When you go on holiday, I am sure that like me you feel that it is important to immerse yourself in the culture of the local community. Rare is the person to leave Scotland without a Tam O’Shanter with obligatory tufts of acrylic orange hair attached. Similarly, so many people that I know have returned from Central America sporting a sombrero, doing Speedy Gonzalez impersonations that I can only surmise that Mexico has remained more or less unchanged for the past century.
Cornwall, though a proud Duchy with a rich heritage, it is difficult to actively slip under the radar because props are few and far between. If you wander around Portreath with a pasty, you’ll not be fooling anyone and besides, many authentic, albeit small pasties are available across the nation.
One exception perhaps though is when venturing to St. Ives from Rayle Farm, it is easy to distinguish who the visitors are. The locals have a wariness about their demeanour and more often than not hold a rolled up newspaper (only the West Briton will do), if they happen to be eating an icecream cone. A true sign of a rookie is someone who has shopping or a beach bag in one hand and a 99 in the other. How these people hope to swat away an opportunistic gull is beyond me. Take my word for it, these critters will leave you with no more than an empty cone if you give them half a chance and the only satisfaction that you will be able to derive is that your avian mugger is suffering from one almighty brain freeze.
So with this in mind, I think that the best way forward for assimilation is through conversation. I am sure that you probably saw a recent news report stating that the Oxford English Dictionary contained few Cornish words. Twerking however made an appearance which to my mind speaks volumes.
Now of course everyone knows that Dolly Pentreath who died in 1777 was the last Cornish speaker. What a lonely old lady she must have been with every one else banging on about twerking, gangnam style and the like and poor Dolly was quite unable to shove her two penn’or th in or if she did, everyone was rather mystified as to what point she was trying to make. But I digress, although, pure Cornish fell by the wayside over two hundred years ago, certain phrases that are used on a very regular basis have survived and you would be well served by learning them and using them at every given opportunity. I don’t have the space here to give you a comprehensive guide but I hope to provide you with just about enough to wing it.
“All right me ‘ansum” A standard greeting similar I suppose to “Good day stout yeoman”
“Av e gotten” “Did you find what you are looking for?”
“Bin un dunon” “Sorted”
“Cane telly” “I haven’t a clue”
“Diddy abum?” “Were you able to get what you were looking for?”
“Elly doinov?” “I wouldn’t do it that way if I were you”
“Evy izza?” “That item is pretty weighty, I imagine”
“Fariza?” “Is your destination quite a way off?”
“Furcrysaik” “Goodness me”
“Goynary?” “Do you plan to visit[a previously discussed destination]?”
“Piddle down didda” “Was it raining?”
“Proper job” “Nice one!” And you can add a “me ansum” to the end to mean “Kudos!”
“See you dreckly” “Mañana”
On reflection, it seems unlikely that you will be able to use all of these phrases in one single conversation but if you put them all into a bingo card or two, you will fill a fair few rows during your Cornish holiday I feel sure, not to mention, it might be a way of keeping the kids quiet!
We look forward to seeing you at Rayle Farm very soon and even more so if you speak the lingo!