Monthly Archives: May 2015

Another Update

Well, it has been several weeks now since I last updated people on my search for the truth about Cassidy’s qualifications. However, before giving a further update, I will just run through the background for the sake of anyone who has just joined us.

Daniel Cassidy worked as an academic in California for twelve years. He published a totally off-the-wall book which revealed that he knew absolutely nothing about Irish, Irish Studies or Linguistics. Sources online claim that he had a degree from Cornell. Others claim that he had a degree from Columbia as well. However, a couple of months ago, acting on a tip-off from his sister, I contacted Cornell, whose registrar Cassie Dembosky confirmed that Cassidy flunked out and never received his degree.

Since then, I have been searching for further information. I particularly wanted to find out if there was any evidence of what qualifications he claimed to have when he applied for work in California at New College of California and before that at San Francisco State (probably) and I also wanted to confirm that he had no qualifications from Columbia. So, I have written a few letters and emails to these institutions.

So far, the only reply I have had was from WASC, the body in charge of higher education in California. In a somewhat begrudging exchange (on both sides, after the first reply) I have established that WASC does not keep the records of the staff of the now defunct New College of California. Still, begrudging is better than no answer at all. Way to go, Danielle! Anyway, that’s one door closed.

Whatever dog-eared and largely fictional curriculum vitae this man submitted to these institutions has probably been shredded years ago. That’s assuming that there was ever a proper hiring process at New College. Perhaps they did something Californian – casting the runes or the I Ching, looking at Cassidy’s horoscope, or perhaps Martin Hamilton had a prophetic dream or decided that the vibes were good (“I have a good feeling about Daniel. The chakras are strong in this one…”) Who knows?

Anyway, that leaves San Francisco State, who haven’t replied, and Columbia. I suppose it isn’t really essential to get confirmation from Columbia (we know he didn’t graduate from Cornell and personally I refuse to believe Cassidy had any qualifications at all until I see proof of it) but you would think an academic institution like Columbia, when informed that a fairly high-profile charlatan has almost certainly claimed to have a degree from them when he almost certainly didn’t would be at pains to set the record straight.

Apparently not. Perhaps Columbia doesn’t value its academic integrity as highly as Cornell.

Still, I’ll keep on trying and I live in hope that one day someone in Columbia will say “Hm, maybe he’s right! Perhaps we should do something about a well known pseudo-scholar who apparently claimed to be a graduate of Columbia when he wasn’t!”

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Captain, Oh Captain!

I recently noticed another Irish-related stupidity on Sean Williams’s Captain Grammar Pants blog on Facebook. On the 14th of May, in a discussion of the plural forms of you in English, she informs the sheeple who enjoy her particular mixture of incompetence and pedantry that “YOUSE and its variant spellings came into English from the Irish language, and youse will find it in gangster movies from the 1930s and 40s, which feature a disproportionate number of Irish and Irish Americans in the roles of both police officers and criminals.”

Of course, youse did not come from the Irish language. What she means, presumably, is that youse probably originates in the English of Ireland, where it was formed as an English plural of the English word you as the equivalent of the Irish sibh, which is a plural form of you, because Irish speakers were used to making the distinction between singular and plural you and felt uncomfortable speaking without it.

It is extraordinary that whatever nonsense the Captain comes out with, none of the commentators on her blog seem to have even the most basic linguistic knowledge which would enable them to contradict her or correct her obvious and elementary mistakes.

Nice Buns

Apart from its use for a bread roll, the word bun has a number of uses in English slang. One use, which dates back about a hundred years, is in phrases like ‘to have a bun on’, which means to be mildly intoxicated. Another, more common use, is buns meaning buttocks. This is more recent and it is always used in the plural. Daniel Cassidy, in his moronic book How The Irish Invented Slang, claims that both these terms come from the Irish word bun, meaning base or foundation.

Is there any chance that Cassidy is right about this? Firstly, bun is not used in modern Irish for buttocks. However, there is some evidence that the Scottish Gaelic word bun was borrowed hundreds of years ago into the Scots language as a word for a rabbit’s or hare’s tail or scut (this is also believed to be the origin of bunny for a rabbit) and that by extension bun is used in Scots dialects (in the singular) for a bottom because of this. This is also found in Ulster dialects, along with derivatives like bundie, a childish term for the bottom.  However, it seems to me obvious that the more modern version buns as in “nice buns”  is not likely to be related to this. Buns look like buttocks and this is the likely origin of the term.

As for “having a bun on”, the origin of this phrase is unknown. Cassidy lifts the meaning foundation out of context and claims that this would mean a basic level of drunkenness. This is one hell of a stretch and of course, bun is not used in Irish in this way. There are plenty of terms for levels of drunkenness in Irish, and a mild drunkenness would be described with terms like ar bogmheisce and meidhreach.

As usual, this is just another foolish distortion of the facts. Cassidy was just a sad, deluded crank with no talent and no qualifications.

If These Knishes Could Talk!

I recently came across an article by Tom Deignan on IrishCentral about the documentary If These Knishes Could Talk by Heather Quinlan, which was only in production when the article was written in 2010. Tom Deignan, of course, is one of Cassidy’s Cronies, so it is no surprise that his mates Peter Quinn and Daniel Cassidy get a plug in the article.

Quinlan’s documentary is nothing less than a portrait of the famed Noo Yoik accent. In the article, it says that: “While shooting her film, Quinlan also came across the work of the late Irish language scholar Daniel Cassidy, who showed how the Irish language influenced New York slang. ‘It was mind-blowing,’ Quinlan said.”

So, I was expecting to find another piece of Cassidese nonsense when I logged onto Youtube to watch the documentary. I watched it from beginning to end and there is not a single reference to Daniel Cassidy or his nutty theories or his half-baked etymologies in the programme. The documentary is pleasant, interesting and well worth watching.

However, it does make me wonder. Why did Heather Quinlan decide to leave the Cassidese crap on the cutting-room floor? What was it that made her realise this toxic rubbish would ruin her documentary? And if Quinlan could spot the bullshit in Cassidy’s book, why couldn’t Zach Selwyn and Thaddeus Russell and all the rest of them?

An Update

This is just a quick update on the state of my investigations into Cassidy’s academic record. Did he have any degrees? Did he claim to have degrees when he applied for academic jobs? Apart from Cassie Dembosky at Cornell, a registrar who plainly takes her responsibility to combat academic fraud seriously and who replied promptly with the information that Cassidy did not have the claimed degree from that institution, I have tried emailing a number of institutions but with no result, not even a negative reply. However, as I have said before, I am not going to give up on this. I have written a number of formal letters and sent them off by snail mail. Hopefully the recipients will respond to them just as Cassie Dembosky did, by doing the right thing. If they don’t, I have a number of other plans. I will not rest until the full extent of Cassidy’s fraud and deceit is exposed to the world.

Joint

“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine. Play it, Sam.”

In his unbelievably moronic book How The Irish Invented Slang, Daniel Cassidy claimed that the word joint, an old slang term for a house or bar or place in general, derives from Irish. Now, the real experts are in agreement that the word seems to have originated in the English of Ireland, though not in the Irish language. As the Online Etymological Dictionary says:

Slang meaning of “place, building, establishment” (especially one where persons meet for shady activities) first recorded 1877, American English, from an earlier Anglo-Irish sense (1821), perhaps on the notion of a side-room, one “joined” to a main room.

For Cassidy, it comes from the Irish word díonta, which according to the Great Fraud means:

Díon (pron. jinn), díonta, (pron. jínnta), n., a shelter, a roof, state of being wind and watertight; fig., a shelter of any kind, a house, shack, shanty, lean-to, “roof over your head”, tent. Díonta, (pron. jínnta), p.p. sheltered (from elements), protected. Díonta = Díon, n. (Ó Dónaill, 413)

Is this an accurate account of the meanings of díon/díonta? Of course not!  As we have already said a number of times here, the letters fig. normally stand for ‘figuratively’ but in Cassidy’s work, they stand for ‘figment of Cassidy’s imagination.’ Cassidy wasn’t intelligent enough to understand how the words díon and díonta are used in Irish and he certainly wasn’t honest enough to give the facts as genuinely presented in the dictionaries.

Here is the real skinny on díon and díonta. Díon primarily means roof in Irish. It can also be used in a more general sense to mean protection. Thus uiscedhíonach means waterproof in Irish and tú féin a chur faoi dhíon duine means to place yourself under someone’s protection. However, it would not be used to mean a shelter or hide or hut, because there are better words for that, such as foscadh or scáthlán or dídeanDíonta is simply the plural of the noun díon and means rooves. Díon is also a verb in Irish and díonta can be the past participle of that verb – i.e. roofed or protected. However, words do not cross easily in Irish between grammatical categories and díonta would not be used for a roofed place or sheltered place, as Cassidy implies, any more than you would say “I took shelter in a roofed” in English.

In other words, if an Irish speaker hears díonta, they think of the noun roof in the plural. A couple of rooves, lots of rooves. They don’t think of shelters, or tents, or places, or low dives, or any other lying nonsense the voices in Cassidy’s head dictated to him from the Mothership.

Dick

Yes, Cassidy was a dick, but that is not the subject of this post.

According to Cassidy in his insane homage to Baron Munchhausen, How The Irish Invented Slang, the word dick, an obsolete slang term for a detective, derives from the Irish word dearc, meaning an eye. This is how the Great Fraud explains it:

“The Pinkerton’s world-famous logo was the giant ‘All-Seeing Eye.’ The Pinkerton private ‘eye’ and labor union spy was christened a dick (dearc, an eye) by the Irish-speaking subjects of its gaze: Molly Maguires, Fenians, Knights of Labor, and Wobblies.”

Whatever! I don’t know where the term comes from, though I would probably be most inclined to regard it as a corruption and shortening of ‘detective’. However, there are various ideas on the table and Grant Barrett goes through some of them in his treatment of Cassidy’s ‘research’: http://grantbarrett.com/humdinger-of-a-bad-irish-scholar

From my perspective, it is important that people realise that dearc is not a reasonable suggestion for the origin of this word. Firstly, dearc is pronounced jarrick in northern dialects and something like darrick in southern Irish. It is not the usual word for eye in Modern Irish, which is súil. I doubt if most Irish speakers would even know the word.

Cassidy’s claim is just the usual boring, self-indulgent nonsense from a delusional halfwit.