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 worth quoting Daniel Cassidy’s claim in full here, as it demonstrates an astonishing level of dishonesty:
“Conducer (carny slang, n., the carnival boss who controls the gimmick or gaff on the crooked gambling wheels and games of chance. A conducer awards cheesy (cheap) come-on prizes or “slum” to keep the marks betting.
Ceann-duaiseoir, ceann-duasóir (pron. k’an-duǝshór, pron. k’an-duǝsór), n., manager of prize winners. Ceann-, prefix, manager, head-, chief-, leader-. Duasóir, duaiseoir, n., a prize winner, winner of a prize or gift. (Ó Dónaill, 455, 456)”
While I have not been able to find much information about the English slang expression conducer (except that it seems to have been used as an alternative slang term for a railway conductor), it seems to be derived from the English word conducive, perhaps with a pun on the idea of a con as a con-trick. In other words, someone who makes advantageous (and crooked) changes to the wheels and games. Wherever it comes from, it doesn’t come from Cassidy’s made-up phrase ceann-duaiseoir. Duaiseoir is a word that was formed out of the word duais meaning prize some time in the mid to late 20th century. It is not ancient and it is very much a ‘book’ word. Not only that, but the idea that ceann–duaiseoir would mean a manager of prizewinners is ridiculous. A ceannmhaoirseoir could be used of a head ranger, but that means a ranger who is in charge of all the other rangers. In other words, ceannduaiseoir could, at a pinch, mean ‘head-prizewinner’ but it wouldn’t mean someone who is not a prizewinner who manages the prizewinners. Because Cassidy’s candidate phrase is so utterly ludicrous, it could not be the origin of conducer.