Seagull – Golan

Swimming – Neuvya

Ice-cream – Dehen rew

Sandcastle – Kastel tewes

Holiday Home – Chy golyow

View – Gwel

Cheers! – Yeges da!

I love you – My a’th kar

Family – Teylu

Mum – Mammik

Dad – tas

Dog – Ki

Cat – Kath

Elbow – Elin

Arm – Bregh

Do you speak English? – A wodest’ta kewsel Sowsnek?

Try slipping some of these words into your next conversation!

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