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Bailiwick

Another ludicrous claim of Cassidy’s is that the word bailiwick (meaning someone’s sphere of influence or control) is from the Irish baile aíoch. This is clearly rubbish for two reasons.

Firstly, the phrase baile aíoch is completely unattested in Irish outside of Cassidy’s fantasy version of the language, although the two elements which Cassidy put together to make this phrase, baile and aíoch, do exist. Baile means home or town, while aíoch means hospitable, and is related to the word aoi, meaning guest. So this phrase might just mean “hospitable home”, though the word aíoch is not very common.

So what’s wrong with this as the origin of bailiwick? Let’s imagine a group of Irish-speaking gangsters discussing their activities in New York in the 19th century. Are they really going to refer to their ceantar (area) or ríocht (kingdom) or fearann (domain) or talamh (ground, land) as mo bhaile aíoch? I can’t see it. It is an unlikely enough phrase anyway, but if I did hear it, I would think of a guest house, or their own house, or even the old home back in the Old Country, not an area which is under someone’s control in a city.

It is also highly unlikely that the word aíoch (pronounced ee-okh or ee-oh] would become wick in English.

And in any case, if Cassidy had done some basic research (something he was obviously too lazy or stupid to do) he would have realised that bailiwick has been in English for nearly six hundred years. It means the area of influence of a bailiff. The most famous bailiwick is probably the Bailiwick of Jersey in the Channel Islands, which obviously has no connection with the hospitable homes of Irish wise-guys.

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A Hatepost

I have recently had some visitors from a forum on language where someone has posted a flattering link to this blog. You can find it here: http://n3ta.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=9542&st=900

The commenter is entirely accurate in his or her comments about Cassidy and his fraudulent academic career and his even more fraudulent ideas about Irish. I am delighted when people notice this blog and publicise my efforts. However, I was slightly taken aback at the description of Cassidyslangscam as a hateblog.

After all, I think I am quite rational and dispassionate in my debunking. I ask people to search for evidence and to go to the primary sources themselves. And I am motivated by love of the Irish language, love of truth, love of learning …

However, when I started thinking about it (and also while thinking about the comments on the way writers lie to themselves on Emma’s blog Jot It Down), I realised that I may be rational and public-spirited and devoted to discovering and spreading the truth, but I am also motivated by a strong hatred. My blog IS a hateblog. I hate everything that Cassidy stood for: childish ignorance masquerading as a fresh way of thinking; using Irish nationalism and socialism and other radical causes as smokescreens to protect his nonsense from criticism; the rampant hypocrisy of blethering about equality while enjoying the status and privileges of being a professor – without even a bachelor’s degree; the way that stupid and gullible people have been mobilised in defence of this nonsense by public figures and journalists who should be telling them the truth.

So, hateblog it is! I’ll wear the label with pride. There are plenty of things in this world which deserve to be hated. Cassidy’s book, his theories and his crony friends should be despised by any sensible, decent person.

P.S. You can find Emma’s blog here. Check it out!https://wordsaretheweapon.wordpress.com/2015/11/19/how-to-combat-writing-lies/comment-page-1/#comment-99

Saoirse cainte

Bhí mé ag amharc ar na tuairiscí ar an ár a rinneadh sa Fhrainc. Tá trua an domhain agam do dhuine ar bith a fuair bás nó a gortaíodh nó a chaill gaol nó cara sna heachtraí tragóideacha seo.

Cé go mbíonn an chuid is mó de na tuairiscí ag díriú ar an fhoréigean, tá cuid de na tuairiscí ag déileáil le ceist chonspóideach na saoirse cainte agus teorainneacha na saoirse sin.

Creidim go raibh an ceart ag foireann Charlie Hebdo an t-ábhar sin a fhoilsiú. B’fhéidir go raibh cuid de na rudaí a d’fhoilsigh siad rud beag leanbaí, dar liom, agus tuigim do na Moslamaigh sin a shíl go raibh an t-ábhar sin maslach, ach is é bun agus barr an scéil go bhfuil an tsaoirse cainte thar a bheith tábhachtach. Tá sí tábhachtach do Mhoslamaigh, do Chríostaithe, d’aindiachaithe. Tá sí tábhachtach do gach duine, fiú dóibh siúd nach n-aithníonn an tábhacht sin, mar bíonn an cine daonna ag insint bréag agus ag cur na fírinne as a riocht, agus níl dóigh ar bith ann leis an fhírinne a dhearbhú ach díospóireacht a dhéanamh agus rudaí a phlé go saor.

Má chuireann sin olc ar dhaoine áirithe, bhal, is mór an trua sin. Gan sin, is é a bhíonn againn ná ceartchreideamh dolúbtha nach ndéanann freastal mar is ceart ar riachtanais an duine, agus a fhágann i ndroch-chás é.

Ní chreidim gur cheart clóphreasanna a bhriseadh, nó daoine a scríobhann drochleabhair a scaoileadh nó iad a chur sa phríosún. Is cacamas ceart é leabhar Cassidy ach tá ceart ag daoine é a léamh agus creidiúint ann. Agus tá dualgas ormsa é a cháineadh. Is ceart í saoirse cainte, ach is pribhléid í fosta, agus pribhléid nach bhfuil ag a lán daoine. Níor chóir dúinn neamhshuim a dhéanamh di ná an ceart sin a chur amú ar theoiricí craiceáilte agus ar bhréaga.

Na bunúsaithe a mharaigh foireann Charlie Hebdo agus an póilín cróga Moslamach Ahmed Merabet, ní chreideann siadsan i gcearta an duine, ná i saoirse cainte, agus ní chreideann siad gur chóir dóibh na rudaí a gcreideann siad iontu a bhunú ar fhianaise. Ní hamhlaidh domsa. Creidim i saoirse cainte, agus creidim go bhfuil freagracht orainn í a chosaint.

Is mise Charlie.

Is mise Ahmed.

Free speech

I have been watching the coverage of the atrocities in France. I feel deeply sorry for everyone who has died or been injured or lost a loved one or friend as a result of these tragic events.

While most reports focus on the violence, some of the news coverage has also dealt with the vexed question of free speech and how far it should go. I believe that the people at Charlie Hebdo had a right to publish what they did. I may have found some of what they published puerile, and I can understand the attitude of some Muslims who feel that this material was insulting, but the bottom line is that freedom of speech is important. It is important to Muslims, to Christians, to atheists. It is important to everyone, whether they recognise the fact or not, because human beings lie and distort the truth, and the only way to establish what the truth is is by debating and discussing – freely. If this offends or annoys some people, then that’s too bad. Without that, you end up with rigid orthodoxies which don’t reflect people’s needs and end up making them unhappy.

So, I don’t believe in smashing presses, or shooting people who write bad books or putting them in jail. Cassidy’s book is rubbish but people have a right to read it and believe in it, just as I have a duty to criticise it. Freedom of speech is a right, but it’s also a privilege which many people in the world don’t enjoy. We shouldn’t take it for granted or waste it on crank theories and lies.

The fundamentalists who shot the staff at Charlie Hebdo and the brave Muslim policeman Ahmed Merabet don’t believe in human rights, or freedom of speech, or basing their beliefs on evidence.

I do. I believe in the right of freedom of speech, and the responsibility to defend it.

Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed.

 

 

How Daniel Cassidy Invented Etymology, Part Two

About a week ago, Eoin P. Ó Murchú published an interesting review of Cassidy’s work on an Irish-language site called An Tuairisceoir. Ó Murchú’s attitude to Cassidy’s book was very similar to mine. He thought that Cassidy was an appalling charlatan and he strongly recommended people to avoid Cassidy’s book. I reblogged Ó Murchú’s article a few days ago but for the benefit of those who don’t speak Irish, I have produced a rough translation here.

Interestingly, there have been a few comments about the review. Breandán Delap supported the views expressed by myself and Ó Murchú, while several others (Ciarán Dunbar and someone calling themselves Fear N Fearn) made some attempt to defend Cassidy’s book. However, it is worth pointing out that there is a big difference between the debate expressed in these comments and the debate as found among English speakers and especially among Irish-Americans. The debate as found in the Anglo world tends to be between people who believe that there was a kernel of truth in Cassidy’s work, which according to them was slightly ‘overreached’ but still contains a core of valid etymologies, and those of us who think that Cassidy was a pernicious, half-crazy liar. The Irish-language debate on An Tuairisceoir is between people who think that Cassidy’s work was a harmless bit of fun and that Cassidy was just joking and those who think he was a pernicious, half-crazy liar. In other words, the view from within the Irish language is that Cassidy didn’t discover anything and made no valid contribution to human knowledge. This is the view even among Irish speakers who are favourable to Cassidy and perhaps this should be a wake-up call to Irish-Americans who support this nut-job’s theories and take them at face value.

Anyway, here is a rough translation of Ó Murchú’s excellent review:

HOW DANIEL CASSIDY INVENTED ETYMOLOGY

I came home the other day to find a substantial book. It was a present. Although I had heard tell of it I couldn’t say that I derived much pleasure from it as a present. It was How The Irish Invented Slang by Daniel Cassidy. What Cassidy sets out to demonstrate in this book is that large swathes of American English slang, and consequently of the slang of the whole world, come from Irish. He believes that there was a conspiracy by English speakers to suppress this information.

This will surprise many of us, because it was thought that we had not given much more than ‘smithereens’ and ‘banshee’ to English. Anyone who has even a slight interest in word etymologies will suspect very quickly that there is no basis to Cassidy’s opinions. Anyone with a fleeting knowledge of etymology will realise that it is essential always to be sceptical about the little stories which people spread. For some strange reason, people have the habit of believing strange little stories in spite of the evidence which would prove them wrong. This book is questionable for a number of reasons.

The main thing which planted the seed of doubt in my mind was that Cassidy goes with very unlikely Irish explanations when it would be much easier to find an explanation within the English language. He thinks the term ‘crusher’(a term for a policeman) is the same as an expression which comes from ‘cuir siar ar‘ (sic) Now, isn’t it strange that an Irish saying without much meaning would stick to the police and isn’t it odd that there should be no connection between ‘crusher’ and the English word ‘crush’?

Cassidy says that ‘S lom é’ is the origin of the English ‘Slum’. Isn’t that a really strange expression to borrow. Can you really imagine that that expression would slip from the mouth of an Irish speaker into speech? Can it be found as a common saying to describe slums? No. Not only that, Cassidy gives definitions and pretends that they come from the Irish dictionaries when that is not true at all. He loves to slap fig. onto things, saying that this is an additional meaning but in reality it is simply his own invention. (’teas ioma’ – an abundance of heat and passion; figuratively semen) I cannot find any source which demonstrates this additional meaning of ‘teas ioma’(sic). It seems likely that Cassidy couldn’t either.

‘As if that wasn’t enough, he uses whatever version he likes of any word. Joint’ an Bhéarla? Well, there is díon in Irish. What’s the plural of that? Díonta, great, that’s more like it. He goes even further, imposing whatever sound he wants on words. ‘Jeenta’, perfect!

Irish left few words in the English of Ireland in reality, so how would this language of paupers, which it was, have such a great influence on the speech of the USA? Cassidy has no satisfactory explanation for this. How did these not develop in Ireland too, how come the Gaels decided not to give these words to us too? He has no explanation for this either. If bizarre words which a competent Irish speaker of the present day would not recognise form the basis for many expressions, why aren’t common Irish words to be found in American speech too? Yet again, poor Cassidy has no explanation for this.

The kind of method he uses is to take a phrase. ‘Daniel Cassidy’ for example, then he decides that it comes from Irish. Then off he goes on his little spree of creativity. Daniel -‘Dath- ‘n-aoil’ lime-faced, white-faced, fig. white supremacist. ‘Cassidy’. Cas-a-dí The turning of her drink, surname of a bartender, mixologist, figuratively mixer, nixer. So, Daniel Cassidy means ‘white supremecist cocktail maker? Well, it means that in his own universe of lies and fraud. (I made up the bit above, just in case of any misunderstanding).

Unfortunately, many people are still supporting Cassidy. Where’s the harm, some people say, it’s only a bit of fun. In reality the opposite is true, linguistics is a difficult thing and when idiots are allowed to tackle it as they will the whole thing becomes as clear as mud. Because of the influence of the internet Cassidy’s ‘etymologies’ are there forever, they will be believed (some of them at least) in perpetuity. We should show interest in the words which the Irish gave to English but not give in to a numbskull like this who distorts the truth completely.

Cassidy was a consummate liar. A 300 page book which is full from cover to cover with fake etymologies, nonsense and lies. There is no doubt that Cassidy understood that the vast majority of these etymologies are phoney. It seems that he sought out phrases in Irish dictionaries which looked like English expressions and then he set out to forge a link.

There is an excellent blog here which pulls Cassidy’s arguments apart. https://cassidyslangscam.wordpress.com/ Whoever wrote it was driven to distraction by Cassidy and they have done an unabashed, clinical dissection of Cassidy’s lies. Cassidy is dead now, and it is my fervent hope that these lies will disappear with him. Do not buy this book and do not support nonsense like this.

Hall of Shame – Brendan Patrick Keane, AGAIN!

The Irish, like every people on Earth, have plenty of cranks, begrudgers and know-nothings. However, generally we also have a positive attitude towards learning and studying. Anti-intellectualism is not a major part of our culture and our self-image as a nation is often about urbanity and scepticism and originality. Because of this, it is always a disappointment when we find people in the Irish diaspora who seem to be dead set on living up to (or living down to?) the negative ethnic stereotypes of the Irish created over hundreds of years by the British with their Irish Bulls, stage-Irish characters and Irish jokes, which portray us as a nation of gullible and dull-witted imbeciles.

One such gullible fool is called Brendan Patrick Keane. I had occasion to comment before on an atrocious post in IrishCentral in which he takes a host of Cassidy’s loopy and easily disprovable claims about the Irish origin of slang terms and repeats them verbatim, thus demonstrating a lamentable lack of any journalistic standards. Unfortunately, my comments last time have either not come to his attention or he has chosen to persist in his folly in the hope of becoming wise. Not much chance of that! According to his description of himself online, he is also a 9/11 Truther!

And now, Keane is at it again! He recently published a childish and dilettante post about the Irish language. He claims that he is ‘a student’ of the language, though it is quite apparent that most of the information he gives in this blog post is derived from the new online Irish dictionary, focloir.ie, and that Keane himself doesn’t know much about Irish or linguistics. This is clear because the phrase ‘An dtuig’ isn’t correct in Irish – it would have to be ‘An dtuigeann?’ – and dhá súile doesn’t make sense at all. The correct Irish is dhá shúil.

As is his wont, Keane likes to garnish his borrowed content with tedious barstool philosophy. No doubt Keane thinks he is highly original, but in fact his recent post is an example of a well-known fallacy, where someone compares random grammatical features of two languages and draws specious and childish conclusions about the hidden mental processes expressed by these grammatical structures. This is best avoided by any intelligent person. It is an over-simplified, folk-linguistic version of the theory known to linguists as The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. Mostly, it is a harmless kind of thinking aloud but at times it can verge on racism, as in the case where a British journalist in South America observed that when a glass was knocked over someone said ‘Se me cayó’ in Spanish, and that this ‘blaming’ of the glass for its own demise was typical of a culture where people don’t take responsibility for their own actions!

Keane’s piece is full of nonsense about Irish. He makes the absurd claim that the phrase ‘thinking cap’ comes from the Irish ceap, meaning think. He recommends people to read his original post about Cassidy, where people can find out the ‘origin’ of slang phrases like pizzazz, sucker,  Interesting that Keane’s childish post (and through it, Cassidy’s ridiculous book) get a link, while the source that Keane’s recent post is based on, focloir.ie, doesn’t get a link at all. But then, if you’re recommending a piece of shit to people which is packed to the gills with fake Irish nonsense, the last thing you want them to do is go to an online dictionary and look up the real facts for themselves!

He repeats Cassidy’s ridiculous assertion that jazz comes from the Irish teas, and once again demonstrates a lack of any real knowledge of Irish by also giving Cassidy’s phonetic version, implying that teas can be pronounced with a j sound.

The story of how Cassidy came to believe this is interesting. Cassidy made use of a forum for Irish learners to find out how to pronounce certain sounds [http://www.daltai.com/discus/messages/13510/13360.html?1106977194]. Cassidy couldn’t understand the linguistic explanations. Eventually, one poster said:

BOTTOM LINE?!  How do I say “tir?”
Cheer
Tear
jeer.
I’ll bet every native speaker would understand me no matter which I said.

Then Cassidy answered:

A chairde: go raibh maith agat.
tri tir: some tear, some jeer, some cheer (tir)
Sounds like the divine Raic Ard of New Yawk so-called “Ing-lish” — I have at least three registers of pronunciation of Be/arla in mo chab.

In other words, the other poster was saying, it doesn’t matter what you say really because people will understand you, NOT that native speakers use these forms interchangeably. But in the insane world of Cassidy’s head, this casual online comment became a source and was actually quoted as a source in the book and described by Cassidy as The Rule of Tír. In this, we can clearly see Cassidy’s disease, and the reason why only a total idiot like Brendan Patrick Keane would recommend this tripe to other people. Cassidy looked for any hint which might confirm his opinions and then turned it from possibility to probability, from probability to certainty. From a casual and impatient comment on an online forum, Cassidy invented a bogus rule of pronunciation and capitalised it as The Rule of Tír!

The comments page contains even more stupidities from Keane. For example, according to him Proto-Germanic was invented by linguists to give a lineage to English. Yes, I’m sure that was a major priority for Jakob Grimm and Franz Bopp, neither of whom were English!

In short, to any members of the Irish American or Irish community reading this, if you see the by-line Brendan Patrick Keane on an article, don’t bother reading it. This man is a fool who thinks he’s an intellectual and there is no worse kind of fool in the world.