Cassidese Glossary – Gunga Din

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.

Gunga Din, according to Cassidy, is Irish. To the rest of us, it represents an Indian name used in a famous poem by the arch-imperialist Kipling, but to Cassidy, Kipling was merely using a nickname given by Irish soldiers to an Indian water-carrier. That nickname, according to Cassidy, means “Skinny-arse, quickly!”

There is actually an obscure word gúngaire, which comes from gúnga meaning haunches or hunkers and which means something like skinny-arse. But dian means intense or hard. It doesn’t mean quick. You wouldn’t say “Go dian!” to someone if you want them to do something quickly. As usual, this is just a piece of Cassidese, a confection constructed by a fantasist because of random phonetic similarities.

And what evidence is there that Kipling was influenced by Irish? What evidence is there that it existed before Kipling made it up? The narrator of Gunga Din is an English soldier (this is clear from the way his dialect is written). Gunga Din is the Indian servant’s name, and he is often referred to just as Din. The name is probably not genuine, though some scholars have pointed out that Gunga is a Hindi version of the name of the Ganges, while Din is a Muslim surname, meaning ‘faith’. In other words, it’s probably a composite Indian name invented by Kipling, neither Muslim nor Hindu.

However, the idea that Gunga Din is Irish, rather than Kipling’s version of Hindi or Bengali, is so insane that I am amazed anyone would be stupid enough to believe it.

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