Tag Archives: debunking nonsense

A Challenge To Hugh Curran

 

I have had a comment from Hugh Curran. Remember him?

Why the negative talk using terms like “scumbag” etc. Did I say anything at that merits this kind of comment? I admitted that I was not proficient in Gaeilge even though as a young boy I spoke it at home with my parents who were native speakers. The fact that we immigrated to Canada when I was young reduced my chance to continue as a native speaker even as all my cousins in Ireland are native speakers. The writer of the above article is vehement in his denunciation for reasons I am unable to comprehend unless he feels that any positive comments about Cassidy’s book are totally erroneous. There are at least some words in Cassidy’s book that merit consideration . I would hope the writer of the article withdraws the article or apologies for his remarks.

He claims to find my hostility inexplicable, though I’ve explained it at great length in two languages. I’ve made it absolutely clear that yes, any positive comments about Cassidy’s book are totally erroneous and yes, there are effectively no words in Cassidy’s book that merit consideration. Cassidy’s theories and his book are an immoral and disgusting hoax and Cassidy was a criminal liar who worked for twelve years as an academic without any qualifications at all. He didn’t speak any Irish at all and his knowledge of Irish history and linguistics was entirely inadequate – like the man himself. In short, Cassidy’s book is malicious dross.

And as this is the case, I believe that the term scumbag is entirely justified. Myself and a number of other critics of Cassidy are trying to prevent people being ripped off and lied to and misinformed. And you are trying to spread the lies and misinformation and support the liar. What a scumbag!

However, I’m a reasonable man. You claim that this book is not a malicious hoax. So, you want me to remove the articles about you? Fine, I’ll do that – if you can justify your position with evidence.

So, here’s my challenge to you. Find 10 words or phrases in Cassidy’s book where there is sufficient evidence for Cassidy’s derivation that a reasonable and impartial person would accept that Cassidy got it right. Oh, and they have to be Cassidy’s claims, not claims that were already in the public domain which Cassidy plagiarised, so you can’t use words like pet and cross and snazzy and galore and slew.

Of course, there are hundreds of words and phrases in Cassidy’s book, so if it’s the mine of undiscovered gems you claim, rather than a dark malodorous empty cave containing only the echoes of Cassidy’s insanity, it shouldn’t be that hard to find ten words or phrases that fit the bill. Should it?

If you can do that, I’ll apologise and withdraw the posts about you. (Let me tell you now, you won’t be able to – Cassidy’s book is that big a pile of shite!) And if you can’t, then I will also take down the posts about you, on condition that you apologise for supporting this nonsense in the face of all the evidence and recommend that other people avoid it, which is what a decent person would have done in the first place.

 

Meaisín Ticéad

A couple of years ago, I heard a Dubliner who speaks no Irish talking about the Luas system in Dublin. He made a dismissive and mocking comment about the Irish translation of ticket machine as meaisín ticéad. Interestingly, around the same time as this, I happened to read a similar criticism of the use of meaisín ticéad in a newspaper. I think it was the Irish times. I didn’t keep the article but if I remember rightly, it said something like ‘surely they can do better than this.’

And a search on Google has just turned up the following comment from a cretin called Simon Eales.

What’s the Irish for “line”? Oh wait, it’s……..line. Very helpful. The most pointless sign I’ve seen is for “ticket machine” which was “meaisín ticéad”. Oh right, thanks for that, really helpful.

First things first. There is a fundamental stupidity to these criticisms. If you are translating from one language to another, you translate according to what the dictionaries and other sources tell you. In Irish, machine is meaisín. Ticket is ticéad. The fact that both of these words are borrowings from English is irrelevant, as is the fact that their spelling and pronunciation have been changed to conform to Irish patterns. Ticéad dates back to the mid-19th century in Irish, when it was used in its original sense of ‘note’. (Ticket is ultimately a borrowing of the French etiquette.) In its modern sense, ticéad occurs as far back as Acht Fórsaí Cosanta, 1923. Meaisín has been used since at least 1925 in the language, when it occurred in Acht Chuan agus Phort Dhún Dealgan and it has been used many times since in acts, official documents and dictionaries. The morons who scoff at meaisín ticéad seem to think that translators make up basic words like this as they go along! In fact, these are terms that have been in existence since long before any of us were born.

Another point for Mr Eales and his ilk to consider is that not all words which are similar in Irish and English are similar because Irish borrowed them from English. This is just an assumption that stupid people tend to make. The words line in English and líne in Irish both derive ultimately from Latin linea. However, the word líne is first used in Irish in its modern sense (a line of text in this case) in the Féilire Aonghusa in the 8th century: (http://www.dil.ie/search?search_in=headword&q=l%C3%ADne). This predates its first recorded use in English, according to the Online Etymological Dictionary: (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=line) .

So, that one belongs to us, Simon. What are you going to use in English from now on to avoid looking ridiculous?

The fact is that most languages are full of borrowings. This isn’t usually an issue unless you’re a bigot like Eales dealing with a minority language. In that case, you’re going to sniff out any words that are similar and sneer at them as evidence of the inherent inferiority of the minority language in question (and presumably the ethnic group which created it), whether that language is Irish, Maori, Welsh, Wajarri or Basque. Of course, any borrowings in major languages like English can be ignored, because they’re real languages.

Let’s just stop making this artificial and irrational distinction and look at the words borrowed by English from French. For example, the English for the French condition is … condition! They didn’t even bother changing the spelling! The Irish is coinníoll or bail or a few other words, depending on the exact meaning. The French accident is accident in English! (Taisme or timpiste in Irish.) Situation is situation in English! (Staid in Irish.) Organisations criminelles are criminal organisations in English … (Eagraíochtaí coiriúla in Irish) There are thousands of borrowings in English from French! It’s too funny for words! Very helpful, eh Simon! I mean, you call English a language?

Actually Simon, I’m not an idiot and I’m not about to lower myself to your level. English is a language. It’s a beautiful, wise, funny, sophisticated language, like every other language on Earth. All human languages are beautiful and fascinating, including small and endangered ones, because the human mind (when free of ignorance and bigotry) is creative and inventive, and that is true across the entire human race. The fact that English is full of obvious borrowings from French doesn’t matter. It doesn’t invalidate its claim to be a language, any more than the far less significant number of borrowings from English in Irish means that Irish isn’t a language.

Unless, of course, you’re a narrow-minded bigot who cherry-picks your facts to suit your prejudices.

Will The Real M.M. Please Stand Up?

I recently had a go at Cassidy and some of his cronies, who posted reviews of one another’s books on Amazon without giving any indication of who they were. This is an immoral thing to do, in my opinion. It’s not against the law, though it is against Amazon’s own rules: “…family members or close friends of the person, group, or company selling on Amazon may not write Customer Reviews for those particular items.”

I had another look at some of the comments surrounding Amazon reviews of Cassidy’s work. One of the strongest critics on Amazon.com was D. Norder, who made a spirited and entirely sensible attack on Cassidy’s lack of methodology and total incompetence. Norder made the minor mistake of talking about Gaelic rather than Irish – if it is a mistake. After all, Cassidy frequently dragged in Scots Gaelic when he couldn’t find what he was looking for in Irish dictionaries and the term Gaelic can be used to cover both languages (and Manx).

Among those who criticised Norder was a person calling themselves M.M.. Referring to this supposed lapse by Norder, M.M. had this to say:

Seems from the other comments that D. Norder has been outed as not knowing his/her facts. But those of us that have studied Irish history are well acquainted with revisionists that try to gloss over or completely discredit facts that do not align with their agendas.

This comment is nasty, irrational and entirely inappropriate. Cassidy’s book is so full of lies and inaccuracies and grandiose crazy claims unsupported by any evidence at all, while Norder is dealing in a couple of genuine facts like the origin of bunkum. To pretend that this is about revisionism is showing scant respect for those who genuinely oppose revisionist rewritings of Irish history. As I’ve said here before, Cassidy was a revisionist (revisionism means rewriting history, whatever the political slant). His work was obviously nonsense. Open any page at random and you will find a piece or several pieces of demonstrable rubbish.

Worse still, M.M. is pretending to be simply a concerned citizen defending Cassidy because they think he was right.

However, if we look at M.M.’s profile, we find that she (I think it’s a woman) was: ‘the student coordinator for an Irish Studies Program at a private University in San Francisco’ and that she was ‘very involved in the Irish American community.’ I may be wrong about this, but I think the only Irish Studies Program in a private university in San Francisco was the one at New College of California, which would mean that M.M. was a close associate of the late Daniel Cassidy. In other words, far from being an impartial observer with a love of truth, this is a partisan scumbag who is determined to gloss over or lie about any facts which don’t align with her twisted agenda of defending a worthless buffoon who she happened to consider a friend.

You will probably be able to find out who this particular scumbag is by looking at Irish Studies and New College of California on Google and searching for someone with the initials M.M.

Of course, if these people had any shame at all, they would be tormented by a deep sense of self-disgust and self-loathing as they skulk around the Internet depositing arrogant, dishonest crud like this. However, as people like M.M. and the rest of the Cassidy Cargo Cult seem to be without the slightest glimmer of shame, we’ll just have to do the disgust and loathing for them.

The Worst Book Ever Written?

I have frequently described Cassidy’s book How The Irish Invented Slang as one of the worst books ever written. There is little room for doubt about this. Few books in the history of publishing are as stupid, as arrogant, as dishonest or as incompetent as this one. But then I started thinking – what is THE worst book ever written?

There are some interesting suggestions online. For example, The Shadow God by Aaron Rayburn seems to be a strong contender. I was greatly amused by a review by C. Dennis Moore on Amazon.com:

“Trapped under a beam with the countdown ticking away, the monster just on the other side of the battered door, and my friends are trying to free me, I look up at them and yell, “Go on without me. I’ll be alright. I’ll hold him off while you escape!” And my friends, because they know my sacrifice won’t be in vain, make their getaway and when the monster breaks through just as the explosives go off, I know I died saving the lives of my dearest friends.” That pretty much sums up my experience reading Aaron Rayburn’s novel, THE SHADOW GOD. I took one for the team, so the rest of you would NEVER have to be subjected to this beast. I beg you, don’t let my selflessness be for nothing. Heed my warning. This is the worst book ever written.”

The review is well worth reading. Here are a couple more examples of Rayburn’s bad prose style from the review:

“The lamp’s glow was very weak compared to the blue glow emancipating from the basement.”

“It infiltrated his lungs, filling them with a kind of innovativeness he had never felt before.”

There is a fair amount of bad spelling and clumsy English in Cassidy’s tome, but nothing quite as bad as this.

Another strong contender is Moon People, by Dale M Courtney, whose blurb for the book tells us pretty much all we need to know:

“This Book is based on the turning point for Earth into a new era of space travel and the beginning of the Age of Aquarius. The story focuses on one Man by the Name of David Braymer and his adventures from High school teacher to 1st Science Officer on board the Lunar Base 1 Mobile Base Station and his encounters with Alien Life forms through out our universe and the space Battle of all battles David experiences. I hope you enjoy the many adventures of David Braymer and his conquest in space and our journey into the Age of Aquarius.”

However, some reviewers have suggested that Moon People is a hoax, that there is something too perfectly dumb about its stupidity, and intentional, deliberate stupidity for comic effect somehow spoils the joke.

Another famously terrible book is William McGonagall’s Poetic Gems. McGonagall, a Scotsman of Donegal origin, believed that he was divinely inspired to write his poems, but unfortunately the Almighty failed to provide him with a knowledge of scansion. Thus we find famous passages like this, from The Funeral of the German Emperor:

And there were torches fastened on pieces of wood stuck in the ground;

 And as the people gazed on the weird-like scene, their silence was profound;

 And the shopkeepers closed their shops, and hotel-keepers closed in the doorways,

 And with torchlight and gaslight, Berlin for once was all ablaze.

 

The authorities of Berlin in honour of the Emperor considered it no sin,

 To decorate with crape the beautiful city of Berlin;

 Therefore Berlin I declare was a city of crape,

 Because few buildings crape decoration did escape.

However, my personal favourite is Jamie Bryson, author and publisher of Four Men Had a Dream. An Ulster Loyalist and Born-Again Christian, Bryson rose to prominence during the Flegs Protest in Belfast a couple of years ago. Since then, he has published several works of illiterate drivel which have inspired Amazon reviewers to make comments like:

This ‘author’ writes like a 12 year-old girl, when she was 5.

The author is a complete knucklehead, a fascist and illiterate. I read this as a bet because I couldn’t believe anything was as bad as I was told it was. I was wrong, I’ll never be sure of anything ever again…other than this is terrible.

So, Cassidy’s crazy book is not the only show in town. There are plenty of other very bad books out there. What the books mentioned above all have in common with each other and with Cassidy’s garbage is that they are the work of people with massive egos who are of very limited ability. Stupidity on its own is not funny. Stupidity like Cassidy’s or Bryson’s, stupidity combined with an immense overconfidence and arrogance, is always a fitting subject for mockery.

 

How Daniel Cassidy Invented Etymology, Part Two

About a week ago, Eoin P. Ó Murchú published an interesting review of Cassidy’s work on an Irish-language site called An Tuairisceoir. Ó Murchú’s attitude to Cassidy’s book was very similar to mine. He thought that Cassidy was an appalling charlatan and he strongly recommended people to avoid Cassidy’s book. I reblogged Ó Murchú’s article a few days ago but for the benefit of those who don’t speak Irish, I have produced a rough translation here.

Interestingly, there have been a few comments about the review. Breandán Delap supported the views expressed by myself and Ó Murchú, while several others (Ciarán Dunbar and someone calling themselves Fear N Fearn) made some attempt to defend Cassidy’s book. However, it is worth pointing out that there is a big difference between the debate expressed in these comments and the debate as found among English speakers and especially among Irish-Americans. The debate as found in the Anglo world tends to be between people who believe that there was a kernel of truth in Cassidy’s work, which according to them was slightly ‘overreached’ but still contains a core of valid etymologies, and those of us who think that Cassidy was a pernicious, half-crazy liar. The Irish-language debate on An Tuairisceoir is between people who think that Cassidy’s work was a harmless bit of fun and that Cassidy was just joking and those who think he was a pernicious, half-crazy liar. In other words, the view from within the Irish language is that Cassidy didn’t discover anything and made no valid contribution to human knowledge. This is the view even among Irish speakers who are favourable to Cassidy and perhaps this should be a wake-up call to Irish-Americans who support this nut-job’s theories and take them at face value.

Anyway, here is a rough translation of Ó Murchú’s excellent review:

HOW DANIEL CASSIDY INVENTED ETYMOLOGY

I came home the other day to find a substantial book. It was a present. Although I had heard tell of it I couldn’t say that I derived much pleasure from it as a present. It was How The Irish Invented Slang by Daniel Cassidy. What Cassidy sets out to demonstrate in this book is that large swathes of American English slang, and consequently of the slang of the whole world, come from Irish. He believes that there was a conspiracy by English speakers to suppress this information.

This will surprise many of us, because it was thought that we had not given much more than ‘smithereens’ and ‘banshee’ to English. Anyone who has even a slight interest in word etymologies will suspect very quickly that there is no basis to Cassidy’s opinions. Anyone with a fleeting knowledge of etymology will realise that it is essential always to be sceptical about the little stories which people spread. For some strange reason, people have the habit of believing strange little stories in spite of the evidence which would prove them wrong. This book is questionable for a number of reasons.

The main thing which planted the seed of doubt in my mind was that Cassidy goes with very unlikely Irish explanations when it would be much easier to find an explanation within the English language. He thinks the term ‘crusher’(a term for a policeman) is the same as an expression which comes from ‘cuir siar ar‘ (sic) Now, isn’t it strange that an Irish saying without much meaning would stick to the police and isn’t it odd that there should be no connection between ‘crusher’ and the English word ‘crush’?

Cassidy says that ‘S lom é’ is the origin of the English ‘Slum’. Isn’t that a really strange expression to borrow. Can you really imagine that that expression would slip from the mouth of an Irish speaker into speech? Can it be found as a common saying to describe slums? No. Not only that, Cassidy gives definitions and pretends that they come from the Irish dictionaries when that is not true at all. He loves to slap fig. onto things, saying that this is an additional meaning but in reality it is simply his own invention. (’teas ioma’ – an abundance of heat and passion; figuratively semen) I cannot find any source which demonstrates this additional meaning of ‘teas ioma’(sic). It seems likely that Cassidy couldn’t either.

‘As if that wasn’t enough, he uses whatever version he likes of any word. Joint’ an Bhéarla? Well, there is díon in Irish. What’s the plural of that? Díonta, great, that’s more like it. He goes even further, imposing whatever sound he wants on words. ‘Jeenta’, perfect!

Irish left few words in the English of Ireland in reality, so how would this language of paupers, which it was, have such a great influence on the speech of the USA? Cassidy has no satisfactory explanation for this. How did these not develop in Ireland too, how come the Gaels decided not to give these words to us too? He has no explanation for this either. If bizarre words which a competent Irish speaker of the present day would not recognise form the basis for many expressions, why aren’t common Irish words to be found in American speech too? Yet again, poor Cassidy has no explanation for this.

The kind of method he uses is to take a phrase. ‘Daniel Cassidy’ for example, then he decides that it comes from Irish. Then off he goes on his little spree of creativity. Daniel -‘Dath- ‘n-aoil’ lime-faced, white-faced, fig. white supremacist. ‘Cassidy’. Cas-a-dí The turning of her drink, surname of a bartender, mixologist, figuratively mixer, nixer. So, Daniel Cassidy means ‘white supremecist cocktail maker? Well, it means that in his own universe of lies and fraud. (I made up the bit above, just in case of any misunderstanding).

Unfortunately, many people are still supporting Cassidy. Where’s the harm, some people say, it’s only a bit of fun. In reality the opposite is true, linguistics is a difficult thing and when idiots are allowed to tackle it as they will the whole thing becomes as clear as mud. Because of the influence of the internet Cassidy’s ‘etymologies’ are there forever, they will be believed (some of them at least) in perpetuity. We should show interest in the words which the Irish gave to English but not give in to a numbskull like this who distorts the truth completely.

Cassidy was a consummate liar. A 300 page book which is full from cover to cover with fake etymologies, nonsense and lies. There is no doubt that Cassidy understood that the vast majority of these etymologies are phoney. It seems that he sought out phrases in Irish dictionaries which looked like English expressions and then he set out to forge a link.

There is an excellent blog here which pulls Cassidy’s arguments apart. https://cassidyslangscam.wordpress.com/ Whoever wrote it was driven to distraction by Cassidy and they have done an unabashed, clinical dissection of Cassidy’s lies. Cassidy is dead now, and it is my fervent hope that these lies will disappear with him. Do not buy this book and do not support nonsense like this.

Murchadh na dTvuíteann’

I am not very keen on new technology. I don’t like telephones, mobile or immobile, and I have never tweeted in my life. However, I notice that a certain Murchadh Mór, who tweets in Irish, has recommended cassidyslangscam on his twitter account with the words “An-bhlag faoin mbobarún Cassidy”.

I am grateful to him for this – every little helps! But the wording of his tweet got me thinking. That word bobarún is a nice one. It means a fool, a twat, a booby. Although I don’t speak the same dialect as Murchadh, bobarún is perfectly clear to me. If Cassidy were right, why don’t New York taxi drivers shout ‘bobberoon!” at each other out of their cab windows? Or ‘playkyah!’ or ‘ommadawn!’, or ‘lah jeea!’ Irish is a perfectly expressive language and there are plenty of genuine Irish expressions which could so easily have been borrowed.

However, for whatever reason, almost no Irish expressions were borrowed, least of all the made-up, clumsy expressions which nobody ever used and which nobody would understand given by Cassidy in this book. That’s why this blog is so full of contempt for Cassidy, and that’s why Murchadh Mór calls Cassidy a bobarún. Because Irish speakers can immediately recognise that Cassidy’s claims about Irish are childish bullshit.