The Irish, like every people on Earth, have plenty of cranks, begrudgers and know-nothings. However, generally we also have a positive attitude towards learning and studying. Anti-intellectualism is not a major part of our culture and our self-image as a nation is often about urbanity and scepticism and originality. Because of this, it is always a disappointment when we find people in the Irish diaspora who seem to be dead set on living up to (or living down to?) the negative ethnic stereotypes of the Irish created over hundreds of years by the British with their Irish Bulls, stage-Irish characters and Irish jokes, which portray us as a nation of gullible and dull-witted imbeciles.
One such gullible fool is called Brendan Patrick Keane. I had occasion to comment before on an atrocious post in IrishCentral in which he takes a host of Cassidy’s loopy and easily disprovable claims about the Irish origin of slang terms and repeats them verbatim, thus demonstrating a lamentable lack of any journalistic standards. Unfortunately, my comments last time have either not come to his attention or he has chosen to persist in his folly in the hope of becoming wise. Not much chance of that! According to his description of himself online, he is also a 9/11 Truther!
And now, Keane is at it again! He recently published a childish and dilettante post about the Irish language. He claims that he is ‘a student’ of the language, though it is quite apparent that most of the information he gives in this blog post is derived from the new online Irish dictionary, focloir.ie, and that Keane himself doesn’t know much about Irish or linguistics. This is clear because the phrase ‘An dtuig’ isn’t correct in Irish – it would have to be ‘An dtuigeann?’ – and dhá súile doesn’t make sense at all. The correct Irish is dhá shúil.
As is his wont, Keane likes to garnish his borrowed content with tedious barstool philosophy. No doubt Keane thinks he is highly original, but in fact his recent post is an example of a well-known fallacy, where someone compares random grammatical features of two languages and draws specious and childish conclusions about the hidden mental processes expressed by these grammatical structures. This is best avoided by any intelligent person. It is an over-simplified, folk-linguistic version of the theory known to linguists as The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. Mostly, it is a harmless kind of thinking aloud but at times it can verge on racism, as in the case where a British journalist in South America observed that when a glass was knocked over someone said ‘Se me cayó’ in Spanish, and that this ‘blaming’ of the glass for its own demise was typical of a culture where people don’t take responsibility for their own actions!
Keane’s piece is full of nonsense about Irish. He makes the absurd claim that the phrase ‘thinking cap’ comes from the Irish ceap, meaning think. He recommends people to read his original post about Cassidy, where people can find out the ‘origin’ of slang phrases like pizzazz, sucker, Interesting that Keane’s childish post (and through it, Cassidy’s ridiculous book) get a link, while the source that Keane’s recent post is based on, focloir.ie, doesn’t get a link at all. But then, if you’re recommending a piece of shit to people which is packed to the gills with fake Irish nonsense, the last thing you want them to do is go to an online dictionary and look up the real facts for themselves!
He repeats Cassidy’s ridiculous assertion that jazz comes from the Irish teas, and once again demonstrates a lack of any real knowledge of Irish by also giving Cassidy’s phonetic version, implying that teas can be pronounced with a j sound.
The story of how Cassidy came to believe this is interesting. Cassidy made use of a forum for Irish learners to find out how to pronounce certain sounds [http://www.daltai.com/discus/messages/13510/13360.html?1106977194]. Cassidy couldn’t understand the linguistic explanations. Eventually, one poster said:
BOTTOM LINE?! How do I say “tir?”
I’ll bet every native speaker would understand me no matter which I said.
Then Cassidy answered:
A chairde: go raibh maith agat.
tri tir: some tear, some jeer, some cheer (tir)
Sounds like the divine Raic Ard of New Yawk so-called “Ing-lish” — I have at least three registers of pronunciation of Be/arla in mo chab.
In other words, the other poster was saying, it doesn’t matter what you say really because people will understand you, NOT that native speakers use these forms interchangeably. But in the insane world of Cassidy’s head, this casual online comment became a source and was actually quoted as a source in the book and described by Cassidy as The Rule of Tír. In this, we can clearly see Cassidy’s disease, and the reason why only a total idiot like Brendan Patrick Keane would recommend this tripe to other people. Cassidy looked for any hint which might confirm his opinions and then turned it from possibility to probability, from probability to certainty. From a casual and impatient comment on an online forum, Cassidy invented a bogus rule of pronunciation and capitalised it as The Rule of Tír!
The comments page contains even more stupidities from Keane. For example, according to him Proto-Germanic was invented by linguists to give a lineage to English. Yes, I’m sure that was a major priority for Jakob Grimm and Franz Bopp, neither of whom were English!
In short, to any members of the Irish American or Irish community reading this, if you see the by-line Brendan Patrick Keane on an article, don’t bother reading it. This man is a fool who thinks he’s an intellectual and there is no worse kind of fool in the world.