Tag Archives: Cassidy

Daniel Cassidy and Martin Hamilton

One of the strangest things about the Cassidy Scandal is the fact that someone as stupid, untalented and underqualified as Cassidy was able to get a professorship in an academic institution. However, a quick look at that academic institution, New College of California, is sufficient to show that it was unlike any other centre of learning in the western world.

Founded in 1971 by a paedophile Jesuit, Father John Leary, who was fleeing a scandal in Gonzaga involving, amongst other things, an assault on a 12 year old boy, New College quickly became a centre for radical, left-leaning Catholics. After Leary’s death, control passed to Martin Hamilton, whose name is in third place in the Acknowledgements in Cassidy’s daft book, after Peter Quinn and Cassidy’s brother Michael. Throughout its history, New College had very poor governance and was frequently in trouble with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

I found this comment on a blog by a poet who taught in the College, Adam Cornford:

“NCOC programs operated as separate fiefdoms in a kind of academic feudalism with Hamilton as king. He doled out money and set salaries in a completely arbitrary way, altered budgets without notice, created entire new programs with little or no process, and spent college money on pet projects (like the Roxie cinema) that were quixotic at best. He rewarded two categories of faculty: those who sucked up to him, and those he feared. He repeatedly and persistently undermined the governance structures set up in advance of each WASC accreditation visit by disempowering or simply ignoring them, despite the fact that WASC had repeatedly criticized NCOC for lacking such governance. The patronage system and wild inequality in treatment of programs predictably combined with the lack of authentic academic governance to create suspicion and resentment between programs. It’s pretty clear at this distance that this was deliberate divide-and-rule.

Likewise, Hamilton repeatedly appointed totally unqualified people he just happened to like to two of the most important positions in the College: Registrar and Development Director. NC only had one properly credentialed Registrar in its history, and the last two or three were so bad that when the US Dept of Ed came in to do an audit, they found that academic records were a complete shambles (which accords with my personal experience). Hamilton resisted even having a Development office for many years, preferring to schmooze small gifts out of a few acquaintances he presumably felt were no threat to his power. The next-to-last “Development Director” was a very nice jazz musician who confessed freely that he had absolutely no fundraising experience. In general, there was a culture of cronyism and complete lack of accountability in the administration, again commented on by WASC in repeated visiting team reports and Commission proceedings.”

I wonder who the ‘nice jazz musician’ was? Could this be Cassidy? Whether it was or not, it is quite clear that this atmosphere of cronyism and lack of governance was a situation entirely suited to a silver-tongued jackass like Cassidy, who was able to schmooze his way into a professorship in 1995 without proper qualifications, publications or skills. In 2007, WASC finally pulled the plug on New College and Cassidy was left unemployed.

However, the final days of New College were marked by a much bigger scandal. The full details can be found here: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/I-am-a-predator-ruin-follows-him-everywhere-3187513.php For those who can’t be bothered following the link, here is a thumbnail sketch. A young Nepalese man called Niroula claimed to be a relative of the Nepalese royal family. He conned Martin Hamilton into thinking that he would eventually bail out the college with a million dollar donation, if Hamilton would just allow him to continue his studies. Meanwhile, Niroula was conning a Japanese woman who he pretended to be in love with out of her life savings (in spite of the fact that he was gay) and his activities eventually even led to the murder of a lonely old man with money. Along the way, there were allegations that Hamilton gave him fake grades, though Hamilton denies that he signed the papers.

Whatever happened, this scandal was one of the factors which finally convinced the authorities to close New College down. Niroula is currently serving a life sentence for his crimes. Amazing though it may seem, there was actually an even bigger con-man on the campus of New College during its last days than ‘Professor’ Daniel Cassidy.


In his ridiculous book, How The Irish Invented Slang, Daniel Cassidy made hundreds of stupid and easily disprovable claims. One of the most stupid of these claims is the one about swoon (to faint), which he claims comes from the Irish suan, an old-fashioned word for sleep. Confusingly, he states that the English word swoon is of unknown etymology, then below that he says:

Many Anglo-American dictionaries derive swoon “from Old English geswōgan in a faint … past participle of swōgan, as in āswōgan, to choke, of uncertain origin.”

In other words, according to the mainstream dictionaries, the etymology of the word swoon is known back to the Old English period more than a thousand years ago and by the Middle English period (according to the Michigan Middle English Dictionary) it was swounen, defined as “To become unconscious, faint, swoon; collapse in a swoon.”

Just because suan happens to resemble swoon doesn’t automatically mean it’s the origin of the word. After all, the Irish for to faint isn’t anything to do with suan. It’s titim i laige or titim i bhfanntais.

How Daniel Cassidy invented Etymology (léirmheas)

An-jab déanta agat anseo, a Eoin! Tá sé athbhlagáilte agam anseo thíos. Tá mé fíorbhuíoch díot as an chuidiú!

Tuairisceoir an Dúin

Tháinig abhaile an lá cheana gur aimsigh mé leabhar toirtiúil romham. Bronntanas a bhí ann. Cé go raibh trácht cloiste agam air ní fhéadfainn a rá go raibh mé sásta leis mar bhronntanas. How the Irish Invented Slang le Daniel Cassidy a bhí ann. Is éard a chuireann Cassidy roimhe sa leabhar seo ná gur ón nGaeilge a thagann stráicí móra fada de bhéarlagair Béarla Mheiriceá, agus an domhain ar fad da bhrí sin. Dar leis go raibh uisce faoi thalamh ann ag lucht an Bhéarla a chuir an t-eolas seo faoi chois.

Cuirfidh seo iontas ar go leor againn ó ní cheaptar go bhfuil mórán níos mó ná ‘smithereens’ agus ‘banshee’ tugtha don Bhéarla againn. Don té a bhfuil leathspéis aige i sanas focal tiocfaidh amhras air go mear an bhfuil aon bhunús le tuairimí Cassidy. Éinne le smeareolas faoi shanas tuigfidh siad gur gá bheith in amhras i gcónaí…

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Cassidy and Irish

I found a very interesting comment on one of Brendan Patrick Keane’s stupider posts on IrishCentral. The author, Elaine Ní Bhraonáin, is an Irish-language expert who plainly didn’t find Cassidy as impressive as the CCC (Cassidy Crony Club) would have us believe!

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. Le meas Elaine Ní Bhraonáin

Imagine the arrogance! A person who is unable to read a simple name badge in the Irish language, and yet he thinks he is in a position to rock the world of Irish linguistics to the foundation! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. What a putz!


Daniel Cassidy (sometimes known as Professor Daniel Cassidy, though it is clear that he was underqualified to be a professor of anything) was the author of an insane work of pseudo-scholarship called How The Irish Invented Slang, in which he claimed that hundreds of English words were really derived from Irish. For example, he claimed that the word taunt is derived from the Irish tathant, which means to urge or incite or entreat.

There are several problems with this. While taunt sounds a bit like tathant (tahunt), the word taunt is already found in the English of England at the beginning of the 16th century. This is too early for it to have come from Irish, as there was no significant Irish immigration to England that far back. Furthermore, most scholars regard it as from French, probably from tenter (to tempt or to provoke). And then again, the meaning is off. Tathant is a word with positive connotations. It means to urge, to encourage, to entreat, not to rile someone or provoke them.

This is yet another piece of childish non-scholarship and yet another piece of evidence that Cassidy, far from being a serious academic, was the perpetrator of intellectual fraud on an industrial scale.


Mug is a slang term for face in English. According to most dictionaries, it comes from those old mugs which were decorated with faces like Toby Jugs.

Daniel Cassidy, author of an atrocious piece of pseudo-scholarship called How The Irish Invented Slang, disagrees. He believes that it comes from the word muc, meaning pig. It is worth quoting his claim in full, as it clearly shows Cassidy’s poor scholarship and dishonesty.

“Muc, n., a pig; anything resembling a pig or hog; (of person) a piggish, hoggish individual, a swine; a scowl; a beetling brow; a scowling face; a piggish face. Múchna; n. a surly appearance; piggish scowl. Muc ar mala, a scowl, a beetling of brows, a piggish mug.

Most Anglo-American dictionaries derive the slang word mug from an English drinking mug with an ugly face painted on it. In Irish American vernacular, a mug (muc, a scowling, beetle-browed face) is a pig-faced mucker.”

The first point to make is that múchna is nothing to do with muc. Múchna comes from múch, meaning to extinguish or suppress. And it doesn’t sound anything like mug, so it is completely irrelevant here.

Then there is the problem of what muc means. If it meant ‘a scowling face, a piggish’ face, then it would be a pretty good candidate for the origin of mug. So does it?

If you’ve read the other posts in this blog, you’ll know what to expect. Cassidy was a pathological liar and muc does not mean a face … scowling, beetle-browed, smiley or any other kind. Muc means a pig, or a bulge which is rounded or pig-shaped. Muca sneachta are snowdrifts. When someone frowns, they get a small rounded bulge on their forehead, which in Irish is called muc ar gach mala (a bulge on each brow). It is used in this way but the phrases quoted above “a scowling face; a piggish face … a piggish mug … a scowling, beetle-browed face” are not true definitions of muc. They are Cassidy inventions. If you asked somebody in Irish why they had a muc on them (without the ar gach mala bit), they would look at you in puzzlement and say that they don’t have a pig on them. What Cassidy is saying is a little like saying that ‘laughter’ can be used in English to mean a wrinkled face because people talk about laughter lines. It is pure and total nonsense.



According to Cassidy, the English word blow, as in hit or strike, comes from the Irish bualadh. This is rubbish, of course. Blow is an old Germanic word. It has been in
English since at least the mid-15th century and has German cognates such as bleuen. It is not the same word as blow in the sense of the wind blowing, which comes from Old English blawen. One or both of these words may be cognate with Irish bualadh. (In other words, they may share a root in common thousands of years ago.) I don’t know. But neither of them comes from Irish bualadh. Cassidy’s claim is simply nonsense, like almost everything in this idiotic, childish travesty of a book.

Twisted Teacher

Many people think that there is some significance to the fact that Cassidy was able to find phonetic ‘matches’ for his English candidate phrases in Irish dictionaries. This is not the case. These are hefty dictionaries, well over a thousand pages long. Cassidy wasn’t fussy about the pronunciation or indeed about the meaning. For example, he thought the origin of gump in the sense of chicken could be the Irish colm, which really doesn’t sound anything like gump and means a dove or pigeon! In other words, it isn’t difficult to pick a word and find a ‘suitable’ Irish phrase to be its ‘origin’.

Let’s take the surname Cassidy as an example. It comes from Ó Caiside. It is a surname from Fermanagh in the north of Ireland which means descendant of Caiside [pron. cash-idja]. There is no agreement about the derivation of the name Caiside.

However, let’s use some of Cassidy’s methodology to find a good derivation. What about casaoid [cass-eej, which means a complaint? After all, Cassidy was fond of complaining about dictionary dudes and WASPs who refused to recognise the value of his work!

Or what about cosúdar [pronounced coss-oodar]? Cos means foot, but also means proletarian in the phrase cosmhuintir, foot-people, the lower classes. So cos-údar could mean ‘a proletarian author’. (It couldn’t really but why should I be any more accurate than Cassidy?)

But my favourite would be this one. Let’s reference it the way Cassidy himself referenced his dodgy derivations.

The word cas [pron. cass] means ‘twist, turn, spin’ and oide [pron. idja] means ‘teacher’, so casaide plainly means ‘a twisted teacher, a lying instructor who puts his own spin on things, fig. a dishonest academic who invents all his research’. (Dinneen, 167, 810 ; Ó Dónaill, 194, 924; Collins, 406, 552).

See how easy it is? And how completely worthless?


According to Cassidy, the English word sneak comes from the Irish snighim. He also claims that the Barnhart Dictionary of English Etymology concurs. I haven’t got a copy of Barnhart’s and I can’t be bothered to go and look for one, but this claim seems unlikely, given that all the other dictionaries trace it, quite logically, to the Old English snican which is related to cognates in the other Germanic languages as well as to the root of the English word snake. As usual, Cassidy is being economical with the truth here. Snighim is also an unsuitable source for a word used of people, anyway, because it is used for slow-moving animals like snails and slugs. It doesn’t mean to move sneakily or furtively. However, in any case, it has an impeccable Germanic origin and so it can’t come from Irish. As usual, it’s total nonsense.


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 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). In other words, this is just more stupid bar-room blether and fake scholarship from Cassidy.