Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The incomer's tale

When you finally get to the end of the railway line and find yourself in Penzance, you will step blinking into the sunshine of a different world.  There's a sign at the entrance to the station which says Pensans a'gas dynergh - which means Penzance welcomes you.  At this point you might start to worry that there's a whole new language for you to learn here, and in a sense there is.  But it won't be Cornish. Only a couple of hundred people speak Cornish (as a second language) and they tend to be academics - or members of the tourist industry. 

All they had to go on when they revived the language a century ago were some mediaeval mystery plays, so "Cornish" includes lots of words that are made up, and the few speakers there are tend to argue about which of the four versions of Cornish has the correct syntax.

Cornish is a dead language.  The last person to speak it as her mother tongue died in l777.  She lived close to where I live, in a village called Paul.  There's a memorial to her there.  She even has her own poem, written in Cornish by a certain Mr Thomson of Truro.  The English translation goes like this:

Old Dolly Pentreath 100 aged and 2
Deceased and buried in Paul Parish too.....

I will spare you the rest of it.

I am an incomer, and proud of it.  I came to live in West Penwith on the very edge of Britain 27 years ago.  In London I had been an advertising copywriter, but Cornwall allowed me the right amount of space and time to be a writer.
The differentness of Cornwall is what interests and inspires me, and I will be writing about my life here in this blog.

So welcome to my blog - or Blogas a'gas dynergh, as Dolly might have said.


  1. Whoopeeee!! Welcome to the blogosphere Ann - you'll love it and we'll love hearing your doings...

  2. A great start, Ann. I´m looking forward to reading more about Cornwall, all things Cornish, and your relationship with the place....we´re both poets of place, in a sense, I guess.

  3. I shall enjoy reading this and pretending I live there too! I wish....

  4. Hi Ann
    just found you through a friend on Facebook - Susan I think! Welcome to blogging and I look forward to reading your thoughts and impressions of Penwith. I lived there for 15 years and now am in Catalunya - also writing about my life here and how I see things from an outsiders point of view. Have a great time writing and researching. There is so much to write about down there and lots of people who will find it interesting. This blog thing can change your life! Kate x

  5. Welcome to the Blogosphere! Fascinating first post with your First Words.

  6. Sorry that your introduction to the blogging world was just when blogger crashed. But we're all here again now and I'm thrilled that you're joining us. One of these days I'll make it back to your beautiful part of the world. But in the meantime, now I can read your blog! Xo