Cassidese Glossary – Boyo

Cassidy claims that the expression boyo can be explained in terms of the Irish language tendency to place an ó after a vocative expression, as in a mhic ó (oh my son) or a rún ó (oh my secret), though Cassidy failed to understand that this is associated with vocative uses. He gives the example boc ó (which he regards as the origin of bucko) and which is not a vocative expression.

In reality, boyo is common enough in Irish English but it is not “a bilingual appellation and expression of affection”. It’s an English word with an o stuck on the end of it, like thicko.

Incidentally, boyo is generally regarded as more typical of the English of Wales than of Ireland.

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Cassidese Glossary – Bounce

For some time now, some of my on-line friends have advised me to provide a version of CassidySlangScam without the invective aimed at Cassidy and his supporters. In response to that advice, I am working on providing a glossary of the terms in Cassidy’s ludicrous book How The Irish Invented Slang with a short, simple and business-like explanation of why Cassidy’s version is wrong.

Daniel Cassidy, in his work of creative etymology How The Irish Invented Slang, claims that bounce, as in the job that a bouncer does, is given in the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘of uncertain origin’. This is very strange, as my copy of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary was published in 2008 and it says that bounce comes from the Middle English bunsen, meaning to beat or to thump.

Cassidy’s Irish candidate for the origin of bounce is not a recognisable phrase. It is a dictionary entry: https://www.teanglann.ie/en/fgb/bain_as

If you look at this, you will see that it is found in phrases like bhain sé na cosa as amach, he made off, or caithfidh muid fad a bhaint as, we’ll have to make it last. But it is very hard to see when or how (or if) you would use the phrase bain as. And in any case, the idea that bain as is appropriate to describe the job of a bouncer is nonsense. Bouncers don’t extract. They keep people out, or they throw them out. Or, they throw people onto the street, where they bounce a couple of times before coming to a stop. Bouncer makes sense as a description or what doormen do. Bain as does not.

Cassidese Glossary – Boss

For some time now, some of my on-line friends have advised me to provide a version of CassidySlangScam without the invective aimed at Cassidy and his supporters. In response to that advice, I am working on providing a glossary of the terms in Cassidy’s ludicrous book How The Irish Invented Slang with a short, simple and business-like explanation of why Cassidy’s version is wrong.

The facts in relation to the English word boss are quite clear. Boss was borrowed into the English language in America in the 1640s from Dutch baas, a master. (People who know anything about the history of South Africa under the Apartheid system will perhaps remember the Afrikaans term Baaskap, meaning domination, which was used by some of the Afrikaner ideologues who supported that evil system.) Some sources think that it became common in the more egalitarian society of the colonies as a way of avoiding the word master. It then spread to Europe and was borrowed into Irish as bas by the 20th century. Please note that bas is not the main or usual word for a boss, which is saoiste, or cipín (in Donegal) or geafar (a borrowing of English gaffer). There is no evidence of the word bas for a boss in the Irish language before the twentieth century. (It is not found in Dinneen’s dictionary.)

Cassidy misleads in his item on the word boss by pretending that the Irish term is of great antiquity and that it is the source of the English word boss rather than the other way round:

Boss as a slang term for best or good became popular in the 1960s. But boss (bas, best) was old when the King and the Duke drifted down the Mississippi River with Huck Finn and Jim in the 1840s …”

Cassidese Glossary – Booze

For some time now, some of my on-line friends have advised me to provide a version of CassidySlangScam without the invective aimed at Cassidy and his supporters. In response to that advice, I am working on providing a glossary of the terms in Cassidy’s ludicrous book How The Irish Invented Slang with a short, simple and business-like explanation of why Cassidy’s version is wrong.

Scholars have quite rightly identified that this word is Germanic in origin and is linked to the Middle Dutch word busen, which meant to drink to excess. Booze is a long-established word in English, both as a verb and as a noun. For example, searching on the Michigan Middle English Dictionary website, I found this, from around 1325: Hail, ȝe holi monkes … Late and raþe ifillid of ale and wine! Depe cun ȝe bouse. (Hail, you holy monks. Late and early filled with ale and wine! Deep can you booze.)

Cassidy disagrees and claims that word is first found in English in the 16th century and derives from an Irish word beathuis. You will search in vain for this word in the dictionary. Beathuis is not a real word. Even if it were real, it wouldn’t sound much like booze. It would be pronounced as bahish. While beathuis does not exist, there is a word beathuisce (life-water) in the dictionaries. It is a variant of the vastly more common uisce beatha (water of life) which is the origin of English whisk(e)y. It is pronounced bahishka. According to Cassidy, beathuisce was shortened to beathuis. He gives no evidence of this or reason for it.

He also tries to rubbish the derivation linking it to words in German and Dutch, in a pompous attempt to demonstrate that real linguists and scholars are fanciful and lacking in common sense. ‘There are no modern Dutch or German words resembling busen or bausen, except the German busen, a woman’s bosom.’ No, just as there is no English word bowsen or bousen now, because it has changed into booze, the Middle Dutch busen has changed to the Dutch word buizen, which means to booze or to drink heavily. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/buizen

Another problem with Cassidy’s fake version is that the phrase uisce beatha is first recorded in Irish (as uisce bethad) in annals in the year 1405, eighty years after the reference to boozing monks in English above. The ‘water of life’ (aqua vitae) of course is the product of distillation. It is not appropriate in reference to beer, wine or other non-distilled drinks. It is doubtful whether distillation (and phrases like uisce beatha) actually existed in northern Europe when the word bouse was first used in reference to heavy drinking in England.

In other words, there is absolutely no chance that Cassidy’s made-up word beathuis was the origin of the English term to booze.

Cassidese Glossary – Boot

For some time now, some of my on-line friends have advised me to provide a version of CassidySlangScam without the invective aimed at Cassidy and his supporters. In response to that advice, I am working on providing a glossary of the terms in Cassidy’s ludicrous book How The Irish Invented Slang with a short, simple and business-like explanation of why Cassidy’s version is wrong.

Daniel Cassidy, in his work of false etymology, How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that the word boot (as in ‘to boot’) comes from the Irish word babhta.

In fact, the etymology of the words boot and bout in English is quite complex.

Boot comes from the Old English bot ‘help, relief, advantage; atonement,’ while bout comes from a Middle English word bught meaning ‘a bend’. Neither of these words has any connection with boot meaning shoe (which is from French) and only a distant connection with booty meaning captured prize, which is from Germanic through French (and acquired its current meaning as in ‘bootilicious’ through Black American English). Freebooter is from Dutch.

At some stage over the last four hundred years, the English word bout was borrowed into Irish as babhta. There is no doubt that this is a borrowing into Irish and not the other way round. As we have said before, the only words with this pattern of sounds in Irish are borrowings, words like stabht (the drink, stout), clabhta (clout), dabht (doubt) or fabht (fault).  In Irish, the meanings of the two English words boot and bout are conflated in babhta, because we find expressions like de bhabhta, to boot, as well as babhta tinnis, a bout of illness.

Cassidese Glossary – Boondoggle

For some time now, some of my on-line friends have advised me to provide a version of CassidySlangScam without the invective aimed at Cassidy and his supporters. In response to that advice, I am working on providing a glossary of the terms in Cassidy’s ludicrous book How The Irish Invented Slang with a short, simple and business-like explanation of why Cassidy’s version is wrong.

 

Boondoggle is an American term which refers to a project which is regarded as a white elephant or a waste of money. According to Wikipedia:

‘The term arose from a 1935 New York Times report that more than $3 million had been spent on recreational activities for the jobless as part of the New Deal. Among these activities were crafts classes, where the production of “boon doggles,” described in the article as various utilitarian “gadgets” made with cloth or leather, were taught. The term’s earlier definition is thought to have its origin in scouting, particularly in reference to a woggle.’

Daniel Cassidy, in his book, How The Irish Invented Slang, claims that boondoggle is really Irish. He says that it comes from a phrase buan-díchiall, which according to him means ‘permanent-foolishness, perpetual folly’. There are a number of reasons for doubting this.

Firstly, the phrase buan-díchiall (like one of Cassidy’s other made-up words, buanchumadh, the supposed origin of bunkum) does not exist in Irish, though the constituent words buan and díchiall do. Even if it did exist, it wouldn’t sound anything like boondoggle. It would be pronounced something like boo-an-jee-heel. Thirdly, the available accounts in English suggest that the woven leather items were the boondoggles and the act of making them was boondoggling. The meaning of a costly waste of effort came later. This doesn’t fit with the meanings of Cassidy’s ‘Irish’ phrase.

Cassidese Glossary – Booly Dog

For some time now, some of my on-line friends have advised me to provide a version of CassidySlangScam without the invective aimed at Cassidy and his supporters. In response to that advice, I am working on providing a glossary of the terms in Cassidy’s ludicrous book How The Irish Invented Slang with a short, simple and business-like explanation of why Cassidy’s version is wrong.

Daniel Cassidy, in his book How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that the American English slang term ‘booly dog’ for a policeman comes from Irish:

Buailteach (pron. búěl-t’aċ), adj., (someone) disposed or given to striking, whacking or beating; fig. a policeman. (Dineen, 134)

Even if buailteach sounded anything like booly dog, there would be a problem with Cassidy’s assumption that all languages readily slip between grammatical categories as easily as English. Cassidy assumed that an adjective can be used as a noun, that the adjective buailteach can be used to mean someone who hits. (He assumed the same thing about many other words, for example, that gaosmhar, an adjective meaning wise, can be used to mean a wise person.) In fact, Irish words tend to be more clearly marked than English words. In English, the noun house can be used as an adjective in phrases like ‘the house wine’. In Irish, this is fion an tí, the wine of the house. The word buailteach is not a noun and it has no figurative meaning of ‘policeman’.

Buailteach is pronounced something like boolchah. It sounds nothing like booly dog.

Finally, the consensus seems to be that booly dog has some connection with bullies or with bulldogs, which seems a reasonable conjecture to me.