Another crazy and stupid claim in Cassidy’s dreckfest How The Irish Invented Slang is the one about yell being of Irish origin. Cassidy claims that it comes from éamh oll, which The Great Fraud defines as ‘a great cry, a loud shout, a loud call.’ This is ridiculous for several reasons.
Firstly, éamh oll is not a real Irish phrase. The word oll is only used as a prefix in modern Irish and éamh is a fairly obscure word. If any of Cassidy’s supporters thinks it is a real Irish phrase, fine. They can find an example of its use in an Irish text and get back to us with the reference!
Secondly, Cassidy’s handling of the English demonstrates both his dishonesty and his stupidity. His dishonesty, because he omits most of the relevant information and his stupidity because he fails even to understand what the dictionaries are saying.
Here is what Cassidy says:
“The OED derives yell from Middle Low German gellen, gillen, weak, Old English galan, to sing.”
This is what the Oxford English Dictionary says about the origins of yell:
“Forms: OE gellan, giellan, gillan, gyllan, ME ȝeolle, ME ȝelle, ME ȝel, ȝele, yhelle, … (Show More)
Etymology: Old English (Anglian) gellan , (West Saxon) giellan , gyllan , gillan strong verb, past tense geal , plural gullon = Middle Low German gellen , gillen weak, Middle Dutch gellen strong (Dutch gillen ), Old High German gellan strong (Middle High German, German weak gellen ), Old Norse gjalla , past tense gall (Swedish gälla , Norwegian giella ); < gell- , extended form of gel- : gal- , whence Old English galan to sing, gale v.1, -gale in nihtegale , night- + -gale (in nightingale n.1), Old Norse -gal in hanagal cockcrow, Old Saxon, (Middle) Dutch, Old High German galm outcry.”
It is quite clear from all this that yell had exactly the same meaning and a fairly similar form in Middle and Old English. The OED does not say that the word comes from Middle Low German because Middle Low German came after Old English and the word was already in English in the Old English period. And the reference to strong and weak is nothing to do with the meaning of the word, it refers to it being a strong or weak verb (i.e. one which forms the past tense by a vowel change or by adding –ed respectively: write/wrote is strong, work/worked is weak.) Somebody who is as big an idiot as Cassidy would look at the claim in the book and scoff at it – Ha! The dictionary dudes in their ivory towers think it comes from a German word for weak and an Old English word for sing! What a bunch of mugs! In fact, it is Cassidy’s supporters who are the mugs. The origin of yell is absolutely certain and his claim of an Irish origin is laughable.