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.
There is some doubt about the origin of the term ‘hunch’, as in ‘I had a hunch that would happen.’ The dictionary experts believe that it derives from the English word hunch meaning a hump, though it is very difficult to understand how that connection arose. Apparently it meant a push or final shove towards an answer, and then it came to mean a kind of intuition.
Cassidy disagrees with this, which is fair enough, if you can find a better and more convincing explanation. As usual, Cassidy couldn’t be bothered finding anything convincing, so he just pounced on a word which he happened to think sounded a bit like the candidate and had a meaning somewhere in the same general semantic area. The word he chose was aithint, which means knowing or recognition. Cassidy’s association of this with hunch only works if people in Irish would use aithint to mean a hunch. Would they? Of course not. Recognising something is not the same as having an opinion or a guess or a feeling about something.
How would you say ‘I had a hunch that would happen’ in Irish? Here are a few ways:
Bhí mé ag déanamh go dtarlódh sin.
Bhí éachtaint agam go dtarlódh sin.
Bhí mé ag smaoineamh go dtarlódh sin.
Bhí barúil agam go dtarlódh sin.
Bhí tuairim agam go dtarlódh sin.
Shíl mé go dtarlódh sin.
Cheap mé go dtarlódh sin.
Bhí iomas agam go dtarlódh sin.
What you wouldn’t say is ‘Bhí aithint agam go dtarlódh sin’ because it wouldn’t mean anything, any more than it would mean anything if you said ‘I had a recognition that would happen’ (though a precognition would just about work).
I should also point out that when Cassidy pronounced this word, as he did on several interviews, he pronounced it as hunch. Aithint does not sound like the English word hunch.