The Federation of Old Cornwall Societies
The Organisation for those who love Cornwall.
"Cuntelleugh an brewyon us gesys na vo kellys travyth"
(Gather up the fragments that are left that nothing be lost.)
The Dialect of Cornwall in Conjunction with Paul Phillips Recorder of Dialect & Brian Stevens (Retired )
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To search the site open a page then click on Edit in the toolbar and then click on "Find on this page" type in a word. this will then search that page. Remember that if you type in an English word the dialect answer may not begin with the same letter.
If you want to see words used in certain areas, click on your edit button at the top of your screen then on "Find on this page" in the drop down menu. A box shold now appear mark find. Put the number of a source in the box and words for that source will be highlighted down the source column. Not all Societies have made a return so some sources will not show up yet.
By Brian Stevens Federation Dialect Recorder 2004 to 2012
89 years ago, a group of people met in St Ives Cornwall to listen to a talk on the local dialect, from this meeting came the formation of the first Old Cornwall Society and a movement that has now grown to 46 individual Societies throughout Cornwall. The Societies work together under the auspices of the Federation to collect and protect all things Cornish.
All those years ago people were worried about the decline in the use of dialect words. However, when two or three Cornish people get together the accents are strong and the use of some dialect is heard with its individual sounds of vowel and consonant and the very special way these are woven to form sentences.
When I was growing up dialect, was then the most natural way of speech amongst the older generation and the first word I remember asking about was when my grandmother would say to me 'wus matter wi'. 'Wi' I was told by my mother, meaning 'with you'.
Sayings and similies were duly instilled in me and when my mother had her wool in a 'dole' Father would say 'its a tangled spellar'. A fishing term, such were used a great deal then.
At school children were discouraged from using dialect as it was felt that it would threaten their job prospects in the future. However, when I started work as a Masons apprentice the dialect just flowed from the men with whom I worked.
Towsers - crouse - crib - mazed Monday - 'ellens - short stone - yanks -skew - skud - dag - showel - gad -etc., etc. These words became a fascination and I started to collect them. Thankfully, I was not alone and people in other parts of Cornwall gathered up words with their meanings and saved them from being lost forever.
The local radio also played its part with recordings being made which allow us to hear how different dialect words were used to describe an object. The sound clip is part of a recorded conversation between Ken Phillips and Chris Blount. A CD of a number of these conversations on dialect is available from Chris.
2010 will see the ninetieth anniversary of that first Old Cornwall group. In the years that have followed thousands of words and there meaning have been collected along with sayings and phrases. The aim of this web site is to make the collection available to people both in Cornwall and around the world and we hope that those who are the descendents of Cornish emigrants will let us know if they find words that are still in use by their families and communities.
Although this site is an ongoing work I would like to thank my predecessor Joy Stevenson and all those others whose dedication has made this web site possible.