Tag Archives: comhrogha

Crony

I have noticed that many of the early posts on this blog get relatively little traffic, so I have decided to start republishing some of them.

Another oft-quoted claim of Cassidy’s, which has absolutely no basis in fact, is the notion that crony can be traced back to an Irish phrase comh-roghna. Cassidy says that this word means “fellow chosen-ones, mutual-sweethearts, fellow favourites, close friends, mutual pals”.

This is typical of Cassidy’s fantasies. While comh– exists and rogha/roghanna (roghna is the older version of the plural, roghanna the modern spelling) exists there is no evidence in the Irish language of either roghanna or comhroghanna being used to mean friends or pals. Comhrogha and comhroghanna are not even in Ó Dónaill’s dictionary, though the word comhrogha has been used with the abstract senses of rival, alternative or choice. Rogha itself means a choice. There are plenty of words and phrases for the concept of friends or mates – cairde, compánaigh, comrádaithe. Comhroghanna and roghanna are not among them. The word comhroghanna does not occur in the dictionaries with these meanings and they are not used in speech in this sense.

While the other words for companion or comrade, comrádaí, compánach and cara occur many times in Corpas na Gaeilge (a database of Irish), comhrogha only occurs five times and always in the sense of choice or alternative, never to refer to friends. In any case, comhroghanna (koh-ray-anna) doesn’t sound much like croney and it is plural – loanwords tend to be borrowed in their most basic, singular form.

It is also widely believed to be Cambridge university slang, derived from Greek chronios, meaning old. It first occurs in English contexts, not Irish.

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Hall of Shame Special – Eamon Loingsigh

A while back, I came across a blog by someone called Éamon Loingsigh. I have to confess, I don’t understand the name. It needs to be either Mac Loingsigh or Ó Loingsigh and without either the word for son or grandson the genitive form of Loingseach, Loingsigh makes no sense.

Anyway, his blog contains a number of references to Daniel Cassidy’s work. As you would expect from someone who is an active supporter of a proven charlatan, the blog shows an almost total indifference to the facts. Many of Cassidy’s claims which have been dealt with and dismissed, not only by me but by other scholars, are simply trotted out as though they were facts, though a number of the supposed Irish words as given by Loingsigh are written wrongly, even in terms of the way Cassidy gave them in the book. Thus Loingsigh has béal ánna as the origin of baloney, not béal ónna as Cassidy claimed (and of course, neither of them are genuine Irish anyway!) He has de raig where Cassidy has de ráig, gearr-ol ur where Cassidy has gearr-ól úr and he has bás (the Irish for death, not boss) where Cassidy had bas.

We are also told that the word “moniker” can be attributed to the word, “munik” in Irish gypsy language called Shelta, again, we can thank Mr. Cassidy for figuring this out. Really? So how come my Collins’ English Dictionary, published in 1990, says that moniker comes from Shelta munnik? Wow, that was a difficult discovery to make! That dictionary is quite big and you could do yourself a mischief turning those heavy pages! Loingsigh’s posts show no originality or ability to research or to think critically. Again, this is typical of Cassidy’s supporters. For example, here are a few paragraphs of the utter crap which he offers:

Even as the cloistered British professors and American Anglophiles tried disassembling Cassidy’s evidence, the research ended up becoming a breakthrough that stifled the English language protectorates. These Oxfordonians would much rather avoid admitting any influence on the English language such as slang that came from the tenant farmers in Ireland that were exiled to American cities like Boston, Philadelphia and New York where, on the city streets, the secretive slang of rebels and thieves reached up into daily usage.

When the How the Irish Invented Slang won the 2007 American Book Award for nonfictional, it was settled. Although some research still needed to be done to have multiple sources, it was established that the Irish language had had a profound and previously undocumented influence on the English language.

Unearthed by Cassidy’s studying of a Foclóir Póca, or Irish-EnglishFocloir Poca pocket dictionary along with the skills produced by studying the language and history of the Irish in his position at the head of the Irish Studies program at New College of California, Cassidy uncovered lingual gems such as the word “crony.”

Pure nonsense, without any basis in fact. Whatever stifling their protectorates (???) has meant for the dictionary dudes, they haven’t come any closer to accepting the half-arsed nonsense in Cassidy’s book as fact. Nor will they, because the book is almost entirely rubbish. Yeah, ‘some research needed to be done to have multiple sources’ – multiple as in more than zero, that is! Because there isn’t any evidence for the existence of a word like comhrogha in Irish in the sense of friend or pal, so how can it be the origin of crony? And most of Cassidy’s claims are the same.

The reason why I have decided to have a go at Eamon Loingsigh is very simple and it’s the same reason why I started this blog. I don’t like bullshit. I posted a comment on Loingsigh’s website explaining that Cassidy’s ideas were nonsense and that he had got it wrong. Did he engage in discussion, defend his ideas, find some evidence? Nope. The comment sat awaiting moderation for six weeks and I am assuming that it has now been deleted. This is typical of the behaviour of Cassidy’s supporters. When challenged with hard facts, they scuttle under the nearest rock and refuse to engage in debate. It is probably typical of deniers and pseudoscientists everywhere. They want to hold forth like experts but ask them to actually present some evidence and they turn tail and run. Pathetic!

Cassidy and Cronyism

I have already discussed Cassidy’s claim that crony and by extension cronyism come from the Irish language. Cassidy was lying about this, because the word he claimed meant a comrade or companion, comhrogha (plural comhroghna or comhroghanna) does not exist. The word is used as an obscure term for an alternative or a rival, but never in the sense of friend.

However, in a sense, Cassidy was right to associate cronyism with Irish culture. According to Wikipedia, cronyism is ‘partiality to long-standing friends, especially by appointing them to positions of authority, regardless of their qualifications. Hence, cronyism is contrary in practice and principle to meritocracy.’

There is no doubt that cronyism is part of our national sickness. You only have to look at the way that corrupt bankers and politicians led our country to the brink of disaster to see that we are far too prone to this kind of old boys’ network.

Perhaps, depressingly, this is the greatest legacy of the Irish to American culture, that we have helped them to create a society where loyalty to your friends is often considered far more important than loyalty to your principles or loyalty to the public good.  

In the categories of this blog, I refer to the Cassidy affair as The Cassidy Scandal. Perhaps this is a little melodramatic but to me, it is a scandal. It is a scandal that anyone could write and publish such an amateurish, ignorant, worthless collection of nonsense and have it recommended by some of the most important Irish-American writers, intellectuals and academics, as well as a scattering of people in Ireland who should have had far more sense. It is quite clear from the internet that many of these people were friends of Cassidy’s. The whole Cassidy Scandal reeks of cronyism.

There is nothing  radical or left-wing about cronyism. Cronyism is contrary in practice and principle to meritocracy

To those people who are victims of this scam and who bought this book in good faith thinking it to be a serious work of scholarship, especially those who still thought that after reading it, I can only say that you are lucky to have been ripped off over something relatively trivial. You have spent a few dollars on something which in terms of its intellectual content isn’t worth a plug nickel. It could be a lot worse.

You could be feeding poison to your children in a South American jungle because the authorities are closing in on your Messiah. You could be facing penury because you invested your life-savings in a mine somewhere that doesn’t exist. You could be flying a plane full of innocent people into a building because you believe that this is the way to Paradise.  

So take this as a lesson. Learn to be more critical and less trusting. Because unfortunately there are lots of horrible people like Cassidy out there who think lying to you is fun.