Monthly Archives: October 2019

Cassidese Glossary – Jass, Jazz

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, in his book How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that the word jazz (and its earlier form jass) derive from the Irish language.

The word jazz was first used in print in 1912, in the context of baseball, when Ben Henderson, a pitcher for the Portland Beavers reported in the Los Angeles Times of April 2 that he had a new curved throw which he called the jazz throw because it wobbled and was unpredictable.

The following year, a sports columnist with the San Francisco Bulletin, E. T. “Scoop” Gleason, used the word, which was new enough that Gleason felt obliged to explain it: “What is the ‘jazz’?  Why it is a little of that ‘old life,’ the ‘gin-i-ker,’ the ‘pep,’ otherwise known as enthusiasm.” Years later, Gleason recalled that he had learned the word from another journalist William “Spike” Slattery, who had picked up the word in a crap game. While rolling the dice, a player would shout “Come on, the old jazz.”

The following month another SF Bulletin journalist, Ernest J. Hopkins, wrote an article “In Praise of  ‘Jazz,’ a Futurist Word Which Has Just Joined the Language.” Spelling the word variously with one Z or two, he continued: “You can go on flinging the new word all over the world, like a boy with a new jack-knife. It is ‘jazz’ when you run for your train . . . ‘jazz’ when you demand a raise,  ‘jaz’ when you hike thirty-five miles on Sunday … Anything that takes manliness or effort or energy or activity or strength of soul is ‘jaz.’”

It seems to have acquired the meaning of a type of music later, after it was used to mean energy, enthusiasm, excitement. There was also a sexual meaning but etymologists are not agreed as to when it acquired this meaning.

All this information is uncontroversial and had already been covered by scholars like Peter Tamony and Gerald Cohen before Cassidy’s book was published. Cassidy took his information from these other researchers who had done the primary research already. The only original thing in Cassidy’s treatment of the history of the word jazz is his claim that the word jazz comes from the Irish teas, meaning ‘heat’.

This is highly unlikely, though unlike most of Cassidy’s claims, it is not completely impossible. Most of Cassidy’s claimed derivations are simply impossible because the phrase given by Cassidy doesn’t actually exist. (e.g. teas ioma, which Cassidy claimed was an Irish phrase meaning semen and was the origin of jasm.)

Teas is a genuine Irish word, though Cassidy misrepresented both its pronunciation and its meaning.

Cassidy claimed that it was pronounced as jass. It isn’t, in any variety of Irish. You can find sound files for the three main dialects of Irish Connaught, Munster and Ulster, by following this link: https://www.focloir.ie/en/dictionary/ei/heat

As for the definition, Cassidy defined jazz and teas as:

Jazz, n., a name given to African-American music; excitement, passion, enthusiasam; heat; “hot air”, excessive verbal passion; something or someone hot or exciting; sexual intercourse, to have sex with someone.

Teas (pron. j’ass, chass), n., heat, passion, excitement, ardor, enthusiasm, anger, highest temperature. (Ó Dónaill, 611; Dineen 517-518; Dwelly, 942.)

Later in the same article, Cassidy truncated this definition to “heat, passion, excitement”.

As others have pointed out, Cassidy took complex terms and cherry-picked the obscure meanings which suited him without taking into account the way these words are really used in the language. Of course, Cassidy did not speak any Irish and had no idea how any of these words would have been used in a real Irish conversation.

Here are the various definitions of teas according to Ó Dónaill’s dictionary:

teas, m. (gs. ~a). Heat. 1. Hotness, warmth. ~ na gréine, na tine, the heat of the sun, of the fire. ~ an tsamhraidh, summer heat. Fan go dtaga ~ an lae, wait till the day gets warmer. Tá an ~ ag teacht ionam arís, I am beginning to feel warm again. Tá a d~ féin acu, they are keeping each other warm. 2. Warm clothing, warm place. Cuir ~ ort féin, put on something warm. Cuir sa ~ é, put it in a warm place. Tá ~ éadaigh orthu, they are warmly clad. 3. Degree of hotness. Cuir ~ bhainne na bó ann, warm it to the level of milk fresh from the cow. 4. High temperature, feverishness. Tá ~ ina éadan, his brow is hot. Bhí ~ mór ina chuid fola, he had a very high temperature. Bhí ~ na haithinne ann, he was in a feverish hurry. 5. Ph:~ adamhach, atomic heat. ~ folaigh, latent heat. 6. Ardour, passion. ~ crábhaidh, fervent devotion. ~ ceana, grá, warmth of affection, of love. 7. Hottest, highest, stage. Bhí an chonspóid ina ~, the dispute was at its height.

And here are the definitions from Dinneen’s Dictionary:

Heat, warmth, sultriness; fig., comfort, excitement, anger, pain; teas na féil’ Eoin, the Midsummer heat; teas na gréine, the sun’s heat; teas na díthe, the severity of the loss; cuirim teas i. I heat; tháinig sé le teas na gréine, he is illegitimate.

Although Dwelly is irrelevant, being a dictionary of a different language (Scottish Gaelic) which was probably never widely spoken in the cities of North America, Dwelly defines teas as: Heat, warmth. 2 Superabundance, too much of the good things of life.

Of course, this is all rather complicated and that’s not even bringing adjectives like teasaí or related words like teaspach or teasaí into play! However, to summarise, Cassidy is saying that the original meaning of jazz was excitement, enthusiasm or sexual passion and that these are also primary meanings of the Irish word teas, meaning heat. So the question has to be, would anyone use teas to describe the excitement of a match or a party? Eh, no. Would they say that there is teas involved when they find someone sexually arousing? Eh, no. Would they say that someone is full of teas(a) if they are enthusiastic? Not really. Teas means heat. It doesn’t mean excitement (in spite of that word being mentioned by Dinneen) and it doesn’t mean sexual passion.

So, if jazz doesn’t come from the word teas, where does it come from? There are dozens of theories. Here’s a brief selection of them:

From the word jasmine, because jasmine oil was used in brothels and became associated with sex.

From Creole brothels where jezebels (prostitutes) worked.

From Creole patois jass “strenuous activity,” especially “sexual intercourse.”

From a black entertainer called Jas (James).

From a black entertainer called Chas (Charles).

From a Chicago musician called Jasbo (Jasper) Brown.

From jaser, a French word meaning conversation or intercourse, in various senses.

From the French word chasser, to hunt.

From a variant of jasm, a slang term dating back to 1860 that means ‘pep, energy’ and is related to jism for semen.

From various African languages, words like Mandingo jasi, ‘to become unlike oneself’.

From deas, the Irish for nice.

The link with jasm is the most likely to be correct but several others are reasonable candidates and certainly better than teas. The best you could argue for in the case of Cassidy’s supposed link between teas and jazz is that it should be given a place on this list as a possible origin. However, as I’ve argued above, because its pronunciation and meanings are not as suitable as Cassidy pretended, it is not a great candidate.

Cassidese Glossary – Jasm, Gism

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.

This is a slang term derived from jizz, which seems to have originally meant spirit or energy. It first occurs in 1842 with that meaning. Then it took the meaning of semen, apparently for similar reasons to the use of spunk for both courage and semen.

Its ultimate origins are unknown. What we do know for a fact is that it has no connection with Daniel Cassidy’s claim that jasm comes from the Irish ‘teas ioma’, which according to Cassidy, means ‘an abundance of heat, passion, excitement; fig. semen.’ Cassidy thinks the word iomaí (or ioma) is an ordinary adjective which can follow a noun. It isn’t and it can’t. Iomai is used in phrases like ‘Is iomaí oíche’ (it’s many’s the night). See: https://www.teanglann.ie/en/fgb/iomaí

In other words, this is not just a non-existent phrase in Irish, it could not exist. Even if it could, and teas ioma did mean excessive heat in Irish, why does Cassidy think that overheating and semen are the same thing in Irish, when they aren’t the same thing in any other European language?

Cassidese Glossary – Jake

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.

This is an expression for ‘the best’ or ‘something good’ that first makes its appearance (in American English) in the early twentieth century. There is no agreed etymology. Cassidy, in his book How The Irish Invented Slang, claims that it comes from the Irish deach, which means ‘the best’.

There are several problems with this. Firstly, the pronunciation is not at all close. Compare the sound files for teach (https://www.focloir.ie/en/dictionary/ei/house) to see how a word that rhymes with deach is pronounced. Secondly, deach is an archaic expression. It is marked in Ó Dónaill’s dictionary as Lit. – a literary expression. A look through Corpas na Gaeilge shows that there are no uses of this word in the corpus itself after the 17th century. (Later uses of deach, as in Cín Lae Amhlaoibh, are misspellings of other words, such as deich, the Irish for ten.) In modern Irish, there are other words meaning the best, such as ‘an ceann is fearr’ or ‘togha’. In other words, it is highly improbable that it would have been known or used by Irish speakers in 19th or early 20th century America.

Cassidese Glossary – Jake

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.

This is an expression for ‘the best’ or ‘something good’ that first makes its appearance (in American English) in the early twentieth century. There is no agreed etymology. Cassidy, in his book How The Irish Invented Slang, claims that it comes from the Irish deach, which means ‘the best’. There are several problems with this. Firstly, the pronunciation is not at all close. Secondly, this is an archaic expression. It is marked in Ó Dónaill’s dictionary as Lit. – a literary expression. A look through Corpas na Gaeilge shows that there are no uses of this word in the corpus itself after the 17th century. (Later uses of deach, as in Cín Lae Amhlaoibh, are misspellings of other words, such as deich, the Irish for ten.) In other words, it is highly improbable that it would have been known or used by Irish speakers in 19th or early 20th century America, even if it sounded anything like jake.

Cassidese Glossary – Jag (2)

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, jag in the sense of being drunk (to have or get a jag on) is not related to the word jag meaning a load. According to him, it comes from the Irish word deoch, meaning drink (see here for pronunciation: https://www.focloir.ie/en/dictionary/ei/beverage#beverage__2)

This is very implausible. The most commonly accepted theory is that jag is the same word as jag meaning a load – to have a load on is certainly a reasonable metaphor for drunkenness. As you can see in the link above, deoch does not sound like jag.

Cassidese Glossary – Jag (1)

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 Daniel Cassidy in his work of false etymology, How The Irish Invented Slang, the word jag, meaning a load for the back, comes from the Irish word tiach (as, according to him, does the word jack). There is no evidence in favour of this theory.

Jag originally meant a load of furze or whin, then later came to be a general term for a load: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/jag

Cassidese Glossary – Jack-roll

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.

This was originally a term for the act of robbing a drunk. In recent years, it has been used, notably in South Africa, for crimes of gang-rape. Again, Cassidy claims that this is from the Irish tiach, which he says means ‘a wallet, small purse; fig. money’. In fact, tiach means a bag or satchel and is not specifically used to refer to a purse. There is no evidence of it being used to mean money (any more than there is evidence for satchel being used figuratively for money in English slang). It is also quite different in pronunciation from the English jack.

Cassidese Glossary – Jackpot

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 his work of false etymology, How The Irish Invented Slang, Daniel Cassidy claimed that the word jackpot derives from the Irish word tiach along with the English word pot. As we have seen with the word jack, tiach does not mean money and it sounds nothing like the English word jack.

Furthermore, it is widely accepted that jackpot is a poker term derived from the card, the jack. Follow this link for further details: https://www.etymonline.com/word/jackpot

Cassidese Glossary – Jack

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 jack as a slang term for money first appears in the US in the 1890s. There is no agreement about its etymology. Some sources note that jack was used as a term for a small coin in English as early as the 16th century. However, the fact that the term jackpot makes its appearance around the 1880s and derives from poker leaves open the possibility that jack is a back formation from jackpot (which really derives from the card jack – the jackpot was won with two jacks). Wherever jack comes from, there is no reason to believe that it derives from Irish.

Daniel Cassidy, in his etymological hoax, How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that jack derives from the Irish word tiach, which Cassidy defines as: ‘a small purse, a wallet, a budget; fig. money’. Tiach is an archaic word for a bag or satchel and is pronounced chee-ah or tee-ah (not j’aċ, as Cassidy claims). It sounds nothing like jack and it doesn’t mean money. This claim is entirely false.

 

H and I

So, I have now completed another two letters in the glossary in Daniel Cassidy’s absurd book, How The Irish Invented Slang, and as with A and B and C, D and E, and F and G, I have prepared a short account of my conclusions in relation to Cassidy’s efforts.

There are only 31 words in the H and I categories. Added to the 219 words dealt with above, that makes a total of 250 headwords from the glossary of Cassidy’s book. As in the previous letters, none of Cassidy’s explanations is in any way convincing, apart from one that has already been mentioned, the supposed link between the expression ‘big bug’ in English and the Irish boc mór. However, even in this case, Cassidy totally failed to conduct any real research.

The rest of Cassidy’s ‘research’ in relation to these letters is the usual utterly stupid made-up nonsense that breaks the grammatical rules of Irish and stretches credibility (and sanity) well beyond breaking point. There is a lot of material in relation to these two letters that demonstrates very clearly how little Irish Cassidy had. And while it has often been claimed that Cassidy had native Irish speakers available to help him and to vet the material he was coming out with, it is quite clear that these claims are also nonsense. What competent Irish speaker would endorse árd-iachtach-tach as a piece of genuine Irish? Who would give the thumbs-up to a phrase like ag céimnigh? Almost all the Irish in this book is pure invention and bears no relation to the real language, which Cassidy, a loud-mouth, a fool and a narcissist, had never even bothered to learn before setting himself up as an expert.

This man was a disgrace. This book, which so many Irish-Americans and even Irish people have been fooled into thinking was a valid contribution to the history of Irish America, was a collection of utter nonsense. People can believe what they like about Cassidy. They can ignore this blog and all other evidence and claim that he was a genuine radical, someone who actually cared about the poor and oppressed. (While claiming to have degrees from Ivy League colleges to take a job he wasn’t entitled to have.) They can ignore the evidence that claims he made about other aspects of his life were also dodgy. (For example, that he was in the newsroom of the New York Times when Kennedy was assassinated, or that he sold a script to Francis Ford Coppola – though he actually mentions two different scripts as the one he sold to Coppola.) And they can stick their fingers in their ears and hum while they ignore the truth about Cassidy’s etymological hoax. But facts are facts. They remain facts, however many people choose to lie or disbelieve or pretend that they are untrue.

The facts are laid out clearly here. There is no hiding place for liars in these pages, which is why we never hear from the liars in California, New York and even in Ireland who continue to pretend that Cassidy was a scholar and an intellectual. They don’t bother challenging the facts because they have no facts of their own to offer. In the past, some people have claimed that Cassidy was controversial. The truth is that there never was a controversy. Cassidy’s theories were always obvious and indefensible nonsense.