CORNISH-L ArchivesArchiver > CORNISH > 2000-03 > 0954098934
From: "John Coles" <>
Subject: Re: Mowhay and Bowjy
Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2000 20:28:54 +0100
Hi Pat and All,
Pat has hit the 'phonetic' spelling to try and get across the Cornish accent
pronouncing the word 'MOWHAY' (As 'Mowee') and it's sparked a lot of
interest. So, having worked a lot among country folk myself, here is my
penny worth on this interesting flashback to the Cornish past.
The 'Mowhay' is not specifically Cornish, and I've certainly met it in
Devon, Dorset, and Hampshire as well. As I've always understood it, it is
the barn in which the 'Mow' is stored, and I was fascinated to find when I
looked it up in a couple of old dictionaries, that the meaning is the same
in Britain as it is in the USA (Don't know about Australia, sorry Pat!!!):
Nuttalls Standard Dictionary 1906, defines 'Mow' as"a heap of hay or sheaves
deposited in a barn"
Websters New American Dictionary 1939, defines 'Mow' as "The space in a barn
where hay or grain is stored".
Much more importantly, my 81 year old farming neighbour pronounces the word
'Mowee' and defines it as the "yard where the hay was stored, the Rickyard"
[A 'Hayrick' was made by piling up sheaves of hay, and then putting a
waterproof 'thatched' roof on top. There is a dramatic description of a
Rickyard catching fire in the 19th. Century novel 'Far From the Madding
Crowd' by Thomas Hardy... a Dorset man who married a Cornish lass from St.
Amongst the old chaps I've worked with in my time, this is known either as
the Stackyard [Hay-stack = Hay-rick]
Now a few other tit-bits of country dialect in similar vein:
The 'Mowsteads' in a barn were the Elm boards used to seperate the central
Threshing area, from the storage areas each side. (A Threshing barn had a
central threshing floor, with a door each side of the barn so that the
through draught would blow the chaff away).
Threshed grain would be kept in a Granary, of which only a very few
remain... there is a superb one near my house, set on Granite 'Staddle /
Saddle stones' which are shaped like a mushroom / toadstool to stop rats and
mice climbing in.
The LINHAY (pronounced Linee) was used in Devon and East Cornwall (and maybe
West???) as the term to describe a Cattle shed, where the cattle were
usually kept loose, instead of tethered. There is a really nice one near me,
where I walk my dog most days!
BUT way down in West Cornwall, they've kept the old Cornish Language name
for the Linhay, and they call it a BOWJY... pronounced Bowjee.
Have fun! John Coles in cold but sunny North Cornwall, wishing he was down
West where the daffodils are colouring the fields golden yellow.
From: Pat Banks <>
Date: Monday, March 27, 2000 1:22 PM
>Now I've probably spelt it incorrectly!!! My little attempt was
>actually the phonetic spelling as I heard my friend say it. Sorry if it
>caused confusion!!! Correct spellings don't always tell you how the
>105/10 Timbercrest Rise
>WOODVALE WA 6026
>Fax: +61 (08) 9409 6113
>Cornwall: COCK - Mullion;
> GEORGE - St. Agnes;
> OSBORNE - St. Levan;
> POLGLASE - Breage and St. Erth
>Northern Ireland: MAGILL Co.Antrim;
> MAWHINNEY - Co.Antrim
>Devon: DODD - Moretonhampstead;
> POTTER - Moretonhampstead
> BROOM - Teignmouth.
|Re: Mowhay and Bowjy by "John Coles" <>|