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.

Craic Baby

Last Christmas, I received a copy of the book Motherfoclóir. As I explained in several posts here, I generally like the concept of the book, but I was less impressed with its author’s etymological skills. Recently, I happened to be in a bookshop and I saw a copy of the successor to Motherfoclóir, Craic Baby. I stood for a while and glanced through it. As with the previous book, most of it seems interesting enough. However, I did happen across a discussion of the words crack and craic. Again, I was very underwhelmed with his comments on this subject.

The facts about the origins of crack/craic are well-known and have been discussed here before. From a meaning of a loud noise in Middle English (also in Scots), it came to mean boastful talk and conversation. It’s found all over Scotland and Northern England. In more recent times, it has been Gaelicised as craic but there is no evidence that it is derived from Irish. There is also plenty of evidence that it doesn’t.

Ó Séaghdha said that there are several pieces of ‘evidence’ for the Irish origin of craic. One is the word craiceann, which means skin, but has a secondary meaning of sex, as in the phrase ag bualadh craicinn, literally beating skin. (Ó Séaghdha misspells this as ag bualaidh, which is an elementary mistake.) The link between craic and craiceann is obvious nonsense. I mean, does Béarla (the Irish word for English) constitute proof that béar (bear) is an ancient Irish word? Is there an intrinsic link between skillet and skill, or kit and kitten? Of course not. And the idea that craiceann has a subsidiary meaning of sex and sex is fun so craiceann means fun is pretty silly.

Even sillier is the second piece of ‘evidence’, namely the existence of the word craiceáilte, which means cracked or crazy. While there are some native words formed with -áil or -eáil, most words with these endings are words of foreign origin. Here are some common examples: cniotáil (to knit); traenáil (to train); pacáil (to pack). These can also generate nouns for people who do things: a scíálaí is a skier, a paraisiútálaí is a parachutist. They can also form adjectives: cócaráilte means cooked, fancyáilte is fancy (in speech – you wouldn’t usually write it), and craiceáilte is cracked. In other words, this is obviously a non-Irish word.

As I say, I haven’t read this book. If I receive a copy of Craic Baby for Christmas (and there’s every chance I will), I will read it and probably enjoy most of it. However, if there’s ever a number three in the series, I do hope he resists the temptation to make any etymological speculations because he really isn’t very good at it.

 

An Nollaig seo caite, fuair mé cóip den leabhar Motherfoclóir. Mar a mhínigh mé i roinnt postálacha anseo, is maith liom coincheap an leabhair, go ginearálta, ach is lú an dúil a bhí agam i scileanna sanasaíochta an údair. Seachtain ó shin, tharla dom bheith i siopa leabhar ag amharc ar chomharba Motherfoclóir, Craic Baby. D’fhan mé i mo sheasamh ansin ar feadh tamaill agus bhreathnaigh mé ar roinnt leathanach. Mar a bhí leis an leabhar roimhe, bhí an chuid ba mhó de measartha spéisiúil. Agus sin ráite, tháinig mé ar phlé ar an fhocal craic, nó crack. Agus arís eile, is beag an meas a bhí agam ar na rudaí a bhí le rá aige faoin ábhar seo.

Pléadh na fíricí faoi bhunús craic/crack anseo agus in áiteanna eile. Fuaim ard an chiall a bhí le crack sa MheánBhéarla (agus san Albainis fosta), agus ansin fuair sé ciall eile, mar atá, caint ghlórach mhórtasach. Tá an focal le fáil ar fud na hAlban agus Thuaisceart Shasana fosta. Le blianta beaga anuas, rinneadh Gaelú ar an fhocal mar chraic, ach nil aon fhianaise ann gur tháinig sé ón Ghaeilge. Agus tá a lán fianaise ann nár tháinig sé ón Ghaeilge, ar ndóigh.

Dúirt Ó Séaghdha go bhfuil cúpla píosa ‘fianaise’ ann le bunús Gaelach an fhocail craic. Ceann de na píosaí fianaise seo ná an focal craiceann, a bhfuil an chiall thánaisteach ‘gnéas’ leis, ar ndóigh, mar shampla, sa fhrása sin ‘ag bualadh craicinn’. (Mílitríonn Ó Séaghdha an focal seo mar bualaidh – is meancóg bhunúsach é sin.) Is léir gur raiméis é an nasc idir craic agus craiceann. Mar shampla, an gcruthaíonn an focal Béarla gur focal ársa Gaeilge é béar? An bhfuil baint idir camall agus scamall? Agus is amaidí fosta an tuairim a nochtann Ó Séaghdha go gciallaíonn craiceann gnéas agus is mór an spórt é gnéas agus mar sin de, is ionann craiceann agus craic!

Tá an dara píosa ‘fianaise’ níos amaidí fós, is é sin, go bhfuil an focal craiceáilte ann. Mar a thuigfidh Gaeilgeoir ar bith arbh fhiú an t-ainm, is comhartha é -eáilte gur focal gallda fréamh an fhocail m.sh. traenáilte agus postáilte agus péinteáilte. Lena rá ar dhóigh eile, cruthaíonn foirm an fhocail craiceáilte nach focal dúchasach é craic.

Mar a dúirt mé, níl an leabhar seo léite agam. Má fhaighim cóip de Craic Baby don Nollaig (agus tá gach seans ann go bhfaighidh), léifidh mé é agus is dócha go mbainfidh mé sult as an chuid is mó de. Agus sin ráite, má scríobhann Ó Séaghdha an tríú leabhar sa tsraith choíche, tá súil agam nach mbacfaidh sé le tuilleadh buillí faoi thuairim a thabhairt faoin tsanasaíocht, mar is cinnte nach bhfuil tuairim dá laghad aige faoi stair na bhfocal.

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Cluanaire Eile

Nuair a d’fhoilsigh Daniel Cassidy, nach maireann, a chnuasach cacamais How The Irish Invented Slang deich mbliana ó shin, ba chóir go dteipfeadh go hainnis air láithreach. Caimiléir agus naircisíoch a bhí in Cassidy, duine a bhain feidhm as a scileanna mar shlíomadóir le post a fháil mar ollamh i gcoláiste beag in California gan oiread agus céim bhaitsiléara a bheith aige. Ní raibh Gaeilge ar bith aige agus ní raibh tuiscint ar bith aige ar an teangeolaíocht. An chuid is mó de na frásaí ‘Gaeilge’ atá luaite sa leabhar mar bhunús fhocail bhéarlagair Bhéarla, chum Cassidy féin iad agus ní raibh focail ná frásaí dá leithéid riamh ann sa teanga s’againne.

Agus sin ráite, bhí sé de nós ag Cassidy plámás agus béal bán a dhéanamh le cuid mhór daoine mór le rá: scríbhneoirí, fíorléachtóirí ollscoile, ceoltóirí agus mar sin de, agus thug na ‘cairde’ sin léirmheasanna maithe dó le cur ar chúl a leabhair bhréagaigh. Mar gheall air sin, cuireadh dallamullóg ar a lán daoine agus shíl siad go raibh substaint éigin ag baint leis na teoiricí bómánta a bhí ag Cassidy. Straitéis eile a d’úsáid sé lena chosaint féin ar cháineadh na saineolaithe ná a mhaíomh go raibh comhcheilg ollmhór ann a raibh teangeolaithe acadúla agus lucht foclóírí páirteach ann. Dar leisean, bhí na saineolaithe Anglaifiliacha seo ag iarraidh an fhírinne go bhfuarthas focail ar nós baloney agus wanker ón Ghaeilge a cheilt le stádas an Bhéarla a ardú! Ar ndóigh, ní raibh sa chomhcheilg seo ach finscéal eile de chuid Cassidy, agus ní ghlacann an saol acadúil lena theoiricí cionn is nach bhfuil i ‘saothar’ Cassidy ach raiméis amaitéarach, amaideach gan fianaise.

Mar gheall ar na bréagadóiri a thug tacaíocht don bhocamadán naircisíoch seo, deich mbliana i ndiaidh fhoilsiú an leabhair How The Irish Invented Slang, bíonn daoine ag nochtadh ar an idirlíon go fóill ag rá gur fíric an píosa seo nó an píosa sin amaidí ó leabhar Cassidy, nó gur chóir glacadh leis an leabhar iomlán mar fhíorthaighde. Roinnt laethanta ó shin, nocht bómán eile den chineál seo ar Twitter. Mhol an duine seo, Mary Ann Pierce, do dhaoine a bhí ag déanamh taighde stairiúil ar stair na Gaeilge labhartha sna Stáit gur chóir dóibh How The Irish Invented Slang a léamh. Nuair a fheicim bómán éigin mar seo ag áitiú ar dhaoine a gcuid airgid a chur amú ar leabhar bréagach Cassidy, bím ag coinneáil súil amach d’fhianaise na comhcheilge. Cad chuige? Bhal, is cinnte go bhfuil comhcheilg ann maidir le leabhar Cassidy. Comhcheilg de shlíbhíní gustalacha i Meiriceá a bhfuil cinneadh déanta acu an fhírinne faoi Cassidy a bhrú faoi chois agus beag is fiú a dhéanamh den teanga s’againne.

Is féidir roinnt giotaí eolais a fháil ar Mary Ann Pierce ar line. Bhí sí rannpháirteach i bhfeachtas le teach pobail stairiúil i Nua-Eabhrac a shabháil le – iontas na n-iontas – Peter Quinn, an cara ab fhearr le Cassidy, agus le (John) Joe Lee, a scríobh léirmheas ardmholtach ar an chacamas seo do chúl an leabhair. Chomh maith leis sin, tá baint aici leis an Irish American Writers and Artists Association, eagraíocht a bhunaigh Cassidy le dornán dá ‘chairde’. Nuair a mholann duine ar bith an leabhar seo don phobal, is fíorannamh nach mbíonn fianaise den drong lofa caimiléirí seo ann, drong atá ag iarraidh an fhírinne a bhrú faoi chois agus níl fáth ar bith agam a chreidiúint nach amhlaidh atá sé sa chás seo fosta.

Another Phoney

When the late Daniel Cassidy brought out his moronic crapfest How The Irish Invented Slang ten years ago, it should have bombed immediately. Cassidy himself was a fraud and a narcissist, who somehow conned his way into a job as a professor in a small college in California without any qualifications at all. He didn’t speak any Irish or have any knowledge of linguistics. Most of the phrases which are given in his book as the origins of slang terms were made up by Cassidy and never existed in the Irish language.

However, Cassidy sucked up to a large number of credible people, writers, genuine university lecturers, musicians, and these people gave him good reviews for his lying book. Because of this, many people have been tricked into thinking that there is substance to his ludicrous theories. Another strategy he employed to protect himself from criticism was the claim that academic linguists and lexicographers with Anglophile leanings were involved in a grand conspiracy to hide the fact that words like baloney and wanker came from Irish! Of course, this conspiracy never existed, and Cassidy is rejected by linguists because is ‘work’ is shoddy, stupid and without evidence.

Because of the liars who have supported this narcissistic dimwit, ten years on we are still finding people on line claiming that this or that piece of nonsense from Cassidy’s book is true or that his book as a whole should be treated as real scholarship. Just a couple of days ago, another of these people popped up on Twitter. Mary Ann Pierce advised people doing research on the history of spoken Irish in the USA to ‘read the late Daniel Cassidy “How the Irish Invented Slang.”’ Whenever I see some random fool encouraging people to waste their money on Cassidy’s fraudulent book, I look for evidence of conspiracy. Why? Well, there most certainly is a conspiracy in relation to Cassidy’s book. A conspiracy of over-privileged arseholes in America who have decided to suppress the truth about Cassidy and treat the Irish language with disdain and contempt.

There are various pieces of biographical information about Mary Ann Pierce on line. She was involved with a campaign to save a church along with – wait for it – Peter Quinn, Cassidy’s best friend, and (John) Joe Lee, who wrote a glowing review of this rubbish for the back of the book. She is also associated with the Irish American Writers’ and Artists’ Association, which was co-founded by Cassidy. Whenever anyone praises this book, there is almost always evidence of this horrible parcel of phoneys trying to suppress the truth and I have no reason to suppose that this is an exception.

Rollicking/Rámhailleach

Out of the hundreds of silly claims in Daniel Cassidy’s ludicrous book, How The Irish Invented Slang, few are sillier than his theory about the origins of the word rollicking. This is a word that makes its appearance in English for the first time in 1811. Cassidy says that the dictionaries say it is ‘of obscure origin’ but there seems to be a consensus that it is linked in some way to frolicking, which is of Dutch origin.

As usual with Cassidy’s work, all he has to offer is a vague similarity of sound. He says that this word comes from Irish rámhailleach, which is either an adjective or a verbal noun deriving from rámhaille, which means raving or ranting. The word rámhailleach is pronounced something like row-will-yah, so it really sounds nothing like rollicking. Also, the meaning is completely different. People have a rollicking good time all the time in English, but nobody every had ‘am maith rámhailleach’ (a raving good time). Rámhaille in Irish means that someone is mentally or physically ill. Rollicking is the very opposite.

As na céadta bómántacht a chum Daniel Cassidy agus a d’fhoilsigh sé ina leabhar amaideach How The Irish Invented Slang, is beag ceann acu atá chomh bómánta leis an méid a bhí le rá aige maidir le bunús an fhocail rollicking. Is focal Béarla é rollicking a taifeadadh den chéad uair sa bhliain 1811. Deir Cassidy go ndeir na foclóirí go bhfuil a bhunús doiléir, ach bíonn an chuid is mó de na scoláirí ar aon intinn go bhfuil nasc idir rollicking agus an focal frolicking, a fuair an Béarla ón Ísiltíris.

Mar is gnách le teoiricí Cassidy, níl fianaise le tairiscint aige ach go bhfuil focal sa Ghaeilge a mheasann sé a bheith cosúil leis an fhocal Béarla ó thaobh fuaime de. Deir Cassidy gur tháinig an focal seo ó rámhailleach na Gaeilge, a chiallaíonn caint gan chiall a dhéanamh agus tú tinn, ar meisce, as do mheabhair srl. Ar ndóigh, níl fuaim an fhocail rámhailleach ar dhóigh ar bith cosúil le rollicking, agus tá an chiall iomlán difriúil fosta. Is féidir ‘a rollicking good time’ a bheith agat i mBéarla. Ní féidir am maith rámhailleach a bheith agat i nGaeilge! Ciallaíonn rámhaille go bhfuil duine tinn nó as a mheabhair. Ciallaíonn rollicking a mhalairt ar fad.

Níos Mó Ar Phodchraoltaí Motherfoclóir

Chuir mé postáil suas ar na mallaibh inar cháin mé podchraoltaí Motherfoclóir, atá ag baint leis an leabhar Motherfoclóir le Darach Ó Séaghdha. Ar an iomlán, tá mé i bhfách le Motherfoclóir. Is maith liom an cuntas Twitter ar fhás sé as agus bhí an leabhar maith, den chuid ba mhó, cé go raibh cuid den taighde ann uafásach míchúramach (go háirithe maidir le ceisteanna sanasaíochta).

I ndiaidh dom éisteacht le dornán de na podchraoltaí, is oth liom a rá nach mbacfaidh mé leis an chuid eile. Níl seo le cur síos go hiomlán do Motherfoclóir féin. Is mó an bhaint atá aige leis an drochmheas ginearálta atá agam ar phodchraoltaí. Is é a bhíonn i gceist le podchraoltaí, comhrá éadrom faoi ábhar éigin agus cé go mbíonn roinnt fíricí iontu, is beag iad na fíricí i gcomparáid leis an chomhrá. Cuireann a lán acu (an ceann seo san áireamh) i gcuimhne dom na cúrsaí d’fhoghlaimeoirí teanga is measa dá bhfuil ann, ina gcaitear ceacht iomlán ar fhrása simplí ar nós “Peadar is ainm dom” agus san am céanna, cuirtear carachtair in aithne dúinn agus mínitear suíomh agus tá ceoilín ann srl.. Tá dlúthbhaint agam le teangacha agus leis an Ghaeilge agus leis an teangeolaíocht leis na blianta fada. Cé go mbíonn ábhar spéise sna podchraoltaí seo in amanna, is fíorannamh a phléitear rud ar bith nár chuala mé roimhe agus mar a dúirt mé sa phostáil eile, bíonn ábhar amhrais ann in amanna agus in amanna eile, tá an fhaisnéis mícheart amach is amach (mar a bhí sa phíosa faoi Abhartach).

Bhí mé ag éisteacht ar na mallaibh leis an phodchraoladh faoin nasc a mhaítear idir muintir na hÉireann agus Treibheanna Caillte Iosrael. (https://www.headstuff.org/motherfocloir/58-the-tribe-of-de-danann-irish-hebrew/)  (Aoi spéisiúil a bhí ann, ach sílim go dtiocfadh leis an phodchraoladh a bheith níos eolasaí dá gcuirfeadh siad na ceisteanna cearta uirthi. Mar shampla, mar theangeolaí, tá a fhios agam nach teanga Ind-Eorpach í an Eabhrais. Is teanga Ind-Eorpach í an Ghaeilge. Mar sin de, níl baint dhíreach idir an dá theanga agus má tá aon fhocail sa dá theanga atá cosúil lena chéile, níl ansin ach comhtharlú. QED.)

Agus sin ráite, i dtreo dheireadh an phodchraolta seo, tosaíonn Ó Séaghdha a labhairt go tobann faoi dhaoine de mo leithéid atá cinnte dearfa NÁR tháinig focal áirithe ón Ghaeilge. Deir sé faoi dhaoine diúltacha de mo leithéid “because of the way the burden of proof works, they can often be even more extreme than people who say it does.”

Níl a fhios agam go díreach cad é atá a rá aige leis an “because of the way the burden of proof works”. Thiocfadh leat glacadh leis go gciallaíonn sé nach bhfuil i dteangeolaithe agus daoine atá sásta fianaise a thabhairt lena dtuairimí a chosaint ach dream saoithíní gránna, cruálacha nach ligfidh do dhaoine eile sult a bhaint as corrfhíric bhréagach a nochtadh ag cóisirí dinnéir, ach is dócha nach nglacfadh duine ar bith leis ar an dóigh sin ach saoithín gránna, cruálach. An rud atá i gceist aige, is dócha, ná go mbíonn tromlach na fianaise ag an chomhthoil aitheanta nó ag an teoiric is mó. Ní féidir sin a shéanadh. Tá i bhfad níos lú ábhair ar fáil i nGaeilge ón 19ú haois ná mar atá sa Bhéarla, agus is lú i bhfad an seans gur fhág an Ghaeilge fianaise maidir le focal ar bith. Agus sin ráite, níl sé ceart ná cóir úsáid a bhaint as sin mar leithscéal le neamhshuim a dhéanamh den fhianaise. Má dhéantar sin, ní bheidh ar a shon againn ach drochthaighde agus ‘fíricí’ nach fíricí iad.

Is aisteach an rud é, ach baineann Ó Séaghdha úsáid as an fhocal craic mar shampla den ‘bhréagchinnteacht’ seo nár tháinig focal áirithe ón Ghaeilge. Tá seo thar a bheith aisteach, mar tá an oiread sin fianaise ann gur focal ar chomhrá a bhí san fhocal craic san Albainis agus i gcanúintí Béarla thuaisceart Shasana agus go ndearnadh sin a Ghaelú mar ‘craic’. Ní miste liom an focal a bheith litrithe mar chraic nó é a bheith in úsáid mar fhocal Gaeilge. Is focal Gaeilge é. Ach ní focal de bhunús Gaeilge é. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craic)

Agus sin ráite, an rud is mó a chuir olc orm ná nuair a thosaigh sé a labhairt arís ar bhunús Gaeilge an fhocail Bhéarla mucker. Is dócha go raibh cuid den chaint seo dírithe ormsa, cé gur cinnte go raibh sé ag cáineadh duine eile fosta, mar níor luaigh mise an Dara Cogadh Domhanda. Tá an focal seo pléite agam cheana agus thaispeáin mé go soiléir go bhfuil an tsanasaiocht seo ón Ghaeilge iomlán mícheart. Sa phodchraoladh seo, áfach, in áit glacadh leis go ndearna sé meancóg, téann Darach Ó Séaghdha níos faide ná riamh agus deir sé go bhfuil dhá fhocal anseo, a bhfuil an fhuaim agus an litriú agus an chiall chéanna leo, ach a bhfuil dhá shanasaíocht ar leith acu. Mar sin de, nuair a deir daoine mucker in Éirinn, tháinig sin ón Ghaeilge, ach tá focal eile atá go díreach mar an gcéanna i Sasana “but ‘they’re different words and they’re different entries in the dictionary.’ Dáiríre? Cén foclóir sin? Tugann Wiktionary (rud atá cineál randamach) dhá shainmhíniú dhifriúla ar an úsáid mhíleata agus ar an úsáid neamhmhílteata ach tugann sé an bunús céanna ó muck don dá fhocal. (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/mucker) Tá an OED ar aon intinn fosta gurb ionann na muckers míleata agus na muckers neamh-mhíleata agus go dtagann siad beirt (is dócha) ó muck: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/mucker

Is é fírinne an scéil nach bhfuil fianaise dá laghad ann go bhfuarthas mucker ó mo chara na Gaeilge, is cuma cá mhéad duine a chreideann an scéal sin. Tá a lán fianaise imthoisceach ann nár tháinig an focal sin ón Ghaeilge:

  • Níl mucker le fáil go príomha ná go heisiach in Éirinn nó i bpobail Ghaelacha i dtíortha eile. Bíonn mucker le fáil i gcodanna áirithe de Shasana agus is ann a fuarthas é den chéad uair. (Sna 1940idí)
  • Is minic a úsáidtear mucker in Éirinn (agus i Sasana fosta) le forrán a chur ar dhuine (how’s it going mucker?) ach ní úsáideann daoine a bhfuil Gaeilge mhaith acu mo chara ar an dóigh sin. Is é ‘a chara’ a úsáidtear agus duine ag labhairt go díreach le duine eile.
  • Má deirtear Mo chara mar is ceart, rímeann sé le Sahara. Cad é mar a dhéanfaí mucker de sin i mBéarla?
  • Deir an OED gur dócha go bhfuil baint ag mucker le mucking in nó mucking about agus ní aithníonn sé aon bhaint leis an Ghaeilge.
  • Dá mba Ghaeilge é mucker, shílfeá go mbeadh daoine ag labhairt air sin le cúpla glúin anuas. Is é fírinne an scéil nach bhfuil aon tagairt dó ar Google roimh 2007 (on Urban Dictionary). Agus ní luaitear aon nasc leis an Ghaeilge i leabhar ar bith ar Bhéarla na hÉireann ná ar bhéarlagair.

Ansin téann sé ar aghaidh leis an téarma shamus a phlé (téarma béarlagair ar bhleachtaire), a tháinig ón Ghaeilge de réir daoine áirithe agus ón Ghiúdais de réir daoine eile. Is ceist spéisiúil é seo. Tá claonadh agam glacadh leis an alt seo (https://forward.com/articles/5064/bogie-speaks-yiddish/), ach sílim go mbeadh sé úsáideach scrúdú cúramach smaointeach a dhéanamh uirthi. (Agus chuirfinn fáilte roimh thuairimí David Gold ar an cheist fosta!)

Is é an chomhairle a bheadh agam do Dharach Ó Séaghdha ná an méid seo:

  • Déan do chuid taighde go cúramach, ar eagla go dtitfeá isteach i bpoll.
  • Má thiteann tú isteach i bpoll, déan iarracht dreapadh amach as. Ná bí ag tochailt.

Caunfort Ladran

The late Daniel Cassidy, in his absurd book of fake etymology, ‘How The Irish Invented Slang’, claimed that there were hundreds of Irish expressions hidden in American slang. We have already seen that in the vast majority of these cases, the Irish expressions cited by Cassidy do not exist and were invented by Cassidy himself.

We do find occasional traces of the Irish language in American slang. This phrase, caunfort ladran, is one of the most interesting examples. Cassidy failed to spot it, either because he was too lazy to read all the slang dictionaries, or because he read this and failed to spot that it was Irish. (Cassidy didn’t speak any Irish at all.)

The phrase caunfort ladran is given in a criminal slang dictionary of 1908 called ‘Criminal Slang’ by a certain Joseph M. Sullivan, a lawyer at the Boston Bar. On page 5 of this book, we find:

Caunfort Ladran Master thief (Irish); same as head of a mob.

The (Irish) is a reference to language rather than location. Caunfort Ladran represents the Irish ceannfort ladrann, meaning commandant of thieves.

Was this a genuine expression used among Irish-speaking criminals? There is no way of knowing. There are a few Irish and Hiberno-English expressions in Sullivan’s book. Thus we find things like Souper, a fellow who works the churches to advance himself, – an insincere convert, or Sthreel, a slouchy woman (from Irish sraoill). Shebeen and shoneen are also mentioned.

However, the usual modern Irish term for thief is gadaí, not ladrann (a borrowing from Latin, resembling Spanish ladrón). In other words, I wonder whether Sullivan simply got a translated term for a leader of thieves from some Irish scholar in his community and pretended that it was current in the criminal underworld.

One thing is sure. The existence of this phrase does nothing to strengthen Cassidy’s case. For one thing, Cassidy actually missed it. Secondly, this is a genuine Irish phrase. It means what it is supposed to mean and it is labelled as Irish in the source text. It bears no relation to the rubbish given as Irish in Cassidy’s book.

 

Mhaígh Daniel Cassidy, nach maireann, ina leabhar áiféiseach den tsanasaíocht bréige, ‘How The Irish Invented Slang’, go raibh na céadta focal de bhunús Ghaeilge na hÉireann le fáil i mbéarlagair Bhéarla Mheiriceá. Mar a chonaic muid roimhe seo, sa chuid is mó de na cásanna seo, ní raibh na frásaí ‘Gaeilge’ a luaigh Cassidy ann ar chor ar bith. Ní raibh iontu ach raiméis a chum an Casaideach féin.

Níl i leabhar Cassidy ach amaidí. Ach bíonn corr-rian den Ghaeilge le fáil i mbéarlagair na Stát Aontaithe. Tá an frása atá i gceist anseo, caunfort ladran, ar cheann de na samplaí is suimiúla. Níor thug Cassidy faoi deara é. B’fhéidir go raibh sé rófhalsa na foclóirí béarlagair uilig a léamh, nó b’fhéidir gur léigh sé é agus nár aithin sé gur Gaeilge a bhí ann. (Ní raibh Gaeilge ar bith ag Cassidy, ar ndóigh.)

Tugadh an frása caunfort ladran i bhfoclóir den bhéarlagair coiriúil a foilsíodh sa bhliain 1908, ‘Criminal Slang’ le fear darbh ainm Joseph M. Sullivan, dlíodóir ag Barra Bhostúin. Ar leathanach 5 den leabhar sin, tá an méid seo scríofa:

Caunfort Ladran Master thief (Irish); same as head of a mob.

Tá an (Irish) sin ag tagairt don teanga, ní don tír. Is ionann caunfort ladran agus ceannfort ladrann, nó ceannaire na ngadaithe.

An fíor go raibh ceannfort ladrann in úsáid i measc gadaithe Gaelacha? Níl a fhios againn. Tá roinnt focal a tháinig ón Ghaeilge nó ó Bhéarla na hÉireann i leabhar Sullivan. Tá leithéidí Souper, a fellow who works the churches to advance himself, – an insincere convert, nó Sthreel, a slouchy woman ann (ó sraoill na Gaeilge). Tá shebeen agus shoneen luaite ann fosta.

Agus sin ráite, is é gadaí an focal is coitianta ar thief an Bhéarla, ní ladrann (focal a fuair an Ghaeilge ón Laidin, agus atá gaolta le ladrón na Spáinnise). Lena rá ar dhóigh eile, b’fhéidir nach bhfuil ann ach gur iarr Sullivan ar scoláire Gaeilge i mBostún téarma Gaeilge a chur ar fáil ar ‘master thief’ agus nach raibh sé riamh in úsáid i measc na gcoirpeach féin.

Rud amháin atá fíor. Ní neartaíonn sé cás Cassidy go bhfuil a leithéid de fhrása ann. Ar an chéad dul síos, chaill Cassidy é, in ainneoin an diantaighde a rinne sé don leabhar, dar leis féin. Ar an dara dul síos, is fíorphíosa Gaeilge é seo. Tá sé ag teacht leis an bhrí a luaitear leis sa téacs, agus tá sé lipéadaithe mar Ghaeilge sa bhuntéacs. Níl baint ar bith aige leis an amaidí a tugadh mar Ghaeilge i leabhar Cassidy.

The Brooklyn Boys

On August 16th 2004, Daniel Cassidy posted a message on the Linguist List about his latest crackpot theory. He had come across the term The Brooklyn Boys in the plays of Eugene O’Neill and decided to invent an Irish origin for the phrase.

In reality, Brooklyn Boys is a slang term for the DTs or for a hangover. The expression has been on record since 1883. Nobody is sure about its origin but one source mentions that there were many breweries and distilleries in Brooklyn, which sounds reasonable.

Cassidy really excelled himself in his version of the origin of this phrase. According to him, Brooklyn Boys represents the ‘Irish’ phrase Bru/cht [Sic – should be brúcht] lionn baithis. According to Cassidy, this phrase means ‘Booze and bile bursting out the top of the head’ and is pronounced brook-lyn-boice.

In reality, this phrase makes no sense at all. Brúcht lionn baithis is just a list of three words with no grammar to define their relationship, which sort of means something like “Belch bodily humour top of head.” Even if you accepted that it meant ‘booze and bile bursting out the top of the head’, is this a convincing description of the DTs? The usual term for the DTs is rámhaille an óil (the raving of drink). The image of sweat and other bodily fluids erupting out of the top of someone’s head like a volcano is ludicrous, disturbing and completely unconvincing.  And of course, it would be pronounced brookht-lin-ba-hish (with the kh as in Scottish loch or Spanish j), not brook-lyn-boice. This is another clear example of Cassidy’s dishonesty. Every fact was manipulated in the direction of Cassidy’s conclusions.

Of course, a supporter of Cassidy would probably point out that this never made it to the book and that this implies some kind of quality control. In fact, the vast majority of the phrases in the book are every bit as mad and silly as phrases like athbhreith céad athbhreith (=abracadabra, according to Cassidy) or brúcht lionn baithis, that never made it to the book. Cassidy’s mind was a junkyard of half-formed nonsense, and the book simply represents whatever garbage happened to be between Cassidy’s ears in the year before publication. They are no more believable or reasonable than the other stupid claims that were lost along the way.

 

Ar an 16 Lúnasa 2004, chuir Daniel Cassidy teachtaireacht suas ar an Linguist List faoi theoiric nua a bhí cumtha aige. Tháinig sé ar an téarma The Brooklyn Boys i ndrámaí Eugene O’Neill agus shocraigh sé ar bhunús ‘Gaeilge’ a chumadh leis an fhriotal seo a mhíniú.

Is é fírinne an scéil gur téarma béarlagair é The Brooklyn Boys ar rámhaille an óil (delirium tremens) nó ar phóit uafásach. Taifeadadh an téarma sin den chéad uair sa bhliain 1883. Níl a fhios ag duine ar bith faoi shanasaíocht an fhrása, ach deir foinse amháin go raibh a lán grúdlann agus drioglann in Brooklyn, agus tá sin cineál réasúnta mar mhíniú.

Tá caimiléireacht Cassidy maidir leis an chor cainte seo níos measa fiú ná an ghnáthraiméis a chumadh sé. Dar leisean, is ionann Brooklyn Boys agus an friotal ‘Gaeilge’ Bru/cht [=Brúcht] lionn baithis. Dar le Cassidy, ciallaíonn an bolgam seo ‘Biotáille agus domlas ag brúchtadh amach as barr an chinn’ agus deirtear é mar brúc-lion-bóis (brook-lyn-boice).

Ní gá dom a rá le duine ar bith a bhfuil Gaeilge aici nó aige gur raiméis é seo. Níl ann ach trí fhocal gan gramadach lena gceangal le chéile. Fiú dá nglacfadh duine leis an íomhá áiféiseach de lionn ag brúchtadh amach as barr an chinn mar a bheadh bolcán ann, cad é an bhaint atá aige sin le rámhaille an óil? Agus ar ndóigh, ní mar brúc-lion-bóis a déarfaí é. Is eiseamláir shoiléir eile seo de mhí-ionracas Cassidy. Lúbadh agus camadh gach fíric ionas go mbeadh sí ag teacht le torthaí réamhcheaptha Cassidy.

Ar ndóigh, déarfadh lucht leanúna Cassidy nár foilsíodh an ceann seo sa leabhar, agus gur fianaise seo go raibh rialú caighdeáin de chineál aige ag Cassidy. Is é fírinne an scéil go bhfuil tromlach na bhfrásaí sa leabhar chomh craiceáilte agus bómánta le ‘athbhreith céad athbhreith’ (=abracadabra, de réir Cassidy) nó ‘brúcht lionn baithis’, cinn nár bhain an leabhar amach riamh. Is é a bhí in intinn Cassidy ná clós mangarae lán le bruscar leathfhoirmithe, agus is é atá sa leabhar ná cibé truflais a bhí idir cluasa Cassidy sa bhliain sular foilsíodh an leabhar. Níl siad pioc níos inchreidte ná níos réasúnta ná na bómántachtaí eile a mhaígh Cassidy ar an idirlíon ach nár chuir sé isteach sa leabhar agus a cailleadh ar an bhealach.