Button

If you look at the other posts in this blog, you will see that Daniel Cassidy’s book How The Irish Invented Slang is rubbish, because Cassidy was ignorant of the Irish language. He was therefore unable to put himself in the position of an Irish-speaking immigrant of the eighteenth or nineteenth century arriving in a largely English-speaking city. He was unable to make intelligent or believable guesses about what phrases such an Irish immigrant might invent to describe the new world in which he suddenly found himself.

I have already given evidence of Cassidy’s incompetence and lack of knowledge but here is another perfect example. Cassidy claims that button, which apparently is a slang term for a dealer in gambling, derives from the phrase beart t-aon, which Cassidy says means ‘the one who deals’. This is a ridiculous claim. Beart means an act or action. In games it means a move (as in a move in chess or in backgammon) and it is not likely that it would be used for a deal in cards. Most Irish speakers would use déanamh for this – you could also use roinnt or dáileadh.

Even if it did mean a deal of cards, this doesn’t mean that it could be used for the person who deals the cards. And while the word aon means one (as in the numeral) it isn’t used to mean ‘the one (who did something)’. This is an té. So, how would real Irish speakers say ‘the one who deals’?  An té a dhéanann na cártaí, or An té a dháileann na cártaí, or An té a roinneann na cártaí. Not beart t-aon. And what is that t- doing there? How could that possibly make any sense in terms of the rules of Irish grammar?

It is like somone claiming that the dealer in a game of cards would be called el repartir uno in Spanish. This is yet another example of Cassidy’s indomitable stupidity and of his incredible, boundless arrogance. 

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