Category Archives: Drossary

A glossary entry about one of Cassidy’s crazy theories, debunking that particular word or phrase and explaining why it is nonsense.

Duke and Dukin’

The word duke (meaning hand or fist) dates back to the mid-19th century in English. There are several theories about its origin. The most reasonable is that it is rhyming slang. The word fork was used as a slang term for hand in the 19th century and is also found in phrases like ‘put up your forks’, just as ‘put up your dukes’ was a familiar phrase. It is believed that the phrase Duke of York gave rise to the link between fork and duke. Another (less credible) theory holds that duke came from dookin, a Romani term for palmistry (though the Romani word for hand is vast).

The verb duking developed as a derivative of the noun duke in the 20th century.

Daniel Cassidy, phoney scholar and fake etymologist, ignored these known facts and claimed that duking comes from the Irish tuargain, meaning pound, batter, which Cassidy in various interviews mispronounced as dookin, and that the noun duke for hand developed from this verb. As usual when the facts conflicted with Cassidy’s insane theories, Cassidy simply pretended the facts didn’t exist.

Taifeadadh an focal Béarla duke (leis an chiall lámh nó dorn) den chéad uair i lár an 19ú haois. Tá roinnt teoiricí ann faoina bhunús. An ceann is réasúnta ná gur béarlagair na rímeanna atá ann. Bhí an focal fork in úsáid mar théarma béarlagair ar lámh sa 19ú haois agus faightear é i bhfrásaí ar nós ‘put up your forks’, go díreach mar a bhí an frása ‘put up your dukes’ coitianta céad bliain ó shin. Creidtear gurbh é an frása Duke of York a chruthaigh an nasc idir fork agus duke. Tá teoiric eile ann, nach bhfuil leath chomh hinchreidte, gur tháinig duke ó théarma Romainise ar an dearnadóireacht, dookin (cé gurb é vast an focal Romainise ar lámh).

D’fhorbair an briathar duking ón ainmfhocal duke san 20ú haois.

Rinne Daniel Cassidy, scoláire gobáin agus bréagshaineolaí teanga, neamhshuim de na fíricí mar is eol do scoláirí iad, agus mhaígh sé gur ón Ghaeilge tuargain a tháinig duking, focal a chiallaíonn bualadh. In agallaimh a rinne Cassidy, bhí nós aige tuargain a rá mar dookin, agus mhaígh sé gur fhorbair an t-ainmfhocal duke (lámh) ón bhriathar seo, cé go bhfuil an fhianaise ar fad ina éadan. Mar ba ghnách, nuair a bhí an fhírinne ag teacht salach ar a chuid teoiricí mire, lig Cassidy air féin nach raibh na fíricí ann.

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Amadán Aibreáin – Phil Cousineau

Ní raibh mórán ama agam ar na mallaibh, agus sin an fáth a bhfuil mé rud beag mall le hAmadán na Míosa an mhí seo.

Is é Amadán na Míosa i mí Aibreáin na bliana seo ná Phil Cousineau, “scríbhneoir agus scannánóir a bhfuil duaiseanna buaite aige, múinteoir agus eagarthóir, léachtóir agus ceannaire taistil, scéalaí agus óstach teilifíse” atá bunaithe i gCeantar na Bá in San Francisco. Tá breis agus tríocha leabhar scríofa aige, leabhair a bhaineann le réimse ábhar – úfó-eolaíocht, sioncronacht, miotas an laoich, an dóigh le bheith cruthaitheach, an turas mar oilithreacht agus sanasaíocht.

Cén fáth nach maith liom Phil Cousineau? Bhal, bheinn in amhras air cionn is gur boc mór é i saol cultúrtha Cheantar na Bá ach ní leor an méid sin ann féin.

Ní maith liom an cacamas bréagspioradálta a chleachtann daoine mar Cousineau, go háirithe nuair a bhíonn sé ceangailte le leabhair, cláracha teilifíse agus cúrsaí. Mar shampla, cuireann buafhocail bheaga amaideacha mar seo samhnas orm: “the uncanny discovery that the seeker is the mystery which the seeker seeks to know”; “writing is easy; all you do is pick the scab crusted over your soul”; “if you don’t risk getting lost, you’ll never be found”; “Stories heal the wounds inflicted by the mercurous knife of stainless steel facts”. Uch!

Tá boladh an chacamais airsean agus ar a chuid saothar, dar liom féin. Le sampla amháin a thabhairt, tá alt measartha téagartha aige ar Wikipedia, a insíonn scéal a chuid buanna agus cuid de na péarlaí eagna a chum sé. Nuair a amharcaim ar an stair, áfach, is léir gur duine darbh ainm Wordpilgrim a scríobh cuid mhór den alt. Hmm … cérbh é Wordpilgrim? An amhlaidh gur Phil Cousineau féin a bhí ann, duine a bhfuil leabhair scríofa aige ar fhocail agus ar oilithreachtaí?

Agus sin ráite, níor leor na rudaí seo le hAmadán na Míosa a thuilleadh do Cousineau. An fáth a bhfuil fuath agam dó ná dhá leabhar uafásacha a chum sé ar an tsanasaíocht ‘don phobal’, leabhair a scríobh sé cionn is gur ‘focalbhách’ é, nó gráthóir focal, Wordcatcher (2010) agus The Painted Word (2012).

Díríonn na leabhair seo ar fhocail a bhfuil spéis ag an údar iontu. Is dócha go bhfuil cuid mhór den eolas seo ceart, ní nach ionadh, mar thóg Cousineau an t-ábhar seo ó fhoinsí mar fhoclóirí a bhfuil taighde mór maith déanta ag a n-údair. An rud a chuireann iontas ormsa ná líon na meancóg sna leabhair seo de chuid Cousineau. Dar le Cousineau, Sly and the Family Stone a chum Play That Funky Music Right Boy. I bhfírinne, an bhuíon Wild Cherry a chum é agus ar ndóigh, Play That Funky Music WHITE Boy an leagan ceart. In alt eile ar an fhocal adumbrate, labhraíonn sé ar chúrsa scannánaíochta ar fhoghlaim sé faoi thábhacht na scáileanna i saothar Hitchcock ann. Déanann sé tagairt d’alt le criticeoir darb ainm Letich (recte Leitch) a bhí ag scríobh faoi scannán Hitchcock Odd Man Out. Ach, ar ndóigh, Carol Reed a rinne Odd Man Out, ní Hitchcock. Tá na meancóga bómánta chomh flúirseach sin sa leabhar seo. Bernard Share a scríobh an leabhar Slanguage, ní Bernard Shaw. Níl baint ar bith idir an focal glaum san Albainis agus gléas le hainmhithe a choilleadh. Níl baint dá laghad idir an sloinne Muir agus muir Ghaeilge na hAlban. Agus ar ndóigh, ní David Cassidy an Partridge Family a scríobh How The Irish Invented Slang, ach Daniel Cassidy.

Tá a lán tagairtí do Cassidy agus dá leabhar amaideach sa dá leabhar seo le Cousineau, Wordcatcher agus The Painted Word, cé go léiríonn an mheancóg leis an ainm gur dócha nach raibh caidreamh an-dlúth idir an bheirt drochshaineolaí focal seo.

Tá Wordcatcher líonta lán le raiméis Chasaideach, agus tá falsacht agus saontacht an údair le feiceáil ar gach aon leathanach. Glacann sé frása Cassidy comhúdar (nach gciallaíonn ach “an duine a scríobh rud éigin le duine éigin) mar bhunús an fhocail cahoots (cé go mílitríonn sé é mar comh-udar). Deir sé go ndúirt Cassidy gurbh é an focal Gaeilge tuig ba bhunus leis an fhocal dig (understand) i mBéarla na nDaoine Gorma sna Stáit, ach ní luann sé gur phléigh Walter Skeat an nasc idir twig agus tuig breis agus céad bliain ó shin agus gur fhoilsigh Eric P. Hamp alt dar teideal “On the Celtic origin of English slang dig/twig (‘understand’)” in 1981. Glacann sé teoiric Cassidy faoi bhunús Gaeilge dude ón fhocal dúd i ndáiríre, cé go bhfuil scoláirí teanga ar aon intinn, beagnach, gur ó Yankee Doodle Dandy a tháinig sé.

Cé gur lú an cacamas Casaideach sa leabhar The Painted Word, tá an méid atá ann lán chomh holc. Is fiú a alt ar an fhocal ‘lulu’ ón leabhar sin a thabhairt ina iomláine anseo.

“LULU (IRISH)

A remarkable person, thing or event. Tracked down by word detective Daniel Cassidy in Irish-American Slang, this two-syllable dandy derives from the Irish word liu luigh, “a howl, a scream, a vigorous scream of joy,” and more, “A lulu can be spectacular or awful, but it’s always a scream.” More surprisingly still, Cassidy’s sleuthing tracked down its earliest recorded mention, in the New Orleans Lantern, on November 10, 1886, where it was used to describe the shenanigans in a local baseball game: “Farrell’s two baser was a lu-lu.” The citation would have delighted the late, great Ernie Hartwell, Hall of Fame broadcaster and baseball historian, who was married to a Lulu of a wife for over sixty years.”

Cá dtosóinn? Bhal, cé gur cuma liom má bhíonn daoine ag insint bréag faoi Daniel Cassidy (ba chóir do dhaoine an comhar a dhíol leis an bhalacs bheag) ach ní Irish-American Slang an teideal a bhí ar leabhar Cassidy. Ach ní hé sin a dheireadh. De réir cosúlachta, is ón fhocal Gaeilge liu luigh a tháinig lulu an Bhéarla. Ach is frása é liu luigh, ní focal. (Shílfeá go dtuigfeadh gráthóir focal mar Cousineau an difear!) Is frása gan chiall é, ar ndóigh, ach aisteach go leor, ní hé sin an frása amaideach gan chiall a chum Cassidy le bunús lulu a mhíniú. An frása a chum Cassidy, bhí sé lán chomh bómánta – gur tháinig lulu ón ‘Ghaeilge’ liú lúith. Ciallaíonn liú scread, ar ndóigh, agus ciallaíonn lúth aclaíocht nó neart. Na céadta bliain ó shin, bhí an chiall lúcháir nó áthas leis fosta ach níl anois. Baineann “vigorous yell of joy” Cassidy úsáid as an dá chiall, ach deir Cassidy fosta go gciallaíonn sé go meafarach “a complete scream, a howler.” Ar ndóigh, chum Cassidy an frása ‘liú lúith”. Cumadóireacht lom atá ann, nach bhfuil rian de sa Ghaeilge, agus ní gá dom a rá nach mbíonn ciall mheafarach ag frásaí nach bhfuil ann. Agus sin ráite, tá níos lú céille ag leagan Cousineau (liu luigh) fiú ná mar atá ag leagan Cassidy. Ní chiallaíonn liu rud ar bith gan síneadh fada agus is é luigh aimsir chaite nó modh ordaitheach an bhriathair luí.

Tá trí rud ar a laghad déanta ag Cousineau anseo nár chóir dó a dhéanamh. Ar an chéad dul síos, níl sé ag tabhairt luach a gcuid airgid dá léitheoirí féin, daoine a bhí ag iarraidh fíricí in áit raiméis gan chiall. Ar an dara dul síos, tá sé ag cuidiú le cumadóireacht amaideach agus bréagGhaeilge Daniel Cassidy a scaipeadh. Ar an tríú dul síos, tá sé ag cuidiú le daoine ligean orthu gur fíorscoláire a bhí in Daniel Cassidy, bréagadóir neamhshrianta a ndearnadh ‘ollamh’ de in ainneoin nach raibh oiread agus céim B.A. ollscoile aige.

Is mar gheall ar na fáthanna seo a bhfuil bród orm Duais Amadán na Míosa Aibreán 2018 a bhronnadh ar Phil Cousineau ó San Francisco.

 

 

April’s Twit of the Month – Phil Cousineau

I haven’t had a lot of time recently, so I am posting my April Twit of the Month a bit late.

April’s Twit of the Month is Phil Cousineau, an “award-winning writer and filmmaker, teacher and editor, lecturer and travel leader, storyteller and TV host” who is based in San Francisco’s Bay Area. He is the author of some thirty books on subjects as varied as ufology, synchronicity, the myth of the hero, how to be creative, travel as pilgrimage and etymology.

Why don’t I like Phil Cousineau? Well, the fact that he is a major cultural figure in the Bay Area would make me suspicious but isn’t enough on its own.

I don’t like the kind of junk spirituality that is his stock in trade, especially when it’s linked to products like books, TV shows and courses. For example, trite little epigrams like these make me physically sick: “the uncanny discovery that the seeker is the mystery which the seeker seeks to know”; “writing is easy; all you do is pick the scab crusted over your soul”; “if you don’t risk getting lost, you’ll never be found”; “Stories heal the wounds inflicted by the mercurous knife of stainless steel facts”. Yeugh …

There is an air of bullshit surrounding him and his works. To give you one example, he has a significant article on Wikipedia, which tells of his achievements and quotes some of his famous pearls of wisdom. However, when you look at the history, much of the article was written by someone called Wordpilgrim. I wonder who that was? Could it be Phil Cousineau himself, who has written books on words and pilgrimages?

However, even these wouldn’t justify a Twit of the Month Award on their own. The reason why I’m so hostile to Phil Cousineau is the two crappy books of pop etymology he has written as a logophile (lover of words): Wordcatcher (2010) and The Painted Word (2012).

These books focus on words that the author finds interesting. Much of this information is probably correct and, as it’s taken directly from well-researched sources like dictionaries, this is unsurprising. What is surprising is the sheer number of mistakes in these books. Cousineau attributes Play That Funky Music Right, Boy to Sly and the Family Stone. It’s really by Wild Cherry and of course, it’s really Play That Funky Music WHITE Boy. In an article on the word adumbrate, he talks about a film studies course where he learned the importance of shadow in Hitchcock’s work. He refers to an article by a critic called Letich (really Leitch) who was writing about Hitchcock’s film Odd Man Out. Except Odd Man Out was by Carol Reed, not Hitchcock. There are so many clumsy errors in this book. Slanguage was written by Bernard Share, not Bernard Shaw. The word glaum in Scots has no connection with a device for castrating animals. And of course, How The Irish Invented Slang was by Daniel Cassidy, not David Cassidy of the Partridge Family.

These two books by Cousineau, Wordcatcher and The Painted Word, contain a large number of references to Cassidy and his ludicrous book, though the mistake with the name indicates that there was probably no close relationship between these two crap etymologists.

Wordcatcher (2010) is particularly full of Cassidese nonsense, treated with abject laziness and a total lack of scepticism. He takes Cassidy’s ridiculous made-up phrase comhúdar (misspelling it comh-udar) seriously as the origin of cahoots. He says that Cassidy claimed Irish tuig as the origin of dig (to understand) in Black American English but fails to mention that the Irish association with twig goes back at least a hundred years, while Eric P. Hamp published an article called “On the Celtic origin of English slang dig/twig (‘understand’) in 1981. He takes Cassidy’s dúd origin of dude seriously, though scholars make the eminently reasonable connection with Yankee Doodle. He claims that Cassidy links the word fun to the Irish fonn, though this doesn’t seem to be in the book. (It’s ludicrous anyway!) He recounts Cassidy’s imbecilic theories about the origins of jazz from teas without question. He gives Cassidy the credit for identifying the Irish origins of phoney, when Eric Partridge had already done that a half century ago.

While there is less Cassidese bullcrap in The Painted Word, it is just as bad. His piece on ‘lulu’ from that book is worth quoting in full.

LULU (IRISH)

A remarkable person, thing or event. Tracked down by word detective Daniel Cassidy in Irish-American Slang, this two-syllable dandy derives from the Irish word liu luigh, “a howl, a scream, a vigorous scream of joy,” and more, “A lulu can be spectacular or awful, but it’s always a scream.” More surprisingly still, Cassidy’s sleuthing tracked down its earliest recorded mention, in the New Orleans Lantern, on November 10, 1886, where it was used to describe the shenanigans in a local baseball game: “Farrell’s two baser was a lu-lu.” The citation would have delighted the late, great Ernie Hartwell, Hall of Fame broadcaster and baseball historian, who was married to a Lulu of a wife for over sixty years.”

Where do I begin? Well, I don’t really give a toss whether people misrepresent Daniel Cassidy, because Cassidy doesn’t deserve any better, but Cassidy’s book wasn’t called Irish-American Slang. Anyway, let’s move on. Apparently lulu comes from the Irish word liu luigh. However, liu luigh is not a word in English, it’s a phrase. (You’d think a logophile would know that, wouldn’t you?) It’s a completely nonsensical phrase, of course, but remarkably, it’s not even the nonsensical and stupid phrase that Cassidy claimed was the origin of lulu. Cassidy’s equally daft suggestion was that lulu comes from the ‘Irish’ liú lúith. Liú is a word in Irish for a shout. It’s not the most common word in Irish for that concept. Scread or scréach would be far more common, but it does exist. As for lúith, it’s the genitive of lúth, which means vigour, agility, or tendon. It used to mean ‘joy’ in Irish as well but hasn’t for hundreds of years. Cassidy’s “a vigorous yell of joy” actually uses both meanings, but Cassidy also says that it is figuratively “a complete scream, a howler.” Of course, Cassidy made the expression “liú lúith” up. It is a complete fabrication, unknown in the Irish language, and phrases which don’t exist don’t have figurative meanings. However, the Cousineau version (liu luigh) is even less meaningful than Cassidy’s. Liu doesn’t mean anything without the accent and luigh is the past tense or imperative form of the verb meaning to lie or recline.

Cousineau is doing at least three reprehensible things here. Firstly, he is short-changing his own readership by giving them poorly-researched nonsense instead of real scholarship. Secondly, he is helping to spread the made-up nonsense and fake Irish invented by Daniel Cassidy. Thirdly, he is helping to pretend that Cassidy, a pathological liar who became a ‘professor’ without any genuine qualifications at all, was a real etymologist and university lecturer.

It is for these reasons that I am proud to bestow my April CassidySlangScam Twit of the Month Award on Phil Cousineau of San Francisco.

 

 

 

Jack/Tiach

Daniel Cassidy, in his atrocious book How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that ‘jack’, a slang term for ‘money’ and the probable origin of ‘jackpot’, comes from the Irish tiach. Cassidy defines tiach as ‘a small purse, a wallet, a budget fig. money’. Now, there are two common words for a wallet in Irish: sparán (equivalent to the sporran of Highland dress) and vallait. Tiach is not a bag used for money, as far as I know. Furthermore, even if it did mean wallet rather than satchel, why would it figuratively mean money? Do people ask if someone has lots of wallet? They certainly don’t ask if they can borrow some sparán in Irish, never mind tiach!

Then there is the issue of pronunciation. Tiach is not pronounced like jack or jah. It is pronounced (roughly) chee-ah, with the ch of English cheese, or tee-ah in the south, so why would it become jack? (Cassidy didn’t understand Irish pronunciation at all.)

And then there is the fact that jack was a term for a coin in English by the 16th century. It is not completely impossible that an Irish term might have come into English this far back, but it is pretty unlikely.

All in all, Cassidy’s claim is as stupid and as worthless as the vast majority of the claims made in this book.

Mhaígh Daniel Cassidy, ina leabhar uafásach How The Irish Invented Slang, gur ón fhocal Gaeilge tiach a tháinig an téarma ‘jack’, focal béarlagair ar ‘airgead’ i mBéarla, agus an bunús is dóchúla leis an téarma ‘jackpot’ fosta. De réir Cassidy, ciallaíonn tiach ‘a small purse, a wallet, a budget fig. money’. Anois, mar is eol do dhuine ar bith a bhfuil a c(h)uid Gaeilge maith go leor leis an leagan Gaeilge den alt seo a léamh, tá dhá fhocal choitianta sa Ghaeilge ar ‘wallet’ i nGaeilge: sparán (mar an gcéanna le sporran an Albanaigh) agus vallait. Ní úsáidtear an focal tiach ar mhála airgid, chomh fada le m’eolas. Is seanfhocal é a chiallaíonn tiachóg nó ‘satchel’ an Bhéarla. Ní hamháin sin, ach dá mbeadh an bhrí sparán ar an tiach in áit mála mór, an mbeadh an bhrí fháthchiallach airgead air? Ar chuala tú duine ar bith ag rá ‘Tábhair dom giota beag sparáin ar iasacht’ riamh?

Agus ansin, tá fadhb na foghraíochta ann. Níl tiach cosúil le jack ar chor ar bith. (Ar ndóigh, ní raibh tuiscint ar bith ag Cassidy ar fhuaimeanna na Gaeilge.)

Agus caithfear a chuimhneamh gur baineadh úsáid as an fhocal jack mar fhocal ar bhonn airgid cheana féin faoin 16ú haois. B’fhéidir go dtiocfadh le focal Gaeilge teacht isteach sa Bhéarla chomh fada sin siar, ach ní dócha é.

Lena rá ar bheagán focal, tá teoiricí Cassidy faoin fhocal sin chomh bómánta leis an chuid eile de na teoiricí sa leabhar seo.

Ditch

This is one of the silliest claims in a very silly book. I mean, how stupid would you need to be to believe that the word ditch (as in ‘she ditched him’) comes from the supposed Irish phrase de áit? The phrase de áit isn’t in use in Irish and never has been.

The two words exist independently, of course. De means from or ‘off of’, ‘from the surface of’ (bhain siad an pictiúr den bhalla – they took the picture off of the wall), while áit means place. And occasionally they occur together in phrases like an phrochlais sin de áit (that dump of a place) or taobh amuigh de áit (outside of a place) but in the standard language, this would usually become d’áit and it isn’t anything to do with displacing or dislodging or dumping in these cases. If you want to say that someone displaced something or put it out of its place you would use as áit, not de áit: cuireadh na brící as áit nuair a thit an scafall orthu (the bricks were dislodged when the scaffolding fell on them). So, de áit is pretty much impossible as the origin of ditch.

The English ditch, on the other hand, is a very likely source. A ditch, meaning a kind of trench at the side of the road (or sometimes the bank beside the trench in Ireland), comes from the Old English word dic. And in the old days, when you had some rubbish you dumped it in the ditch, or ditched it. In time, this became a general term for discarding or dumping.

This isn’t rocket science. I do have academic degrees but you don’t need a degree (or even the high-school certificate that Cassidy had instead of a degree) to work out that Cassidy’s claim is nonsense. All you need is reasonable literacy skills, access to the internet and an open and sensible mind. Which is why I find it really strange that so many people are prepared to support a book that contains so many transparent stupidities like this.

Seo ceann de na rudaí is bómánta dá maíonn Cassidy sa leabhar amaideach seo. Bheadh ort bheith millteanach ramhar sa réasún lena chreidiúint gur ón fhrása ‘Gaeilge’ de áit a thagann an focal Béarla ditch (mar shampla, sa fhrása ‘she ditched him’.  Níl na focail de áit le fáil sa Ghaeilge agus ní raibh riamh.

Tá an dá fhocal ann leo féin, ar ndóigh. Ciallaíonn de ó ó dhromchla ruda  (bhain siad an pictiúr den bhalla), agus is ionann áit agus ionad. Agus bíonn an dá fhocal ag teacht le chéile corruair i bhfrásaí mar an phrochlais sin de áit nó  taobh amuigh de áit ach sa Chaighdeán, dhéanfaí d’áit de sin, agus ní bhaineann sé le rudaí a dhíláithriú sna cásanna seo.  Bhainfeá úsáid as as áit, ní de áit le sin a rá – cuireadh na brící as áit nuair a thit an scafall orthu, mar shampla. Mar sin de, níl seans dá laghad go bhfuil de áit ceart mar bhunús an Bhéarla ditch.

Ar an láimh eile, tá an focal Béarla ditch thar a bheith fóirsteanach agus thar a bheith soiléir mar mhíniú. Tagann an focal ditch, a chiallaíonn ‘díog’, ón fhocal Sean-Bhéarla dic. Agus sna seanlaethanta, nuair a bhí bruscar agat, dhéantaí é a dhumpáil sa díog, nó é a ‘ditcheáil’. Leis na blianta, fuair an focal ditching an chiall chéanna le dumping.

Ní rud deacair casta é seo. Tá céimeanna ollscoile agam ach níl céim de dhíth ar dhuine (ná fiú an teastas ardscoile a bhí ag Cassidy in áit céimeanna) lena oibriú amach gur raiméis é an méid a dúirt Cassidy faoin fhocal seo. Níl de dhíth ar dhuine ach scileanna réasúnta litearthachta, teacht ar an Idirlíon agus intinn oscailte chiallmhar. Sin an fáth a gcuireann sé a oiread sin iontais orm go bhfuil a oiread sin daoine sásta tacú le leabhar a bhfuil a oiread sin bómántachtaí follasacha ar nós an chinn seo ann.

 

 

 

 

 

Nincompoop

This is another really stupid Cassidy suggestion. He claims that the word nincompoop comes from the Irish naioidhean ar chuma búb, which he says is pronounced neeyan [er] um boob and (again, according to him) means “a baby in the shape of a blubbering boob.”

Let’s examine this claim carefully. Firstly, does the ‘Irish’ phrase sound like nincompoop? Not much. Is there any evidence of anyone ever using this expression before Cassidy? No, of course there isn’t. Is it likely that anyone would use it? Think about it. Insults need to be clever or punchy. They need to be effective as ways of putting someone in their place, which is why you very rarely find people saying things like “He is a man who seems to have the appearance of a dolt.” If you want to insult someone, you simply call them a dolt. Because of this, the chances of Cassidy’s claim being correct are vanishingly slight.

Although we don’t have any solid evidence about the real origin of nincompoop, there is nothing to suggest that it comes from Irish. It is first found in English in the 1670s. Some dictionaries conjecture that it probably comes from the phrase non compos mentis (a legal formula meaning not of sound mind). Others dispute this. But Cassidy’s ridiculous suggestion is just another confirmation that he was far from compos mentis himself.

 

Seo tuairim bhómánta eile de chuid Cassidy. Maíonn sé go dtagann an focal Béarla nincompoop ón ‘Ghaeilge’ naioidhean ar chuma búb. Dar leisean, ciallaíonn an bolgam gránna seo “a baby in the shape of a blubbering boob.”

Tá an teoiric seo gan bhunús, ar ndóigh. Níl an frása ‘Gaeilge’ seo cosúil le nincompoop an Bhéarla ar chor ar bith. Agus ní gá dom a rá nach bhfuil fianaise ar bith ann gur bhain duine ar bith úsáid as ‘naíon ar chuma búib’ riamh. Ní dócha go mbainfeadh duine ar bith úsáid as, ach oiread. Caithfidh maslaí bheith cliste, gonta. Ní mór dóibh bheith éifeachtach mar dhóigh le duine a chur ina áit. Sin an fáth nach ndeirtear ‘Is duine é a bhfuil cosúlacht an bhómáin air.’ Más maith leat duine a mhaslú, déarfaidh tú gur bómán é, gan fiacail a chur ann. Agus sin an fáth nach bhfuil ciall ar bith leis an raiméis bhréag-Ghaelach a chum Cassidy faoin fhocal seo.

Cé nach bhfuil aon fhianaise chruinn againn maidir le bunús fíor an fhocail nincompoop, níl fianaise ar bith ann gur Gaeilge é, ná go bhfuil baint ar bith ag an fhocal le hÉirinn. Fuarthas é sa Bhéarla den chéad uair sna 1670í. Tá barúil ag cuid de na foclóirí gur leagan as a riocht é den fhrása dlí Laidine non compos mentis (a chiallaíonn nach bhfuil duine ina chiall cheart). Tá daoine eile ar a mhalairt de thuairim. Ach is ábhar gáire é míniú Cassidy, agus cruthaíonn sé nach raibh Cassidy féin ina chiall cheart.

Goon

(This is another piece which I have republished, edited and translated into Irish because of The Year of the Irish Language 2018. Seo píosa eile atá athfhoilsithe agam anseo, maraon le roinnt athruithe agus aistriúchán i nGaeilge, in ómós do Bhliain na Gaeilge 2018.)

 

Daniel Cassidy, in his crazy book How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that the word goon, meaning an idiot (and later, a muscle-bound henchman) derives from the Irish word guan, meaning ‘a fool’. There are several problems with this. Firstly, Cassidy states that the English word is ‘origin unknown’, while most dictionaries (including the OED) regard it as a contraction of an earlier word goonie or gooney, which is known since the 16th century and means a fool or a large bird like an albatross. This seems perfectly reasonable and I can see no reason to prefer an Irish derivation to this English origin.

Secondly, guan is not a common word in Irish. It is not given at all in Ó Dónaill’s dictionary, and in Dinneen’s dictionary it is ascribed to Ó Neachtain’s manuscript dictionary of 1730. It is not found in the 7 million word Corpas na Gaeilge. The word guanach for silly or fanciful is certainly common and is given in all dictionaries but guan itself isn’t.

In other words, this is as stupid and unlikely as the rest of Cassidy’s nonsense.

Mhaígh Daniel Cassidy, ina leabhar craiceáilte How The Irish Invented Slang, go bhfuair an Béarla an focal goon, a raibh an chiall ‘amadán’ leis fadó (agus a fuair an chiall cúlaistín matánach ina dhiaidh sin), ón fhocal Gaeilge ‘guan’, a chiallaíonn amadán. Tá roinnt fadhbanna leis an mhíniú seo. Sa chéad áit, deir Cassidy go ndeir foclóirí an Bhéarla gur focal ‘origin unknown’ atá ann. Is bréag lom é sin. An chuid is mó de na foclóirí Béarla (an OED san áireamh), tá siad ar aon intinn gur giorrúchán é ar an tseanfhocal gooniegooney, atá ar taifead ón 16ú haois agus a chiallaíonn amadán nó éan mór cosúil leis an albatras. Tá an míniú seo iomlán réasúnta, dar liom féin, agus ní thuigim cén fáth a roghnódh duine ar bith an tsanasaíocht Ghaeilge in áit an chinn seo ón Bhéarla.

Ar an dara dul síos, ní focal coitianta guan sa Ghaeilge. Ní luaitear i bhfoclóir Uí Dhónaill é agus i bhfoclóir an Duinnínigh, deir sé go bhfuil sé i lámhscríbhinn fhoclóir Uí Neachtain a scríobhadh in 1730. Níl sé luaite i gCorpas na Gaeilge, corpas 7 milliún focal. Tá an focal guanach (amaideach) coitianta go leor, cinnte, ach níl an focal guan coitianta ar chor ar bith.

Lena rá i mbeagán focal, tá an ceann seo chomh bómánta neamhdhóchúil leis an chuid eile de raiméis Cassidy.