Skedaddle

You would think that after six months and 111 posts attacking Daniel Cassidy’s ridiculous book, How The Irish Invented Slang, I would be nearing the end of my journey, that there would be no nonsense left to pull apart and denigrate. However, Cassidy’s book is such a crap-filled septic tank that there are still plenty of claims in it which are every bit as bad as the worst examples dealt with so far.

One of these utterly moronic claims is the idea that ‘skedaddle’ (meaning ‘to run off’) comes from the Irish sciord ar dólámh. Of course, as usual with Cassidy’s claims, sciord ar dólámh isn’t found in Irish. It isn’t a recognised phrase. It is not found in any song or poem or prose work. Cassidy invented it by putting together words he found in a dictionary. It doesn’t sound much like skedaddle and there are plenty of well-known expressions in Irish which mean to run off or run away. Cassidy liked to talk about ‘phonetic overcoats’ of English but in this case it would have to be more of a ‘phonetic straitjacket’.

Furthermore, the experts tell us that skedaddle is an American version of an English dialect word scaddle, which also means ‘to run off.’ This word is actually attested and it is also found in the English of Ulster (according to the excellent Concise Ulster Dictionary, which in spite of its being published by Oxford is full of words of Irish Gaelic origin and had an Irish language expert on the team, Dr Art Hughes. No doubt he is also an Anglophile stooge of British Imperialism!) There is evidence that the word scaddle exists, which there isn’t with the phrase sciord ar dólámh.

Of course, if Cassidy’s supporters want to claim that this phrase is Irish, then they have a clear choice. Let them find some evidence. Because the testimony of an American moron who didn’t speak any Irish doesn’t constitute evidence.

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