Tag Archives: Amazon

Irish ‘Slaves’ In The Amazon

In my last few posts, I have switched from attacking Daniel Cassidy and his ignorant supporters. My recent posts have been concerned with Liam Hogan and his heroic struggle against the Irish Slavery Meme, a ridiculous piece of fake history which tries to show that the Irish were sold into slavery in America and the Caribbean and that they suffered worse than the African slaves. Of the people promoting this rubbish, the majority of them are White Supremacists and other Neo-Nazis, while others are people of a strong Irish nationalist bent who like the glow of victimhood they derive from it.

I am not a historian and anyone who is interested in this subject should read Liam Hogan’s excellent work on the subject, where he has patiently and intelligently dissected the lies and nonsense being put forward by the revisionists. However, I have noticed that there is one subsidiary claim about Irish ‘slavery’ which has been spread far and wide, yet it is completely untrue. While Liam Hogan has dealt with the real facts about this (https://medium.com/@Limerick1914/as-intentional-as-the-forgetting-that-follows-82a309014d45) I don’t think he has tackled the false version directly. (If he has and I have missed it, my apologies!)

The false claim is that the first ‘record’ of Irish slaves in the New World was in 1612, when a group of Irish ‘slaves’ were ‘sold’ to a settlement in the Amazon. For example:

Putting two and two together, King James I started sending Irish slaves to the new world. The first recorded sale of Irish slaves was to a settlement in the Amazon in 1612, seven years before the first African slaves arrived in Jamestown. (http://www.thenewportbuzz.com/the-irish-slave-trade-the-slaves-that-time-forgot/7191)

The facts of the matter are quite clear. In 1612, a group of Munster Irish settlers went to the Amazon. They were led by two brothers from Youghal called Purcell. None of them were slaves. They went voluntarily, with the aim of growing tobacco and trading with the English and the Dutch. Here’s one source that tells it like it is, without any fake claims of slavery:

The first Irish settlement in Latin America is thought to have been along the Amazon, set up by the Anglo-Irish tobacco trader Philip Purcell in 1612. Purcell and a colourful character who followed him in 1620, Bernard O’Brien …

Who is this libtard revisionist trying to whitewash Irish slavery out of the record? Actually, this is from a book (Wherever Green Is Worn: The Story of the Irish Diaspora) by that well-known bleeding heart, snowflake and Brit-lover Tim Pat Coogan (yes, I’m being sarcastic, and why the f*** not?)

So, if these people were free men and not Irish slaves, why do so many people online repeat the nonsense that they were slaves? The answer is that it is based on a misinterpretation of one of the main texts in the development of the Irish slaves meme, an article called England’s Irish Slaves (1995) by Robert E. West.

This article (http://www.ewtn.com/library/humanity/slaves.txt) is one of the principal texts which conflates and confuses slavery with indentured servitude and has therefore given rise to the myth of Irish slavery. However, it doesn’t state that Irish people were sold into slavery in 1612 in the Amazon. Here’s what it says:

Records are replete with references to early Irish Catholics in the West Indies. Gwynn in Analecta Hibernica, states: ‘The earliest reference to the Irish is the establishment of an Irish settlement on the Amazon River in 1612.”(1)

West wasn’t saying these were slaves. He was setting out the context for the Irish in the Americas. Someone else has then looked at this and because of the provocative title with the word ‘Slaves’ in it, has assumed that these Irish people were unfree. As with so many elements of the Irish slavery meme, bad reading of texts and endless copying of secondary sources without checking the facts has turned this baseless nonsense into ‘a thing’.

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A Christmas Warning

A week ago, Daniel Cassidy’s absurd book How The Irish Invented Slang was way down on the Amazon sales lists – somewhere around 900,000th. on both Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. If there were any justice, this trashy, awful book would be out of print. However, I notice that on the American Amazon rankings, it has now gone up to around 500,000th, as naïve people look around for a present for their relatives and take this nasty piece of fakery as a genuine contribution to our knowledge about the Irish past.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again – if you give this book as a present, you are giving out a clear message about yourself. At least some of the recipients will find this blog or other negative reviews of this book. If they have any sense at all, they will realise that you are an idiot. A crank. A flat-earther. A flake. A total amadán, just like its author.

So, this Christmas, if you can’t think of anything to give people, don’t give this rubbish. Give a global gift from Trócaire or Oxfam or whatever the equivalent is where you live, or make a contribution to a charity on their behalf and put the receipt in a card. Give hope and help to people who need it, and say something positive about yourself.

Don’t give the gift of ignorance this Christmas.

Festive Fun – The Roast of Daniel Cassidy

At this festive time of year, it’s customary to roast a turkey, so I thought it would be seasonal to roast a certain turkey of a book written by the late, not-so-great ‘Professor’ Daniel Cassidy, with all the trimmings. So, here is a selection of some of the criticisms made of Daniel Cassidy since his ridiculous book was first published. Many of them have already featured on this blog but many of them are new here. Enjoy!

“Etymologies from Cassidy’s How the Irish Invented Slang are widely duplicated across the internet. However, many of Cassidy’s definitions have been shown to be wishful thinking or completely made up. Cassidy was not able to speak Irish himself and was unfamiliar with the grammatical rules. He apparently found words in Irish dictionaries that he thought had a similar pronunciation to English words or phrases with a vaguely connected meaning. He then claimed these English words to have an Irish origin even when the English word already had a well-established etymology.” – Wikipedia

“… it’s a white washing of white America’s real status in the U.S. My opinion of the essays of Daniel Cassidy’s that have appeared on Counterpunch is that they’re pseudo-scientific amateur attempts to prove that gaelic was behind things like African American slang, something that should rightly go to African Americans themselves and not to the Irish. If they were convincing essays I wouldn’t say that, but they appear to be on the level of the guy who’s trying to prove that Magyar, the language of the Hungarians, was the language of Atlantis.

Amazingly, some dude accused me of being racist towards Irish people for criticizing Cassidy.” – Lost Highway Times, John Madziarczyk.

“Suppose you hold some crank theory for which there is no evidence but which is likely to appeal to some specific audience.  Suppose, for instance, that you believe that Jesus and all of his apostles were gay, an idea that might appeal to some gay people (not me, but tastes and opinions differ).  You then write a book of stories detailing the hot hot man-man sexual exploits of these men, keying each story to a biblical passage.  You manage to get it published.  Does the New York Times then write an enthusiastic feature story about you and your work?  Do you win an American Book Award  — “the purpose of the awards is to acknowledge the excellence and multicultural diversity of American writing” — for non-fiction? It sounds unlikely, doesn’t it?  But Daniel Cassidy has managed something similar with his book How the Irish Invented Slang (CounterPunch/AK Press, 2007), which maintains that great chunks of English slang came from Irish (an idea that is likely to appeal to some English-speaking people of Irish descent), supplying for each slang expression a (putative) Irish expression that resembles it in pronunciation or spelling.  And now the NYT has (gullibly) celebrated Cassidy and his preposterous book, and the book has (alas) gotten a 2007 American Book Award for non-fiction.” – Arnold Zwicky, Language Log

“Breandan a chara, I organised an event where Daniel spoke a good few years back but was shocked to learn that he had made no effort whatsoever to learn the Irish language prior to writing this book. He had no grasp of pronunciation as Gaeilge at all. It could be an interesting PhD topic for someone to study but the book itself lacks real evidence. When I met him, he looked at my name tag and said “I’m not even going to try and pronounce that name” which I thought odd for an academic involved with Irish/English language research.” – Elaine Ní Bhraonáin, Comment on IrishCentral

“Evidently, there’s one born every minute. Cassidy’s book was a work of pure fiction. Essentially, what he did was go through an Irish dictionary (containing words that, as one reader below has posted, he neither understood nor could even be bothered to learn how to pronounce), and when he saw something that looked like an English slang word, he decided that it was the root of that word. Most of the entries in his book divide into two categories: (i) those for which there is no evidence whatsoever, and (ii) those for which there is evidence, and the evidence proves Cassidy wrong.

What’s more worrying is that Irish Central is reprinting this article in 2014, years after Cassidy’s work was comprehensively demolished. To have believed Cassidy in the early days after his book was published would just have been naive and sloppy, but to still believe him now, years after he was exposed as a fraud, is pathetic. It makes this website look like a joke. I don’t think it IS a joke, most of the time, but articles like this just make it seem like Irish Central is run by a bunch of amateurs.”  – Jim Clarke, comment on IrishCentral

“I have to say that the reception this book has been given shocks me. Why do respectable academics put their reputations on the line to defend something which is so sloppy and poorly-researched? Other people react as if ethnic pride entitles you to ignore the truth. The level of some of the comments I have read on different websites reminds me of the Columbus Day episode of the Sopranos. To those who will take umbrage at what I’m saying and regard me as a WASP/revisionist/communist/fascist/self-hating Gael/eejit, I just have one suggestion. Why don’t you look up buanchumadh on Google. Then look up some of the real Irish expressions used by Irish speakers to mean nonsense – seafóid, raiméis, amaidí. You will notice that there are many entries for buanchumadh but all of them – ALL OF THEM – are related to Daniel Cassidy. This is not the case with seafóid, raiméis and amaidí – they get lots of hits from lots of sources. This proves that those words are used by Irish speakers, while buanchumadh was invented by Cassidy.” – Seán, comment on Amazon.com

 

“Cassidy wrote this car-crash of a book without doing any research.  He based his conclusions on hunches and whenever he found an Irish word or phrase that suited his theory, he crow-barred it into shape until it fit.

This was very shoddy work by Cassidy, and even shoddier work by Brendan Keane for being naive enough to swallow this sort of buinneach.” – BockTheRobber, comment on IrishCentral.

 

“It’s fairly obvious Cassidy has farmed the fertile fields of his own imagination for this book. I am disinclined to believe he has any knowledge of Irish, other than he may have seen a road sign outside of Dingle on a foggy day in November. His etymology is laughably inaccurate, his leaps of logic (if they can be dignified as such) are appalling. Irish-Americans will probably love this book, as it allows a certain amount of ego-stroke, but anyone who has ever picked up an actual Irish language introduction book- or pamphlet, or answer sheet- will find the best use of this book is as a table-leg prop, or possibly an excellent source of kindling in emergencies.” – Kyle Lerfald, comment on Amazon.com

“While the conceit may be flattering to those of us with Irish ancestry, in reality this book provides very little factual linguistic information. The author is not a trained linguist, and seems to base his assertions on the mere fact that some words sound similar. For instance, using the level of rigor Cassidy uses, one might say that we say “hi” on meeting because we are wishing the other person the blessings of heaven (“from on high”). That’s the kind of reasoning in this book, and it is, at best, a good source of laughter at the author’s expense.” – C. Vermeers, comment on Amazon.com

“Tá mórchuid na sanas sin gan aon bhunús, agus an tromlach acu sin mícheart go cinnte! Seafóid gan amhras, ce go bhfuil roinnt bheag acu inchreidte. (Most of the etymologies are unfounded, and the majority of those are certainly wrong. Undoubtedly nonsense, though a small proportion of them are believable)”  Eoin, comment on Beo.ie

“While I don’t dispute the other reviewers’ claims that this is an entertaining read, unfortunately the information in it is simply amateurish and almost entirely incorrect. The problem is that the author is not using academic standards of comparative linguistics and has merely shopped around hoping to find Irish words that sound similar (or are spelled similarly) to English slang that he can just sloppily declare as the origin, without any sort of actual historical proof. In fact, most of the words he has chosen to feature already have been traced linguistically to well-proven origins that simply cannot be disputed… and in fact the author does not even try, he just ignores them.” – D.Norder, comment on Amazon.

“The weakness of his research and in his methodology is apparent to anyone with two eyes and a minute to crack open the book. That’s what makes this surprisingly positive profile in The New York Times so frustrating. A minimal amount of effort would have revealed to the writer than Cassidy’s arguments are without merit, at best the result of sloppiness, at worst a con job.” – Michael Patrick Brady on his blog.

“I really am reading this, it’s just kind of slow going… Hahahah, who am I kidding: I am never going to finish this book. I am having a hard time buying the premise.” –  Sara, comment on Goodreads.

“Cassidy launched this book at Oideas Gael in Gleann Cholm Cille this summer. He’s fun to listen to, talks nineteen to the dozen like only a native New Yorker can, and how can you not like someone who can tell a five minute anecdote that goes from a job at the New York Times to draft-dodging in Canada to writing a screenplay for Francis Ford Coppola without drawing breath, but when he explained his theory he was met with polite smiles. The book is great crack, but should be filed under fiction. Cassidy is clueless about Irish pronunciation, but that doesn’t stop him violently shoehorning every unusual word in American English into his theory, even those with established origins – mostly words that have their roots firmly planted in Afro-American culture, and some that he blatantly nicked from the Italians. Cassidy spent most of the time in the pub when I met him being corrected on his Irish pronunciation, and insisting after the sounds had changed beyond recognition that they could still be mapped on to his English candidates. It didn’t help matters that the locals noticed that when he did get something right, his pronunciation had a notable Munster bias. By the end of the night, we were making up words to give him for the second edition. Good crack, but don’t take it seriously.” Anonymous, quoted by Grant Barrett on wordorigins.org.

Some Good News

I was looking at Amazon recently and I was heartened to see that Cassidy’s ridiculous book, How The Irish Invented Slang, is now placed at 819,713 in Books. This means that it is a long way down from where it was a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, I have not been keeping a record of Amazon sales for this book but I note that Stephen Pinker’s book The Language Instinct is at number 10,600, which is far ahead of Cassidy. Another heartening piece of information is that there are 66 used copies of the book available at prices as low as 29 cents, which suggests that the bottom has fallen out of the market. (Still 29 cents too much, but I’m not complaining!) With a bit of luck, commentators like myself are starting to get the message across that this book is not to be trusted and that recommending it to other people is simply announcing to the world that you are naïve, stupid or dishonest.

An Appeal

If you agree with this blog, if you have read Cassidy’s crazy book or his bizarre ramblings which have been made available online and have found them as ludicrous and worthless as I have, and if you have been amazed at the willingness of stupid and gullible people to champion Cassidy’s cause and take his claims at face value, why not do something about it? Cassidy’s book is currently higher on Amazon’s sales rankings than Ó Dónaill’s Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla. In other words, people would prefer to read this phoney nonsense than a book which contains the distilled wit and wisdom of the Irish people expressed in our beautiful language. And his book is currently rated highly by about five reviewers on both the British and the USA Amazon for every one who criticises him. If you think this is appalling, then leave a hostile review on Amazon. Leave comments on forums where Cassidy-lovers are flaunting their stupidity.  Spend a few minutes to help bring down one of the most pervasive and damaging  intellectual frauds of the last decade.

Let Irish speakers speak for themselves. Don’t allow this lunatic to continue to put meaningless nonsense into their mouths.