Tag Archives: Bob Scally

June’s Twit of the Month – Joe Lee

A couple of weeks ago, on the 22 May 2018, there was a symposium in honour of Joe Lee at Glucksman Ireland House in New York. The symposium was called J.J. Lee and Irish History: Scholar, Colleague, Mentor.

As I have written before, Lee has done some good work. Lee is a genuine historian, who has written a lot of excellent books and articles. However, as I have also said, Joe Lee was friendly with many friends of Daniel Cassidy, and that is probably the reason why he wrote this positive review for the book How The Irish Invented Slang:

“In this courageous, crusading manifesto, Daniel Cassidy flings down the gauntlet to all those compilers of dictionaries who fled to the safe haven of ‘origin unknown’ when confronted with the challenge of American slang …The originality and importance of the argument makes this an exciting contribution to both American and Irish Studies. This is a landmark book, at once learned and lively, and quite enthralling as to how American English acquired so vibrant a popular vocabulary.”

This review is rubbish, of course, because Cassidy’s book is rubbish. I have no idea why Lee chose to support a piece of fake scholarship like How The Irish Invented Slang.

It is very interesting that two of Cassidy’s friends were in conversation with Lee at the Symposium: 12.30 pm: Reflections of Directors of Glucksman Ireland House: Prof. Bob Scally & Prof. Joe Lee in Conversation with Dr. Terry Golway. Golway was a crony of Cassidy’s, and Bob Scally wrote a review which was as positive as Lee’s on the back of Cassidy’s book:

Irish Americans especially will be delighted to know they have been speaking Irish all along in their slang and American English, while believing and bemoaning that they had lost their native tongue many years ago. With imagination and scholarship, Cassidy has restored this hidden treasure to us in a book that is filled with revelations, wit and humour.

As I said, I don’t know why Joe Lee and his friends chose to ignore the evidence and insult the Irish people like this. It’s hard to understand it, especially in the case of Lee, a man who has enough Irish to recognise immediately that the likes of béal ónna and béalú h-ard and pá lae sámh are not Irish.

One thing is sure: like everyone who was friendly with Cassidy, Lee has been diminished as a scholar, as a teacher and as a human being because of that friendship. I don’t know if Lee is a fraudster and a liar, but he certainly supported Cassidy’s dishonest book, and that is a huge stain on his reputation.

That is why I am pleased to bestow the title of Twit of the Month for June 2018 on Joe Lee, who helped a con-man to sell a bad book and didn’t do a hand’s turn subsequently to rectify the situation.

Hall of Shame 2

If I included everyone who has given support to this insane and worthless book, Daniel Cassidy’s How The Irish Invented Slang, the list would be very long indeed. However, in this second instalment of the Hall of Shame, I will give another handful of people who stuck their necks out and inserted it into the noose of lies provided by Daniel Cassidy.

John Rickford is a respectable academic, well-known for his work on Black American English. He is quoted on Amazon as saying: “Cassidy’s book (How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads)… is wonderful! Congrats to him on winning an American Book Award.” Unless there is something missing which is less complimentary, such as ‘Cassidy’s book is so terrible it makes me feel incredibly intellectually superior which is wonderful!’, I can’t really understand why a real academic with real qualifications and real peer-reviewed publications would support this drivel. Perhaps the man himself would like to send us a comment and let us know why?

Peter Linebaugh, a Marxist historian, who tends to divide opinion. Personally, I don’t have a knee-jerk hatred of Marxism and I think that Marxist academics have made valuable contributions to the world of scholarship but his review on Counterpunch is totally absurd. Do none of these people know how to use a dictionary, or even Google? Or do they consider it beneath them? And it’ll keep you in stitches, going helter-skelter, in a generalized hilarity of the giggle from the proletarian quarters. I’m talking the shack or the shanty, the slum in other words. To get out of trouble you can skip, or scram, scoot, or skidoo. As for style, for something swank or swell, you’ll find it here. The slob and the slacker won’t find the knack, but maybe a gimmick, for finding the jack or the moolah. Yeah, it’s an absolute riot. I laughed till I stopped. Slob is about the only genuine Irish term in the above passage, and even that is ultimately not of Celtic origin.  

Esther ‘Hetty’ O’Hara apparently taught Irish with Cassidy in his New College programme. She is quoted in some sources as a person who helped him to confirm or check his hunches about the Irish language. If this is the case, she either doesn’t speak Irish or he didn’t share most of his work with her, because there is no way that a competent Irish speaker would accept phrases like aingíocht tarraingteach or buan-díchiall as real Irish. Or perhaps she had to work with him and knew that he would just shout and rant and start chewing the curtains if she said ‘no’ to him. Who knows? But if she genuinely speaks Irish, she should not have endorsed this book.   

The American Book Awards, which gave Cassidy’s book an award in 2007. This seems to be a peculiar accolade. If you look at the lists of people who have won it, there are some big and entirely justifiable names on it, names like Dom de Lillo, Isabel Allende, Dave Eggers. And then there are lots of names I’ve never heard of, plus Daniel Cassidy, king of the crap-talkers.

Bob Scally is also a real academic. He has a PhD and has written several books.  In the 1980s he undertook research on the Irish migrations of the nineteenth century. His critically acclaimed book, The End of Hidden Ireland: Famine, Rebellion and Emigration, 1832-1848 was published by (the dictionary dudes’) Oxford University Press in 1995. He was appointed the inaugural Director of Glucksman Ireland House in 1993, an institution where the Great Fraud Cassidy was always welcome.  Scally retired in 2006. So, a man of considerable reputation. Why he chose to endorse this terrible piece of shit is hard to understand. I smell cronyism …