Tag Archives: Cassidy

Cassidese Glossary – Slogan

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.

It is well-known and admitted by all dictionaries that slogan is of Gaelic origin, though most sources rightly trace it to Scottish Gaelic. The phrase sluagh-ghairm or slua-ghairm (NOT sluagh ghairm – it is a compound word and therefore needs to be written with a hyphen) means call to a host and was the traditional practice of summoning warriors to form an army in the Scottish highlands. There is nothing controversial about this etymology.

Cassidy is wrong in claiming that this is an Irish expression rather than Scottish Gaelic, though the term makes sense in both languages.

Cassidese Glossary – Ground Sweat

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.

We have already dealt with this above. Cassidy’s explanation is that it comes from grian suite, which he claims means ‘a sunny site, a sunny spot; fig. a gravesite.’

Grian suite makes no sense in terms of Irish grammar, as it would mean ‘of a sunny site’ (genitives cannot stand along in Irish) or ‘sun-situated’, in which case it would have to be one word. There is no evidence of sunny site or any similar phrase being used for a grave in Irish or in Ireland. This seems to be based on American cemetery names like Sunnylands – if it’s based on anything at all.

In fact, a ground sweat refers to the liquefaction of the body in the grave.

Cassidese Glossary – Gawk, Gawky

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.

Nobody knows where gawk and gawky come from. Its original meaning was “awkward, ungainly,” 1759, and this seems to come from gawk hand, which meant “left hand” (1703) in certain dialects of English. There is a universal association between left-handedness and clumsiness in languages all over the world.

Cassidy, of course, claims that gawk comes from the Irish language:

Gawk, n., a young awkward person, an immature, clumsy, person.

Géag (pron. g’æg, g’íŏg), n., a youth; a young person; a young woman; fig., someone immature and awkward; a young scion; an offspring; a limb, a branch.

Firstly, let’s just dissect Cassidy’s account of the definitions of the Irish words géag. Here’s what Ó Dónaill’s Irish-English dictionary has to say:

géag, f. (gs. géige, npl. ~a, gpl. ~). 1. Branch, limb. (a)~a duine, a person’s limbs. ~ láimhe, choise, arm, leg. Do ghéaga a shíneadh (uait), to stretch (out) one’s limbs. S.a. beatha11(a).(b)~ crainn, branch, bough, of tree. ~a a chur uaidh, (of tree) to branch. (c)~ den mhuir, arm of the sea. (d)Mec. E:~ (deirice), (derrick-)jib. (e)(Of starfish) Ray. (f)(Of hair) Tress. 2. Fig:(a) Genealogical branch. ~a ginealaigh, (branches of) family-tree. (b) Offshoot, offspring; scion, (young) person. ~a Chathaoir Mhóir, (the various branches of) the descendants of Cathaoir Mór. ~ den uaisle, scion of the nobility. An ghéag gheal, the beautiful youth, maiden. Is olc an ghéag é, he is a bad lot. (c) Image of girl (made for festival).

So much for géag having the primary meaning of a young person or someone immature or awkward! Still, perhaps Cassidy got this definition from Dinneen’s early 20th century Irish-English dictionary. Here’s the entry for géag from Dinneen:

Géag, -éige, pl.-a, f., a branch, a limb, a member; butt of a branch; the hand, the arm; a branch of family descent; a person; a scion; a young woman, a youth; an image of a girl made on Patron day (Aug. 10) and the May festival …

In other words, both these dictionaries agree that the primary meaning of géag is a limb, an arm or leg. It also has a subsidiary meaning of a branch on a family tree, a scion, a young person. The ‘young person’ meaning is poetic and emphasises beauty and elegance, not ungainliness. Cassidy’s version of this is typically deceitful and lacking in accuracy.

And then, of course, géag is pronounced gyayg, like yay sandwiched between two hard Gs. It sounds nothing like gawk.

Cassidese Glossary – Doggone

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 doggone is of unknown origin. This is untrue. The dictionaries are agreed that dog-gone or doggone is a 19th century Americanism and that it is a minced oath, a disguised blasphemy. The Oxford English Dictionary says it is ‘generally taken as a deformation of the profane God damn.’ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.) says that ‘doggone’ is an ‘alteration of the Scots dagone,’ which is in turn an ‘alteration of goddamn.’ Merriam-Webster says that it is ‘a euphemism for God damn.’

Furthermore, God damn and doggone are used in exactly the same way. Sometimes they are an exclamation, God damn it! (Doggone it!) What have you done? and sometimes as an adjective, Just take the goddamn (doggone) money already!

Cassidy claims that this derives from the Irish word dogairne and/or the Scottish Gaelic word dògan.

Dogairne is a rare word derived from docair (more usually deacair in modern Irish), which means ‘hard, difficult’. Dogairne is a noun, and is defined as ‘A gross, crude, person or thing.’ Doggone, of course, is not used as a noun. You can’t say ‘My cousin is a total doggone.’

As for dògan, this is a Scottish Gaelic exclamation. The Scottish Gaelic dictionaries make it quite clear that this is a borrowing from doggone or from the Scots equivalent. Note also that Cassidy once again betrayed his total ignorance of the Gaelic languages, as he wrote it as dógan. Anyone who knew the slightest thing about Irish and Gaelic would know that Scottish Gaelic always uses grave accents (the ones that slope back) while Irish always uses acute accents (sloping forward).

It is also an indication of Cassidy’s incompetence that he seems to think that giving two derivations strengthens his case. Of course, in reality, the fact that Cassidy provides two completely separate words in different languages just serves to show how easy it is to find a spurious Gaelic derivation, and how worthless his attempts at etymology were.

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 – 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.

Put It Up On The Web, Limerick Traitors!

Hats off to Murchadh Mór. Not only has he written an excellent article on The Rubber Bandits’ foolish post about Cassidy’s fake etymology on Nós, and a post giving a number of genuine words which derive from Irish, he has also posted a pic of a document which gives the real origins of the words given by the Rubber Bandits in their list.

Unfortunately, the Rubber Bandits themselves seem unwilling to post the truth on this subject. When Murchadh Mór asked them to circulate the true list, this was their reply:

Stuff about Cassidy being dubious was shared under the original thread. We commented on it, too. It would have been seen.

It’s disappointing to see them refusing to do the right thing here. You see, what they’re failing to acknowledge here is that this isn’t a level playing field. In the world in general, and to an even greater extent on social media, nonsense has longer legs than sense, and lies are faster and better runners than the truth. The figures for shares and likes show that. The original (wrong) post got far more than Murchadh Mór’s corrections.

Why? Well, for a number of reasons. Because lies sparkle and shine, because they can be as glittery and bright and attractive as the human imagination can make them. All truths can be are what they are. Because lies are presented as simple certainties, while the truth is often messy and complex. Because the truth doesn’t have an agenda, while lies are often blended with xenophobia and hatred, which tastes like honey to many people. Because people’s memories are fickle and they selectively filter out anything that doesn’t make a good narrative, which is why the thousands of times homeopathy fails are ignored but the one time where it coincides with a sudden improvement is proof that homeopathy works (mar dhea). (And perhaps it also explains why the definition of the English word dude is given as the definition of the Irish word dúid in the original list of nonsense given by the Rubber Bandits. Or perhaps someone was just lying … !

Because of these facts, it makes me wonder what the real story is about the RB’s post on Cassidy. Who wrote it? Did the RBs themselves write it, or was the (mis)information supplied to them by somebody else? A friend, a relative, a fan? Someone they don’t want to offend by getting off the fence and telling it like it is?

William Blake wrote that ‘the road to Hell is paved with good intentions’. So just remember this. Cassidy wasn’t a nice man who got it a bit wrong. He was a malicious fraud and people who support him are choosing lies over truth. It’s that simple. And as I’ve said above, lies already have an inbuilt advantage over the truth, so for fuck’s sake, lads, let’s stop giving liars and their falsehoods a head start.

JUST COPY THE POST, YA GOWLS!!!