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The Cornish Language

Special Interest Group Tours and Travel in Cornwall

The Iron Age Celts who settled in Cornwall from about 500 BC introduced a Celtic language which survived the coming of Anglo-Saxons and was still spoken until the 18 century. Dolly Pentreath, popularly supposed to have been the last person to speak Cornish as her native language, died in Mousehole in 1777.

In recent times there have been attempts to revive and preserve the ancient tongue; meanwhile its legacy is apparent in countless place-names.

alt – cliff

bal – mine, minework

brea – hill

dynas – hill-fort

efan – spacious, vast

eglos – church

glyn – deep valley

hayl – estuary

leven – level, even

men – ancient stone

morva – seaside

pen – head, top

pol – pool, anchorage

porth – harbour, cove

pras – pasture

ruan – river

towan – sand dune

tre – home, village

tyr – land

wheal – a minework

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