I don’t intend to spend too much time on this one. Daniel Cassidy, in his insane crapfest How The Irish Invented Slang, claims that this word comes from the Irish boc aniar (a buck from the west!!) and that this shows the level of Irish influence in places like the Caribbean.

In order to make this ridiculous claim credible, he has to rubbish the considerable body of evidence which exists to the contrary, which says that the buccaneers were called after a wooden structure called a boucan which was used by the native peoples to smoke meat and preserve it. Apparently in some areas a contrast was made between the farmers and the more marginal elements of society who hunted animals and smoked their meat, who were called buccaneers/boucaniers/bucaneros, and these were the kernel of the community which became pirates.

Here is how Cassidy summarises (i.e. dismisses) the real facts.

“All Anglo-American dictionaries derive the word buccaneer from an obscure French word boucanie [sic] meaning “one who hunts wild oxen” and cooks their meat on a boucan, or a barbecue, said to be from an unidentified Caribbean Native American word.  (E.B. Taylor, Early History of Man, 261; OED.)

Buccaneer as buckaneer is first found in the canting dictionaries of the 1690s. “Buckaneers, West-Indian Pirates … also the Rude Rabble in Jamaica.” (B.E.’s The Canting Crew Dictionary, London, 1690.)”

You can check out the real facts yourself on Wikipedia or in other encyclopedias or in the dictionaries. There is plenty of information available.  Boucan comes from the Tupi language in Brazil and was first used in French in 1578. Pirates were first referred to as boucaniers in French in the year 1654. From the start, there is plentiful evidence that people in the Caribbean believed that there was a link between boucanier and boucan (or bucanero and bucan in Spanish).

Compare this to the evidence that buccaneer comes from the Irish boc aniar.

Well, what did you think of the evidence? Yep, that’s right, there isn’t any evidence.

Not surprisingly, this one hasn’t spread as much as many of Cassidy’s claims because it is so obviously nonsense and the evidence against it is so overwhelming, which is why it is so unbelievable that some people have actually taken this claim seriously.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.