Tag Archives: Eoin P Ó Murchú

The Trials of Bilingualism

As anyone who has read this blog will know, I started CassidySlangScam about six years ago to tell the truth about the late Daniel Cassidy and his crazy opinions about the Irish origins of American slang. The two languages (Irish and English) have had a central role in this blog from the beginning, but for practical reasons, the majority of the posts were in English for a long while. Of course, Cassidy’s fakery was aimed at Irish Americans who don’t know any Irish, not at fluent Irish speakers in Ireland (who would recognise immediately that Cassidy’s book was nothing but nonsense) and so, I decided to provide the majority of the material in English to cater for those people.

At the start of this year, I decided to celebrate the Year of the Irish Language by posting every article in both languages. When it was a short article, I put the two versions together on one page. With the longer articles, I made two posts, one in Irish and the other in English. The question is, however, should I carry on with this bilingual policy next year?

While I love the Irish language and though I support bilingualism in this country and in other countries where there are linguistic minorities, there is a good chance that I will not carry on with this policy in 2019. There will be bilingual posts here, certainly, but I will not provide two versions of every article.

Why? Well, firstly, the Irish versions probably aren’t necessary. Every Irish speaker (well, any sensible Irish speaker) knows that Cassidy’s work is nothing but the rantings of a lunatic. I have provided this blog primarily to spread the truth among Cassidy’s supporters in America. The Irish language pages get few hits in comparison with the English versions.

Secondly, big organisations have the resources to translate their documents into Irish. I am an individual who is trying to right a wrong and spread the truth. Usually, I write my pieces in English first – although I have written a handful of them in Irish and translated them into English. Of course, it makes sense to write the English first, because this blog is primarily about a book which was written in English, with sources which are available in English, and with Irish which is not really Irish at all. However, after I have composed the basic draft (in Irish or in English), I then have to translate it into the other language. That takes effort, of course. And sometimes, the result of that can be seen in the number of mistakes and misspellings. In short, it costs me twice as much effort and the standard of the writing is lower because of that. If I had a lot of time, that wouldn’t matter. But I am a busy person and I don’t have time.

There will certainly be bilingual posts on this blog in 2019, certainly. It’s good to increase the amount of Irish on line, and it is important to show the supporters of Cassidy that the Irish language is a real language, a language that is still alive and still in daily use by me, by Ciara Ní É, by Eoin P. Ó Murchú, by Maitiú Ó Coimín and by many other people who are on the right side of this argument. I will do my best to increase the amount of Irish on this site in 2019. But I will not be posting every article in both languages next year. There is too much work involved, and I simply don’t have enough time to do it justice.

September 2018’s Twits of the Month – The Vintage News

The September 2018 Twit of the Month is a site called The Vintage News. They have put up a short video called American slang words we never knew were invented by the Irish. In the video, a lot of ridiculous derivations made up by Cassidy are given, along with a couple which Cassidy borrowed from more trustworthy sources:

Snazzy =Snasah: (sic, Snasach is the right version). Cassidy didn’t make this one up. Although the connection between snazzy and snasach is believable enough, it is not likely to be correct. When the term snazzy was first used, it referred to a person called Snazelle – Snazzy was his nickname.

Spiel = Speal. A speal is a scythe, an instrument used to cut grass. It rhymes with the name Al. There is a similar word in Scots Gaelic and there is a subsidiary meaning in that language, namely, sharp words. In other words, that isn’t its meaning in the Irish language. And of course, spiel comes from German (apparently, it’s not from Yiddish – see comments below).

Baloney = Béal ónna. Of course, there is no such phrase as béal ónna. Daniel Cassidy made it up.

Bunkum = Buanchumadh. We have discussed this one before. It is a reference to Buncombe County, and a politician called Felix Walker. There is no such phrase as buanchumadh. It is simply nonsense made up by Daniel Cassidy.

Swell = Sóúil. Sóúil means luxurious (hardly a match to any meaning of the word swell) and it is pronounced so-ool, which doesn’t sound much like swell either. Also, the real origin of swell is well-known and explained here: https://www.etymonline.com/word/swell

Slugger = slacaire. Slacaire sounds like slackarra, so why would it have become slugger, not slacker? Also, there are lots of words in English which have meanings like beating, trudging, words like slug and slog and slag, as well as words like schlagen in German. You can find some notes on them here: https://www.etymonline.com/word/slug#etymonline_v_23704

Dork = dorc. According to this idiotic piece of non-information on Vintage News, the Irish dorc means dwarf. Really? News to me. And the word dork is widely believed to be a disguised form of ‘dick’.

Croney = comh-roghna. Again, this is an entirely fake phrase invented by Cassidy. Croney is believed to be Cambridge slang of the late 17th century and derived from Greek chronios, old.

Phoney = fáinne (ring). This is quite likely true (in my opinion) but predates Cassidy by decades. It possibly derives from fake gold rings used in scams, known as fawneys. However, the link is not universally accepted, and David L. Gold, who is a knowledgeable and intelligent etymologist, is one of the sceptics.

Dude = dúd. There is no evidence for a Gaelic origin of dude, a 19th century term for a dandy. Most scholars regard it as derived from the song Yankee Doodle Dandy, who stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni (macaroni was 18th century slang for a dandy).

Slum = ‘s lom (é). Is lom é is a made-up Cassidy phrase. Even if it did exist, anyone with any background in linguistics will realise that phrases like this are not usually borrowed. Also, slums are not usually bare, which is the meaning of lom. And of course, as it originally referred to bedrooms or flophouses, the word slum almost certainly comes from slumber.

Fluke = fo-luach. According to Cassidy, this phrase means a windfall or a rare reward. The phrase fo-luach does not exist and if it did, it would mean something like a ‘subsidiary value’. Pure nonsense.

Nincompoop = naioidhean. Actually, Cassidy’s original claim was that nincompoop comes from the ‘Irish’ naioidhean ar chuma búb, supposedly an insulting phrase meaning an infant in the shape of a booby. This is not a real phrase, of course. Nincompoop probably comes from the Latin phrase Non compos mentis.

Scam = ‘s cam é. Cassidy claims that scam comes from this phrase, which might just mean ‘it is crooked’. So, when you say, it’s a scam, you are apparently saying It’s an it is crooked. Yeah, right. In reality, there are a number of possible origins for scam. The front runner is probably the Spanish escamotear, which is a verb meaning to scam or to rob.

Boogaloo = bogadh luath. According to Cassidy, the phrase boogaloo comes from Irish. Boogaloo comes from bogadh luath, which means ‘early moving’ and is pronounced bogga looa or boggoo looa. Why? What connection does this have to the known uses of boogaloo? Your guess is as good as mine. Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, boogaloo is believed to have been coined in the 1960s, and derives from the onomatopoeic music style boogie-woogie.

Puss = pus. This is true but is accepted by all dictionaries and predates Cassidy by decades. Puss as in a dig in the puss or a sourpuss (not puss as in cat) comes from the Irish word pus, which means a pouting lip.

So, what have we got here? A couple of (perhaps) genuine derivations from Irish, along with a large collection of fantasy nonsense invented by the late Daniel Cassidy in his book How The Irish Invented Slang. The comments, which number nearly 2000, are interesting. Many people expressed scepticism about this nonsense, especially spiel, which is the most obviously wrong. Eoin Ó Murchú pointed out that this was all rubbish derived from Cassidy’s book. One person, Dilean Mac Searraigh, said “Most of these are ridiculous … there are Irish words in English … but these are totally inaccurate gibberish. Someone literally just made them up.”

The critics were then rebuked by someone called Rhonda Pennington:

I can’t believe a fun post like this has generated such snarky remarks. It’s all in fun. Why does everything have to be an argument these days? Where is your sense of humour, people?

I’m sure others will be wondering the same as me. Where exactly is the fun? Where’s the humour? This is largely a collection of fantasy without any foundation in fact. Yet there is no indication that this is ironic or not meant to be true. What has promoting non-facts that aren’t true about other people’s languages and cultures to do with fun, especially languages which have been subject to discrimination for generations? If this were claiming to be a list of words and phrases from Gullah or Cherokee but it was mostly made-up, I’m inclined to think that it wouldn’t be regarded as fun. I think most people would regard it as cultural appropriation or (and this is the way I view it) as racism.

I choose to take The Vintage News’ rubbish as a deliberate attempt to deceive, because the facts about Cassidy and his dishonesty have been out there for years. The people at Vintage News did no research. Vintage News is responsible for deliberately spreading nonsense as if it were fact, and nobody is deserving of anyone’s respect or tolerance for being a liar, however funny they think these lies are.

Amadáin na Míosa, Meán Fómhair 2018 – The Vintage News

Is é Amadán na Míosa i Mi Mheán an Fhómhair 2018 ná suiomh a bhfuil The Vintage News air. Tá físeán beag acu darb ainm American slang words we never knew were invented by the Irish. San fhíseán, tugtar a lán sanasaíochtai aiféiseacha a chum Cassidy, maraon le dornán a fuair Cassidy  ó fhoinsí atá níos iontaofa:

Snazzy =Snasah: (ar ndóigh, Snasach an leagan ceart). Níor chum Cassidy an ceann seo. Cé go bhfuil an nasc idir snazzy agus snasach sochreidte go leor, ní dócha go bhfuil sé ceart. Nuair a baineadh úsáid as Snazzy den chéad uair, bhi sé ag tagairt do dhuine darbh ainm Snazelle – Snazzy an leasainm a bhí air.

Spiel = Speal. Ciallaíonn speal gléas a úsáidtear le féar a ghearradh. Rímeann sé leis an ainm Al. Tá focal cosúil leis i nGaidhlig na hAlban agus tá fochiall leis sa teanga sin, mar atá, focail ghéara. Ní Gaeilge sin, mar sin. Agus ar ndóigh, tagann spiel ón Ghearmáinis. (Nil baint ar bith aige leis an Ghiúdais, de réir cosúlachta.)

Baloney = Béal ónna. Ar ndóigh, níl a leithéid de fhrása ann agus béal ónna. Chum Daniel Cassidy é.

Bunkum = Buanchumadh. Tá an ceann seo pléite againn roimhe seo. Tagairt atá ann do Buncombe County, agus polaiteoir darbh ainm Felix Walker. Níl a leithéid de fhrása ann agus buanchumadh. Níl ann ach cumadóireacht eile de chuid Cassidy.

Swell = Sóúil. Ciallaionn an focal sóúil saibhir, sómasach, galánta (níl baint dhíreach idir ciall an fhocail seo agus ciall an fhocail swell) agus níl sé róchosuil leis an fhocal swell ó thaobh fuaime de. Ní hamháin sin, ach tá fíorbhunús swell aitheanta ag na saineolaithe. Tá an bunús sin mínithe anseo: https://www.etymonline.com/word/swell

Slugger = slacaire. Níl slugger iontach cosúil le slacaire ó thaobh fuaime de, ar ndóigh. Tá a lán focal i mBéarla a bhfuil ciallanna ar nós bualadh, siúl go trom srl. acu, focail ar nós slug agus slog agus slag, chomh maith le focail ar nós schlagen sa Ghearmáinis. Thig leat nótaí a fháil orthu ach an nasc seo a leanúint: https://www.etymonline.com/word/slug#etymonline_v_23704

Dork = dorc. De réir na raiméise seo ar Vintage News, ciallaíonn an focal dorc ‘abhac’ i nGaeilge. An gciallaíonn? Níor chuala mise sin riamh. Agus de réir na saineolaithe, is leagan truaillithe den fhocal Béarla ‘dick’ atá san fhocal sin dork.

Croney = comh-roghna. Creidtear gur béarlagair Ollscoil Cambridge atá ann, a cumadh sa 17ú haois agus a tháinig ó chronios, focal Gréigise a chiallaíonn ‘sean’.

Phoney = fáinne (ring). Tá an ceann seo fíor, is dócha, (dar liomsa, cibé) ach bhí sé ann i bhfad sular thosaigh Cassidy ar a fheachtas cumadóireachta. Tagann sé ó na fáinní (fawneys) a bhí in úsáid le daoine a robáil. Agus sin ráite, nil gach duine ar aon intinn faoin nasc idir fawney agus phoney, agus tá David L. Gold, sanasaí cumasach éirimiúil, ar dhuine de na sceiptigh.

Dude = dúd. Níl fianaise dá laghad ann gur Gaeilge é dude, téarma ar ghaige sa 19ú haois. An chuid is mó de na scoláirí, deir siad gur tháinig sé ón amhrán Yankee Doodle Dandy, a sháigh cleite ina chaipín agus a thug macaroni air (i mbéarlagair an 18ú haois, bhí an chiall gaige leis an fhocal macaroni fosta).

Slum = ‘s lom (é). Is frása de na frásaí a chum Cassidy é ‘Is lom é’. Agus fiú dá mbeadh an frása sin ann, thuigfeadh duine ar bith a bhfuil cúlra aige nó aici sa teangeolaíocht nach ndéantar frásai mar seo a fháil ar iasacht. Ní hamháin sin, ach ní bhíonn plódcheantair ‘lom’. Agus ar ndóigh, áit chodlata an chiall a bhí le slum agus mar sin de, is dócha go bhfuil baint ag an fhocal leis an Bhéarla ‘slumber’.

Fluke = fo-luach. De réir Cassidy, ciallaíonn fo-luach deonú Dé nó duais neamhchoitianta. Níl a leithéid de chor cainte ann sa Ghaeilge agus dá mbeadh, is é ‘subsidiary value’ nó rud éigin mar sin an chiall a bheadh aige. Raiméis agus amaidí!

Nincompoop = naioidhean. Lena rá mar is ceart, is é a mhaígh Cassidy’s ná gur tháinig nincompoop ón ‘Ghaeilge’ naioidhean ar chuma búb. Dar le Cassidy, is masla é seo a bhí coitianta sa Ghaeilge fadó. Ní fíorGhaeilge é sin, ar ndóigh. Is dócha go bhfuair an Béarla nincompoop ón fhrása Laidin non compos mentis.

Scam = ‘s cam é. Deir Cassidy gur tháinig scam ón fhrása seo, atá cineál aisteach (déarfá ‘tá sé cam’ de ghnáth). Mar sin de, nuair a deir tú ‘it’s a scam’, is é atá á rá agat i nGaeilge ná ‘Is is cam é é!’ Aidhe, is dócha go bhfuil an ceart agat. Is é fírinne an scéil go bhfuil a lán sanasaíochtaí féideartha ann. An ceann is minice a luaitear ná an briathar Spáinnise escamotear, a chiallaíonn duine a scamáil nó a robáil.

Boogaloo = bogadh luath. Dar le Cassidy, is ón Ghaeilge a tháinig an focal boogaloo, ón fhrása bogadh luath (?). Ar ndóigh, níl bogadh luath cosúil le boogaloo agus níl baint ar bith idir boogaloo agus bogadh luath ó thaobh céille de. Ach, le filleadh ar réadúlachta an phláinéid seo, creidtear gur cumadh boogaloo sna 1960í, agus gur leagan atá ann den stíl cheoil boogie-woogie, a bhfuil a ainm onamataipéach, is dócha.

Puss = pus. Tá an ceann seo fíor, ach glacann gach foclóir Béarla leis an tsanasaíocht seo agus bhí an ceann seo ann i bhfad sular scríobh Cassidy a leabhar. Tagann puss (sa chiall a dig in the puss nó sourpuss) ón fhocal Gaeilge pus.

Cad é atá againn anseo, mar sin? Cúpla fíorshanasaíocht ón Ghaeilge, agus a lán finscéalaíocht agus raiméis a chum Daniel Cassidy ina leabhar How The Irish Invented Slang. Na tráchtanna ar Facebook, is mór an díol spéise iad. Scríobh a lán daoine nach raibh an raiméis seo inchreidte, go háirithe an téarma spiel, ar léir gur ón Ghearmáinis nó ón Ghiúdáis a tháinig sé. Dúirt Eoin P. Ó Murchú (bullaí fir, a Eoin!) go neamhbhalbh gur raiméis a bhí ann a fuarthas ó leabhar Cassidy. Scríobh duine amháin, Dilean Mac Searraigh: ““Most of these are ridiculous … there are Irish words in English … but these are totally inaccurate gibberish. Someone literally just made them up.”

Ach is léir gur chuir sé isteach go mór ar óinseach darb ainm Rhonda Pennington go raibh daoine ag cosaint na fírinne in áit bréaga a scaipeadh go randamach:

I can’t believe a fun post like this has generated such snarky remarks. It’s all in fun. Why does everything have to be an argument these days? Where is your sense of humour, people?

Tá mé cinnte nach mise an t-aon duine leis an cheist seo a thógáil, ach cá háit a bhfuil an chraic? Cad é an greann? Is é atá sa stuif seo ná bailiúchán finscéalta nach bhfuil fréamhaithe san fhírinne ar chor ar bith. Ach níl rud ar bith ann a thugann le fios gur íoróin atá ann nó nach bhfuil sé in ainm a bheith fíor. Cad é go díreach an bhaint idir acmhainn grinn agus fíricí bréaga a chur chun tosaigh faoi theangacha agus faoi chultúir daoine eile, go háirithe teangacha a bhfuil leatrom á dhéanamh orthu leis na glúnta? Dá mbeadh siad ag maíomh gur liosta d’fhocail a tháinig ó Gullah nó Cherokee atá ann, ach nach raibh sa chuid ba mhó de ach deargchumadóireacht, ní dóigh liom go nglacfadh daoine leis nach raibh ann ach craic. Is dócha go sílfeadh an chuid ba mhó de na daoine nach raibh ann ach leithghabháil chultúrtha nó (an dearcadh atá agam féin) ciníochas lom.

De réir cosúlachta, tá Pennington ag rá linn anseo, nuair a chaitheann duine lán sluaiste de chac ar do chloigeann, ba chóir duit do bhuíochas a ghabháil leo go muinte, iarraidh orthu tuilleadh caca a chaitheamh anuas ort agus glacadh leis nach bhfuil ann ach píosa grinn. Cead agatsa sin a dhéanamh, a Rhonda (cé nach í an teanga s’agatsa atá faoi ionsaí, ar ndóigh). Is fearr liom féin amharc air seo mar iarracht dallamullóg a chur ar dhaoine d’aon turas, mar go bhfuil an fhírinne faoi Cassidy agus a mhí-ionracas amuigh ansin leis na blianta. Ní dhearna muintir Vintage News taighde ar bith. Tá Vintage News freagrach as raiméis a scaipeadh mar a bheadh fírinne ann, agus níl meas nó caonfhulaingt tuillte acusan nó agatsa ó dhuine ar bith as bréaga a insint, is cuma cé chomh greannmhar agus atá na bréaga céanna, dar leat féin.

 

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. http://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.