Things to do
For Holiday Accommodation and Business owners
Maps of Cornwall :
The Ordnance Survey publishes the Explorer series of maps which are
ideal for walkers.
Those covering Cornwall:
Map of Isles of Scilly:101 Isles of Scilly
Cornish Language and Place Names in Cornwall
Businesses are also embracing the use of Cornish. Local enterprises such as Polgoon Vineyard have made a point of choosing Cornish branding as a mark of local origin and several of their products are named in Cornish. Meanwhile national companies such as JD Wetherspoon have a policy of putting up bilingual signage in their Cornish pubs, as well as giving them names in Cornish such as the “Try Dowr” (Three Rivers) in Truro and “Chapel an Gansblydhen” (Centenary Chapel) in Bodmin.
In 2009 Cornwall Council adopted a policy on the use of Cornish which encourages all departments of the Council to consider the use of Cornish. The most visible outcome of this policy is the bilingual street signage which is now appearing across Cornwall, and which costs the Council not a penny more than it would have done previously as the bilingual signs are only put up where new or replacement signs are needed.
Cornish is all around us in the community too, with Scouts and Guides learning their motto and promise in Cornish, gig rowers naming their gigs in Cornish and films being made in Cornish to be shown at Cornwall Film Festival.
For further information about Cornish culture, including Gorsedh Kernow and the Federation of Old Cornwall Societies, see our Culture and Tradition page.
By understanding just a few of the most often used Cornish words you can get a better idea of where you are and enjoy exploring Cornwall even more.
Place Name of the Month April: 'Arvor'
Look at our sister country of Breten Vyhan and you will see that it is often divided into Argoat – ‘the wooded interior’ and Armor – ‘the coast.’ So do we in Kernow have an Argos and an Arvor?
In these days of mass car ownership the treth is never more than half an hour away but where did the argos and arvor in Kernow fuse together?
Now porth is usually translated as ‘cove’ but there is the land-locked Porkellis from porth ‘gateway’,
Als usually means ‘’sea cliff’ but in Trenault the als appears in Old Cornish guise as alt but here means ‘slope.’
The poll in Polperro is ‘sea pool’ but Polyphant comes from poll and lefans ‘a toad’ shows this is not a ‘sea pool’ - toads don’t live in the sea!
Only treth ‘beach’ is truly coastal which is why I left it untranslated above.
Enough of place names, evidence that Kernow had Argos and Arvor exists in our national dish – the pasty. Why? Because you don’t get pysk - fish (from the Arvor) in a pasty. Traditionally you have bewin – beef (from the Argos). So what do you do with pysk and a load of pastry? Make star gazey pie of course!
Some words & phrases in Cornish:
... a'gas Dynnergh - Welcome to ...
Gwrys yn Kernow - Made in Cornwall
Onan hag Oll - One and All
Kernow Bys Vykken - Cornwall forever
More Cornish words:
Topical phrases of the month April: 'Spring on the Farm'
Cornish dialect is still spoken although it is not heard as often as it was 20 years ago.
Here are a few words:
avee? - Have you?
dreckley - soon, but with no great urgency
airy mouse - a bat (literally an air mouse)
stank - to walk heavily
bulhorns - snails
cloam - crockery, pottery, etc.
scat - to break or hit
grammersow - woodlouse
Wozzon? - What is on? or What is happening?
Gezzon! - You must be joking!
Madder Do Er? - Does it matter?
Wozza Madder Withee? - What is wrong with you?
The following list has been contributed by Glyn Nicholas, who remembers these phrases being used in the 1920s and 1930s when he was growing up in Camborne.
Clemmed, or steeved with the cold. ‘Frozen’, very cold.
Where ‘ee goin'-to, en? Where are you going? Rude reply: Up Mike’s.
Thee’rt a g'eat bussa. You’re a fool, or stupid. A bussa was a large earthenware jug used for fetching waster from the well or pump.
‘E’s some ‘arden! Disobedient, stubborn.
Greener’n kewny. Greener than oxidised copper.
‘E’s some turk! Naughty, mischievous, disobedient.
I’ll smack th’ol’ chacks o’ thee! I’ll smack your face.
‘E’s some cute! Said of a person or child: very smart, (acute).
Deeper’n Dolcoath. A cunning or unfathomable adult.
Awright art’e? Are you o.k.?
Some ol’ comfloption! A big fuss or event
Eff theess cussn’t schemey, theess mus’ louster. If you can’t plan, or aren’t smart, you’ll have to labour.
Scat to riddicks, or lerrups! Broken up, dismantled, destroyed.
Gone scat. Bankrupt.
Lowss to ‘n! Hit it (hard)!
Glazin’ like a chad! Staring like a chad, or shad; a kind of fish.
Black as a tinker! Dirty (from working).
Tough as old ‘emp. Said of someone resistant to hardship and hard work.
Grey as a badger. Of hair.
Too slaw catch cold! Describes a slow doer.
My ‘ands are some clibby. Very damp or clammy.
Took t’ Bodmin. Taken to Bodmin jail.
Put t’ Bodmin. Put into the Asylum at Bodmin
Feet like pasties. Big feet.
“E’d like a job wheelin’ away smoke en a wire-nettin’ wheelbarra. A lazy man.
I’d as soon not go as stay ‘ome! Reluctant to go somewhere.
Rainin’ like a tide. Heavy rain.
‘E edn much cop. Said of a person of poor character.
Thee’rt some teasy! You’re very bad-tempered.
Deaf as a’ adder. Very deaf.
Where’ee goin’ to? Evasive reply: Tolskitty ‘arbour.
Pisky layd’n. Led by piskies; said jokingly of absent-minded behaviour.
A little jingle:
Down St Just
The boiler bust,
And two poor men were killed.
Their bodies went up in the air
And their bones came down in a field!
Flam new Brand new. (cf. Fr. flambant neuf.)
Horse-adder. A dragonfly
Geek. Le’ss ‘ave a geek. Let’s see!
Jailin’ along Hard walking, hurrying.
Fat as a pudd’n Derogatory.
Screech like a whitnick To scream like a whiteneck. (Unknown animal or bird).
Like Darby and Joan Said of an admirable married couple.
Tatty ‘eel A large hole in the heel of a sock.
Poor as church mice. Self-explanatory.
Emmett. An ant. In those day, "upcountry" folk were "furriners".
Nuddick Head. Mind your nuddick! Be careful of your head.
In Barncoose. She/he’s in the local workhouse just outside Redruth.
Pushy. Very forward or demanding.
Put in with the bread, took out with the buns. One brick short of a full load.
Pitygree. So-and-so with ‘er ol’ pitygree; woes, complaints. (Cf. Fr. Petits griefs)
‘ot as a kill. Hot as a kiln. (Old pronunciation)
Clunky. To swallow.
Clidgy. A boiled sugar sweetmeat.
‘obby stankers. Hob-nailed boots.
Choo-choo. Child’s name for steam locomotive.
Piss-a-bed. Dandelion. (Cf. Fr. Pissenlit.)
Pally’ass, A thin type of mattress. (Fr. Paillasse.)
Timber ‘ill. Goin’ up timber ‘ill. Upstairs to bed.
Gookoo (like cuckoo). A bluebell.
Thee’rt a great gookoo! Said jokingly, ‘You’re a big fool!’
Dearer’n saffern. Very expensive.
Grammersow. Wood louse.
Jin Jorn. Snail.
Scads. A great deal. Scads o’ money.
Slathered. Slathered in mud. Lagged, covered.
Aiglet. A haw. (Hawthorn berry.)
Planchion. An open ceiling revealing the beams and upstairs flooring.
Talfat. A loft. Often a platform covering part of the space under a pitched roof.
Place name of the Month and This Month's Topical Phrases are published in conjunction with MAGA, the Cornish Language Partnership. To find out more about the Cornish language visit the MAGA website www.magakernow.org.uk
We will be adding new words and phrases to this page regularly so please visit us again soon.
More Cornish Language Books
Cornish Language Books
Agan Tavas - Our Language
Cussel an Tavaz Kernuak - Cornish Language Council
Cornish Language Partnership
Kesva an Taves Kernewek - Cornish Language Board
Kowethas an Yeth Kernewek Warlinenn - Cornish Language Fellowship online
Radyo an Gernewegva
Cornish Language and Place Names NEWS
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