The Cornish tongue
Now, here’s where the weird side of the writing life comes in. I have experts who have helped me make a (fictional, I assure you) bomb, repair a smoking Morris, and give my characters places to sleep on a train. But what about accents? On the off chance that we have an expert in the Cornish tongue out there, I offer you the rough version of bits of dialogue, without context, that need to be nudged a little farther into the south-west of England.
So here you go–criticisms and suggestions welcome. And if anyone lends a considerable hand, I might feel moved to thank them in the acknowledgments page and send them a book, come January.
â€œNaouw, Robbie, shouldnâ€™ thee be at â€™awm helpinâ€™ tha mutherr?â€
The Cornishman answered in the same peculiar tongue. â€œI sawr the motorr. I didnaâ€™ laik its leuks. I thought you mun wanâ€™ mâ€™elp.â€
â€œRobbie, thaâ€™s a good lad, but thee mun go back to tha mumâ€™s naow. Ahm foin. These twa gennelmun come all the way from London town to talk tâ€™me, so Ah mun keep them, naow, must Ah?â€
Robbieâ€™s shoulders relaxed, and he hugged Grey back, then turned and eyed the motor for a moment before tilting his head and whispering loudly into Greyâ€™s ear, â€œAh wanna sit innit.â€
â€œNaow, Robbie, you wudnaâ€™ lahk the smell. Motorrs like thaâ€™ are not for thee. Off tha go, naow. Say giud day to Mr. Stuyvesant and Major Carstairs.â€
â€œRobbie, if thaâ€™s skaavinâ€™ from tha chores, tha mayâ€™s well come in, thaâ€™ll get a crick in thy neck listeninâ€™ lahk that.â€
â€œThis is my neighbor, Robbie Trevalian,â€ Grey told the American. â€œHe likes to keep me safe. Robbie, say â€™ello tâ€™ Mr. Stuyvesant.â€
The Cornishmanâ€™s eyes rose to examine Greyâ€™s guest. â€œThet nahmâ€™s tew long,â€ he complained.
â€œMy other nameâ€™s Harris,â€ Stuyvesant told him. â€œHow about using that?â€
â€œRobbie, me â€™ansum, would you laik to do summat fur me?â€ Grey asked.
â€œYais!â€ The translucent eyes gleamed with joy.
Grey pulled out his pocket-watch and laid it on the table, opening the cover. â€œThee sawr that other gennlemun, went off daun the lane?â€
â€œThâ€™ man in black?â€ Robbieâ€™s voice contained an oddly fastidious note of distaste.
â€œThatâ€™s right. I tolâ€™ him he could naâ€™ come back â€™til three oâ€™clock. Can thee show me where three oâ€™clock is?â€
Robbie bent over the instrument, face screwed in concentration. â€œLong â€™and here, short â€™and there.â€
â€œClever lad. Naow, if he starts to come up the lane afore that, you tell him Mister Greyâ€™s not home to him until three. Can you do that?â€
â€œMister Greyâ€™s not â€™ome to him unnil three,â€ he parroted, hitting Greyâ€™s precise intonation.
The easy grin returned, as Grey dropped into the Cornish patter. â€œAy, the Robbie leaves me lampered, that he do.â€