The Cornish Language

The Cornish language (Kernewek) dates back to pre-Roman times and the celtic races that inhabited this part of Europe. The Cornish language faded out towards the end of the 18th century but several Celtic languages still survive and Cornish has udergone a revival over the past 100 years. Cornish is perhaps most closely related to Welsh and Breton, which have provided many clues to help reserruct the language.

As Britain was successively colonised by various invaders the Celts were pushed to the fringes - westwards into Wales and Cornwall. This move westward never really ceased and throught the Middle Ages Cornish was pushed further and further west. Between 1400 and the mid 1500s the Cornish language had retreated from being universal to ony being spoken west of Tintagel / Looe.

Things really came to a head in 1549 with the Prayerbook Rebellion which was sparked by the Anglican clergy's dissaproval of much of the Cornish way and the fact that Cornwall was largely Catholic at the time. The uprising that ended in several large confrontations involving thousands of men across the West Country resulted in defeat for the Cornish and from here on the language's demise accelerated.

By the 18th century Cornish was mainly the preserve or fishermen and much of the herritage that went with it had vanished. It is said that Dolly Pentreath of Mousehole was the last person to speak Cornish as their first language. She died in 1777 and with her the Cornish language

Below are some Cornish phrases and common words

Greetings etc

Hello - Dydh da
Goodbye - Dyw genes
Please - Mar pleg
Thank you - Meur ras
Excuse me - Gav dhymm
Sorry - Drog yw genev
cheers - yeghes da

What's your name? - Pyth yw dha hanow?
My name is John - Ow hanow yw John

Colours

white - gwynn
yellow - melyn
orange  - rudhvelyn
pink - gwynnrudh
red - rudh
purple - rudhlas
green - gwyrdh
blue - glas
brown - gell
grey - loes
silver - arghansek
gold - owrek
black - du

Animals

bird - edhen
cat - kath
crow - bran
fish - pysk 
dog - ki
duck - hos
horse - margh
donkey - asyn
cow - bugh
sheep - davas
pig- hogh
fox - lowarn
rabbit - konin
hen - yar
goose - goedh
rat - rath
swan - alargh
seagull - goelann

Places

beach - treth
castle - kastell or dinas
cave - fow, gogo, kav or mogow
church - eglos
cliff - als
cottage - krowji
estuary - heyl
farm - bargen-tir
field - pras or parc
forest - koes
ford - rys
garden - lowarth
hill - bronn or bre
house - chi
island - ynys
lake - lynn
lighthouse - golowji
mine - bal
moor - hal or ros
mountain - menydh
ocean - keynvor
path - hyns
quarry - moengleudh or mengleth
river - avon
rivermouth - aber
road - fordh
rock - karrek
sand - tewes
sea - mor
spring - fente
stone - men
stream - gover
tree - gwydhenn
valley - nans or glynn
village - treveglos
water - dowr
waterfall - dowrlamm
well - puth
wood - koes

Numbers

1 - onan
2 - dew
3 - tri
4 - peswar
5 - pymp
6 - hwegh
7 - seyth
8 - eth
9 - naw
10 - deg

Days & Months

Monday - Dy' Lun
Tuesday - Dy' Meurth
Wednesday - Dy' Mergher
Thursday - Dy' Yow
Friday - Dy' Gwener
Saturday - Dy' Sadorn
Sunday - Dy' Sul

January - mis Genver
February - mis Hwevrer
March - mis Meurth
April - mis Ebryl
May - mis Me
June - mis Metheven
July - mis Gortheren
August - mis Est
September - mis Gwynngala
October - mis Hedra
November - mis Du
December - mis Kevardhu

Summer - Hav
Autumn - Kynyav
Winter - Gwav
Spring - Gwenton

Food & Drink

apple - aval
bacon - bakken
beans - fav
beer - korevbread - bara
breakfast - hansel
cheese - keus
coffee - koffi
dinner - koen
drink - diwes
egg - oy
food - boes or sosten
lunch - li
meat - kig
pasty - pasti or hoggan
potatoe - aval-dor
restaurant - boesti
vegetables - losow
wine - gwin