Jack/Tiach

Daniel Cassidy, in his atrocious book How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that ‘jack’, a slang term for ‘money’ and the probable origin of ‘jackpot’, comes from the Irish tiach. Cassidy defines tiach as ‘a small purse, a wallet, a budget fig. money’. Now, there are two common words for a wallet in Irish: sparán (equivalent to the sporran of Highland dress) and vallait. Tiach is not a bag used for money, as far as I know. Furthermore, even if it did mean wallet rather than satchel, why would it figuratively mean money? Do people ask if someone has lots of wallet? They certainly don’t ask if they can borrow some sparán in Irish, never mind tiach!

Then there is the issue of pronunciation. Tiach is not pronounced like jack or jah. It is pronounced (roughly) chee-ah, with the ch of English cheese, or tee-ah in the south, so why would it become jack? (Cassidy didn’t understand Irish pronunciation at all.)

And then there is the fact that jack was a term for a coin in English by the 16th century. It is not completely impossible that an Irish term might have come into English this far back, but it is pretty unlikely.

All in all, Cassidy’s claim is as stupid and as worthless as the vast majority of the claims made in this book.

Mhaígh Daniel Cassidy, ina leabhar uafásach How The Irish Invented Slang, gur ón fhocal Gaeilge tiach a tháinig an téarma ‘jack’, focal béarlagair ar ‘airgead’ i mBéarla, agus an bunús is dóchúla leis an téarma ‘jackpot’ fosta. De réir Cassidy, ciallaíonn tiach ‘a small purse, a wallet, a budget fig. money’. Anois, mar is eol do dhuine ar bith a bhfuil a c(h)uid Gaeilge maith go leor leis an leagan Gaeilge den alt seo a léamh, tá dhá fhocal choitianta sa Ghaeilge ar ‘wallet’ i nGaeilge: sparán (mar an gcéanna le sporran an Albanaigh) agus vallait. Ní úsáidtear an focal tiach ar mhála airgid, chomh fada le m’eolas. Is seanfhocal é a chiallaíonn tiachóg nó ‘satchel’ an Bhéarla. Ní hamháin sin, ach dá mbeadh an bhrí sparán ar an tiach in áit mála mór, an mbeadh an bhrí fháthchiallach airgead air? Ar chuala tú duine ar bith ag rá ‘Tábhair dom giota beag sparáin ar iasacht’ riamh?

Agus ansin, tá fadhb na foghraíochta ann. Níl tiach cosúil le jack ar chor ar bith. (Ar ndóigh, ní raibh tuiscint ar bith ag Cassidy ar fhuaimeanna na Gaeilge.)

Agus caithfear a chuimhneamh gur baineadh úsáid as an fhocal jack mar fhocal ar bhonn airgid cheana féin faoin 16ú haois. B’fhéidir go dtiocfadh le focal Gaeilge teacht isteach sa Bhéarla chomh fada sin siar, ach ní dócha é.

Lena rá ar bheagán focal, tá teoiricí Cassidy faoin fhocal sin chomh bómánta leis an chuid eile de na teoiricí sa leabhar seo.

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