Late Cornish: William Bodinar’s letter of 3 July 1776

William Bodinar’s letter, written at Mousehole on 3 July 1776, perhaps the last piece of prose written by a native Cornish speaker.

Bluth vee ew try egance a pemp. Thera vee dean bodgack an puscas. Me rig deskey Cornoack termen me vee mawe. Me vee de more gen seara vee a pemp dean mouy en cock. Me rig scantlower clowes eden ger Sowsnack cowes en cock rag sythen warebar. Na riga vee biscath gwellas lever Cornoack. Me deskey Cornoack moas da more gen tees coath. Nag es mouy vel pager po pemp en dreav nye ell clapia Cornoack leben, poble coath pager egance blouth. Cornoack ewe oll naceaves gen poble younk.

My age is three score and five. I am a poor fisher man. I learnt Cornish when I was a boy. I have been to sea with my father and five more men in a fishing boat and have not heard one word of English spoke in the boat for a week together. I have never seen a Cornish book. I learnt Cornish going to sea with old men. There is not more than four or five in our town that can talk Cornish now, old people, four score years old. Cornish is all forgot with young people.

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