I was born and bred in Cornwall and have lived here for most of my life. When I moved away for Uni, I started to realise that some of the things that ‘us Cornish’ say and do just aren’t accepted/understood anywhere else in the UK.
For example, no one seemed to understand the word ‘dreckly‘ and if I so much as said ‘where you to?’ I’d get a lot of blank looks. Worst of all, on many occasion I’d say ‘Alright?‘ without getting back a ‘Yeah, you?‘
Since moving back I’ve noticed a few other things that are considered acceptable in Cornwall but not ‘up country’, aka beyond the Tamar.
Here are 5 things that are acceptable in Cornwall:
1. Calling someone a bird, cock or maid without being insulting. – These are real phrases that are used everyday and are usually said in greeting. For example ‘Alright my bird?’ Which means ‘How are you?’ Or ‘Wasson me cock’ which means ‘What’s going on?’
2. To use being stuck behind a tractor, livestock (or in my experience a first bus) as an acceptable excuse for being late to work. – If you’ve ever travelled the backroads in Cornwall (it’s impossible not to!), you’re likely to come across a tractor or livestock crossing the road. On occasion you may even come across a steam engine! With little windy roads and not much space to safely overtake, most employers will accept this as a suitable excuse for being late for work.
3. To have a pasty for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The staple meal in Cornwall, it’s acceptable to have a pasty whatever time of day it is. Especially freshly baked and first thing in the morning to cure your cider hangover from the night before.
4. To use dreckly as a time frame. Whether you’re meeting friends or doing work for someone, saying ‘see you dreckly’ or ‘I’ll do it dreckly’ is an accepted measure of time in Cornwall. If you aren’t from Cornwall, it may confuse you to know that dreckly could mean anytime. It could mean in an hour, in a day or even next week. If you do ask someone to do a job for you and they say ‘dreckly’, make sure you get an agreed exact time from them if you don’t want to be waiting indefinitely.
5. To moan about ’emmets’ frequently. They clog up the streets in summer, they overrun the beaches, they make all the pasties sell out in the shops by 1pm and they bring in a hell of a lot of money to Cornwall. Even if you work in the service industry and rely on tourism to pay your wages, in Cornwall it is still considered acceptable to have a moan about ‘bloody emmets’ or ‘foreigners’. (Foreigners doesn’t mean someone from abroad, it means anyone non-Cornish and anyone from across the Tamar Bridge.)
If you are an visitor to Cornwall, don’t worry, we do love having you down here and you’ll get used to our funny phrases!! If you’re coming on holiday, be sure to check out my top 5 family friendly beaches in Cornwall!
What would you add to this list? Is there anything else you think is only acceptable in Cornwall?