Monthly Archives: January 2016

Fizzling

I found another utterly stupid piece of Cassidy nonsense recently. It was posted on Linguistlist on Friday, Jan 28 2005, and then the same thing was given more or less verbatim on the Daltaí Boards about a month later. Although these claims never made it into the book, they are a perfect example of Cassidy’s ‘research’. They clearly demonstrate his ignorance, his overconfidence and his lack of intelligence.

More notes on the Irish and Gaelic word Teas (pron. jass or chass) meaning Heat. . 

The Sanas of Fizz, Fizzle, and Sizzle.

When something fizzes or fizzles it loses its Teas (pron. jass or chass) or Heat, Highest  Temperature, Excitement, and High Spirit.  The Oxford Dictionary ’s Fizz is  imitative and its fizzle is literally a silent fart.

Fizz, fiz, make a hissing sound, as of effervescence; 17th century; imitative, compare fizzle. Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, p. 359.

Fizzle, break wind silently 16th C.; (orig. from US) come to a lame conclusion, 18th C.; from fizz (but this is recorded later) + LE, cf. fist. (ODEE, p.359) 

The Barnhart Etymological Dictionary also opts for the fizz of the silent fart, but  with a little Middle English imitation.

Fizz v. 1655, move with a hiss or a sputter; imitative of the sound, and perhaps related to fizzle.  –n.  1812, a hissing or sputtering sound, from the verb.  Barnhart, p. 386.

 

Barnhart’s fizzle is an old fart and an ancient fist.

Fizzle v. About 1532, to break wind without noise, probably an alteration of obsolete fist  (Middle Eng., break wind, 1440) + le, frequentative suffix.

 

The meaning of make a hissing sound or sputtering is first recorded in 1859…in American  English….  Barnhart, p. 386. 

The Irish and Gaelic  Sanas of Fizz, Fizzle and Sizzle 

 Like a verbal star, fizz and fizzle  are perpetually losing their Teas (pron. chass or jass), or  heat,  excitement, ardor, and high spirit.

 

Fizz

 

Fé theas, fa theas ( pron. fay has; the aspirated T is  silent)

Less than highest heat, warmth, passion, ardor, and excitement.

Fé, Fá, faoi : less than, under (in all senses), low.

Teas (aspirated to Theas, pron. has). heat, hotness, warmth, degree of hotness, high  temperature, passion, excitement, ardor, fever. Hottest, highest stage.

The Gaelic Phrase Fizzle Fizzes Forever..

Fizzle 

Fé theas uile (fay has ila)

Less than all heat, vigor, passion, ardor, or excitement.

 

Fé, Fá, faoi : less than, under (in all senses), low

Teas, aspirated to Theas, still means heat, hotness, warmth, degree of hotness, high temperature, passion, excitement,  ardor, high spirits. Hottest, highest stage.

Uile: all, wholly.  

Fizzles’s hot jazzy cousin is Sizzle.

With sizzle the Barnhart again opts for “imitative.”  But of course it is a pure  English imitation. 

 Sizzle…to make a hissing sound as fat does when  frying. 1603, to burn or scorch so as to produce a hissing sound; perhaps a  frequentative verb form of Middle English sissen make a hissing sound, buzz  (before 1300), of imitative origin. The sense of making a hissing sound when  frying is first recorded. in English before 1825.  –n. 1823, in Edward  Moor’s Suffolk Words and Phrases; from the verb.      Barnhart p. 1913  

The Irish and Gaelic Sizzle holds at its core the perpetual heat, passion, excitement, and ardor of Teas (jazz or chass.)  

Sizzle 

Sa theas uile (pron. sa has ila ; T is aspirated)

In a state of all heat, highest temperature, excitement, passion, ardour. 

Sa: In ( a state or condition of) 

Theas (pron. has): heat, vigor, passion, ardor, or excitement.   . 

Uile: all, whole.

The Sizzle of Teas (pron. chass, jass) holds the spirit of jazz (teas, heat) and gives off heat  even when it fizzles.  On the other hand when you easy fry chicken in New  Orleans you don’t sizzle it, you fricasee (friocadh samh) the boid  (bird.) 

Friocadh (pron fricah): frying

Sa/mh (pron saah), easy.

Friocadh sa/mh   (pron. Fricah saah)

Easy frying. . 

 

Where do I start? Firstly, the whole thing about heat and fizzing is a nonsense. Is fizzing or fizzling about losing heat? When you drop an Alka Seltzer into water, is this anything to do with a loss of heat? No. However, Cassidy desperately wants to link it to teas, because teas is one of the handful of Irish words he knows. So according to Cassidy, fizz is “Fizz: Fé  theas, fa theas ( pron. fay has; the aspirated T is silent) [sic] Less than highest heat, warmth, passion, ardor, and excitement.”

Anyone who speaks Irish will instantly realise that this is nonsense. Faoi ( in Munster) is used in lots of different ways: about; subject to; under. For example, in the phrase faoi bhrón, faoi means ‘subject to.’ A person who is faoi bhrón is sad, not ‘less than perfectly sad’.  His attempt to account for the –le at the end of fizzle is even sillier. The word uile is only used with definite phrases in Irish (nouns with my, your, proper nouns etc.) So an lá uile (or uilig as we say in the north) is fine – it means ‘the whole day’. But you cannot say chaith sé lá uile ag obair for ‘he spent a whole day working’. You would have to say something like Chaith sé lá iomlán ag obair. The phrase fé theas uile is just meaningless rubbish.

However, it’s not as bad as his cack-handed attempts to explain sizzle. Of course, sizzle is associated with heat. However, sa theas is simply wrong. You don’t aspirate t or d after sa. It’s sa teach (in the house), sa tír (in the land), and sa teas (in the heat). Furthermore, sizzle is plainly linked to the word sissen, meaning make a sizzling noise, found in English before 1300. Cassidy’s claim that it derives from a ridiculous ungrammatical ‘Irish’ phrase meaning ‘in all heat’ is just crazy. As crazy as Cassidy himself.

But if you’re looking for sheer and total jabbering lunacy, just try the bit at the end. Fricassee is a French word, of course. It is thought to come from frire (fry) and casser (to break up). It occurs in a French cookery book in 1490! Furthermore, the Irish for frying is not friocadh. It’s friochadh (pronounced frihoo). And sámh just doesn’t work here. It means relaxed, tranquil.

Cassidy’s apologists will no doubt say that I’m being unfair. After all, these particular bits of garbage didn’t make it into the book. However, plenty of equally stupid bits of garbage did. The vast majority of the so-called Irish phrases in Cassidy’s book are the same, the result of an idiot with a dictionary throwing words together without regard for the grammar and usage that he couldn’t be bothered learning. The whole thing is incredibly disrespectful. You could sum up Cassidy’s attitude with the words. Yeah, I’m sure it doesn’t make sense but who gives a shit? Nobody speaks that fucking peasant language nowadays anyway! 

The fact is, of course, that hundreds of thousands of people speak it. I’m one of them and I’m not about to forgive this shabby narcissistic little con-man, however many American idiots are as convinced as Cassidy himself that the sun shone out of his arse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More on Professor Joseph Lee

 

Among the numerous cronies who have boosted the reputation of the charlatan Daniel Cassidy and his absurd book, How The Irish Invented Slang, one of the worst is Joe Lee, a respectable academic historian and scholar who is connected with New York University.

Lee provided a gushing and ridiculously positive review for the back of Cassidy’s book.

“In this courageous, crusading manifesto, Daniel Cassidy flings down the gauntlet to all those compilers of dictionaries who fled to the safe haven of ‘origin unknown’ when confronted with the challenge of American slang …The originality and importance of the argument makes this an exciting contribution to both American and Irish Studies. This is a landmark book, at once learned and lively, and quite enthralling as to how American English acquired so vibrant a popular vocabulary.”

I have read some of Lee’s work. In spite of his idiotic support for Cassidy, he deserves to be respected as an historian. Interestingly, he is critical of the traditional nationalist narratives. For example, he is critical of the claims that there was enough food in Ireland to feed the population during the Famine years. Why he chose to take the reputation which he has acquired through decades of hard work and study and flush it down the pan by supporting a joke like Cassidy remains a mystery. There is no doubt that he knew Daniel Cassidy and many of Cassidy’s friends. Does this explain it? Was it simple nepotism?

Or was it pity? Did he choose to support Cassidy because Cassidy had no health insurance after the collapse of New College and was relying on the sales of the book? If so, this was a shitty thing to do. The Irish people are not responsible for Daniel Cassidy and we are certainly not responsible for one of the richest nations on earth choosing to have a cruelly inadequate health care system. If he wanted to help Cassidy, Lee could have remortgaged his house to pay the insurance bills, not sold out our language and culture.

Or was it a more selfish motive? Was Lee trying to stay on the right side of a parcel of cronies, men like Peter Quinn and Pete Hamill, who would do anything to avoid admitting that Daniel Cassidy was a fraud?

Of course, I suppose there is a possibility that Lee genuinely believed the praise he lavished on the book. However, I find this impossible to believe, because Lee is not an idiot. How could anyone who speaks Irish believe that more than a handful of the ‘Irish’ phrases in this book are genuine? (Of course, he’s not a linguist, but even so!) And we have to remember that Lee is an academic. He must have seen dozens, if not hundreds of theses and dissertations. He knows full well that any thesis or dissertation with standards of scholarship as poor as Cassidy’s would not be acceptable in any university, anywhere.

There is also another bit of evidence, posted by someone using the username ap-aelfwine on this forum: http://gaeilge.livejournal.com/175737.html

The bit of Cassidy’s work I’ve seen struck me as dubious,* although I recently heard a faculty member–a clueful historian who has good Munster Irish–at the programme I just graduated from say he thought C. was pointing in some directions that deserved exploration. It was in the midst of a reception–I didn’t get a chance to ask him more about it, unfortunately.

The clueful historian is obviously Lee. It doesn’t surprise me that he was still making broadly positive comments about Cassidy in 2010, because he had been stupid enough to put his endorsement on the book a couple of years earlier. But ‘pointing in some directions that deserve exploration’ (a view which is also foolish, in my opinion, and there’s plenty of evidence of that in this blog) is a far cry from ‘landmark book’, ‘courageous and crusading manifesto’, or ‘learned and lively’, never mind ‘an exciting contribution to both American and Irish Studies’. Yet Lee’s review still stands on the back of every copy of this ludicrous turd of a book. No doubt many people have been conned into believing that Cassidy’s work is a genuine piece of scholarship because of Lee’s endorsement and his continued refusal to set the record straight.

Or could it just be that Lee is a victim of that old enemy of rationality, the arrogance and hubris that so frequently goes with titles like Professor and Senator, the feeling that who you are makes you above the ordinary decencies that lesser folk have to live with?

Who knows? Who cares? Integrity is a precious commodity. Life is far too short to waste on people who are prepared to squander their reputation on a putz like Cassidy, whatever bizarre motive they had for doing so.

The Liebster Award

So, I have finally got around to responding to Emma’s very kind nomination of this blog for a Liebster Award. The Liebster Award is a kind of viral award designed to promote blogs with small readerships. Anyone can nominate a blog for a Liebster Award. If the recipient accepts it, they then nominate some other blogs they like and so it continues. The rules are as follows:

The rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and post a link to their blog.
  • Display the Liebster Award on your blog.
  • Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Answer 11 questions your nominator has asked.
  • Nominate up to 11 bloggers with less than 1000 followers.
  • Ask them 11 new questions or the same ones you were asked.
  • Let the bloggers you nominate know!
  • Copy the rules into your post.

So, first things first! Many thanks to Emma at https://wordsaretheweapon.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-liebster-award/ for nominating my blog. I am nominating the following blogs:

https://sesquiotic.wordpress.com/ (A great blog about etymology!)

https://wordpress.com/read/post/feed/13214072/899442285 (Toritto’s wonderful mixture of observations on life and politics, along with some extraordinary poems)

https://wordpress.com/read/post/feed/14434800/899778216 (Social Bridge – Jean Tubridy connecting with you from one of my favourite counties in Ireland)

http://stephaniehuesler.com/ (Stephanie Huesler’s enjoyable observations on words, writing and history)

Personally, I have enjoyed answering the questions and composing a few of my own but I realise that others may regard this as a chore. I will not take offence in the slightest if people choose to break the chain and not pass the Liebster Award on to other blogs.

Here are 11 facts about myself:

I have never seen a Star Wars or James Bond film all the way through.

There are only about three or four foods I’ve eaten that I didn’t like, things like tripe and brains.

I prefer the winter to the summer.

My favourite film is Inherit The Wind.

I love ruins and graveyards.

I don’t believe in ghosts but I like the idea of them.

I am deeply intolerant of intolerant people and I hate racists, homophobes and other bigots.

I dislike grammar bores and people who obsess about split infinitives and the like.

I always drink red wine. (When I drink alcohol, that is – I’m not hooked up to a drip or anything!)

I consider The Wire to be the best TV series ever made (so far).

If I won the lottery, I probably wouldn’t give up my job because I enjoy it so much.

Here are the questions that Emma sent and my answers to them.

Do you have a favourite accent? I love the Donegal accent. It’s very soft and lilting.

Does music help you work, or does it distract you? It distracts me. I like reggae and ska music but in moderation and not when I’m working.

Do you consider yourself an organised person? No. But I probably consider myself more organised than other people consider me, if I’m honest …

If you could play any role in the performance of a lifetime, what would it be? Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof. If I vere a rich man …

What was your favourite childhood book? Comet In Moominland by Tove Jansson when I was very young. Then The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner. I also really liked The High Deeds of Finn McCool by Rosemary Sutcliffe.

What is a past mistake you have learnt from? Without going into embarrassing detail, I can be a bit of a mouth and sometimes I have slagged people off who really didn’t deserve it. However, not on my blog. Cassidy and his vile cronies are really asking for it!

Which fictional character do you love to hate? Dare I say, Daniel Cassidy? I know he was a real person, but he was also a self-constructed myth.

Is there a particular song that chokes you up every time you listen to it? Misty, because it was played at my father’s funeral.

Do you prefer salty or sweet foods? Salty. But I eat the sweet foods as a dessert afterwards …

What would you name your autobiography? A Certain Deathtrap. It’s a description of life in Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman.

What was your favourite subject at school and why? History, without a doubt, because I love reading and learning about history.

These are my questions to the recipients, if they should choose to answer them:

  1. If you could learn any skill, what would it be?
  2. Do you have any phobias or not entirely rational fears?
  3. What is your favourite season?
  4. Is there a particular spice or herb or cooking ingredient you especially love?
  5. What three words describe you best?
  6. If you had to choose a ‘totemic’ animal that represents you, what would it be and why?
  7. If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be?
  8. Is there a particular ancestor you’re most proud of and why?
  9. What do you think of tattoos and piercings?
  10. Do you believe in ghosts?
  11. What would your dream job be?

So, thanks again to Emma, and I hope the recipients will enjoy going through the process and nominating a few other blogs!

Fact or Fun?

While I don’t intend to blog on a regular basis in 2016, I have decided to start the New Year with a post about a question which has been bothering me for some time. Basically, there are two attitudes towards Cassidy’s fake ‘research’ among those who support him. One is that Cassidy didn’t claim to be a serious academic researcher and that his book was just a bit of fun. The other, opposing view, is that Cassidy’s work is of immense value and significance and that it ‘throws down a gauntlet’ to the prevailing academic view of Irish influence on English.

Why is this issue worthy of a post? Well, firstly, there are some clowns like Donnacha DeLong and Michael Patrick MacDonald who actually try to maintain both of these contradictory views at once! According to DeLong, Cassidy’s work is simply a set of suggestions humbly offered to the public for their consideration with much of it clearly labelled as speculative, yet at the same time Cassidy was pushing at an imaginary ‘locked door’, which presumably means that the world of academia and the dictionary makers were the ones who locked the door to prevent Irish derivations from gaining access. Of course, the truth is, they’re quite willing to accept Irish derivations when words genuinely have Irish derivations, like shebeen and sourpuss. What they don’t do is accept lunatic off-the-wall derivations without any evidence, and why should they?

An even stupider statement of the same ilk is found on Twitter, where Cassidy’s chum(p) Michael Patrick MacDonald answered an intelligent critic who described Cassidy’s book as ‘academic fraud’ with the words: ‘Never was academic. Bigger than that. It raises serious questions about the racist OED lapdogs.’

So, it’s not academic. But it challenges the running dogs of English imperialism at the OED. Just not with facts or evidence, apparently. It’s bigger than that. (Have you been taking lessons from Dylan Avery, Michael?)

You see, if Cassidy’s work was just a joke, then it isn’t entertaining, or interesting, or worth reading, because it’s a very unfunny joke. Either Cassidy’s derivations are the Irish origins of English phrases (which they aren’t) or the literary quotes and stupid comments and anti-intellectual jibes in How The Irish Invented Slang are just a random collection of nothings thrown together by one man’s crazy obsession.

And if Cassidy’s book isn’t just a piece of ‘amusing’ fluff without any real substance, if it is a genuine challenge to the academics, then why doesn’t it play according to the rules of academia? I mean, academic methodology isn’t random, any more than the selection process for professors is random.

If Cassidy wanted to challenge the dictionary dudes, there were certain things he needed to do. The first and most indispensable of these things was to learn Irish. And in spite of Cassidy’s claims that places like New York were awash with Irish even in the twentieth century and that his grandparents spoke Donegal Irish (though none of them came from Donegal – his one Irish-born grandparent came from Monaghan), Cassidy seems to have never engaged with the Irish language in any manner, shape or form until he was in his late fifties. It is bizarre that a man who spoke no Irish thought it was OK to invent phrases by picking words out of the dictionary and throwing them together with a blithe disregard for how the language is actually used. However, Cassidy was a nut-job and that’s why it seemed perfectly fine to him.

Anyway, because he also discussed Scottish Gaelic, Cassidy would have needed a working knowledge of Gaelic too. Plus a knowledge of slang and non-standard English and of the sources available for those subjects.

Not only that, but in the world of linguistics, there are thousands of articles and books available on the subject of language contact. Just try putting in keywords like ‘language contact’ and ‘loanword’ on Google and see how many references come up. The fact is, whole books have been written about the way that vocabulary is borrowed when languages come into contact. For example, it will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever thought about it that nouns are borrowed most frequently and that this is a universal of language contact. (Rather than random bits of phrases like ‘n-each’!) A knowledge of this literature would also be an essential for writing an academic book about the influence of one language on another.

Is this reasonable? I hear some people say. Cassidy would have had to have devoted most of his life to acquiring the skills necessary to write the book. Yeah, like tens of thousands of people in academia, he would have had to have done more than scratch at the surface and blether. People do spend their whole lives acquiring a knowledge of a particular field. If someone wanted to write an academic work about quantum physics or pure mathematics, you would expect them to know everything about the basics of the subject and virtually everything about the particular topic they are specialising in before setting pen to paper. Most people think there is no special skill involved in linguistics (because most people know jack shit about linguistics) but believe me, you can’t walk into any field of academic study and make a valid contribution without either being a total genius (which Cassidy certainly wasn’t) or having done the necessary work first.

Which brings me to another thing Cassidy didn’t do. When anyone sets out to write a dissertation or a book or a long article in any field of academia, the first thing they do is a literature review. This doesn’t mean they read a novel and discuss it. It means that they find out what has been written about their area of study, examine it, look for strengths and weaknesses, assess the current state of knowledge in the field. They do this because you don’t want to spend three years working on reinventing the wheel. They also do this because true learning tends to progress incrementally on the basis of what other people have already done rather than through massive sudden paradigm-shifts like the one claimed for and by Cassidy. And they also do it because if you don’t do it, you could be repeating claims or ideas which have already been made by other people, leaving you open to allegations of plagiarism. Cassidy failed to do this, of course, and there are many, many claims made in Cassidy’s book which have already been made by others: longshoreman coming from loingseoir; uncle in ‘say uncle’ coming from anacal; shanty coming from seanteach; snazzy from snasach. In fact, anything even slightly believable in Cassidy’s book was already out there. Only the flagrant rubbish is original.

What else didn’t Cassidy do? Well, one obvious thing is to give equal and fair respect to all of the potential origins. To give an example we have had recently in connection with that pompous twit Sean Sweeney, there are many different claims for the origin of the slang term ‘so long’. Some suggest it comes from Arabic (or Urdu or Malay) salaam, or from shalom in Hebrew, or from slán in Irish, or from German adieu so lange or from Scandinavian equivalents like Adjø så lenge (where the so lange and så lenge mean ‘for now’). Rather than research the term thoroughly and give the full range of potential explanations, Cassidy applies a racist and ad hominem approach. Basically, according to Cassidy, all non-Irish non-Catholic English-speaking lexicographers are liars and any explanation which does not involve an Irish origin should be airbrushed out of the record. (Including Terence Dolan’s 2004 Dictionary of Hiberno-English, which mentions the slán theory but dismisses it as improbable.)

However, there is an even more fundamental flaw in Cassidy’s methodology. In one unintentionally funny comment on a review of the book, Donnacha DeLong says that ‘This is how research in this area happens, someone speculates and then others investigate and either verify or falsify what they’ve done.’ Really? That’s how it happens? So, I suggest that twerk comes from the Irish ‘tairg’ meaning ‘offer, proffer, move, put forward, express readiness to’ and then I just sit around waiting for someone else to point out that twerk originates in the southern USA in the last twenty years and that it is far more likely to be somehow related to words like ‘work’ and/or ‘twitch’ and that tairg basically means offer and doesn’t sound like twerk anyway? So, Donnacha, you think academic linguists just sit around with an empty schedule and a belly full of swan waiting for other people to do their job for them? The fact is, Cassidy and only Cassidy was responsible for the shite he wrote. It was his job, as it’s the job of every academic (even a fake one like Cassidy), to sift the bollocks from the bullseyes and write something which is a reasonable stab at the truth before anyone else even gets a sniff of the manuscript.

Cassidy failed to do what needed to be done, because he was incompetent, crazy as a soup sandwich, lazy as a piper’s little finger, stupid as a kish of brogues, useless, totally unqualified and completely lacking in any of the skills necessary to be an academic of any kind.

Hopefully my next post will be on my Liebster Award nominations and some information about my favourite subject – me!