Twits of the Month – Internet Experts

This month’s twits are a broad category rather than an individual, though I will refer to individuals who belong to this class as well. The category is that of Internet experts. By this, I don’t mean people who are experts on the Internet or its use. I mean people who have appointed themselves as experts on topics like etymology and who go around ‘helpfully’ adding information and reviews about the subject on public forums and sites like Amazon and Goodreads. Here’s an example, a man called Brian McCarthy who gave Cassidy’s ridiculous book a glowing review and a four star rating on Goodreads. Whatever changed his mind, he then wrote the following as a comment:

Further to my review – the book has a lot of conjecture (as do dictionaries) so you can’t assume it’s all correct. Some say it’s enjoyable fiction or even 100% false. You can’t prove it one way or the other but if you have an open mind you can learn from it.

I need hardly point out that comparing the outright fantasies in Cassidy’s book to the (generally) intelligent speculations of lexicographers is stupid. However, the thing that most annoys me here is the idea that ‘you can’t prove it one way or the other’. Why can’t you prove it one way or the other? I’ll return to that question below.

There are lots of people like this, and they come from all walks of life. For example, on Quora, we find the following from a retired academic with a number of degrees, Dr Robert Jeantet (https://www.quora.com/Where-did-the-term-Holy-cow-originate-from):

When one thinks of expressions as “gee whiz”, “gee whillikers”, “darn”, or even “holy cow”, it is easy to trace them to New York slang of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their origin, however, escapes the learned minds of most classically-trained linguists who do not know Irish Gaelic. Fortunately some fluent speakers of Gaelic have been able to explain the origin of these terms, including “holy cow”. I quote below from Daniel Cassidy’s book, “How the Irish Invented Slang”.

On the same thread, there is a comment from someone called Stephen Taylor, who styles himself an ‘amateur etymologist’, who also takes all Cassidy’s claims like Holy Cow from Holy Cathú and Gee whillikers from Dia Thoil(l)eachas and Gee Whiz from Dia Uas as genuine.

Now, I’m sure these are decent people and well-intentioned (though not all the people on line who support Daniel Cassidy’s dross are nice or well-intentioned people, by any means), but they do deserve to be criticised. Why? Well, there is enough bogus shite out there on the internet already. The idea that things cannot be proven so all you can do is decide what you want to believe is a cop-out. When you encounter claims from people like Daniel Cassidy or Graham Hancock or Erich von Daniken, you need to check all the facts carefully and make a decision accordingly.

Let’s just take the example of Holy Cow. You can easily find accounts of the genuine explanations here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_cow_(expression).  You can also look up Irish dictionaries here (https://www.focloir.ie/ga/dictionary/ei/Dia) where you will find that there is no evidence for the existence of the phrases Dia Thoil(l)eachas, Dia Uas, Holy Cathú or Holy Mac Ríúil. They are completely fake phrases, invented by Cassidy to sound like the English targets. The Irish for God’s will is Toil Dé, not Dia Thoil(l)eachas. Cathú means temptation, not grief (though grief is an obscure subsidiary meaning) and there is no evidence it’s ever been used in an exclamation. And the phrase Mac Ríúil doesn’t exist at all.

Of course, Cassidy claimed that these were real phrases. He offered no evidence. No explanation for why nobody else had ever made the connection between these phrases and the Irish equivalents. No explanation why the only references to these ‘Irish’ phrases on Google are to Cassidy and his book (unlike real Irish phrases like Dia ár sábháil).  And Cassidy had a proven record of inventing things, randomly grabbing terms like Ku Klux Klan, Gunga Din, Abracadabra and Bailiwick to claim them for Irish. (Though he had dropped three of these particular fantasies by the time he came to write the book.)

In other words, I think people like McCarthy and Jeantet and Taylor should just ask themselves this simple question. If there were a law against spreading bogus information, if you could end up fined or in jail for doing it, would you still enthusiastically click that button, or would you do five minutes of research before helping to increase the amount of fake nonsense in the world? If the answer is the latter, perhaps you should be doing that anyway.

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Amadáin na Míosa – Saineolaithe an Idirlín

Is catagóir leathan iad amadáin na míosa seo in áit duine nó daoine ar leith, cé go ndéanfaidh mé tagairt do dhaoine ar leith a bhaineann leis an aicme seo chomh maith. Is é an chatagóir atá i gceist ná saineolaithe Idirlín. Ní saineolaithe ar an Idirlíon nó ar úsáid an Idirlín atá i gceist agam, ach daoine a cheap iad féin mar shaineolaithe ar ábhair ar nós na sanasaíochta agus a bhíonn ag roinnt a gcuid ‘eolais’ ar an tsaol ar fhóraim agus ar shuíomhanna poiblí mar Amazon agus Goodreads. Seo sampla amháin, fear darb ainm Brian McCarthy a thug léirmheas iontach dearfach agus rátáil ceithre réalta do leabhar amaideach Cassidy ar Goodreads. Cibé rud a chuir air teacht ar athchomhairle, scríobh sé an méid seo a leanas mar thuairim ar a léirmheas:

Further to my review – the book has a lot of conjecture (as do dictionaries) so you can’t assume it’s all correct. Some say it’s enjoyable fiction or even 100% false. You can’t prove it one way or the other but if you have an open mind you can learn from it.

Ní gá dom a rá gur rud bómánta é na fantaisiochtaí gan chiall i leabhar Cassidy a chur i gcomparáid leis na buillí faoi thuairim (a bhíonn ciallmhar, den chuid is mó) a dhéanann lucht na bhfoclóirí. Ach an rud is mó a chuireann isteach orm anseo ná an tuairim nach féidir é ‘a chruthú bealach amháin ná bealach eile’. Cén fáth nach dtig leat é a chruthú bealach amháin ná bealach eile? Fillfidh mé ar an cheist sin thíos.

Tá a lán daoine den chineál seo ann agus is dream an-éagsúil iad fosta. Mar shampla, tá an píosa seo a leanas le feiceáil ar Quora, le hiarléachtóir a bhfuil roinnt céimeanna aige, an Dr Robert Jeantet (https://www.quora.com/Where-did-the-term-Holy-cow-originate-from):

When one thinks of expressions as “gee whiz”, “gee whillikers”, “darn”, or even “holy cow”, it is easy to trace them to New York slang of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their origin, however, escapes the learned minds of most classically-trained linguists who do not know Irish Gaelic. Fortunately some fluent speakers of Gaelic have been able to explain the origin of these terms, including “holy cow”. I quote below from Daniel Cassidy’s book, “How the Irish Invented Slang”.

Ar an chomhrá chéanna, tá tuairim ó dhuine éigin darb ainm Stephen Taylor, a thugann ‘sanasaí amaitéarach’, air féin agus a ghlacann teoiricí amaideacha uilig Cassidy i ndáiríre, rudaí mar Holy Cow ag teacht ó Holy Cathú, Gee Whillikers ó Dia Thoil(l)eachas agus Gee Whiz ó Dia Uas.

Anois, is dócha gur daoine deasa na daoine seo, agus nach bhfuil siad ag iarraidh bheith mioscaiseach (cé nach daoine deasa dea-chroíocha iad gach duine a thacaíonn le Cassidy agus a chuid raiméise ar line, ná baol air), ach sílim féin go bhfuil cáineadh tuillte acu anseo. Cad chuige? Bhal, tá go leor amaidí amuigh ansin ar an idirlíon cheana féin. An dearcadh nach féidir rud ar bith a chruthú agus nach féidir rud ar bith a dhéanamh ach cibé rud is mian leat a bheith fíor a roghnú, níl ansin ach séanadh freagrachta. Nuair a fhoilsíonn daoine ar nós Daniel Cassidy nó Graham Hancock nó Erich Von Daniken rudaí amaideacha, ní mor duit na fíricí a chinntiú go cúramach agus cinneadh a dhéanamh dá réir.

An frása Holy Cow, mar shampla. Ní deacair cuntas a fháil ar na mínithe cearta anseo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_cow_(expression)   Agus is féidir leat foclóirí Gaeilge a aimsiú anseo (https://www.focloir.ie/ga/dictionary/ei/Dia). Sna foinsí sin, gheobhaidh tú amach nach bhfuil fianaise go raibh frásaí ar nós Dia Thoil(l)eachas, Dia Uas, Holy Cathú nó Holy Mac Ríúil riamh ann. Tá said go huile agus go hiomlán bréagach, rudaí a chum Cassidy ionas go mbeadh siad cosúil leis na frásaí Béarla ó thaobh fuaime de. Is é Toil Dé an Ghaeilge atá ar ‘the will of God’, ní Dia Thoil(l)eachas. Ní chiallaíonn cathú brón (cé gur fochiall den fhocal é sin) agus níl fianaise ar bith ann gur baineadh úsáid as riamh mar uaillbhreas. Agus níl an frása Mac Ríúil ann ar chor ar bith.

Ar ndóigh, mhaígh Cassidy gur fíorGhaeilge a bhí sa raiméis seo. Níor thug sé fianaise ar bith dúinn. Níor mhínigh sé cad chuige nach ndearna duine ar bith eile nasc idir na frásaí seo agus a gcomhfhrásaí a d’aimsigh seisean i nGaeilge. Níor mhínigh sé cad chuige nach bhfuil tagairt ar bith do na frásaí ‘Gaeilge’ seo ar Google ach tagairtí do Cassidy agus don leabhar bhómánta aige (ní hionann agus fíorGhaeilge ar nós Dia ár sábháil). Agus bhí nós na cumadóireachta ag Cassidy. Bhí bréagbhunúis ‘Ghaeilge’ cumtha aige do leithéidí Ku Klux Klan, Gunga Din, Abracadabra agus Bailiwick. (Cé go raibh trí cinn de na fantaisíochtaí áirithe seo dearmadta aige faoin am ar scríobh sé an leabhar.)

Lena rá ar dhóigh eile, sílim gur chóir do dhaoine mar McCarthy agus Jeantet agus Taylor an cheist shimplí seo a chur orthu féin. Dá mbeadh dlí ar na leabhair in éadan eolas bréige a scaipeadh, dá dtiocfadh leat fíneáil nó téarma príosúnachta a fháil as sin a dhéanamh, an mbeifeá sásta cliceáil ar an chnaipe bheag sin go fóill, nó an ndéanfá cúig nóiméad taighde roimh chur leis an méid amaidí ar an idirlíon? Más é an dara ceann é, b’fhéidir gur chóir duit sin a dhéanamh cibé.

Stool Pigeon

There are hundreds of stupid and dishonest claims in Daniel Cassidy’s book, How The Irish Invented Slang. None is more stupid or dishonest than Cassidy’s theories about the phrase stool pigeon.

The facts are well-known. A stool pigeon was originally a decoy, a pigeon attached to a stool or some other wooden structure used to lure other pigeons. There is some doubt about the real meaning of the stool element. Some people regard it as a corruption of a word stall which originally meant a decoy.

Its earliest occurrence is in this context, in a work of 1812 called History of Animals: Designed for the Instruction and Amusement of Persons of Both Sexes by Noah Webster:

In this manner, the decoy or stool pigeon is made to flutter, and a flock of pigeons may be called in their flight from a great distance.

It was not long before it acquired the meaning of spy or informer.

Cassidy decided, for no particular reason, that it really came from Irish, so he got a dictionary and set about trying to make up a ‘well-known phrase’ that would fool a few suckers. His first attempt, as published in the Linguistlist on July 24 2003, was stuail beidean, ‘a storer of lies and calumny’, along with stoolie coming from stuailai, a ‘storer of slander’. The word béideán is a dialectal variant of béadán, which means gossip or slander. Cassidy used the alternative version because it sounds more like pigeon. Béadán is pronounced ‘bay-dahn’. Stuáil is a gaelicisation of the English verb to stow. Its main meaning is to pad, to pack or to stow.

By the time the book was published, he’d invented another ‘Irish’ phrase, using the verb steall, which means spout. It can have the meaning tattle, but there is no evidence that anyone, anywhere, has ever used phrases like steall béideán in Irish to mean anything, let alone a police informer.

Ina leabhar amaideach How The Irish Invented Slang, maíonn sé na céadta rud nach bhfuil ciall ar bith leo ach níl ceann ar bith acu chomh bómánta le teoiricí Cassidy faoin fhrása stool pigeon.

Ní deacair teacht ar na fíricí. Is é a bhí I gceist le stool pigeon ná éan cluana, colúr a bhí ceangailte de stól nó de chreatlach adhmaid de chineál éigin, le héanlaith eile a mhealladh. Tá amhras éigin faoin fhocal stool. Measann saineolaithe áirithe gur stall a bhí ann, seanfhocal Béarla ar éan cluana nó decoy.

Tá an téarma seo le fail den chéad uair sa bhliain 1812, I leabhar darbh ainm History of Animals: Designed for the Instruction and Amusement of Persons of Both Sexes le Noah Webster:

In this manner, the decoy or stool pigeon is made to flutter, and a flock of pigeons may be called in their flight from a great distance.

Níorbh fhada go bhfuair sé an chiall bhreise de spiaire nó brathadóir de chuid na bpóilíní.

Shocraigh Cassidy, ar chúis éigin nach eol do dhuine ar bith ach é féin, gurbh ón Ghaeilge a tháinig sé, agus mar sin de, thóg sé foclóir agus thosaigh sé ar ‘chor cainte’ a chumadh a chuirfeadh dallamullóg ar roinnt glasóg gan chiall. An chéad iarracht a rinne sé, foilsíodh ar an Linguistlist é ar an 24 Iúil 2003. Séard a bhí ann ná stuail beidean, ‘a storer of lies and calumny’, (recte stuáil béadán) maraon le stoolie, a tháinig, dar le Cassidy, ó stuailai, a ‘storer of slander’ (recte stuálaí). Is leagan malartach canúnach é béideán den fhocal béadán, a chiallaíonn cúlchaint nó feannadh. Bhain Cassidy úsáid as an leagan sin cionn is go bhfuil sé níos cosúla le pigeon. Is leagan Gaelaithe stuáil den bhriathar Béarla to stow. Ciallaíonn sé pacáil nó líonadh.

Faoin am ar foilsíodh an leabhar, bhí frása eile ‘Gaeilge’ cumtha aige, steall béideán. Ciallaíonn steall an rud céanna le sceitheadh. Tá an chiall cúlchaint ag baint leis, ach níl fianaise ar bith ann gur bhain duine ar bith, áit ar bith, úsáid as frásaí mar ‘steall béideán’ i nGaeilge le ciall ar bith a chur in iúl, gan trácht ar an chiall ‘brathadóir de chuid na bpóilíní’.

Duke and Dukin’

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amadán Aibreáin – Phil Cousineau

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“LULU (IRISH)

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

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

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

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

 

 

April’s Twit of the Month – Phil Cousineau

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LULU (IRISH)

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Jack/Tiach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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