Cassidese Glossary – Burg

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 ludicrous book How The Irish Invented Slang with a short, simple and business-like explanation of why Cassidy’s version is wrong.

Cassidy claims that this word is used to mean a town, usually a dismissive reference to a small town. Scholars say that this is because so many small towns in America have burg in their names (Healdsburg, Louisburg, Evansburg).

Cassidy disagrees with this. He gives a rambling, irrelevant and partly incorrect account of the history of the word burg, which is of Germanic origin and has cognates in other branches of Indo-European. It is not from Late Latin burgus, as Cassidy says, as this was a borrowing from Germanic rather than the other way round.

In addition to having cognates in Irish, versions of the word were also borrowed into Irish, so that we have the words buirg (borough), buirgcheantar (borough) and buirgéiseach (bourgeois) in modern Irish dictionaries. However, the word buirg is not used ‘figuratively’ to mean ‘a town or small city’ in Irish, as Cassidy claims. This is simply fantasy.

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