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It’s Official – Vichy Water Is Irish Too

Following on the recent revelations that Mazel Tov derives from Irish, the Irish Milesian Academy For Intellectual Arts (IrishMAFIA) has released another bombshell. For many years, people assumed that Vichy water derives from the spa town of Vichy in France. Not so, says Brendan Patrick Gurne, Professor of Creative Etymology at IrishMAFIA.

“The word biseach in Irish means an improvement in health. A deoch bhisigh (joke vishy, a ‘drink of improvement’) is a drink that people take to recover from a hangover, a hair of the dog. It is easy to see how a term for an alcoholic drink used to restore health could be transferred to a non-alcoholic drink used as a tonic. The experts on English language admit that not all ‘vichy water’ comes from Vichy, or even from France. Merriam-Webster says: ‘: a natural sparkling mineral water from Vichy, France; also : an imitation of or substitute for this.’ It’s obviously from Irish. Our special Irish language consultant, the guy in the Blarney Stone bar who says he speaks Irish, concurs with our findings.”

John Weeney of the SoHo Aliens agrees.

“The claim that vichy water has any connection with Vichy in France is completely discredited. It is an attempt by Anglophile scholars to belittle the influence of Irish on American speech by linking American soft drinks with a regime which collaborated with Nazism. Anyone who believes the discredited claim that vichy water originates from Vichy in France and not from the Irish language is a self-loathing Irishman. Not only that but my father was an Irish speaker and I remember him talking about soft drinks and I’m fairly certain he once mentioned vichy. He was never in France in his life! Which just goes to show, this word must come from Irish!”

There has been a number of other responses to the claim.

“Espèce d’imbécile!” (You’re probably right!) said the Mayor of Vichy.

“Vous êtes complètement fou ou quoi?” (We endorse this message) said a representative of L’Académie française.

“This could be the continuation of a beautiful friendship!” said Peter Quint, Professional Irish-American.

“It’s a truly fascinating claim, a truth brought back from the shadows, like ancient roads emerging from a winter landscape, a veritable Tutankhamen’s tomb of linguistic archaeology. Though I’m not much of a one for mineral water myself. Speaking of which, did someone mention a free bar?” said Mallarkey McQuart, brother of the more famous.

“Begob and begorrah, sure and all ‘tis Oirish it is being, not the Frinch, and so say all of us what ‘as our roots in da Emrald Oil!” said Ned Lunch, practising some authentic Irish dialogue for his next novel.

“ANY ONE WHO BELIEVES THAT VICHY WATER IS FRENCH NOT THE PRODUCT OF THE IRISH CELT IS HELPING THE BRUTAL STORM TROOPERS OF BRITISH IMPERALISM TO RAVISH KATHLEEN NI HOOLAHAN IN FRONT OF HER BEWILDIERED AND STARVING ORFAN CHILDREN! EVERY TIME YOU DENY THE TRUTH OF DANIEL CASSIDY’S THEORIES A LEPRECAUN DIES AND IRELAND LOSES A LITTLE OF IT’S EMERALD COLOR AND BE COMES MORE LIKE FORTY SHADES OF GRAY. BUT NOT FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY. WELL A BIT. THAT DIDNT COME OUT RIGHT. IM CONFUSED. THE COSMIC RAYS MUST BE GETTING THROUGH.” said another guy on the Internet with a tinfoil hat.

Clamour

One of the most ridiculous claims made by Daniel Cassidy is that the English word clamour derives from the Irish words glam mór. Glam means ‘bark, bay; howl, shout, roar’ and mór means ‘big’. This claim is made in several reviews of Cassidy’s book, such as this one: “The words and phrases of Ireland are as woven into the clamour (glam mor, great howl, shout and roar) … of American life as the hot jazz (teas, pron j’as, cd’as, heat, passion, excitement) of New Orleans.” However, it seems not to have made it to the book itself. Perhaps someone pointed out how ludicrous the claim was and Cassidy decided to surreptitiously bury it without comment. Several of Cassidy’s more gullible and deluded fans are still spreading it online.

And believe me, this claim really is total nonsense. Clamour (clamor in the American spelling) is on record in English since the Middle English period. It was used by Chaucer in the Canterbury Tales in 1385. Middle English took it from Old French and it ultimately derives from the Latin clamare, meaning to shout. It has cognates in Spanish and Portuguese. It has no connection with an Irish word for barking, except that an American nutcase who was completely barking thought it was Irish.

Beat

Daniel Cassidy, in his insane and ridiculous book, How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that the American slang word beat comes from the Irish word béad. This is one of the many examples in the book where Cassidy simply ignored a perfectly logical and obvious English explanation for American English slang terms and opted for implausible explanations in a language he knew absolutely nothing about – Irish.

Beat means, according to Cassidy, ‘to rob, cheat or swindle’ or to be robbed, cheated or swindled. A ‘bad beat’, according to Cassidy, is a severe loss in poker and of course, a ‘dead beat’ is someone who is down and out. All of these meanings are perfectly easy to understand in terms of the various meanings of the English word ‘beat,’ meaning to flog, to defeat, to overcome.

But of course, Cassidy wasn’t interested in logical or reasonable explanations and neither are the ignorant dumbasses who continue to propagate this nonsense. Cassidy’s explanation is that it comes from the Irish word béad, which, according to him, is defined as ‘loss, injury, robbery, crime; ill-deed; ill-doings, an injury; sorrow; robbed or cheated; flattery; trick; cunning.’ Of course, this multifaceted definition doesn’t come from any dictionary. While the diminutive béadán is common enough in modern Irish (it means ‘gossip’), béad isn’t. Ó Dónaill’s dictionary, which is the most reliable, says simply that the word béad is a literary term for ill deed. Literary means very old in this context. It’s the kind of language which poets used in the 16th or 17th century. It isn’t a modern Irish term. Dinneen’s dictionary, which tends to mix and mingle words from all eras and dialects, says that béad means ‘a deed; crime or injury; sorrow, ill tidings or doings’. I can find no examples of this word in use in modern Irish.

If you look on Google, you might find one or two examples of the words béad or bead but be careful – these are Munster dialect versions of the first person future tense of the verb ‘to be’. They are verbal forms, not nouns. Someone is saying that they will be somewhere at some time. These words are unrelated to the word béad meaning ill deed.

Béad would be pronounced baid as well, to rhyme with laid or made. If it were borrowed into English, why wouldn’t it be borrowed as bade? This is just more cretinous nonsense from the Dork of New York and should be ignored by all reasonable and intelligent human beings.

Punk

The origins of the word punk are quite mysterious, as Cassidy claims in his crazy book How The Irish Invented Slang. However, it isn’t an American slang word of Irish origin. Why not? Well, firstly, the development seems to have been from a word meaning rotten wood used as tinder (dating to the 17th century and found all over New England), to anything rotten (including Johnny here!), to a prostitute, and thus to a male prostitute or a criminal’s apprentice.

Ponach does mean a boy, but it means a very young boy, as in a toddler. And it means that in Scottish Gaelic, not in Irish. (How much influence did Scottish Gaelic have on American slang, I ask myself?) It is pronounced ponna or ponnakh, which is not a great match for punk anyway.

In other words, this is more crazy, childish and badly-researched nonsense from the Great Fraud Cassidy.

Bounce

According to Daniel Cassidy’s lunatic work of fake linguistics, How The Irish Invented Slang, the word bounce, as in to throw someone out of a bar, and bouncer, a doorman, derive from the Irish phrase bain as, which Cassidy defines as ‘to extract out of; to remove from, to eject, to extract from’. As we have said before, Cassidy frequently ignored the logical and obvious origin of words and went off on a wild goose-chase looking for some bizarre speculative Irish origin. That is exactly what Cassidy did here.

He says that the OED gives the word bounce as origin unknown. While I don’t have a full copy of the OED handy, I found a pocket OED online which suggests a connection with German bunsen or Dutch bons, both meaning to beat or thump. What is not in any doubt is that bounce is an old word in English, dating back to the 13th century. Furthermore, bain as might have these meanings but would be used of a tooth or something like that. An Irish speaker would talk about throwing somebody out (duine a chaitheamh amach as an áit).

From the Irish side, the claim is inherently improbable. When we add the fact that bounce is an ancient word in English and that its meaning is entirely appropriate in the context, Cassidy’s claim is revealed as the barking mad nonsense it really is.

Sap

Sap is an American slang term for an idiot or sucker. According to Daniel Cassidy, the dork of New York, in his crap book of fake etymologies, How The Irish Invented Slang, this derives from the Irish sop, which according to him means ‘a wisp of straw, a useless lout, a cowardly weak fellow, a silly person.’ This sounds like a good match, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, Cassidy seems to have made this definition up, as Dinneen’s dictionary gives no human meanings at all for sop, while Ó Dónaill’s dictionary states that sop de dhuine (a sop of a person) can mean ‘a wispy or unkempt person.’ Most of the lengthy definition quoted by Cassidy seems to be pure invention.

Back in the real world, sap seems to derive from earlier English and Scottish terms like sapskull and saphead, both of them meaning chump or idiot. You can find out more here at the excellent Online Etymological Dictionary, a resource created by real scholars to inform people about genuine word origins:

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=sap

Codswallop About Wallop

In his ridiculous book How The Irish Invented Slang, Daniel Cassidy claimed that the word wallop, meaning to beat or strike, is derived from the Irish bhuail leadhb.

The first thing that needs to be pointed out about this claim is that bhuail leadhb is not a proper Irish phrase. Bhuail is the past tense of buail meaning to beat. Leadhb, amongst other things, can refer to a blow or a stroke, but in this sense it is usually used with the word for give – thug sé leadhb dó, he gave him a blow, not bhuail sé leadhb (air?). (This is much the same as English – you don’t beat someone a blow, you beat someone or you give someone a blow.) And bhuail leadhb would never be heard together, because it needs a subject, (bhuail sé leadhb, bhuail Pádraig leadhb) and nobody would borrow a phrase unless they heard it being used, which they wouldn’t with bhuail leadhb. I should also point out that Cassidy claimed bhuail as the origin of wale as well. So the same word becomes wale in one case and wall in another, which is hardly likely.

Furthermore, wallop is an ancient word in English, though it originally meant to gallop. It apparently only acquired the new meaning of to beat or strike in the early 19th century, but this is probably a development of its earlier meaning, or perhaps just a re-use of a word which sounded right for a blow. Wherever it genuinely comes from, the fact is that it doesn’t come from bhuail leadhb, which was invented by a non-Irish-speaking lunatic in California circa 2005.

It’s Official – Mazel Tov is Irish Too!

For centuries, people have believed that Mazel Tov is Hebrew and an exclusively Jewish expression. Now an Irish-American academic has thrown down the gauntlet to this biased scholarship which refuses to give Irish culture its rightful place at the centre of the universe.

Brendan Patrick Gurne, Professor of Creative Etymology at the newly-founded Irish Milesian Academy For Intellectual Arts (IrishMAFIA) could not hide his delight when he spoke to our correspondent.

“The Academy was founded last year with funding from Celtic Research On New York (CRONY) to continue the research of the late Daniel Cassidy into the Irish influence on American speech. This is our first important breakthrough. We have checked it with our extensive library and both of the books are in full agreement. Also our special Irish language consultant, the guy in the Blarney Stone Bar who says he speaks Irish, concurs with our findings.”

“The Irish word asal means donkey and tofa means chosen. Therefore the phrase m’asal tofa means ‘my chosen donkey’. This seems to go back to the old days when donkey racing was a common activity in Ireland. When someone was lucky and won a race, they used to shout m’asal tofa! When large numbers of Irish speakers came to New York in the 1840s, Jewish people heard the expression and adopted it.”

Another Irish American who is delighted with the revelation is John Weeney of the SoLo Dalliance.

“It stands to reason that these people are right. They’re friends of mine! You only have to look at the nonsense given out by the traditional Anglophile linguists. They say that it comes from two Hebrew words meaning ‘planet good’! It doesn’t even make sense! I think all these linguists in their ivory towers should go off in a rocket and find a better planet and leave us working stiffs down here with our feet on the ground!” he guffawed, smugly. “Anyone who refuses to believe that Mazel Tov is derived from Irish donkey-racing slang and accepts the discredited Hebrew origin is simply a self-hating Irishman.”

Professor Gurne says that they are working on hundreds of other words now.

“We hope to have Irish derivations for kimono, blitzkrieg and mariachi very soon!” he said. “Watch this space!”

A number of people have commented on the revelation.

“Oy vey, voss far a mishegoss!” (I endorse this message!) said Rabbi Samuel Tishbein.

“Tha è sin glè mhath!” said Dizzy Gillespie, channelled from beyond the grave by internationally renowned medium Madam Bletherovsky.

“Daniel Cassidy was a god, a champion, a muse, an idol, a star, a force of nature, the greatest intellectual since Plato. At last his genius is beginning to bear fruit! Mazel Tov, Danny Boy!” said Peter Quint, Professional Irish-American.

“What do I think? I don’t know. Ask Peter Quint or Mallarkey McQuart!” said Ned Lunch, writer and fighter.

“This is a great claim altogether, a wonderful claim. Sure, it’s like Danny was still here beside me sharing a bit o’ the old crack. Now, where’s the buffet?” said writer Mallarkey McQuart, brother of the more famous.

“THIS IS A MAJOR REVULSION IN ENTOMOLOGY. ITS THE BIGEST THING SINSE COPPERKNICKERS,” said some guy on the Internet with a tinfoil hat.

Famine Sitcom

I have just noticed that Eamon Loingsigh has posted on the subject of a proposed sitcom to be done by an English TV company, Channel 4, set in Ireland during the Famine era. One of the co-authors of the excellent Father Ted, Graham Linehan, has apparently supported the idea of the series. Loingsigh thinks it is a terrible idea, and tweeted Linehan to tell him so. Linehan replied, pointing out that the writer of the proposed show is Irish and calling Loingsigh a ‘fucking moron’.

Now, there are two issues here. One is to do with the way that the Irish Famine is represented in general (Loingsigh has some typically weird views on this) and the other is the whole notion that comedy should avoid catastrophes, disasters or wars of any kind.

To deal with the second question first, I would have to say that I find the whole idea of setting a comedy during the famine era a big risk. Do I think it is possible to spin comedy gold out of this situation without being offensive? I’m quite sure it is but I think it’s a tall order. The young Irish writer they have chosen, Hugh Travers, will really have his work cut out.

But I don’t think comedians should necessarily shy away from subjects like this because they are controversial. I remember hearing the plot-line of the film La Vita E Bella (Life is Sweet) and thinking that it sounded awful. When I actually watched the film, I found it tasteful, respectful and very poignant. At the risk of spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t seen it, it concerns a Jewish father sent to a camp who tries to convince his young son that the whole thing is a game in order to protect him from the awfulness of their predicament. In other words, if they can find the right angle, a Famine-era comedy programme is certainly possible. One of the best historical sitcoms is Blackadder, part of which was set during the First World War, which was hardly a natural fun-factory. The point is, none of the people protesting about this sitcom have even seen a script yet, never mind the finished article, so it’s way too early to be protesting!

Incidentally, I have seen Graham Linehan in a British sitcom which mentions the Famine. Linehan and his Father Ted colleague Arthur Matthews were speaking to the Steve Coogan character Alan Partridge in a Travel Tavern in Norfolk. “It was just the potatoes that were affected,” said Partridge. “At the end of the day, you will pay the price if you’re a fussy eater.” I’m quite sure that Eamon Loingsigh would find this shocking and unfunny, because he would completely miss the point. The point is that Steve Coogan is a second generation Manchester Irishman playing a pompous, middle-class southern Englishman. The scene is mocking Partridge’s ignorant, smug attitude towards the Irish and the world in general, not laughing at the Famine or its consequences.

The other issue I have with Loingsigh’s post is his traditional nationalist view of the Famine and what it meant. He starts off by saying that he is offended at the idea of calling what happened in Ireland in the late 1840s a famine. Go figure! A million people (probably more) starve to death but we’re not allowed to call it a famine! And he insists that we should use the term An Gorta Mór instead, which he translates as The Great Hunger. Sorry, Eamon, but if I’m feeling hungry, I use the word ocras. The word gorta means famine.

Loingsigh is essentially taking to another level the argument that we shouldn’t call the Famine a natural disaster, which is true. It originated as a natural disaster when the potato crop failed and Ireland was entirely dependent on the potato. There is no doubt that the British authorities failed to act quickly enough or resolutely enough to stop the huge loss of life in Ireland, so it was also a man-made disaster. However, most historians do not accept that Ireland would have been self-supporting if the available food had been more equitably distributed, or that more food was exported than imported during the famine years, or that the famine was a deliberate policy of genocide on the part of the British, whatever Loingsigh says. And let’s face it, great old entertainer that he is, Christy Moore is hardly a trustworthy source. Didn’t they teach Loingsigh about sources in journalism school?

Another silly thing is Loingsigh’s claim that the British exported food from Ireland during the Famine. The British exported the food? The British didn’t have a socialist planned economy in 19th century Ireland. Faceless bureaucrats in Whitehall or Dublin Castle didn’t decide how much butter or oats were shipped out of Ireland every week. Landlords and grain merchants and butter merchants exported whatever food was exported. The fact that in some places the food was protected from the starving masses by soldiers is unsurprising and doesn’t prove that this exportation was state-controlled or ordered from Westminster.

Don’t get me wrong. People should know about the Irish Famine and its legacy. They should blame the British authorities for annexing our country and then failing to fulfil the basic tenets of the social contract between government and people, by failing to keep them alive. But propaganda is propaganda and fact is fact. All scholarship, linguistic, historical, archaeological – all of it should be based on facts, not on ideology.