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 word teas, meaning heat, or metaphorically anger or passion. This is highly unlikely. There are dozens of theories about the origins of the word jazz, which first occurred in a musical context in 1912. 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. Cassidy claimed that this derives from Irish too, but this is incorrect.

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

From deas, the Irish for nice.

Cassidy’s claim that the word comes from teas is no more likely than any other claim on the list, and considerably less likely than most. It should also be noted that Cassidy demonstrated his total ignorance of phonetics and phonology in relation to the words jazz, jass, jazzbo, jazzy and jasm. His versions of the pronunciation of these words, such as j’ass, chass, j’asbah, ch’asbah, t’aspǝ, are completely fake. They have nothing to do with genuine linguistics. To give just one example, j is generally used in linguistics to express the sound usually written in English as a y. Also, Cassidy believed that a slender t in Ulster Irish is pronounced with the j sound of English jam. This is untrue.

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.