Tag Archives: bilingualism

The Trials of Bilingualism

As anyone who has read this blog will know, I started CassidySlangScam about six years ago to tell the truth about the late Daniel Cassidy and his crazy opinions about the Irish origins of American slang. The two languages (Irish and English) have had a central role in this blog from the beginning, but for practical reasons, the majority of the posts were in English for a long while. Of course, Cassidy’s fakery was aimed at Irish Americans who don’t know any Irish, not at fluent Irish speakers in Ireland (who would recognise immediately that Cassidy’s book was nothing but nonsense) and so, I decided to provide the majority of the material in English to cater for those people.

At the start of this year, I decided to celebrate the Year of the Irish Language by posting every article in both languages. When it was a short article, I put the two versions together on one page. With the longer articles, I made two posts, one in Irish and the other in English. The question is, however, should I carry on with this bilingual policy next year?

While I love the Irish language and though I support bilingualism in this country and in other countries where there are linguistic minorities, there is a good chance that I will not carry on with this policy in 2019. There will be bilingual posts here, certainly, but I will not provide two versions of every article.

Why? Well, firstly, the Irish versions probably aren’t necessary. Every Irish speaker (well, any sensible Irish speaker) knows that Cassidy’s work is nothing but the rantings of a lunatic. I have provided this blog primarily to spread the truth among Cassidy’s supporters in America. The Irish language pages get few hits in comparison with the English versions.

Secondly, big organisations have the resources to translate their documents into Irish. I am an individual who is trying to right a wrong and spread the truth. Usually, I write my pieces in English first – although I have written a handful of them in Irish and translated them into English. Of course, it makes sense to write the English first, because this blog is primarily about a book which was written in English, with sources which are available in English, and with Irish which is not really Irish at all. However, after I have composed the basic draft (in Irish or in English), I then have to translate it into the other language. That takes effort, of course. And sometimes, the result of that can be seen in the number of mistakes and misspellings. In short, it costs me twice as much effort and the standard of the writing is lower because of that. If I had a lot of time, that wouldn’t matter. But I am a busy person and I don’t have time.

There will certainly be bilingual posts on this blog in 2019, certainly. It’s good to increase the amount of Irish on line, and it is important to show the supporters of Cassidy that the Irish language is a real language, a language that is still alive and still in daily use by me, by Ciara Ní É, by Eoin P. Ó Murchú, by Maitiú Ó Coimín and by many other people who are on the right side of this argument. I will do my best to increase the amount of Irish on this site in 2019. But I will not be posting every article in both languages next year. There is too much work involved, and I simply don’t have enough time to do it justice.

What would bilingual Irish gangster slang have been like?

As I have said repeatedly in this blog, Cassidy’s explanations for American slang are completely unconvincing. Baloney does not come from béal ónna, heeler does not come from éilitheoir, crony does not come from comh-roghna. Almost all of Cassidy’s claims about the Irish origins of slang are nonsense. However, it does beg the question: If Irish slang had developed out of the bilingual dialect of Irish-American gangsters, what would it have sounded like? I think it might have sounded something like this:

“So, now, Dinny a whack1, you’re after tellin’ me dat dat cackaronya2 Finnegan is up to a bit of da old amaidí3. Damnoo air4, it’ll be dear on him5 if he carries on. Dere’ll be meelya murder6 and no mistake. We’ll hit da little laganya7 wid da law ledger8. I mean, we had a maragoo9! Whatever happened to cothrom na gceithearnach10!”

  1. a mhac – used (along with a mhic) to mean sonny, boyo
  2. cackaronya – cac ar oineach (lit. shit on honour), a worthless person
  3. amaidí – stupidity, nonsense
  4. Damnoo air – (damnú air), damnation on it!
  5. it’ll be dear on him – partial translation of beidh daor air, he will be the worse for it
  6. meelya murder – míle murdar, (lit. a thousand murders), a riot, an uproar – also found in Irish English
  7. laganya – leathdhuine, a half-person, an idiot
  8. law ledger – sounds like lámh láidir, the strong arm, violence
  9. maragoo – margadh, a deal.
  10. the fairness of kerns, equivalent to ‘honour among thieves’ in English.


In other words, a lot of Irish-influenced English expressions, some at least which are found in Irish English. A lot of code-switching, with fully Irish phrases like cothrom na gceithearnach thrown in all over the place. However, the thing to note is that nobody reading or hearing this would be in any doubt that this was the result of a mixture of Irish and English.

Cassidy’s suggestions are nothing like genuine Irish.