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 January: 'Tre at Last!'
After long tiresome car journeys up the line I know I’m home when I whizz over the Tamar and catch a glimpse of the Kernow sign. There’s only a split second to quibble over the Duchy charters that say Kernow begins on the eastern bank. But I know I’m definitely home when I see that sign just out of Lannstefan – Launceston with the two Tre- names then I really know I’m tre.
Yes Kernewek for home is tre – but back a millennium or so tre meant ‘farmstead’. There are about 2000 tre names in Kernow and they start as far north as Porthledan - Widemouth Bay with Trelay (tre + legh ‘slab’) and stretch down to Lysardh – Lizard with Trethvas (tre + deves ‘sheep’), definitely the plural if you look up the old forms. Up east there’s a Trevol near Penntor – Torpoint (tre + bolgh ‘gap’) and down west a Trevescan Cliff at Penn an Wlas - Lands End (tre + byskon ‘thimble’). Perhaps the rocks looked like a thimble.
So locals know when they are home, holiday makers know they are getting a proper holiday and Cornish speakers can say tre wor’tiwedh (home at last) when we see our first Tre- name.
Some words & phrases in Cornish:
Onan hag Oll - One and All
Kernow Bys Vykken - Cornwall forever
Dydh da! - Hello!
Ha sos! - 'Right mate!
Myttin da! - Good morning!
Dohajydh da! - Good afternoon!
Gorthuher da! - Good evening!
Fatla genes? - How are you?
Pur dha, meur ras. - Very well, thanks.
Da lowr, meur ras. - Ok, thanks.
Pur dha - Very well
Yn poynt da - In good spirits
Da lowr - OK
Ha ty? - And you?
Oiw os ta? - Who are you?
...ov vy - I'm ...
Ple'th os ta trigys? - Where do you live?
Trigys ov vy yn... - I live in...
Kernow - Cornwall
Pow Sows - England
Awstrali - Australia
Kembra - Wales
Traveller - Tremenyas
Dha weles! - See you! (to one person)
Agas gweles! - See you! (to more than one person)
Duw genes! - Goodbye! (to one person)
Duw genowgh hwi! - Goodbye! (to more than one person)
Nos da! - Good night!
Mar pleg - Please
Meur ras - Thank you
Gav dhymm - Excuse me
Mynnav - Yes please
Na vynnav - No thanks
...hweg - Dear
Sira hweg - Dear Sir
Benvas hweg - Dear Madam
(Man's name) ker - Dear (man's name)
(Woman's name) ger - Dear (woman's name)
Yn lel - Yours sincerely
Gorhemynadow a’n gwella - Best regards
Gans gorhemynadow a'n gwella - With best wishes
Oll an gwella - All the best
Penn bloodh Lowen! - Happy Birthday!
Nadelik Lowen! - Merry Christmas!
Bledhen Nowyth Da! - Happy New Year!
Dy'gol Pyran Lowen! - Happy St Piran's Day!
Pask Lowen! - Happy Easter!
Dy'gol Mammow Lowen! - Happy Mothers' Day!
Penn-bloodh Demedhyans Lowen! - Happy Wedding Anniversary!
Keslowena! - Congratulations!
Chons da! - Good Luck!
Bydh Gwell yn Skon! - Get Well Soon!
Keskalar Gwir - Sincere Condolence
Gans Kerensa - With Love
Gwrys yn Kernow - Made in Cornwall
... a'gas Dynnergh - Welcome to ...
Jynn amontya - Computer
Negys - Business
Kesrosweyth - Internet
Ygor - Open
Deges - Closed
Privedhyow - Toilets
Gwer - Gents
Benenes - Ladies
Onan - One
Dew - Two
Tri - Three
Peswar - Four
Pymp - Five
Hwegh - Six
Seyth - Seven
Eth - Eight
Naw - Nine
Deg - Ten
Gwynn - White
Du - Black
Rudh - Red
Glas - Blue
Gwyrdh - Green
Melyn - Yellow
Gell - Brown
Rudhvelyn - Orange
Gwynnrudh - Pink
Purpur - Purple
aval - apple
karetysen - carrot
kowlen - cabbage
kegisen hweg - celery
keresen - cherry
kestenen - chestnut
knowen goko - coconut
kowlvleujen - cauliflower
turnypen - turnip
aval kerensa - tomato
tanjerin - tangerine
routabaga - swede
sodonesen - sultana
sevien - strawberry
kowlennik - Brussels sprout
spinach - spinach
eyrinen - sloe
salad - salad
beler lowarth - rocket
trenkles - rhubarb
Sportow - Sports
Pel droos - Football
Rugbi - Rugby
Krycket - Cricket
Tennis - Tennis
Pelganstel - Basketball
Gwari pelyow - Bowling
Pel dhorn - Handball
Pel vas - Baseball
Mordardha - Surfing
Astelwolya - Windsurfing
Diwrosa ha Menydh-diwrosa - Cycling and Mountain biking
Golya - Sailing
Kayaka - Kayakking
Astel sarf-neyja - Kitesurfing
Golya uskis - Speedsailing
Krambla - Climbing
Marhogeth - Horse riding
Pyskessa - Fishing
Resek gyg - Gig racing
Rostella - Skateboarding
Topical phrases of the month January: 'New Year's Resolutions'
This year I’m going to…
Hevleni my a wra....
learn a new skill
dyski sleyneth nowyth
join a club
start a new hobby
dalleth hoba nowyth
learn a new language
dyski taves nowyth
What are you going to do in 2013?
Pyth a vyn'ta gul yn 2013?
What are you going to do in the new year?
Pyth a wre'ta jy gul y’n vledhen nowyth?
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
Cornish Language Groups Around Cornwall
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