Tag Archives: Eoin Ó Murchú

The Downside of Twitter

I have to say, I don’t tweet. I can see that it’s useful but it seems to me that it suffers from the same problems as many other internet-based activities. Unfortunately, much of the recent activity surrounding a tweet on Cassidy’s work by the Rubber Bandits shows the same dreary, depressing lack of common sense which has bedevilled the whole debate about Daniel Cassidy and his works.

Having said that, it’s not all bad news. A number of people like Ciara Ní Aodha, Eoin Ó Murchú, Liam Hogan, Ronan Delaney, James Harbeck and Donald Clarke called the list of ‘etymologies’ given by the Rubber Bandits for the bullshit they are.

However, others just reeled off the same old crap we’ve seen any number of times before. The Rubber Bandits came out with the same old shite about how there were lots of Irish speakers and so there’s nothing implausible about the idea that the Irish contributed to slang. No, there’s nothing implausible. But where’s the evidence?

And that is really the problem with the internet. Someone posts that they heard that jazz comes from Irish teas. (There are loads of possible origins and the Irish one is pretty much bottom of the list.) Someone else heard that Uncle Sam comes from the Irish acronym SAM (Stáit Aontaithe Mheiriceá = USA). Even though Uncle Sam dates back to 1775, before the USA came into existence. They think so long comes from slán, apparently, even though most sources trace it back to the German Adieu so lange (Goodbye for now) or a Scandinavian equivalent. Then some other dimwit decides to throw in a recommendation to Thaddeus Russell’s book, The Renegade History of the United States, because it gives loads of slang of Irish origin. Except that slang is copied verbatim from Daniel Cassidy’s book, so it’s full of rubbish which has been comprehensively debunked here and elsewhere. And yet another numpty takes the definition of dúid given by the Rubber Bandits (a foolish-looking fellow defined by his clothing choices) seriously and tweets that it’s great that Irish has such a word. Of course, it doesn’t. This is the meaning of dúid:

dúid, f. (gs. ~e, pl. ~eanna).1. Stump. Rud a ghearradh (amach, aníos) ón ~, ó bhun na ~e, to cut sth. right down to the stump. Chuir an tarbh an adharc go bun na ~e, go filleadh ~e, ann, the bull stuck his horn right into him. 2. (a) Stumpy object, protuberant part; (short) horn, (cropped) ear, tail. (b) Short-stemmed (clay) pipe. 3. (Craned) neck, throat. ~ a chur ort féin, to crane ones neck; to turn ones head shyly away; to eavesdrop; to mope around. Greim ~e a fháil ar dhuine, to grasp s.o. by the neck, to fasten on s.o. Rud a chur ar do dhúid, to swallow hard at sth., to gulp sth. down ones throat. 4. (a) Stumpy person. (b) Mopish, shy person; numbskull. (Var:~eán m)

Anything there about clothing choices?

Then there is some dimwit called Michael Ireland, who tweeted that: Many of these slang words were based on broken Gaelic brought to New York by famine survivors. Well, thanks for that! Pure Cassidese bullshit! And when you look in his twitter feed, he just retweets any right-wing, homophobic, racist, Islamophobic, Tea Party shite he can find. Not hard to see why he fell for Cassidy’s tosh if he’s that thick …

What really frustrates me is that the internet may be a wilderness full of trolls and losers but it’s also the greatest library that has ever existed. You can look up almost anything and get real, valid answers, virtually instantly. Yet how many people tweeting around this subject looked up an online Irish dictionary to confirm whether gaosmhar is really the Irish for a wise person? (It isn’t.) How many of them bothered to check the veracity of the suggestions they were making before they posted them? Hardly any – certainly not the Rubber Bandits themselves, anyway!

There seems to be some strange notion that instead of looking for evidence to prove or disprove the accuracy of the claims being made, the required response is to flounder in ignorance and talk endlessly around the subject. Because in cyberspace, apparently, all truth is relative and nothing can be proven.

Bollocks to that! Truth isn’t relative and there is nearly always evidence. If Uncle Sam dates back to before the USA, why even suggest that it comes from the Irish acronym for the USA? Why not just look up the facts and reject it from the start rather than continuing to spread rubbish and look stupid? Or perhaps the two minutes checking the veracity of what you’re saying is considered too great a waste of time. After all, you could be spending those two minutes tweeting another piece of absolute shite dredged up from the top of the back of your head …

August Twits of the Month – The North American Journal of Celtic Studies

There was fierce competition for the Twit of the Month this month. Firstly, I was tempted to bestow this honour on Kevin My-arse (Myers), a professional controversialist who landed himself in hot water with some anti-Semitic comments. I despise Myers. I would love to believe that his contrition is genuine and that his career is as dead as he says it is. However, it’s happened so many times before and he’s always bounced back. Besides, giving the oxygen of publicity to bastards like Myers only encourages them.

Then there was an article by Una Mullally in the Irish Times Magazine last weekend which was so badly-researched it made me furious. It was about words which are important in Ireland or which derive from Irish. It would take me too long to go through all the dross and nonsense in this article. She says that gowl (a slang term for vagina) possibly comes from Gall, the word for a foreigner in Irish, or from gabhal which means a fork or a crotch. Obviously it comes from the latter. She also claims that gee (another slang term for a vagina) comes from Sheela-na-Gig, an obscure term for obscene carvings found in Irish churches. This may be claimed in lots of places on the internet but it is ludicrous. Both of these claims (along with several others) were lifted more or less verbatim from another badly-researched internet article which you can find here: http://www.dailyedge.ie/irish-slang-origins-1468945-May2014/. She claims that seamróg (the Irish original of shamrock) means ‘young clover’. It’s true that óg is the word for young in Irish, but the diminutive suffix –óg means small, not young, (it was anciently known as the siúr dísbeagaidh or sister diminutive) and it has no connection (to the best of my knowledge) with the adjective óg. She also claims that mot, a Dublin slang word for a woman, comes from the Irish phrase ‘maith an cailín’ (good girl, used to address a girl who has done something praiseworthy.) I was immediately suspicious of this and within five minutes I found that Diarmuid Ó Muirithe and Eric Partridge both derive it from a Dutch word for a prostitute (a mothuys was apparently a brothel). Apparently it was also common in England in the 18th and 19th centuries, so there is nothing Irish about it. She also takes Cassidy’s idiotic claim about the Irish origins of poker seriously. Depressing, especially as the Irish Times has already done more than enough to spread Cassidy’s insane bullshit.

However, bad though Mullally’s article was, I have decided not to give her the Twit of the Month. She is, after all, a journalist. I have come to expect nothing good from journalists and I have rarely been pleasantly surprised. No, the August Twit of the Month Award goes to the North American Journal of Celtic Studies, who published a link on their Twitter feed to the awful article on New York Slang by Brendan Patrick Keane on IrishCentral on July 15. It beggars belief that anyone with an academic background in Celtic would recommend this feeble-minded crap. Fortunately, several other critics had commented on Twitter before I found this.

One of them, Wilson McLeod, rightly commented “Sorry, but no Celtic academic (group or individual) should be promoting Cassidy’s baseless & discredited work.”

Another, the redoubtable Murchadh Mór (Eoin Ó Murchú), commented “That is based on totally debunked rubbish. Please remove.”

So, let’s not beat around the bush. Whoever was responsible for this link either didn’t read the article before posting it, or worse still, they read it and didn’t realise it was shite. Whichever it is, the editor of North American Journal of Celtic Studies or whoever it was who posted the link on Twitter should be scarlet with shame. What a fucking disgrace!

Céim Síos Do Cassidy

Nuair a thosaigh mé ar an bhlag seo a scríobh cúpla bliain ó shin, rinne mé cinneadh go scríobhfainn an chuid is mó de i mBéarla. Ní hé nach mbeinn ábalta an blag a chumadh i nGaeilge, ach tá an blag seo dírithe go príomha ar dhaoine a chreideann san amaidí a scríobh Daniel Cassidy ina leabhar How The Irish Invented Slang. Is Gael-Mheiriceánaigh formhór na ndaoine sin, nó daoine de bhunús Gaelach atá lonnaithe i dtíortha eile a bhfuil an Béarla i réim iontu. Is beag Gaeilgeoir arbh fhiú Gaeilgeoir a thabhairt air a chreidfeadh i leithéidí ‘uí bhfolaíocht án’ (an frása as a bhfuair an Béarla an focal high-falutin’, dar le Cassidy.) Duine ar bith a bhfuil Gaeilge mhaith aige, thuigfeadh sé láithreach nach bhfuil sa leabhar seo ach bocamadán craiceáilte ag smaoineamh os ard.

Agus sin ráite, is mór an díol spéise caimiléireacht Cassidy do lucht labhartha na Gaeilge, agus is iomaí duine a bhfuil an teanga aige a chuir in aghaidh na raiméise seo, leithéidí Eoin Uí Mhurchú ar An Tuairisceoir. Mar sin de, sílim gur cheart dom an scéal is nua a roinnt libh sa teanga s’againne.

Fuair muid teachtaireacht ar na mallaibh ó dheirfiúr Cassidy. Bhí mé i gcónaí amhrasach faoi cháilíochtaí Daniel Cassidy mar gheall ar a olcas a bhí an leabhar ach chuir sé iontas an domhain orm nuair a chuala mé nach bhfuair Cassidy a chéim riamh ó Ollscoil Cornell. Chuaigh mé i dteagmháil leis an Chláraitheoir ag Cornell, agus dhearbhaigh sise nach bhfuair Daniel Cassidy céim ón choláiste sin riamh. De réir cosúlachta, ní raibh cáilíochtaí ar bith aige. Ní raibh céim, ná céim mháistir, ná dochtúireacht aige. Caimiléir a bhí ann, duine a bhain úsáid as calaois agus béal bán le daoine saonta a robáil agus le dallamullóg a chur ar amadáin.

Tá muid ag fanacht le tuilleadh eolais a fháil ó Ollscoil Columbia agus ó San Francisco State, mar a raibh Cassidy ag teagasc sular thosaigh sé a obair in New College of California. Coinnigí súil ar an bhlag seo! Tá rudaí ag éirí iontach spéisiúil!

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!

An Tuairisceoir

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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