Monthly Archives: September 2019

Cassidese Glossary – Ikey Heyman Axle

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.

According to the late Daniel Cassidy, an Ikey Heyman axle is carnival and circus slang for a hidden foot pedal used to control a rigged wheel of fortune. This is written as a name, and it seems logical to suppose that there was once an Isaac Heyman in carny circles who was famous for rigging wheels of fortune.

Daniel Cassidy disagreed. If there was an unclaimed word or phrase lying around in English slang, that word or phrase needed to be claimed for Irish, however improbable or ridiculous the result.

In this case, Cassidy insisted that this came from a hybrid Irish-English expression:

Ag Céimnigh (axle) (pron. eg cé’imanĭh), stepping, treading (axle), a hidden axle or foot-break. [sic – I imagine this is meant to be foot-brake]

There are several points that need to be made here. Firstly, céimnigh means stepping or marching or walking. If someone were to build a foot-lever into a machine, they would probably use the word cos (foot) to describe it. Thus it would be a clár coise or a bata coise. Secondly, ag céimnigh makes no sense in terms of Irish grammar, because céimnigh is the imperative of the verb, not the verbal noun, which is céimniú now and would formerly have been spelled céimniughadh. And finally, how would egg kaymnyoo or even egg kaymnee become Ikey Heyman? They don’t sound anything like the English slang phrase, even if they were phrases that an Irish speaker would be likely to use in that context (which they aren’t).

Cassidese Glossary – Ice

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.

Daniel Cassidy, the fake etymologist, informs us in his book on the Irish origins of American slang that the word ice was formerly used by carnival folk as a term for the graft paid to local authorities to be allowed to perform in an area. We do not know where it comes from but Cassidy claims that it is derived from the Irish íos, meaning a minimum.

This is an absurd claim. Like uas (see Whiz) íos was once a word in the language but even if you look at works like Desiderius, written in the early 17th century, the word íos is not used as a word in its own right. It is an element in words like thíos (below) or íoslach (basement) but it doesn’t stand alone. In modern times, the word íos has been used as a prefix for minimum. Thus, where a native speaker would say an teocht is isle (the lowest temperature) in official or scientific documents you might use íosteocht for minimum temperature.

However, íos is never used as a word in its own right and it would not even have been used as a prefix before the 1920s so Cassidy is completely wrong about this.

Cassidese Glossary – Hunky

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.

Hunky is an American term for a central European immigrant. It is linked to the term Bohunk. A hunky was someone from Hungary or from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Bo part of Bohunk refers to Bohemia, which is now part of Czechia. In other words, there is nothing mysterious about this word, nothing that needs to be explained.

Which, of course, didn’t stop Cassidy from mansplaining it. According to him, this is (like hinky and honky and honky-tonk) derived from the Irish aingí, which basically means peevish or bad-tempered. Because, apparently, people from central Europe, and white people from anywhere, are notoriously irritable and it is this characteristic, rather than their conspicuous paleness, that Irish-speaking African-Americans decided to focus on. Hmm.

 

Cassidese Glossary – Hunch

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.

There is some doubt about the origin of the term ‘hunch’, as in ‘I had a hunch that would happen.’ The dictionary experts believe that it derives from the English word hunch meaning a hump, though it is very difficult to understand how that connection arose. Apparently it meant a push or final shove towards an answer, and then it came to mean a kind of intuition.

Cassidy disagrees with this, which is fair enough, if you can find a better and more convincing explanation. As usual, Cassidy couldn’t be bothered finding anything convincing, so he just pounced on a word which he happened to think sounded a bit like the candidate and had a meaning somewhere in the same general semantic area. The word he chose was aithint, which means knowing or recognition. Cassidy’s association of this with hunch only works if people in Irish would use aithint to mean a hunch. Would they? Of course not. Recognising something is not the same as having an opinion or a guess or a feeling about something.

How would you say ‘I had a hunch that would happen’ in Irish? Here are a few ways:

Bhí mé ag déanamh go dtarlódh sin.

Bhí éachtaint agam go dtarlódh sin.

Bhí mé ag smaoineamh go dtarlódh sin.

Bhí barúil agam go dtarlódh sin.

Bhí tuairim agam go dtarlódh sin.

Shíl mé go dtarlódh sin.

Cheap mé go dtarlódh sin.

Bhí iomas agam go dtarlódh sin.

What you wouldn’t say is ‘Bhí aithint agam go dtarlódh sin’ because it wouldn’t mean anything, any more than it would mean anything if you said ‘I had a recognition that would happen’ (though a precognition would just about work).

I should also point out that when Cassidy pronounced this word, as he did on several interviews, he pronounced it as hunch. Aithint does not sound like the English word hunch.

Cassidese Glossary – Humdinger

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.

The word dinger is from Middle English and probably derives ultimately from a Scandinavian language. Cassidy claimed that dinger comes from dianmhaith. This is an adjective and it derives from maith, which means good. The word dian is an intensifier. Dianmhaith would be pronounced jeeanwoy in the north, and deeanvah in southern dialects. Neither of these sound much like dinger. Cassidy also claims that humdinger comes from iomar-dianmhaith, with a further intensifier, iomar-, attached. If this were the case, it would really be iomar-dhianmhaith, which would be pronounced umar-yeeanwoy or umar-yeeanvah, which don’t sound anything like humdinger.

In reality, humdinger and dinger are derived from an English dialect term ding, which meant ‘to strike, push, hurl, batter, or bruise with energy, wrath or forcefulness.’ By extension, the word dinger could mean anything of a superlative character – ‘It’s a dinger!’

You can find more information on this here:

https://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/wordroutes/a-real-humdinger-of-an-etymology/

Cassidese Glossary – Hudson Duster Gang

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.

In Irish, there are two words for dust. One is the native word deannach. The other is a borrowing from English, dusta. This is a very old borrowing. It was certainly used in the mid-17th century in the Protestant Bible translation of Bishop Bedell.

The Hudson Duster Gang were so called, as Cassidy himself explains, because of their fondness for dust, a slang term for cocaine. Yet Cassidy seems to assume that because it’s duster and not just dust, this word must come from the Irish dusta. Of course, this is nonsense. The word duster also exists in English and is self-explanatory. Even by Cassidy’s standards, it is an incredibly weak argument.

Cassidese Glossary – Hot Sketch

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.

There is nothing mysterious about the origin of the word sketch. By the 1660s, it was found in English as a word for a rough drawing. It comes from Dutch schets or Low German skizze, both apparently borrowings from Italian schizzo “sketch, drawing.” By 1789, it had acquired the meaning of a ‘short play or performance, usually comic’.

By the 19th century, a hot sketch came to mean something or someone very funny. Of course, it didn’t always come with the ‘hot’. Sometimes it would be ‘an absolute sketch’, or ‘he really is a sketch!’

Anyway, Daniel Cassidy decided that this had to come from Irish, so he made the claim that it derives from ‘ard scairt’. Ard scairt, according to Cassidy, means a loud scream and is pronounced h-ard skartch. Of course, words that begin with a vowel in Irish are not pronounced with a h-, and when an adjective and a noun or a noun and a noun form a compound in Irish, they are written as one word – ardscairt. Otherwise the adjective has to come after the noun as scairt ard. This just shows how bad and inadequate Cassidy’s knowledge of Irish was and it also shows that the native Irish speakers who were supposed to have helped Cassidy with his ‘research’ did not exist.

I need hardly say that there is no evidence of anyone describing a funny person as a scairt in Irish. People call a funny person a scream in English, of course, but that doesn’t mean you can do that with Irish.