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Cornish Dialect- What You Really Need to Know for a Holiday in Cornwall

Updated on July 21, 2012

For those taking a holiday in Cornwall there are plenty of reminders of the Cornish language. What is far more common and likely to take a holiday maker by surprise is the dialect. Someone may say something which sounds a bit bizarre and yes- you have just met the Cornish dialect which is only heard locally.

Knowing a few words can add entertainment to your holiday and gain street cred with the Cornish.

Camp or stay in a rural part of Cornwall and it is highly likely you will come across a good piece of dialect. This is a spoken way of life and not really written down so the expressions have passed through generations and may change slightly in different parts of Cornwall.

Commonly used words and phrases

Alright my handsum is a wonderful Cornish greeting and a term of endearment and does not necessarily means the speaker finds you at all attractive.

Men are likely to use the word pard and a girl could be called a maid. If something is broken in your holiday cottage the owner could agree to fix it dreckly which is the Cornish way of saying maƱana- and sometimes it feels like a timeless promise. Once a task has been done and someone is pleased with the outcome it is common to hear Proper Job as an affirmation.

Of course you might be invited to join people for croust which is a tea break. Cornish people love discussing the weather and if it is pouring with rain you might hear piddledowndidda. It goes without saying that the Cornish person often has just as much difficulty understanding the English and may say Gusson which translates as "I don't see your point".

More words commonly heard in Cornish Dialect

Cloam- china or crockery

Aapath- a stupid person

Wasson- what's happening

Madderdoit- does it matter

Wurztooen- where is it?

Avee- Have you

Backalong- in former times

Clacky- sticky and chewy food

Emmet- a tourist

Launder- guttering on a house or building

Wisht- pale or weak

Children were often stopped from using dialect in schools as there were concerns it would affect job prospects, however the dialect is very much alive in the rural areas of Cornwall. It does of course depend on future generations preserving the heritage and continuing to use it or it will disappear from use.


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    • Yourglobalgirl profile image

      Yourglobalgirl 7 years ago from UK

      Thanks- it is something very particular to that part of the world and really a part of the heritage.

    • PR Morgan profile image

      PR Morgan 7 years ago from Sarasota Florida

      Very interesting, quite a few terms I've never heard of...