Category Archives: Humour

July’s Twit of the Month – Eamonn McCann

In June, my inaugural Cassidyslangscam Twit of the Month was Jeffrey St. Clair, an ‘investigative reporter’ who was comprehensively hornswoggled by Cassidy’s puerile bullshit. In that post, I mentioned a clapped-out media ganch (ganch= a Hiberno-English expression for someone who talks too much) from Derry. For July’s Twit of the Month, I have chosen the aforementioned media ganch, Eamonn McCann of Derry.

This is part of an article McCann wrote on HotPress:

When I wrote here two years ago of Danny’s insistence that “jazz” derived from the Donegal-Irish “teas” (heat), the dominant reaction was derision.

But no-one has since been able to challenge Cassidy’s prodigious research, tracing the term back to post-Famine Donegal, then to “jass”, first used by an Irish-American sports writer of a “hot” pitch in baseball in 1913, and then in evolution to define a form of “Dixieland” music.

In the past year, the New York Times has carried a feature-page filled with testimonials to the solidity of Danny’s research. Academics and writers have accepted the validity of his thesis – that Irish is the source of much American slang.

This is complete crap and it certainly provides no evidence for the claims made. I mean, what research? 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.

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. (We also have to take into account that Cassidy believed the word teas was pronounced jass in Donegal – it isn’t, in any dialect of Irish. The difference between teas and deas is as phonemic as the difference between tip and dip or bad and pad in English.) Then Danny Cassidy ‘gusted into the musty world of etymology like a blast of ozone into smog’, as McCann puts it. In reality, of course, the forums of etymology were a bracing open space with continual discussion and debate, an ozone-rich place where nonsense was blown away by gales of common sense. Cassidy, the bearer of a rich urban smog of fanciful nonsense, didn’t last long when he tried to present his rubbish to etymologists. He withdrew himself from any forum he had joined but continued to believe he was right, in spite of all the criticism.

The New York Times article contained no ‘testimonials to the solidity of his research.’ This particular piece of brain-dead pseudo-journalism was simply an interview with Cassidy in a bar where he spouted some of his nonsense. Since the publication of his book, no specialist in the fields of linguistics or Irish studies has endorsed his work. None of his etymologies has been accepted by academia and not because of any anti-Irish bias. It is simply because his etymologies are all shite.

We should also point out that when Eamonn McCann calls Cassidy Danny, this is because he had known him for twelve years at the time he was writing the article. He got to know him when Cassidy was making one of his documentaries and McCann was a talking head on the film. That’s why McCann is taking everything Cassidy said as the truth – not because any of it is true, but because Cassidy was a crony of his. However, I probably wouldn’t have bestowed my Twit of the Month Award on McCann if it weren’t for the following piece, which is not only very stupid but also deeply dishonest.

The Oxford English Dictionary reckons that lunch “perhaps evolved from lump, on the analogy of the apparent relation between hump and hunch, bump and bunch.” Scholarly, eh? Danny’s truer story comes with a tour of 19th century Irish bar-rooms in New York and San Francisco: “Lunch is the plural Irish noun lóinte (pron. lónche) meaning ‘food, victuals, rations, ‘grub’ – from ‘Middle Irish lón, Old Irish lóon; (it is) cognate with Old Breton lon.” (Mac Bain’s Gaelic Etymological Dictionary; Dineen, 675; Ó Dónaill, 800.)

Sounds definitive to me.

Of course, if you look up what the OED really has to say about the vexed and tricky origins of lunch and luncheon, it is a lot longer and more complicated than the eighteen words given above. It’s a fact that lunch was used for a lump of bread or cheese over four hundred years ago in English. It is also a fact that there was a word nuncheon which meant a light meal in the afternoon, and that this is the probable origin of luncheon and that some people think the end was knocked off luncheon giving lunch, and that the modern use of lunch has nothing to do with the older word meaning a lump. If you’re really interested, there’s a link here which explains it all:

http://www.wordorigins.org/index.php/site/comments/lunch_luncheon/

As for Cassidy’s ‘Irish’, it is (as usual) a total distortion of the facts. While Cassidy copied most of the etymological details out of McBain’s Etymological Dictionary, he missed things out and put things in. No dictionary defines lón as ‘grub’, of course. Its meaning was originally ‘fat, lard’, I suppose because people needed to store fat for the winter both as food and lighting fuel. It then came to mean provisions (not exclusively food) and indeed lón cogaidh or armlón mean ammunition in modern Irish. Lón was sometimes used in the plural as lónta or lóinte, but the English etymologies for the English word lunch are far more convincing, even if they are somewhat confusing. Only an anti-intellectual dimwit with a huge chip on his shoulder would call Cassidy’s claims definitive and dismiss the scholarship of the OED.

And that, really, is where McCann has earned his Twit of the Month Award. The word definitive means that something is resolved with authority. Not only is Cassidy’s spiel distorted and devoid of any original research and any merit, the OED treatment of these words is comprehensive and scholarly. It’s also complex and difficult to follow, as the truth very often is. (As McCann found out on the Nolan Show, where he made Diane Abbott look polished.) The idea that Cassidy’s simplistic and twisted account of the facts is in any way comparable to the OED or to any other real scholarly account of etymology is just nonsense. Worse than that, Cassidy was a ‘professor’ who didn’t have any degrees and didn’t speak any Irish and the only reason McCann is supporting him here is because they were mates.

This is the holier-than-yous Eamonn McCann, who constantly excoriates the privileged and their cronyism. However, in this case, he shows that he is just as willing to forget the facts and support a pal because of cronyism, even if that pal betrayed all socialist principles by becoming a professor with only fake qualifications and betrayed the Irish language by pretending to be an Irish scholar without knowing any of the language. And that’s not even taking the allegations of Cassidy’s sexual harassment of his students into account. Still, perhaps, it was ’emotionally true’, even if it was really a pack of lies.

With all this in mind, I am delighted to bestow my July Twit of the Month Award on Eamonn McCann, pompous clapped-out media ganch and unashamed pal of Daniel Cassidy. It is richly deserved.

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Twit of the Month – Jeff St. Clair

I have just come across the ridiculous tweet above and as a result, I have decided to bestow the dubious honour of inaugural Cassidyslangscam Twit of the Month Award on its author, Jeff St. Clair. St. Clair is an ‘investigative journalist’ who, along with Alexander Cockburn, was responsible for publishing Cassidy’s puerile and ignorant book on the supposed Irish etymology of American slang through CounterPunch and AK Press. Indeed, this numpty actually did the index for the book, so he can hardly claim that he didn’t read it carefully!

Anyway, to demonstrate why Jeff St. Clair is a fool and why CounterPunch were a bunch of morons to publish this book, I’ll just go through all the evidence of naivety and cronyism and blind ignorance in the ridiculous obituary which his friend Cockburn (now dead himself) wrote for Cassidy. Cockburn says:

I look at the book here on my desk and think, Thank God he got that out of his head and on to the printed page and the world will have that part of him always.

Yeah, thank God for that, eh?

Cockburn then talks about what a city boy Cassidy was, a true son of Brooklyn. However, according to Cassidy’s sister, the Cassidys were raised in Long Island in the forties and fifties. As she says ‘It was all country!’ His sister also pointed out that Cassidy’s eyes were brown, not blue, as Cockburn misremembered: His bright blue eyes would shine as we’d argue sometimes.

Plainly Cockburn thought a lot of Cassidy, largely because he didn’t really know him at all and fell for the lies and the hype like a true sucker.

He was thin-skinned about all the right things: the assumption of privilege, the pretensions of the toffs, the bottomless wellsprings of English and Yankee arrogance that looks down its nose and misses everything that matters. Danny had the vivid, humorous, compassionate, furious realism of someone who knew well what life looks like from the other side of the tracks, terrain intimately familiar to the millions of the Irish diaspora.

Yeah, it’s a terrible thing, the assumption of privilege. I mean, WHY should someone get a job as a professor just because they actually got their degree rather than flunking out in a narcotic haze? Cassidy deserved that job because he could bullshit better than any man alive, degree or no degree! (And he did receive a wonderful education from the same school as President Trump in his underprivileged youth, of course!)

Then there’s a load of pompous crap in the obituary about Cassidy’s book on slang and how his ‘street smarts’ (from Long Island?) enabled him to see things other people couldn’t about the Irish etymology of American slang.

The first taste of Cassidy’s nonsense that the late Cockburn (and St. Clair) swallowed uncritically was that baloney comes from béal ónna, meaning ‘Silly, inane loquacity.’ While Cassidy was an expert on silly, inane loquacity, he knew nothing about Irish. As we’ve said many times, béal ónna was a complete fabrication, just like most of the ‘Irish’ in the book.

Cockburn quotes a lot of other shite from Cassidy, such as stool pigeon coming from an imaginary phrase steall béideán and stoolie (obviously a derivative of stool pigeon) coming from another imaginary phrase, steall éithigh. Note all the fake definitions here that don’t come from any dictionary, and the ubiquitous fig. which betokened a figment of this liar’s imagination.

“Steall béideán, pron. stoll beejaan [sic], to spout gossip, lies, slander, aspersions, scandal; a spouting snitch; a spouter of scandal, calumny, lies. Stoolie: Steall éithigh, pron. stall eehih [sic], spouting lies, fig. a snitch; stooler: steallaire, a tattler.”

But apparently, because Mike Quill, a native Irish speaker, used the phrase stool pigeon a good hundred years after it was first used in English, that ‘proves’ it comes from Irish …

And squeal apparently doesn’t come from the English squeal, as in ‘he squealed like a pig to the feds’. No, it comes from the Irish verb scaoil meaning (quoting from WingLéacht) loose, loosen, release, discharge, undo, untie, unfasten, slack, slacken, let out, spread, unfurl, release, open, let go, discharge, disband, disperse, break loose, dissolve, resolve, remove, relieve, make known, reveal, give away, distribute, discharge, fire, shoot. A perfect match!

Later, in his exchange of emails with Cockburn, Cassidy refers to a clapped-out Derry politician and media ganch who was a friend of his, saying that “he appreciated that Jazz as teas, pronounced, jass, is Ulster dialect, as opposed to the teas (chass, heat) of Connaught.”  Aye, so in Ulster dialect, we apparently pronounce teas as jass. How do we pronounce deas, then? (In case you doubt this, you can find sound files for both deas and teas in the Connaught, Munster and Ulster dialects of Irish at focloir.ie: http://www.focloir.ie/ga/dictionary/ei/heat) What total garbage! More obvious evidence that this man was an ignorant bollocks who knew nothing much about anything, but still managed to convince a couple of ‘investigative reporters’ (as well as the aforementioned media ganch) that he wasn’t a talentless arse. Go figure …

As Cockburn said: He had me on the line now and it was time for him to set the hook.  Ain’t that the truth!

So, Cockburn and his equally dimwitted buddy St. Clair ended up publishing this inane garbage because “some hooded revisionist anonymous irish academic put the eighty-six (éiteachas aíochta, a refusal or denial of hospitality, to be barred or expelled) on it.”

That’s eiteachas, not éiteachas, by the way, and in any case, again, there’s no evidence of anyone using the imaginary (and clunky) phrase eiteachas aíochta. What they did with Cassidy’s manuscript at the University of Limerick was dhiúltaigh siad í a fhoilsiú (they refused to publish it), shéan siad í (they refused it),  chaith siad amach í (they threw it out), chuir siad ar ais í (they sent it back).  Something like that. Something real, something genuine Irish-speaking people say in real Irish. Not a fake piece of cultural appropriation, not an arrogant racist concoction from a seasoned con-man.

In short, what Cassidy did to this pair of highly skilled ‘investigative reporters’, Cockburn and St. Clair, was essentially to truss and pluck them, turn them over and stuff them both like a pair of shite-gobbling, pin-headed prize Christmas turkeys. CounterPunch has been showcasing and hosting and promoting this dishonest, moronic crapfest for a decade, in spite of its claims to tell the facts. And as I’ve said before (and my little essay on the dross in Cockburn’s obituary above proves it), Cassidy really wasn’t such a great liar. He was too stupid, too lazy, too self-obsessed and too unaware of his own limitations to be a truly accomplished liar.

In conclusion, you would need to be a total and utter love-muscle to take crap like this seriously for more than five minutes, never mind a decade, and that’s why Jeff St. Clair is such a worthy recipient of my inaugural Twit of the Month Award.

Mayday Your Nipples With Google Translate

One of the stupidest things I have seen in the press recently was an article by Newton Emerson about the Irish language. Newton (who normally talks a fair amount of sense) obviously knows nothing about languages. He claimed in the article that with automatic translation, nobody needs translators any more.

Hmm. This is, to say the least, a pile of horse feathers. Irish is a difficult language. If Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, arguably the most prominent champion of the Irish language in Stormont, can make a complete hames of the language in a prominent position on his Twitter feed – the phrase ‘Bí thusa an t-athrú’ is equivalent to saying ‘Tá mé polaiteoir’ or ‘An bhfuil tú an múinteoir?’ and he also misspells the word for opinions – then someone with no knowledge of the language using Google Translate is bound to come up with something ludicrous.

I’ve just seen this Google Translate gem on Twitter: Bealtaine an ádh ar an Shine na hÉireann ar tú an lá seo Fhéile Pádraig. It’s supposed to mean ‘May the luck of the Irish shine upon you this Saint Patrick’s day.’ It really means something like ‘Mayday the luck on the nipple of Ireland on you this day Festival of Patrick.’

Ó, m’aintín mheadhránach! (That’s a crap translation of Oh, my giddy aunt …)

Eek! Cassidy has risen from the grave …

I recently came across a disturbing little blog from California by an individual calling themselves Wandering Graveyard Rabbit. You can find it here: http://wanderinggyrabit.blogspot.co.uk/2008/11/abandoned-cemetery-purissima-in-half.html It ran from 2008 up until 2012. I was shocked to see that the individual who wrote the blog claims to be Daniel Cassidy:

Over the years I have lectured and assisted in family history under the guise of Danny Cassidy-Professor, film maker and award winning Author (How the Irish Invented Slang The Secret Language of the Crossroads).

In other words, Daniel Cassidy has returned from the grave and until five years ago, he was frequenting Californian graveyards as … appropriately enough … a dead rabbit.

However, the individual also mentions a daughter and a bath products business (I don’t think Cassidy had either). In that case, it could be that the person who wrote the blog means guidance rather than guise and that Daniel Cassidy did die in 2008 as we always thought.

However, I intend to eat a lot of garlic for the next couple of weeks, just in case …

It’s Official: The Etruscans Were Irish!

[I would like to make it quite clear that THIS IS NOT A REAL THEORY. I AM TAKING THE PISS. Unfortunately, it is the nature of the Internet that people flit around reading little bits of things and then tweeting about them and republishing them in other ways, so it is no surprise that there is a thing called Poe’s Law, which states that unless the material is clearly labelled as ironic, somebody will always take your parodies and satires at face value. On this blog, I have already had people take seriously claims that the phrase Vichy Water is from Irish and that the Irish language has a word for the sound horses make when you pull their feathers out. Seriously! So, just to be clear, I’m being sarcastic – Etruscan is NOT an early form of Irish.]

The Irish Milesian Academy For Intellectual Arts (IrishMAFIA), founded five years ago to further the work of the late Daniel Cassidy, have come up with their biggest and boldest claim yet. According to Brendan Patrick Gurne, Head of Creative Etymology with IrishMAFIA:

“We were looking at Google and found a website about Etruscan, an ancient language of Italy, and its links to extra-terrestrials, the Illuminati and home-made anti-gravity machines. We then found a vocabulary of Etruscan and were amazed to find clear parallels between Irish and Etruscan. We are convinced that Etruscan is in fact an early form of Irish and that through the Etruscans, Irish was responsible for the Roman Empire and the whole history of Western Civilization.

Let’s look at some examples. For example, clan is Etruscan for son. This is just like clann in Irish, which means children. The Etruscan for jar is pruchum, which is like the Irish próca. Shuthi, meaning a vault or grave is very like the Irish or sidhe, meaning a fairy mound or grave mound. The Etruscan word for a state, tuθi (tuthi) is almost exactly the same as Irish tuath, meaning a petty kingdom. Cel, the word for earth, ground or soil, is very similar to cill, which means churchyard. The Etruscan for bull, thevru, is very like Irish tarbh. The Etruscan for I is mi, which is just like Irish . The Etruscan for a free person is zeri, which is just like the Irish word saor. And what about mech, meaning lady or queen? Surely this is the same word as Macha, the ancient goddess of war who gave her name to Armagh? There can be no doubt about it. The Etruscans were Irish.”

Reaction to the revelation from academic linguists has been universally skeptical and hostile, but it has been enthusiastically repeated by the Irish Times, the Irish News, IrishCentral , the Irish Echo, RTÉ, Michael Patrick MacDonald, Joseph Lee and Peter Linebaugh.

[WARNING: THIS IS SATIRE! The Etruscans were NOT Irish. The vast majority of Etruscan vocabulary bears no relation to any Celtic language. Próca isn’t originally an Irish word. Clann is an early Irish borrowing of Latin planta. Cill also comes from Latin and is related to English cell. The taurus/tarvos word for bull is found in many Indo-European languages and is probably Afro-Asiatic in origin. The others are just coincidental similarities, helped along by selective use of definitions. It just goes to show how easy it is to make random and completely worthless connections when you are dealing with a fairly large set of data.]

Scéal Grinn Dátheangach – A Bilingual Joke

Leagan Gaeilge

Bhí eitleán ar shéala titim as an spéir.

Bhí cúigear paisinéirí ar bord, ach ní raibh ach ceithre pharaisiút ann.

Ba í Holly Madison an chéad phaisinéir. Ar sise, “Tá clár réaltachta agam agus is mise an bhean is géarchúisí agus is gleoite ag Playboy. Bheadh muintir Mheiriceá croíbhriste dá bhfaighfinn féin bás.” Thóg sí an chéad phaca agus léim amach as an eitleán.

Arsa an dara paisinéir, John McCain: “Is Seanadóir mise. Is laoch cogaidh mé agus bronnadh boinn orm as mo chrógacht. Bhí mé i scoth-aonad de chuid chabhlach Stát Aontaithe Mheiriceá.” Ghlac seisean an dara paca agus léim.

Arsa an tríú paisinéir, Donald Trump: “Is mise an chéad Uachtarán eile ar na Stáit Aontaithe. Is mise an fear is cliste i Meiriceá agus tá mé ag dul a chur Meiriceá in ard a réime arís.” Leis sin, sciob sé an paca taobh leis agus léim amach.

Is é a dúirt an ceathrú paisinéir, Billy Graham, leis an cúigiú paisinéir, girseach scoile 10 mbliana d’aois: “Bhí saol breá fada agam agus rinne mé mo sheacht ndícheall le freastal ar Dhia. Tabharfaidh mé mo bheatha ar do shon agus ligfidh mé duit an paraisiút deireanach a ghlacadh.”

Arsa an cailín óg: “Ná bíodh imní ort, a Uasail Graham. Tá paraisiút ann duit. Tá an fear is cliste i Meiriceá i ndiaidh léim amach as an eitleán le mo mhála scoile.”

 

English version

An airplane was about to crash. There were 5 passengers on board, but only 4 parachutes.

The first passenger, Holly Madison said: “I have my own reality show and I am the smartest and prettiest woman at Playboy. Americans don’t want me to die.” She took the first pack and jumped out of the plane.

The second passenger, John McCain, said: “I’m a senator, and a decorated war hero from an elite navy unit from the United States of America.” so he grabbed the second pack and jumped.

The third passenger, Donald Trump said, “I am going to be the next President of the United States, I am the smartest man in our country, and I will make America great again”. So he grabbed the pack next to him and jumped out.

The fourth passenger, Billy Graham, said to the fifth passenger, a 10-year-old schoolgirl: “I have lived a full life and served my God the best I could. I will sacrifice my life and let you have the last parachute.”

The little girl said: “That’s okay, Mr. Graham. There’s a parachute left for you. The smartest man in America just jumped out of the plane with my schoolbag.”

It’s Official – Mazel Tov is Irish Too!

For centuries, people have believed that Mazel Tov is Hebrew and an exclusively Jewish expression. Now an Irish-American academic has thrown down the gauntlet to this biased scholarship which refuses to give Irish culture its rightful place at the centre of the universe.

Brendan Patrick Gurne, Professor of Creative Etymology at the newly-founded Irish Milesian Academy For Intellectual Arts (IrishMAFIA) could not hide his delight when he spoke to our correspondent.

“The Academy was founded last year with funding from Celtic Research On New York (CRONY) to continue the research of the late Daniel Cassidy into the Irish influence on American speech. This is our first important breakthrough. We have checked it with our extensive library and both of the books are in full agreement. Also our special Irish language consultant, the guy in the Blarney Stone Bar who says he speaks Irish, concurs with our findings.”

“The Irish word asal means donkey and tofa means chosen. Therefore the phrase m’asal tofa means ‘my chosen donkey’. This seems to go back to the old days when donkey racing was a common activity in Ireland. When someone was lucky and won a race, they used to shout m’asal tofa! When large numbers of Irish speakers came to New York in the 1840s, Jewish people heard the expression and adopted it.”

Another Irish American who is delighted with the revelation is John Weeney of the SoLo Dalliance.

“It stands to reason that these people are right. They’re friends of mine! You only have to look at the nonsense given out by the traditional Anglophile linguists. They say that it comes from two Hebrew words meaning ‘planet good’! It doesn’t even make sense! I think all these linguists in their ivory towers should go off in a rocket and find a better planet and leave us working stiffs down here with our feet on the ground!” he guffawed, smugly. “Anyone who refuses to believe that Mazel Tov is derived from Irish donkey-racing slang and accepts the discredited Hebrew origin is simply a self-hating Irishman.”

Professor Gurne says that they are working on hundreds of other words now.

“We hope to have Irish derivations for kimono, blitzkrieg and mariachi very soon!” he said. “Watch this space!”

A number of people have commented on the revelation.

“Oy vey, voss far a mishegoss!” (I endorse this message!) said Rabbi Samuel Tishbein.

“Tha è sin glè mhath!” said Dizzy Gillespie, channelled from beyond the grave by internationally renowned medium Madam Bletherovsky.

“Daniel Cassidy was a god, a champion, a muse, an idol, a star, a force of nature, the greatest intellectual since Plato. At last his genius is beginning to bear fruit! Mazel Tov, Danny Boy!” said Peter Quint, Professional Irish-American.

“What do I think? I don’t know. Ask Peter Quint or Mallarkey McQuart!” said Ned Lunch, writer and fighter.

“This is a great claim altogether, a wonderful claim. Sure, it’s like Danny was still here beside me sharing a bit o’ the old crack. Now, where’s the buffet?” said writer Mallarkey McQuart, brother of the more famous.

“THIS IS A MAJOR REVULSION IN ENTOMOLOGY. ITS THE BIGEST THING SINSE COPPERKNICKERS,” said some guy on the Internet with a tinfoil hat.