Tag Archives: duais

Cassidese Glossary – (In) Dutch

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.

In his work of false etymology, How The Irish Invented Slang, Daniel Cassidy claimed that the expression ‘in Dutch’ (meaning ‘in trouble’) comes from the Irish duais. We do not know where ‘in dutch’ comes from, though it probably has some connection to Dutch or German (as in Pennsylvania Dutch, who are Deutsch rather than Dutch).

There are two duais words in Irish. One means a prize or award or reward, especially the gift given to a poet as a reward for a poem in praise of a chieftain. The other means trouble or effort and is related to dua, which means effort or hard work. (This word is spelled duabhais in Dinneen’s dictionary.) While duais for an award is very common, the word duais/duabhais meaning trouble is rare (though it does occur a couple of times in one of the most famous literary works in the Irish language, Cúirt an Mheán Oíche).

There is no evidence of a phrase like i nduais meaning in trouble, and if it did exist, it would be pronounced i nooish. As usual, Cassidy’s claim relies on the existence of Irish candidate phrases that do not exist.

Poke That Folklore!

Here is a link to a fascinating video of Daniel Cassidy, author of the ridiculous How The Irish Invented Slang, speaking to an audience at the New York Writers’ Institute.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4za9Rl8Qrc&noredirect=1.  The video is fascinating because it shows that even after Cassidy had written and published the book, he was still totally clueless about the Irish language.

In the clip, after an intro in which he quotes Professor Terence Dolan, who later publicly criticised Cassidy’s ridiculous book, Cassidy unsuccessfully attempts to pronounce a number of Irish words.

Firstly, he shows off a dog-eared pocket dictionary which he had received as a bequest from a friend. This, he says, is a folklore poker. To you or me, this is a foclóir póca, which is pronounced focklore pawka but to Cassidy, it’s a folklore poker. It shouldn’t surprise anyone who has read this blog that Cassidy had such poor Irish that after supposedly studying Irish for over six years he stood up in public and did the equivalent of pronouncing dictionary as dickery. Why should it surprise anyone? After all, in Cassidy’s hands, the contents of the dictionary were reduced to a mixture of dickery and folklore.

Then there are other words. When he says that hunch comes from aithint, he seems to simply repeat the word hunch again in English rather than even attempting to pronounce aithint. And his claim that the American ‘in Dutch’ comes from duais is very wide of the mark. Nobody has ever said Bhí mé i nduais le mo mháthair’ for ‘I was in trouble with my mother’ and if they did, they wouldn’t pronounce it ‘dush’, to rhyme with hush. Many southern speakers pronounce it doosh. I would pronounce it dooish, to rhyme with newish with a NY accent. But dush? Not a chance.

The funniest bit is when he pronounces slacaire, which according to Cassidy is pronounced in Irish the way a drunken Frenchman would pronounce slugger. (E eez a great sluggair, zat batsman, no?)

Anyway, log on and have a good laugh or as Cassidy would have said, a snag gáire and a gíog gheal (that is, a hiccup of laughter and a bright squeak, Cassidy’s absurd Irish candidates for snigger and giggle!)