Monday, 27 September 2010

Another Cornishman into the fold

Issue 50: February/March 2008

We had another addition to our family the other week.
Jago Pengelly was born up at Treliske on January 21, and was 8lbs 10ozs at birth.
He was a bit late was Jago (Jago, by the way, is Cornish for Jacob). 
It was a waiting time like no other. Father would ring up each day and say: “Is that boy come yet?”
“No, sign yet,” I’d say.
“You should try eating more pasties in front of ’un,” he’d add. “Try and tempt him out.”
“Never mind,” Father would sagely nod. “Be ’ere dreckly, I expect.”
Dreckly, I thought, now there’s a word.
When I try to explain ‘dreckly’ to people I often find myself in a quandary as to a definition.
Dreckly kind of means happening soon but not that soon, something that is coming soon but one should go and do something else in the meantime rather than wait. It is an event that is due to take place at the right time.
The new urban dictionary translates dreckly as an unspecified amount of time and as a uniquely Cornish phrase.
The closest thing to dreckly in meaning, as far as I can make out, is manana. Manana is Spanish or Latin for early tomorrow but is used more often to denote an undetermined amount of time.
What is obvious is that it’s a laid-back modus operandi best suited to Cornish and Mediterranean people, people who evidently like taking their time to do things when there’s no obvious rush on.
However, many people don’t understand ‘dreckly’. When some people ask you to do things, or ask when something will happen, and you say ‘dreckly’, they will instantly ask when. 
Then when you say ‘well, dreckly’ and they get a bit teasy (another Cornish word).
We used to have this joke in our house that instead of Captain Kirk’s ‘to boldy go where no man has gone before’, we’d have ‘to dreckly go where no Cornishman has gone before’ noting the time it sometimes took things to get done. This is especially true of DIY-type things that needed doing around the house.
I think the whole dreckly phenomenon is quite in step with the Cornish way of life. Cornwall has a pace of life all to its own brought about by the landscape, its heritage and the culture of its people. This pace of life, interestingly enough, has been carried around the world by Cornish people. I’ve met Cornish people in Canada who have used the term dreckly with great accuracy, but with a Canadian accent obviously.
Anyway, Jago did come out dreckly. He was a fortnight later than what we expected, but he made a grand entrance nevertheless.
Nigel Pengelly


Igor said...

Dear Mr Pengelly,

My name is Igor Trepeshchenok and I am from Latvia. I am currently studying Press & Editorial Photography at Falmouth University College.

With the respect and interest to the Cornish culture and history I want to make a story in photographs and text for my study project about Cornwall and a movement that seeks greater autonomy for Cornwall.

If you can help me in this goal's achievement I look forward to hearing from you. My email:

Yours faithfully,
Igor Trepeshchenok

Post a Comment