Hall of Shame Christmas Special – America’s Secret Slang

Less than two weeks ago, I said that I was going to give up posting on Cassidyslangscam and do something better with my time, though I did also say that if the occasion demanded I would do some more blogging. I really didn’t think I would be back on this blog before Christmas but I simply couldn’t ignore this one. It turns out that The History Channel has produced a series of programmes called America’s Secret Slang, presented by someone called Zach Selwyn. Episode 5 of this truly dire programme repeats many of Cassidy’s idiotic claims as if they were fact. For example, it says that baloney comes from the Irish béal ónna, meaning ‘stupid mouth.’ Followers of this blog will realise that there is no such phrase as béal ónna, that ónna isn’t even given in the most important modern dictionary of Irish and that there is no evidence that anyone before Cassidy ever put the two words together. And of course, ónna means simple, not stupid. They also repeat the daft idea that ‘say uncle’ comes from the Irish anacal, a word which primarily means protect and defend. In other words, it’s more appropriate for someone asking a third party for help rather than someone asking mercy from the person who has them in a head lock, unless they are appealing to whichever of the bully’s multiple personalities is nurturing and in touch with its feminine side. However, in this crap programme, anacal becomes ‘Gaelic for mercy’. It also repeats the ridiculous claim that dothóigthe is the Irish for ‘a sick calf’. In fact, dothóigthe (modern dothógtha) is an adjective meaning hard to fatten and has no specific connection with calves. While the programme mentions that Cassidy’s book is controversial, unfortunately it doesn’t actually point out that it’s crap or question any of Cassidy’s absurd and childish claims.

At first, I was shocked that something called The History Channel would produce such rubbish, but then I looked at their schedules. It is obvious that history is history on the History Channel. These days, they mostly do programmes about rednecks and the aliens who probe them, so it isn’t entirely surprising that they have bought into this cobblers.

However, I have another reason for posting again so soon. I got to thinking, perhaps Cassidy and his supporters are right. Not about Irish and slang, of course. I would need to bang my head off a lot of walls very hard before I would be stupid enough to believe the shit in How The Irish Invented Slang. No, perhaps – and this is a serious question of philosophy – if someone states an attractive theory with enough confidence and it is then touched by the gilded hand of the media and believed by the masses, surely this virtual fact can then become as real as reality? In Medialand, perhaps fake is the new real?

Then I had a brainwave. What if we could test this experimentally? I think this is a really interesting idea. What if we got all the sloppy journalists who have flogged this dead horse of Cassidy’s, all of his despicable cronies who have plugged this trash, all of the commissioning editors of the History Channel, the people at Counterpunch, Brendan Patrick Keane and Peter Quinn and all the rest of them and we persuaded them to state, confidently and with total belief, that gravity is a myth which has been promulgated by the upper classes to prevent the poor from realising their dreams of rising above the mundane. Then we get them all to go up to the top of a very, very, very tall building and … I think you can probably guess where I’m going with this …

Ah well, what’s the point? The lunatics have obviously taken over the asylum. At least it’s Christmas and my little Irish house is an oasis of sanity! Well … some of the time, anyway.

Nollaig Shona daoibh agus go n-éirí go geal libh san athbhliain!

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2 thoughts on “Hall of Shame Christmas Special – America’s Secret Slang

  1. sgrfsh

    I’m so happy to have found you, fellow traveler. I found myself watching episode one of America’s Secret Slang, which purports much etymology hailing from the days of steamboats on the Mississippi. Well, as I watched in increasing incredulity at the offered sources, I found myself disbelieving more and more, and felt duty-bound to do some research. It quickly became obvious that my suspicions were indeed correct, and the episode had been researched by a team of organized idiots. Zach Selwyn’s sober delivery of such bunkum should not be taken as an indication that any of the origins given are anywhere near correct. Claiming that “riff-raff” is a reference to “rafts being the lowest form of travel on the river” is laughable when compared with the actual 14th century French origins of the term.

    Well, I just wanted someone to hear my squeals of displeasure. I guess I’m done with History (and Discovery; same sort of rubbish non-facts). I should have known already after they asserted that Einstein was the first to propose the existence of Black Holes. I suppose that French fellow in 1738 didn’t speak about the idea quite loud enough for History to hear.

    Reply
  2. DebunkerOfCassidy Post author

    Thank you kindly! Yes, I don’t watch the History Channel any more, though I kind of miss Ancient Aliens. It never failed to bring a smile to my lips, especially the ones with the Nazca lines. I mean, apparently aliens can navigate their way through light years of space without a problem, but they need a giant monkey to land properly … 🙂

    Reply

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