The Brooklyn Boys

On August 16th 2004, Daniel Cassidy posted a message on the Linguist List about his latest crackpot theory. He had come across the term The Brooklyn Boys in the plays of Eugene O’Neill and decided to invent an Irish origin for the phrase.

In reality, Brooklyn Boys is a slang term for the DTs or for a hangover. The expression has been on record since 1883. Nobody is sure about its origin but one source mentions that there were many breweries and distilleries in Brooklyn, which sounds reasonable.

Cassidy really excelled himself in his version of the origin of this phrase. According to him, Brooklyn Boys represents the ‘Irish’ phrase Bru/cht [Sic – should be brúcht] lionn baithis. According to Cassidy, this phrase means ‘Booze and bile bursting out the top of the head’ and is pronounced brook-lyn-boice.

In reality, this phrase makes no sense at all. Brúcht lionn baithis is just a list of three words with no grammar to define their relationship, which sort of means something like “Belch bodily humour top of head.” Even if you accepted that it meant ‘booze and bile bursting out the top of the head’, is this a convincing description of the DTs? The usual term for the DTs is rámhaille an óil (the raving of drink). The image of sweat and other bodily fluids erupting out of the top of someone’s head like a volcano is ludicrous, disturbing and completely unconvincing.  And of course, it would be pronounced brookht-lin-ba-hish (with the kh as in Scottish loch or Spanish j), not brook-lyn-boice. This is another clear example of Cassidy’s dishonesty. Every fact was manipulated in the direction of Cassidy’s conclusions.

Of course, a supporter of Cassidy would probably point out that this never made it to the book and that this implies some kind of quality control. In fact, the vast majority of the phrases in the book are every bit as mad and silly as phrases like athbhreith céad athbhreith (=abracadabra, according to Cassidy) or brúcht lionn baithis, that never made it to the book. Cassidy’s mind was a junkyard of half-formed nonsense, and the book simply represents whatever garbage happened to be between Cassidy’s ears in the year before publication. They are no more believable or reasonable than the other stupid claims that were lost along the way.

 

Ar an 16 Lúnasa 2004, chuir Daniel Cassidy teachtaireacht suas ar an Linguist List faoi theoiric nua a bhí cumtha aige. Tháinig sé ar an téarma The Brooklyn Boys i ndrámaí Eugene O’Neill agus shocraigh sé ar bhunús ‘Gaeilge’ a chumadh leis an fhriotal seo a mhíniú.

Is é fírinne an scéil gur téarma béarlagair é The Brooklyn Boys ar rámhaille an óil (delirium tremens) nó ar phóit uafásach. Taifeadadh an téarma sin den chéad uair sa bhliain 1883. Níl a fhios ag duine ar bith faoi shanasaíocht an fhrása, ach deir foinse amháin go raibh a lán grúdlann agus drioglann in Brooklyn, agus tá sin cineál réasúnta mar mhíniú.

Tá caimiléireacht Cassidy maidir leis an chor cainte seo níos measa fiú ná an ghnáthraiméis a chumadh sé. Dar leisean, is ionann Brooklyn Boys agus an friotal ‘Gaeilge’ Bru/cht [=Brúcht] lionn baithis. Dar le Cassidy, ciallaíonn an bolgam seo ‘Biotáille agus domlas ag brúchtadh amach as barr an chinn’ agus deirtear é mar brúc-lion-bóis (brook-lyn-boice).

Ní gá dom a rá le duine ar bith a bhfuil Gaeilge aici nó aige gur raiméis é seo. Níl ann ach trí fhocal gan gramadach lena gceangal le chéile. Fiú dá nglacfadh duine leis an íomhá áiféiseach de lionn ag brúchtadh amach as barr an chinn mar a bheadh bolcán ann, cad é an bhaint atá aige sin le rámhaille an óil? Agus ar ndóigh, ní mar brúc-lion-bóis a déarfaí é. Is eiseamláir shoiléir eile seo de mhí-ionracas Cassidy. Lúbadh agus camadh gach fíric ionas go mbeadh sí ag teacht le torthaí réamhcheaptha Cassidy.

Ar ndóigh, déarfadh lucht leanúna Cassidy nár foilsíodh an ceann seo sa leabhar, agus gur fianaise seo go raibh rialú caighdeáin de chineál aige ag Cassidy. Is é fírinne an scéil go bhfuil tromlach na bhfrásaí sa leabhar chomh craiceáilte agus bómánta le ‘athbhreith céad athbhreith’ (=abracadabra, de réir Cassidy) nó ‘brúcht lionn baithis’, cinn nár bhain an leabhar amach riamh. Is é a bhí in intinn Cassidy ná clós mangarae lán le bruscar leathfhoirmithe, agus is é atá sa leabhar ná cibé truflais a bhí idir cluasa Cassidy sa bhliain sular foilsíodh an leabhar. Níl siad pioc níos inchreidte ná níos réasúnta ná na bómántachtaí eile a mhaígh Cassidy ar an idirlíon ach nár chuir sé isteach sa leabhar agus a cailleadh ar an bhealach.

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