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Post Info TOPIC: The Decay Of The English Language, And How Mr. Graham Helps


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Date: Oct 5 9:52 PM, 2010
RE: The Decay Of The English Language, And How Mr. Graham Helps
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When we were in Cornwall in September there was a sort of Eistedfodd at St Ives where the Bards (as in the photo) were welcoming 'new Bards'.  There were several speeches and presentations using the Cornish language - but no-one actually sounded very comfortable and fluent.....

It's not a criticism as I think it's great that countries and areas of the world are brining back customs and languages, but having spent a lot of time in West Wales where the first language spoken there is definitely Welsh - it was obvious to us that they are at an early stage.

Hope they keep perservering though.

Thanks for the explanation of 'meating the calves' - wondered what that was!

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Date: Oct 5 11:09 AM, 2010
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It was interesting that a newspaper article a couple of weeks ago was lamenting the non-use and mis-use of certain words in today's literature. In  an example of 20 worthy words to be encouraged  no fewer than half were  frequently used in WGs books.

Coming from an agricultural background, and that in Cornwall, 'meating the calves' means feeding them.  They would have made up a sloppy meal mixture and added some scraps (if any around), and then fed the newly weaned calves in the evening from a bucket.  This is still done on very small holdings,  indeed I have done it myself,  although different ingredients are used nowadays.  However it is still occasionally called meating.

I can offer no explanation for 'fronded curiosity' - is this in the books?  I do not recall it.

The Cornish language is having a partial revival.  There are  classes one can attend and road names,  when replaced in Truro, now sport the Cornish name beneath the more used 'english' one.  Wheal comes from huel, which is Cornish for 'hole', although this has recently been disputed.

Many of the local phrases in Poldark books are still occasionally heard, especially in the farming communities, some of which are amazingly unchanged. I know of one or two places where Ross and Demelza would not look at all out of place!

Have to get the saffron cakes made now.  Fifty years ago the buns were found in every household, but have not the same appeal today.

Jane Gimlett

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Date: Jun 23 2:29 PM, 2008
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I was also looking up "Wheal" to see why the mines were called that, and getting nowhere, but fortunately WG did explain it by having Ross explain it in one of the later novels and the word is Cornish, not English, and means "hole."


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Date: Jun 22 11:04 PM, 2008
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august1229 wrote:

My American Heritage Dictionary sometimes does not even have the word in question, or as used.

For example, "meating the calves."  "Meat" is not a verb, at least according to that dictionary.  So I still don't know what it meant.

I also had looked up "fronded," because someone had a "fronded curiosity."  It means a multipart leaf.   So I suppose it was a multipart curiosity. 




Even being English isn't always any help as I've occasionally had the same problem too ! Aside from any Cornish words and phrases he must have heard and used from before the War, and which are fairly easy to recognise and understand, even find if you know where to look long enough, some of his remaining most unusual words and phrases aren't even in my 4th Revised 1958 Edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary first issued in 1911 ! And there's quite a few words in there that aren't in my 1993 Reader's Digest Universal Dictionary either. Part and parcel I suppose of any language in constant daily usage down the years.

I can't remember exactly where the expression "meating the calves" is and though I'm no cook and could well be wrong (!), if it's where Demelza or Jane Gimlett is in the kitchen preparing a meal, I seem to remember meating anything meant basting it. If it's in the cow shed no idea at all. As for fronded curiosity I've heard of it somewhere and have the impression that it's similar to veiled curiosity only with a few gaps in it !!  biggrin



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Date: Jun 22 9:19 PM, 2008
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My American Heritage Dictionary sometimes does not even have the word in question, or as used.

For example, "meating the calves."  "Meat" is not a verb, at least according to that dictionary.  So I still don't know what it meant.

I also had looked up "fronded," because someone had a "fronded curiosity."  It means a multipart leaf.   So I suppose it was a multipart curiosity. 


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Date: Aug 11 1:37 AM, 2006
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After many months of computer problems, true to form and like a bad penny, G. Warleggan is back.


I agree with you on Demelza and Francis.  I just love the way the continually put a flat ending to arguments.  I still haven't read the books yet, so I don't know if this is in the book, but it's in the series:  Verity:  "How are you, Francis?"  Francis:  "Drunk." 


The more I watch the series, the more humor I spot.  I am still borrowing the series from my library, I guess I pretty much "own" it thanks to renewing, but it's kind of sad that no one else ever checks it out!



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Date: Jul 3 1:43 PM, 2006
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I, too, love the witty, sharp dialogue in the books, particularly with Demelza, who always gives as good as she gets, despite the 'disadvantages' of her background (my signature is her reply to Margaret at Hugh Bodrugan's party - the perfect retort for a younger woman to defeat the 'experience' of one's competition!) The conversations and arguments are always so eloquent and polite, masking true feelings behind etiquette and formal speech. Francis was the best one for delivering a point in a sarcastic, smug comment; I miss him in the later books.

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Date: May 21 5:51 PM, 2006
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For the past few years, I've just been amazed at how people butcher the English language. Especially here in the U.S. I was taught to read by the time I was four years old because my mother knew that public school wouldn't be enough.
I watch the Poldark series and that all goes away. It helps me cope with what my mom used to call the "American Lazy Tongue Disease."
And I try to implement phrases and words in the series that aren't heard very much (or at all) into life. One phrase that sticks in my mind, and is humorous, is when Dr. Enys is looking for someone to help with Jeffrey Charles while he is ill. When Francis' name is mentioned, Doctor Enys replies:
"He seemes to have performed some arduous task with a brandy bottle."
One of my friends was three sheets to the wind, and I used this phrase in reference to his condition, I was with a group, and not only did I have to explain what the word "arduous" meant, I had to explain the whole phrase.
Ah, just sad.

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