The Cornish language is a restored language that became obsolete as a first language in Cornwall in the late 18th century. The language is an inseparable part of Cornish identity, culture, and heritage. A fierce revival began in the early 20th century bringing a fresh attitude to local slang terms.
This beautiful Cornish language has the local accent – a most vowelly affair, half slur, and half sneer. The language has its unique rhythm and rhyme. Some common slangs carry on the Cornish inclination towards cordial welcomes, honest appraisals, and wilting scorn.
All these slangs give extra senses to everyday expressions and create words that are not used elsewhere in the UK.
Here are 25 of the most commonly used examples:
So what are the slang phrases and words that you must know before visiting Cornwall?
If you are a Cornish by birth or have spent a long time of your life in Cornwall, you might be familiar with the lovely Cornish language. But those who are traveling to Cornwall should know the best few Cornish slangs to enjoy the place and its welcoming nature in the best way.
Here we have listed the most common and used 25 slangs of Cornwall. Hope you enjoy the reading.
Superficially this term means the same as ‘directly’. But the best use is the setting of finding out the time in the near future when something is going to take place, like the time someone is about to arrive at an appointment, or about to deliver something or complete an urgent task. It also means the same as “when I am able and willing” with an insinuation of “Don’t worry, I’m on it” and with a hint of procrastinating. More specifically, dreckly is the Cornish version of the term ‘mañana.’
2. My ‘ansum
A tender greeting that is usually used to address men but not exclusively. This term – based loosely on the English term my handsome – though lacks the vital noun.
3. My Bird
This is another fond salutation generally used to address familiar women but not exclusively. It is a noun, but used in a different sense from the British chauvinists slang term ‘birds.’ In Cornish, there’s the perception that this is someone you admire or idolize, not malign.
4. My Lover
This affectionate acknowledgment is unisex, but not a stimulation to any of the particular gender. You can use it the way you might use my dear or darling.
An emmet is a tourist or the kind of tourist who walks slowly down the middle of any pavement and keeps looking up at the sky or out at the landscape. Those who drive down the A30, Cornwall’s main road, trawling a slow caravan and an annoying traffic jam behind them. Though Cornwall is a very hospitable place, don’t get in the middle of the way, at least!
Someone who has come to Cornwall from an up-country (parts of the UK but not within Cornwall) or abroad.
7. Up North
If you are from South West Cornwall, ‘up north’ depicts anywhere north of Truro. If you are from the Northern part of Cornwall, the ‘up north’ stands for any place over the border to England.
8. The Big City
When you are in Cornwall, London is not Cornwall. Here the big city is obviously Truro – the only city in Cornwall.
In Cornwall ‘alright?’ is not a simple question, but it’s a warm greeting, like ‘how are you?’ It can be a simple start of a whole conversation while passing someone on the way or at a shop, or the beginnings of a long, friendly chatter in a club.
This slang most commonly starts a conversation that includes new information or some open secrets and gossip.
11. Right on
‘Right on’ is similar to the common English phrases, like ‘you are right’ or ‘exactly,’ where the term means the person saying this is agreeing with what you’re saying or doing or have been asked to do.
This term is the contraction of “what’s going on?” It is often used as a welcoming greeting in coupling with ‘my ‘ansum’ or ‘my bird.’
This is used as a noun. This is a term of friendliness and not a bossy instruction.
A word has its root in the old Cornish language. It’s believed to have some association to male genitals but has come in use at present as a more generic term of disdain. If you are called a tuss by someone in Cornwall, either the person addressing you doesn’t like you at all, or they are too certain of your friendship that they use the term more affectionately.
15. Dearovim / Dearover
These terms are abbreviations of ‘dear of him’ or ‘dear of her,’ and used similarly as ‘bless their heart.’ This can be used as a way of displaying sympathy for someone enduring a tough time.
Also spelt as ‘teazy’, teasy is thought to originate from the Celtic Cornish word ‘tesek’ – meaning hot-tempered or annoyed, and that’s precisely what it means. Most commonly this term is used to refer to an ill-tempered child. When applied to an adult it definitely calls them out for being both cranky and a grown-up kid.
This is used in a new perspective that has nothing to do with either wealth or luxury. In Cornish we use rich to define lovely, beautiful or mostly amiable. So you can call your new kitten or your little sibling rich.
Geek means quickly looking over. So you might be saying ‘I’m off to take a geek at the exhibition’ while you pay a quick visit to an exhibition.
This is an extremely Cornish way of pronouncing bloody. This is used more as an emphasis or a point of accentuation in a sentence instead of a wish to express anger.
While the Cornish slang scat means to knock down in quite an aggressive manner, there is nothing to do with rushing or escaping. If someone wants to scat you down, stay away or leave the place.
Jumping physically or saying verbally is not at all an expression of happiness in Cornwall, Although people jump for joy in Cornwall confusingly, usually people say they’re jumping when they look aggrieved. Especially, if they’re not physically jumping but saying ‘I’m jumping,’ it means they’re really angry.
This hanging has nothing to do with hooks or gravity. In Cornwall, if someone describes your dinner, your new haircut or your personal odour in Cornish as hanging, it means they think your food is disgusting, your haircut is repugnant, and your bodily smell horrific.
Commonly this is an abbreviation of ‘Did he?’ It is used to mean either ‘Is that true?’ ‘Did you?’ or ‘Did he?’ There’s also ‘diddah?’ That also means the same thing.
Proper is most commonly connected with the right job, which refers to anything that is done well. This term is used for confirming quality. You can say ‘your new car is a proper job’ or even ‘the meal made for me is proper.’
Heller is used as an affectionate description of a naughty child or adult person, like ‘what a little heller!’
The Cornish people are very flexible with their slang. And now, you have it. Sit back and stare at the surprise of Cornishness.
Ready to rock in Cornwall with local slangs?