So over on our Cornish arts and culture blog we have been learning some Cornish words and looking at the language of our home county. There are however a whole host of words which make up an unofficial language which most of us use everyday! If you’ve ever been to Cornwall or met a Cornishman then you will know that our vocabulary includes a collection of words to compliment the english language to explain our meaning in a more Cornish way.
You may recognise some of the following Cornish dialect…
Ansum – something is top notch. A positive way to greet someone, unisex, derived from ‘handsome’. example ‘alreet me ansum’.
Dreckly – meaning ‘directly’ in a loose form of the word, but can be implied to a time period which could mean seconds, years, or something that may never actually happen. example ‘I’ll see you dreckly’ or ‘I’ll move to Devon dreckly’.
Wasson – meaning ‘what is going on’. Frequently used as a greeting, doesn’t really need a reply. example ‘wasson my ansum’.
Maid – the name given to a cornish female, a positive greeting. example ‘wasson maid’.
Bird – same as maid. Is not exclusively used for women, more affectionate than the english phrase used to call women ‘birds’. The Cornish phrase is a lot friendlier. example ‘alreet bird, you want a pasty?’
Bleddy – a Cornish way to say bloody, not necessarily in a bad way, more to emphasise a point. example ‘bleddy good pasty that was‘.
Shag – used to call someone, usually a face to face greeting, a term of endearment. example ‘alreet shag, fancy a surf?’
My lover – one of my favourite phrases from the Cornish dialect. An affectionate greeting that can be used for men and women, not romantic in anyway. Same way that ‘my dear’ is used. example ‘thanks for popping round my lover’.
Proper – something which has been done well, or a phrase to end a conversation. example ‘proper job’.
Emmet – basically means a tourist, but us Cornish don’t really mean it as a visitor. Usually used with a slight negative connotation, when stuck in the queues on the A30 on changeover day, or the crowds on the beaches. The Cornish are a pretty laid back nation, but by the end of August the emmets do wind some of the locals. example ‘bleddy emmets gone and blocked the road with a caravan’.
Dearovim – meaning ‘dear of him’ or could use dearover for ‘dear of her’. Used in a positive way. example ‘Demelza baked me a saffron cake, dearover’
Ere – start a conversation, or to get someones attention.
Where you to? – where are you? plain and simple.
Alreet – from ‘are you alright’. Not really used as a question, more as a greeting. example ‘alreet my bird’.
Up north – anywhere the other side of the Tamar. Cornwall is the furthest South you can drive, therefore everywhere else must be North. We’ve had numerous debates with family and uni friends, that yes London, Birmingham and Nottingham are ‘up North’. The Midlands do not feature in the Cornish language, they are the North.
T’int right, t’int fair, t’int proper – exactly what it says. Made famous by Jud in Poldark.
Teasy – is thought to come from the Cornish word ‘tesek’ meaning irritable and hot tempered. More often used towards children. example ‘you’re tired and teasy maid’.
Rich – meaning lush or lovely, nothing to do with money or luxury. example ‘bleddy rich Poldark is’.
Crib – a mid morning break where you can drink tea and eat cake, like elevensies. example ‘take 5 it’s crib time’.
Geek – derived from the Cornish word ‘gyki’, which mean have a quick look at. example ‘ere take a geek at this’.
Smeechy – used to describe an atmosphere in the kitchen when cooking something fatty, somewhere in between smelly, smoky and fatty. Smeechy could be a West Country phrase as I think folk from Devon will know this one too. example ’tis smeechy from those sausages’.
Scat – meaning to knock over aggressively. example ‘scat my tea over at crib’.
Helluva – meaning extremly big or great. example ‘helluva swell coming in’.
Jumpin’ – meaning angry, not used in relation to physically jump. example ‘seagull stole my pasty, was jumpin’!’
Hangin’ – meaning minging or horrible, hungover, or any negative mood. example ‘feeling hangin’ this morning’.
Diddy? – ‘Did he?’ just a Cornish way to shorten a short question even more.
Let us know your favourite Cornishisms, or if you use any other Cornish dialect in the comments box, or share with us on social media.
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