Why I hate Cassidy/An fáth ar fuath liom Cassidy


I have noticed a slight decrease in the number of hits on this site over the last week. This may just be coincidence, or it may be that the bilingual content is off-putting for some English speakers. In case this is the problem, I have decided to try putting the English version first in all cases, instead of my usual practice of putting the original language of composition first, whether English or Irish, and putting the translation below.

Over the years since I founded CSS, people have often asked why this stuff matters so much to me. Why do I get so angry and irritated about Cassidy and his behaviour and the nonsense emanating from his supporters?

There are lots of reasons. I don’t like people misusing the Irish language or Irish culture. I don’t like pseudo-scholarship of any kind. I don’t like fakes and phoneys like Cassidy and his friends. However, there is a little more to it than that.

Cassidy and his buddies often criticise the world of genuine etymology for its supposed pomposity and self-importance. By contrast, Cassidy is supposed to be a man of the people, who saw things the scholars didn’t because of his street smarts.

The self-appointed experts who dismiss this book are kidding themselves.” “I think the professional linguists have a lot of explaining to do as to how they missed this obvious and obviously fertile contributing source of the American language.” “No, I don’t need the scholars to tell me what is right, because they engage in as much guess work as we lay people do, only they cloak it in arcane language and references.

The truth is very different from the anti-intellectual know-nothing shite above. In reality, genuine etymologists and lexicographers work tirelessly to gather information and make judgements based on the known facts. Cassidy, in his book, his articles and his interviews, shows a level of pomposity, dishonesty, smugness and manipulation which is off the scale. He misses out important facts which would disprove the claim he is making. He sneers at the efforts of genuine scholars and misrepresents what they really say. He continually invites the ignorant and uneducated to join him in disparaging the smart people in their ivory towers and he massages their egos for having the simple common sense which enables them to recognise his version of the truth.

And many of those who support him are cut from the same cloth. They know absolutely nothing about linguistics or the Irish language, but they think they have a right to pontificate and mouth off in defence of Cassidy.

People like this make me angry – and with good reason. I don’t have a right to hold forth on subjects I know nothing about. That’s why I don’t do it. Why do these people think they’re so special that they have a right to do that without being challenged or criticised for it?


Thug mé faoi deara go raibh laghdú beag ar líon na gcuairteanna ar an tsuíomh seo le seachtain anuas. B’fhéidir nach bhfuil ann ach comhtharlú, nó b’fhéidir go bhfuil an t-ábhar dátheangach ag cur as do roinnt Béarlóirí. Ar eagla gur mar sin atá, tá socrú déanta agam triail a bhaint as an Bhéarla a chur chun tosaigh i gcónaí, in áit cloí leis an nós a bhí agam go dtí seo, i. an bhunteanga inár cumadh an t-alt a chur i dtús báire, bíodh sin i mBéarla nó i nGaeilge, agus an t-aistriúchán a chur thíos faoi.

Thar na blianta ó chuir mé CSS ar bun, is minic a cuireadh an cheist, cén fáth a bhfuil an t-ábhar seo chomh tábhachtach sin dom? Cén fáth a n-éirím chomh feargach crosta faoi Cassidy agus a chuid droch-iompair agus an raiméis a thagann óna lucht leanúna?

Tá a lán fáthanna leis. Ní maith liom daoine a bhaineann mí-úsáid as an Ghaeilge ná as cultúr na nGael. Ní maith liom bréag-léann de chineál ar bith. Ní maith liom caimiléirí ná daoine bréagacha ar nós Cassidy agus a chairde. Agus sin ráite, tá giota beag níos mó i gceist ná sin.

Is minic a bhíonn Cassidy agus a lucht leanúna ag cáineadh shaol na fíorshanasaíochta mar gheall ar an phoimpéiseacht agus féintábhacht a bhaineann leis, dar leo. Ní hionann agus Cassidy, dar leo, ar fear den phobal é, a chonaic rudaí nach bhfaca na scoláirí cionn is go raibh tuiscint aige ar shaol na sráideanna.

The self-appointed experts who dismiss this book are kidding themselves.” “I think the professional linguists have a lot of explaining to do as to how they missed this obvious and obviously fertile contributing source of the American language.” “No, I don’t need the scholars to tell me what is right, because they engage in as much guess work as we lay people do, only they cloak it in arcane language and references.

A mhalairt ar fad atá fíor agus níl fírinne ar bith ag baint leis an chacamas aineolach fhrithintleachtúil thuas, ar ndóigh. Is é fírinne an scéil, go mbíonn fíor-shaineolaithe teanga agus foclóirithe ag obair gan stad gan staonadh le heolas a bhailiú agus le breithiúnais a dhéanamh bunaithe ar na fíricí mar is eol iad. Cassidy, ina leabhar, ina chuid alt agus sna hagallaimh a thug sé, léiríonn sé leibhéal poimpéise, mí-ionracais, féinsástachta agus ionramhála atá dochreidte amach is amach. Fágann sé fíricí tábhachtacha ar lár, fíricí a bhréagnódh na rudaí atá á maíomh aige. Déanann sé a bheag d’obair na bhfíorscoláirí agus cuireann sé an méid atá le rá acu as a riocht ar fad. Is minic a mheallann sé daoine aineolacha neamhoilte le bheith ag magadh faoi na daoine cliste sna hollscoileanna ina chuideachta, agus déanann sé béal bán agus bladaireacht leo as an chiall choiteann shimplí a bheith acu a chuireann ar a gcumas a leagan féin den fhírinne a aithint.

Agus cuid mhór de na daoine a thugann tacaíocht dó, is den chineál chéanna iad. Níl eolas dá laghad acu ar an teangeolaíocht ná ar an Ghaeilge, ach síleann siad go bhfuil an ceart acu bheith ag pápaireacht agus ag spalpadh uathu ar son Cassidy agus a chuid raiméise.

Cuireann daoine dá leithéid fearg orm – agus ní gan chúis. Níl an ceart agamsa cur tharam faoi ábhair nach bhfuil aon chur amach agam orthu. Sin an fáth nach ndéanaim amhlaidh. Cén fáth a síleann na daoine seo go bhfuil siad chomh speisialta sin gur chóir ligean dóibh sin a dhéanamh gan dúshlán gan cháineadh?

5 thoughts on “Why I hate Cassidy/An fáth ar fuath liom Cassidy

  1. Marconatrix

    “I don’t have a right to hold forth on subjects I know nothing about.”
    Yes you do, in a free country at least. But then if I know or suspect you’re talking bollox then I have a perfect right and justification to ignore you. And when can we ever be entirely sure we know what we’re talking about? Didn’t someone once say that if no one spoke unless they were completely sure of their subject matter, a most eerie silence would engulf the world 😉

    I can understand Cassidy and his ilk’s dislike of ‘experts’, at least back in the day when very often unless you happened to have access to e.g. a university library, there was no way to argue with them on equal terms, they controlled all the sources and were free to interpret them to the plebs unchallenged. But no more! The wonder that is the internet increasingly puts us all on a much more equal footing.

    Most popular etymology is rubbish and always has been. Indeed, folk-etymology is a subject of study all by itself! Anything to do with a little known language, be it Irish or Eskimo, should be taken with a large pinch of salt (or snow?) Especially when aimed at a largely monoglot English audience, too ignorant to judge for themselves. Indeed the term ‘monoglot’ makes an excellent curse word 🙂

    I don’t really think that Irish is singled out for special debasement, but if you do, then please explain how and why. (I fully appreciate the unusual and possibly ‘delicate’ position that Irish finds itself in, socially, educationally, politically …)

    Gabh mo lethsgeul, ach nam bitheadh tu a’ tòiseachadh anns a’ Beurla, sin mar a bhitheadh mise ‘gad fhreagairt 🙂

    1. DebunkerOfCassidy Post author

      In the sense that I shouldn’t be shot or silenced for doing so, that’s true. But what I mean is, I have never studied the history of Ancient Egypt. If I wanted to make up a bizarre set of theories about Ancient Egypt (still without doing any research at all) and pretend to be an expert, I really don’t have a right to do that. Not in any moral sense. Because I’m not an expert.

      Is Irish being singled out for debasement? By Cassidy and the constellation of scumbags surrounding him, most definitely. Cassidy was treated as a real scholar by a lot of people who should have known a lot better. Believe me, I would much rather not have had to write CassidySlangScam. But when people are simply inventing a phrase like béal ónna as the origin for baloney and then refusing to accept the truth, that’s got to be wrong.

      And I have said before that I love the internet. It’s an amazing resource. However, the case of Cassidy and his insane book shows that most people don’t actually bother using it as a library. Even when there are Irish dictionaries available online which disprove almost everything Cassidy said, lots of Irish-Americans would prefer to believe Cassidy’s version and don’t bother looking up what real dictionaries have to say. 🙂 So if I ever talk bollox, please tell me so, because I really don’t think I have a right to talk from a position of total ignorance … 🙂

      1. DebunkerOfCassidy Post author

        Is iad na cinn eile ná More on Mike McCormack agus I Do Not Like Thee, Dr Fell. Creid nó ná creid, bhain Tim Pat Coogan cuid den raiméis as alt Mike McCormack bunaithe ar an ábhar seo (faoi ogham agus manaigh Ghaelacha i Meiriceá) agus d’fhoilsigh sé é sa leabhar Wherever Green Is Worn! Mar a dúirt mé roimhe seo, sílim go bhfuil cuid mhór den bhrilléis seo (focal iontach, GRMA!) le cur síos don easpa eolais ar an teangeolaíocht. Is féidir le duine a bheith chomh haineolach le muc maidir leis an teangeolaíocht agus clú an duine léannta a bheith air nó uirthi go fóill! 🙂

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