Monthly Archives: April 2015

A Renegade History of the United States

I recently came across another good example of a person who has been hornswoggled and thoroughly conned by the Great Fraud Daniel Cassidy. It is in a book called A Renegade History of the United States by Thaddeus Russell, a book which has enjoyed some popularity since its publication in 2011 because it takes a radical new slant on American history. Apparently, the orthodox Pilgrim Father culture of WASP America had little importance in the development of American culture and everything original and creative in America came from the immigrant non-WASP proletariat, along with the slaves and the Indians.

His work has been controversial and has been criticised by many for claiming that many freed slaves actually missed the good old days of slavery. Yes, seriously … Whether he is right about any of this is not a question I can discuss here because I haven’t read the book and I’m not likely to either. From Googlebooks I know that pages 148-9 of this book contain an awful lot of garbage copied out of Cassidy’s book:

No matter who you are, you may very well owe much of your vocabulary to the filthy, primitive, uncivilised Irish Americans of the 19th century. If you ever use or enjoy the terms “babe”, “ballyhoo”, “bee’s knees”, “bicker”, “biddy”, “big shot”, “billy club”, “blowhard”, “boondoggle”, “booze”, “boss” etc. etc.

Russell quotes more than a hundred of the words from Cassidy’s book. In a footnote, he says that “A few critics have contested some of the broader claims made by Daniel Cassidy in his book How The Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads (Petrolia, CA: Counterpunch, 2007), from which this list was taken, but the sheer volume of the evidence strongly suggests that, at the very least, working-class Irish Americans greatly shaped American vernacular language.’

In other words, Russell thinks that the sheer volume of Cassidy’s claims means that some of them must be correct. This is complete nonsense, of course, which Russell could easily have discovered if he had bothered his arse looking up the origin of words like stutter, giggle or throng on Google. He could have done so easily and found out that stutter is a very old term in English cognate with German stossen, or that giggle is related to German gickeln or that throng is a Germanic term and that Irish drong is a borrowing from Germanic.  I reckon that a real historian with a spare hour and access to the internet could easily disprove the majority of the claims on this list.

So why did Russell go ahead and copy out all of this Cassidese bullshit in 2011, years after scholars had demonstrated that Cassidy was a fraud?

Who knows? Stupidity? Incompetence? Or just an obsession with narrative, with the importance of story over history and to hell with the facts if they get in the way?

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Gage

I notice that a new group of fools has recently been taken in by Cassidy’s childish guff, the online community of dope smokers. An article recently appeared in an online journal of potheads which repeats some of Cassidy’s stupid claims, including the claim that gauge or gage, a slang term for dope, derives from the Irish gaid.

Gaid is the plural of gad, which means a withe (a flexible stick) or else rope, usually rope in the form of a halter or noose (as in damhsa an ghaid, the gallows dance, dance on the end of a rope). Of course, rope is sometimes used as slang for cannabis, but not because it looks like rope. Ropes were made of hemp, which is cannabis. The word canvas also comes from cannabis. The chances of gaid being the origin of gage/gauge are next to zero. I mean, withes? If the deal of grass you’ve bought looks like someone’s chopped up a basket, you’ve been had … Modern Irish speakers tend to call cannabis raithneach (fern) or féar (grass).

The mainstream dictionaries give various possible sources. One is a 17th. century term for a pipe, which seems fairly unlikely to me. Another often-quoted idea is that this is a corruption of ganja, a West Indian term for dope derived from one of the Indian languages like Hindi or Gujarati. However, it seems that gage was also used as a term for a small quantity of something (possibly related to the word gauge meaning measure) and the term ‘a gage of tobacco’ is recorded from 1837. This last origin seems to be the strongest candidate.

Whatever the truth about this word, Cassidy’s claim is bollocks and supporting obvious nonsense like this long after it has been discredited is really not the best way of convincing people that cannabis has no damaging effect on the brain.

Eight Reasons Why Daniel Cassidy Was An Obvious Fraud

Over the last few weeks we have established that Daniel Cassidy did not have a degree from Cornell University and that he was probably without any academic qualifications at all. This will come as no surprise to those who have a background in Irish or linguistics, because there are so many things in this book which would arouse the suspicion of any intelligent and enquiring person. As Michael Patrick Brady so rightly commented on Popmatters back in 2007, “Cassidy is the co-founder of the Irish Studies program at the New College of California, a tiny liberal arts school, and though his bona fides seem in order, the book has a strange, casual tone that makes it hard to approach.” Yes, Cassidy’s bona fides seemed in order back then. We now know that his claim to be a genuine academic was a total crock. However, it is perhaps worth looking through some of the many reasons why Cassidy’s ‘research’ was obviously rubbish, even before the bombshell revelation that Cassidy had no qualifications.

  1. The book contains certain claims which are not just improbable but completely nuts, such as the claim that Gunga Din comes from Irish!
  2. The vast majority of Cassidy’s Irish candidates for the origin of English words and phrases are pure fantasy which are not found in Irish at all and which sound completely absurd to anyone who really speaks the language.
  3. Any real academic would have learned the language before writing a book about it. Cassidy didn’t feel that was necessary and many of his made-up phrases are laughable because he had no idea of grammar or usage.
  4. When Cassidy did take words from the Irish dictionaries, he took words out of context and used the most obscure meanings. For example, the word ceap has many meanings. Cassidy found the obscure poetic meaning of protector and claimed it as the origin of cop. This is like saying that because you can say ‘pillar of the community’ it’s also OK to say things like ‘I was talking to a pillar at the reception’.
  5. Cassidy rarely checked other sources for words. When he did mention the dictionary origins, it was merely to rubbish them without presenting the full facts.
  6. Cassidy invented a peculiar fake version of phonetic transcription which bears no relation to the real thing. For example, in phonetics, a j represents the sound usually represented with a y in English. This is Phonetics 101, yet Cassidy knew nothing about it!
  7. Cassidy did not use any kind of referencing system. He tended to cobble together a fake definition, some of which came from the dictionaries and some of which was his own invention, and then give three or four references to different books afterwards!
  8. Cassidy’s ‘evidence’ consisted not of proof for the existence of his Irish candidate phrases in Irish, but of the target phrases in the work of Irish-American writers, as if that proves anything!

I could go on but why bother? Anyone with an open mind and a titter of wit knows that Cassidy was a fraud.

No News = Good News?

Well, we have still heard nothing from Columbia University or San Francisco State. However, the Easter holidays tend to disrupt things and of course, email is not as effective as snail mail for some purposes (though Cornell were happy enough to oblige when approached by email – well done to them!) I will give them a week or two and see if anything happens but don’t think I have given up! If I don’t hear anything by then, I will start mailing letters to people and then there is always the press. I am not going to stop until I find out the full extent of Daniel Cassidy’s fraud and make that information available to the public. Watch this space!