Cassidese Glossary – Acushla

For some time now, some of my on-line friends have advised me to provide a version of CassidySlangScam without the invective aimed at Cassidy and his supporters. In response to that advice, I am working on providing a glossary of the terms in Cassidy’s book How The Irish Invented Slang with a short, simple and business-like explanation of why Cassidy’s version is wrong.

Cassidy’s version is that acushla is from the Irish a chúisle, a vocative expression, or cúisle mo croí (pronounced ċushla macree), where cúisle means vein or pulse while mo croí supposedly means of my heart.

This is close to the truth but not correct or well-researched. The word for pulse or vein is cuisle, not cúisle, which would be pronounced kooshla, not kushla. The term of endearment is a chuisle, not a chúisle, and a chuisle mo chroí would be correct for ‘oh vein of my heart’, not cúisle mo croí. The ċ is a device formerly used in Irish orthography to show séimhiú (insertion of a h in modern Irish spelling), which is inappropriate in a phonetic description and in any case, it would be inappropriate here where the word does not begin with ch (according to Cassidy).

It is also quite clear that this is not an English word. If, as Cassidy claimed, there were hundreds or thousands of Irish words and phrases in English, you would expect common endearments like this to be top of the list, yet New Yorkers do not address one another as ‘acushla’. Such expressions are only found in English in the context of sentimental Irish melodramas or ballads, and their origin from Irish Gaelic has never been disputed.

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