Burg

There is no doubt in my mind that Cassidy was incompetent. He had no idea what he was doing. Sometimes, it is hard to understand why words have been included in the book at all, as they add nothing to Cassidy’s argument. One of these irrelevant entries is burg. What in God’s name is this doing here? Cassidy points out that it is used to mean a town, usually a dismissive reference to a small town. Scholars say that this is because so many towns in America have burg in their names (Harrisburg, Louisburg, Evansburg). Cassidy gives a rambling, irrelevant and partly incorrect account of the history of the word burg, which is of Germanic origin and has cognates in other branches of Indo-European. It is not from Late Latin burgus, as Cassidy says, as this was a borrowing from Germanic rather than the other way round. In addition to having cognates in Irish, versions of the word were also borrowed into Irish, so that we have the words buirgcheantar (borough) and buirgéiseach (bourgeois) in modern Irish dictionaries. How any of this is relevant to the existence of the word burg in American slang is never explained. It is clear even from what Cassidy says that the word doesn’t come from Irish and that even Cassidy didn’t think it comes from Irish. So saying that Irish has similar words is as pointless and trivial as saying that the words for coffee are similar in French, Irish and Maori. So what?

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