Category Archives: The Cassidy Scandal

This is an item about Cassidy or his friends or the scandal of how a book full of pseudoscientific nonsense has come to be treated like a genuine work of scholarship by people, many of whom are probably smart enough to know better.

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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

Another Sock Puppet

As I have already mentioned in several posts (Another Cassidy Sock Puppet; Mr and Mrs Sock Puppet), in the period around November 2007 to January 2008, a number of fake reviews of Cassidy’s book appeared in various places on the internet. This is another example from 28 November 2007, which can be found on the Thomas Pynchon Wiki.

How can I be so sure that this is Cassidy? Well, there is the obsession with the Irish origin of jazz. The typical dig at the OED. The usual line about the Gorta Mor (recte Gorta Mór or Drochshaol to real Irish speakers). The ludicrous claims that bunkum and hoodoo and spiel and baloney come from Irish. Nobody apart from Cassidy ever claimed that and all of these claims are nonsense.

And then there’s the casual comment at the end, which is saying that the author isn’t Cassidy but there is a book I’ve just found out about which is bound to discuss these terms and many others! It is important that people realise that Cassidy wasn’t just wrong. He was also a humungous liar who lied continually and without the least guilt or embarrassment.

 

Jazz / Jass

The OED lists the earliest print usage of “Jazz,” originally a dance and not, as in current use, the musical form, as 1909. The exact dating of this episode is unclear, though it seems likely to have occurred earlier. The usage is not anachronistic though its precise usage(as a musical form rather than a dance)may be unknown. As for the unusual spelling, the OED lists “Jass” as a variant, though with no information as to where or when it was prevalent. see OED article above.

In my music student days, I was told Jazz was a Creole word. It’s no secret that the Empire builders made sure to extirpate or pervert language and culture from countries under their protection. (See discussion of Tartan on pg. 220) Not that one shouldn’t trust the OED, but it is an ENGLISH DICTIONARY. New Orleans was the third largest disembarkation port for poor Irish fleeing An Gorta Mor (or ‘Famine’ as some would have it) They came as ballast on returning trans-Atlantic cotton ships. They liked N.O. because it was a Catholic city and the City Fathers liked them because they worked for next to nothing on projects like the New Basin Canal and were also content to work and live with the Black population. Quite a few slang words came into American English from the original Irish (galore, baloney (as in foolish talk, not meat), bunkum, hoodoo, spiel, and those gangster words for face and mouth: pus and gob!) There is an Irish language word spelled teas in Irish letters and pronounced tjazs in our letters. It suggests excitement or passion and could be connected to the blend of dance that led from Irish step to American tap.

I learned today of a book, How the Irish Invented Slang:The Secret Language of the Crossroads by Professor Dan Cassidy [1] which I’m sure has these and more.

Puipéad Stoca Eile

Mar atá luaite agam cheana féin i roinnt postálacha ar an bhlag seo (Another Cassidy Sock Puppet; Mr and Mrs Sock Puppet), foilsíodh roinnt léirmheasanna bréige ar leabhar Cassidy i roinnt áiteanna ar an idirlíon sa tréimhse idir Samhain 2007 agus Eanáir 2008. Seo sampla eile ó 28 Samhain 2007. Is féidir é a aimsiú ar an Thomas Pynchon Wiki. Cad é mar a thig liom bheith chomh cinnte sin gur caimiléireacht de chuid Cassidy atá ann?

Bhal, tá an dúspéis ag an duine seo i mbunús Gaelach an fhocail jazz, go díreach mar a bhí ag Cassidy. Maslaíonn an duine seo an OED, mar a dhéanadh Cassidy. Tá an seanrud sin ann faoin Gorta Mor (recte an Gorta Mór nó an Drochshaol do dhaoine a bhfuil an Ghaeilge acu). Tá an raiméis gan chiall sin ann faoi bhunús Gaelach na bhfocal bunkum, hoodoo, spiel agus baloney. Níor mhaígh duine ar bith ach Cassidy gur focail ón Ghaeilge iad sin, agus is léir nach bhfuil sa tsanasaíocht seo ach cacamas.

Agus ansin, tá an líne sin atá caite isteach aige ar nós cuma liom ag an deireadh. Ní Cassidy mise, atá sé a rá, ach tá mé díreach i ndiaidh scéal a chloisteáil faoi leabhar Cassidy agus tá mé cinnte go bhfuil an tsanasaíocht seo – agus a lán eile nach iad – le fáil sa leabhar sin!

Tá sé an-tábhachtach go dtuigfeadh daoine cad é atá ar siúl anseo. Ní hamháin nach raibh an ceart ag Cassidy. Bréagadóir agus caimiléir gan náire a bhí ann agus is fíorannamh a thagadh rud ar bith ach bréag amach as a ghob gránna.

 

Jazz / Jass

The OED lists the earliest print usage of “Jazz,” originally a dance and not, as in current use, the musical form, as 1909. The exact dating of this episode is unclear, though it seems likely to have occurred earlier. The usage is not anachronistic though its precise usage(as a musical form rather than a dance)may be unknown. As for the unusual spelling, the OED lists “Jass” as a variant, though with no information as to where or when it was prevalent. see OED article above.

In my music student days, I was told Jazz was a Creole word. It’s no secret that the Empire builders made sure to extirpate or pervert language and culture from countries under their protection. (See discussion of Tartan on pg. 220) Not that one shouldn’t trust the OED, but it is an ENGLISH DICTIONARY. New Orleans was the third largest disembarkation port for poor Irish fleeing An Gorta Mor (or ‘Famine’ as some would have it) They came as ballast on returning trans-Atlantic cotton ships. They liked N.O. because it was a Catholic city and the City Fathers liked them because they worked for next to nothing on projects like the New Basin Canal and were also content to work and live with the Black population. Quite a few slang words came into American English from the original Irish (galore, baloney (as in foolish talk, not meat), bunkum, hoodoo, spiel, and those gangster words for face and mouth: pus and gob!) There is an Irish language word spelled teas in Irish letters and pronounced tjazs in our letters. It suggests excitement or passion and could be connected to the blend of dance that led from Irish step to American tap.

I learned today of a book, How the Irish Invented Slang:The Secret Language of the Crossroads by Professor Dan Cassidy [1] which I’m sure has these and more.

Spirited Away le Maggie Plummer – Léirmheas

Is dócha go gcuimhneoidh léitheoiri an bhlag seo ar na haltanna a phostáil mé anuraidh inar thacaigh mé le Liam Hogan ó Luimneach, duine a bhfuil cion fir déanta aige le troid in éadan mhéim (nó mhiotas!) Sclábhaíocht na nGael. Is píosa raiméise é seo, cacamas athbhreithnitheach a bhfuil cuma bhréagach na staire air. De réir na méime seo, cuireadh neart Gael chuig na coilíneachtaí i dTuaisceart Mheiriceá agus i Muir Chairib sa tseachtú haois déag, san ochtú haois déag agus fiu sa naoú haois déag, díoladh mar sclábhaithe iad agus caitheadh ní ba mheasa leo ansin ná mar a caitheadh leis na sclábhaithe Afracacha. Is é an ‘ceacht’ atá le baint as seo, dar lena lán, ná más féidir le Gael-Mheiriceánaigh iad féin a tharraingt amach as ainnise na sclábhaíochta, ba chóir go mbeadh Afra-Mheiriceánaigh ábalta an rud céanna a dhéanamh. Ni nach ionadh, is Forchiníochaithe Geala iad an chuid is mo de na daoine a chuireann an raiméis seo chun cinn.

Má amharcann tú ar Irish Slavery ar Twitter, tá a lán barúlacha ann ar nós ‘The Irish were slaves too’ agus a lán barúlacha eile a bhréagnaíonn iad. Ó am go chéile, áfach, bíonn teachtaireacht ann faoi leabhar darb ainm Spirited Away le Maggie Plummer. Tá léirmheasanna léite agam ar an úrscéal seo faoi na ‘Gaeil a goideadh’ roimhe seo, ach roinnt seachtainí ó shin, shocraigh mé go gceannóinn cóip de agus go léifinn é. Ní as siocair go raibh dúil agam san ábhar, ach mheas mé gur chóir do dhuine éigin atá in éadan na méime é a léamh agus léirmheas ionraic a chur ar fáil.

Is raiméis lom an leabhar seo ó thús go deireadh. Tosaíonn sé le Plummer ag labhairt ar an ‘taighde’ a rinne sí ar théama Sclabhaíocht na nGael. Deir sí gur díoladh Gaeil tríd an chéad trí scór bliain den 17ú haois agus go raibh suas le 100,000 duine i gceist. Mar a chonaic muid roimhe seo, is figiúr randamach an 100,000 a chum Thomas Addis Emmett (agus a luaigh James Connolly agus A.M. Sullivan ina dhiaidh.) Nil sé bunaithe ar fhianaise ar bith. Na Gaeil a fuadaíodh nó a gabhadh mar chimí cogaidh i gcogaí Chromail, is mar sheirbhísigh dhintiúir a cuireadh chuig na coilíneachtaí iad, ní mar sclábhaithe. Tugadh dintiúr suas le deich mbliana do na príosúnaigh chogaidh. Is cruálach agus is uafásach an scéal é go bhféadfaí dintiur níos faide ná sin a thabhairt do pháistí, mar níor saoradh iad go raibh bliain agus fiche bainte amach acu.

Is le moll amaidí a thosaíonn an leabhar seo agus téann rudaí chun sioparnai as sin amach. Insíonn sé eachtraí cailín a bhfuil sracadh inti darb ainm Frederica (Freddie) O’Brennan. Tá Freddie trí bliana déag d’aois agus ina cónaí i gCill Chainnigh nuair a thosaíonn an leabhar sa bhliain 1653. Seo i ndeireadh ceann de na tréimhsí ba mheasa agus ba choscraí i stair na hÉireann. Bhí cogaíocht agus gorta agus galar i ndiaidh slad a dhéanamh ar an tír (mar a deir Plummer sa réamhrá, cé go bhfuil na meastúcháin faoi chéatadán an phobail a fuair bás ró-ard, mar is gnách le Plummer). Ach de réir cosúlachta, níor chuir na heachtraí tubaisteacha sin isteach ar mhuintir Bhraonáin. Bhí feirm acu, a lán bia, roinnt capall agus bó, agus cairt. Agus arán agus mil.

Ar ndóigh, ní raibh ach fíorbheagán daoine de bhunús Gaelach in Éirinn sa tseachtú haois déag a raibh Béarla acu. Agus nuair a bhain siad úsáid as an Ghaeilge, bhíodh a gcuid ainmneacha i nGaeilge. Ní O’Brennan nó Ó Braonáin a bheadh uirthi, ach an leagan baininscneach, Ní Bhraonáin. Agus maidir le Frederica nó Freddie, ní ainmneacha Gaelacha iad sin. Bheadh sé chomh maith ag Plummer Cheyenne nó Chelsea nó ainm randamach ar bith eile a roghnú ó scuad áitiuil na ngárthóirí molta in Montana. Níl leagan Gaeilge ann de Frederica, go bhfios domsa, agus ní bheadh an t-ainm sin in úsáid ag Gaeil in Éirinn sa 17ú haois. Mar an gcéanna leis an ainm Ryanne. Is ainmneacha Gael-Mheiriceánacha iad sin, ni ainmneacha Gaelacha.

Tá Freddie amuigh ag marcaíocht ar chapall breá nach mbeadh sí ábalta é a choinneáil, is dócha, agus cogadh dearg ag dul ar aghaidh sa tír, agus nuair a fhilleann sí ar an teach, tá saighdiúirí Chromail ag tógáil a hathar leo. Tá sé le dul chun na Spáinne le troid ar son na Corónach, mar dhea. Cé acu coróin, áfach? Coróin na Spáinne? Ba phoblacht nó ‘commonwealth’ é Sasana in 1653 agus bhí Cromail ann mar cheann stáit in áit rí nó banríona. Agus ní raibh cogadh ann idir na Sasanaigh agus na Spáinnigh go fóill.

Ar scor ar bith, deir duine de na saighdiúirí Sasanacha go gcaithfidh siad imeacht agus an fheirm a fhágáil, ach fágann sé na rudaí luachmhara uilig acu, rudaí ar nós na mbó agus na gcapall. Ó aidhe, agus tá cead acu an Bíobla a thabhairt leo fosta. Teaghlach Caitliceach in Éirinn sa 17ú haois, agus Bíobla acu. Tugann siad aghaidh ar Ghaillimh, mar a bhfuil aintín dá gcuid ina cónaí. I nGaillimh, bualann strainséir bob ar Freddie agus a deirfiúr Aileen. Cuirtear ar bord loinge iad agus cuirtear chuig oileáin Mhuir Chairib iad.

Ag an phointe seo, éiríonn gach rud cineál gáirsiúil. Díoltar na cailíní ar ceant mar sclábhaithe agus iad lomnocht. Bíonn íomhánna de na ceantanna lomnochta seo coitianta go leor ar líne. Is seanphictiúir ón 19ú haois déag iad, pictiúir Fhrancacha a bhí lonnaithe i saol na seanRómhánach nó i saol na nArabach.

Díoltar Freddie, brandáiltear le hiarann te í agus éignítear í. Tá an chuid seo tipiciúil de chineál ficsean stairiúil ar a dtugtar bodice-ripping i mBéarla (scéal réabtha cabhlach). Is iontach an méid uaireanta a luann Plummer an focal cabhail (bodice). Cibé rud a tharla do na cailíní óga Gaelacha a cuireadh chuig oileáin Mhuir Chairib – agus ní duine saonta mé agus is cinnte gur imríodh mí-úsáid ghnéasach ar chuid de na daoine óga seo – ní sclábhaithe a bhí iontu. Níor díoladh mar sclábhaithe buana iad. Ní dhéantaí iad a bhrandáil, mar ní earra nó sealúchas nó maoin a bhí iontu. Agus is rídheacair a shamhlú gur cuireadh cailíní óga ar ceant lomnocht faoin tseanPhiúratánach sin Cromail, cibé rud a tharla go príobháideach. Bhí Cromail agus a chuid maolagán sásta go leor babaithe a dhúnmharú ach daoine gan éadaí in áit phoiblí – sin scéal eile ar fad!

Lena rá ar dhóigh eile, níl a fhios ag an údar faic na fríde faoi Éirinn sa tseachtú haois déag agus níl a fhios aici faic na fríde bídí faoin sclábhaíocht ná faoin tseirbhíseacht dintiúir sa Mhuir Chairib sa tréimhse sin.

Aisteach go leor, ní dóigh liom gur ciníochaí í Plummer. Bíonn Afracaigh nó Bundúchasaigh Mheiriceá uasal, cineálta sa leabhar seo. Is Sasanaigh iad an chuid is mó de na drochearraí in Spirited Away. Agus is aisteach an dóigh a mbíonn sí ag díol an leabhair seo ar Twitter taobh le daoine a chreideann nach bhfuil daoine de bhunús Afracach chomh maith le daoine geala ó thaobh na géineolaíochta de. Ar dhóigh, cuireann sé i gcuimhne dom duine a bhíonn ag freastal ar linseálacha le líomanáid a dhíol agus a ghnóthaíonn neart airgid as. Mise? Níor linseáil mise duine ar bith riamh! Níl mise ach ag díol líomanáide le duine ar bith atá á hiarraidh …

Lena rá ar bheagán focal, is cacamas an leabhar seo. Cuireann an drochscríbhneoireacht agus an drochthaighde ó mhaith é. Ní fiú faic é. Duine ar bith a mheasann go bhfaighidh siad eolas iontaofa faoi stair a shinsear ó Éirinn (agus ar an drochuair, tá a lán daoine dá leithéid ann, de réir na léirmheasanna deimhneacha ar Amazon), tá dul amú air nó uirthi.

Spirited Away by Maggie Plummer – A Review

Readers of this blog may remember that I posted a number of items last year in support of Liam Hogan of Limerick, who has done great work in standing up to the Irish Slavery meme. This is a piece of revisionist nonsense masquerading as history. The meme claims that the Irish were sent to the colonies in North America and the Caribbean in the seventeenth, eighteenth and even nineteenth centuries as slaves and that they were treated worse than African slaves. The usual ‘moral’ drawn from this is that if the Irish-Americans could pull themselves up from the degradation of slavery, African Americans should be able to do the same. Not surprisingly, most of the people who promote this nonsense are White Supremacists.

When you look at Irish Slavery on Twitter, there are lots of comments saying that ‘The Irish were slaves too’ and lots of comments saying the opposite. However, every few tweets, there is one about a book called Spirited Away by Maggie Plummer. I have read reviews of this ‘novel of the stolen Irish’ before, but just recently I decided to buy a copy and read it. Not because I wanted to, but because I felt someone should read it and provide a review.

This book is absolute nonsense from beginning to end. It starts with Plummer’s ‘research’ about the theme of Irish Slavery. She states that the Irish were sold as slaves throughout the first six decades of the 17th century and that up to 100,000 Irish were treated this way. As we have seen, this figure of 100,000 is a random figure invented by Thomas Addis Emmett (and later quoted by James Connolly and A.M Sullivan.) It is based on no evidence at all. The Irish who were kidnapped or taken as prisoners of war in the Cromwellian wars were sent as indentured servants, not as slaves. Prisoners of war could be given up to ten year indentures, while children, perversely, couild be kept for longer until they reached the age of majority.

The book starts with a great deal of silliness and gets worse. It recounts the adventures of a spirited girl called Frederica (Freddie) O’Brennan, who is thirteen and living in Kilkenny in the year 1653 at the start of the book. This is the end of one of the most traumatic periods in Irish history. The land had been ravaged by war and disease (as Plummer states in the introduction, though her estimates about the proportion of the population who died are characteristically high). Yet the O’Brennan household had not been affected by these catastrophic events, apparently. They had a farm, plenty of food, several horses and cows, and a cart. And bread and honey.

Of course, very few Gaelic Irish people spoke English in the 17th century. And where they spoke Irish, they would have used Irish forms of their name. This girl would not have been called O’Brennan. She would have been called the female form, Ní Bhraonáin. As for Frederica or Freddie, she might as well have called her Cheyenne or Chelsea or any other random name from the local cheerleading squad in Montana. There is no Irish form of Frederica and nobody would have called their child that in 17th century Ireland. The same goes for Ryanne. These are Irish –American names, not Gaelic names.

Freddie, as she’s known, is out riding a fine horse which probably would have been taken from her by somebody in this time of war, and comes back to find English soldiers leading her father away. He’s being taken to fight for the Crown in Spain, apparently. Whose Crown? The Spanish Crown? Because at this stage, England was a Republic, or Commonwealth, with Cromwell at its head. And the English were not fighting the Spanish in 1653.

Anyway, an English soldier tells them to get off their farm, but leaves them all the valuable things like cows and horses. Oh, yes. And they take their Bible with them. An Irish Catholic family in the 17th century. With a Bible. They head off to an aunt living in Galway. In Galway, Freddie and her sister Aileen are tricked and forced to go on board a ship. They are sent to the Caribbean.

Here, the whole thing becomes pretty lurid. There is a naked slave auction. Images of such slave auctions are common enough on line. They are taken from 19th century French pictures of slave auctions in Ancient Rome or in the Arab world.

Freddie is sold, branded, raped. It’s typical of a certain genre of historical fiction called bodice-ripping. It’s amazing how often Plummer mentions bodices. Whatever happened to young Irish girls who were sent to the Caribbean – and I’m not naïve enough to think that such sexual abuse didn’t happen – these people weren’t slaves, sold in perpetuity. They wouldn’t have been branded because they weren’t property. And it’s hard to imagine that slaves were auctioned naked under the old Puritan Cromwell, whatever happened in private. Cromwell and his roundheads were quite happy to slaughter babies but people naked in a public place – that’s another matter entirely!

In other words, the author knows damn all squared about Ireland in the seventeenth century and damn all cubed about slavery and indentured servitude in the Caribbean.

Strangely, it seems to me that she is probably not a racist. Black characters are generally depicted as noble or kind, while the villains are all English. Which makes it doubly strange to find her peddling her wares on Twitter beside people who think African Americans are genetically inferior. In a way, it reminds me of someone who attends lynchings to sell lemonade and makes a huge amount of money out of it. Me? I never lynched anybody. I’m just selling lemonade to whoever wants it …

In summary, this book is dross. It is badly-written, badly-researched and entirely devoid of merit. Anyone who thinks this will inform them about the history of their Irish ancestors (and sadly, there seem to be a lot of them, judging by the positive reviews on Amazon) is deluding themselves.

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.