Tag Archives: fake Irish

Kitty

In Daniel Cassidy’s insane work of etymological fiction, How The Irish Invented Slang, the phoney professor of Irish Studies claimed that the word kitty, meaning a pot of money in a gambling game, derives from the Irish phrase cuid oíche. This is highly improbable.

The origins of the word kitty are unknown, though there are several possibilities. You can find some information at these links:

http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-kit2.htm

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=kitty

The phrase cuid oíche (earlier spelling cuid oidhche) is an historical term. It literally means ‘a night’s portion’ and it refers to the entertainment which a lord could expect from his subjects. It is pronounced roughly as cudge-eeha and has been anglicised as cuddy. In other words, it is not a good match for kitty in terms of pronunciation or of meaning.

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Mark, Mark Anthony

Another utterly stupid claim made by Cassidy in his book, How The Irish Invented Slang, is that the English words mark or mark Anthony, slang terms for a sucker or target of a scam, derive from Irish. As usual, there is no evidence for this and plenty of strong evidence against it.

For one thing, while the word marc is Irish and means a mark, the word is a relatively modern borrowing from English and there is no evidence of it meaning target of a scam. In Irish, the earliest references date back to 1639, in the Catechismus of Tiobóid Galldubh (Theobald Stapleton).

In English, the word is very ancient. It had acquired the meaning of target by the year 1200. It was first used with the meaning of target of a scam or sucker in the 1880s.

As for Mark Anthony, a slang phrase which seems to appear first in the 1970s in America, Cassidy claims that this comes from marc andána, which he says means a rash mark. The word andána is an intensified form of dána, which means bold. Of course, there is no evidence of anyone actually saying or writing marc andána in Irish. The sole authority for its existence is one crazy man – Daniel Cassidy – who lived his whole life in the USA, never learned Irish and never acquired any qualifications.

And when you think about it, the whole thing is much more likely to be English than Irish. A mark is a target and has been since the middle ages. That word comes to be a term for the target of a scam. Then someone adds Anthony to it because everyone’s heard of Mark Anthony. It might also have been influenced by a work of 19th century Irish fiction, The Fortunes of Hector O’Halloran and His Man Mark Anthony O’Toole.

Isn’t that more likely as a scenario than Cassidy’s non-existent phrase marc andána?

More on Michael Patrick MacDonald

Before Christmas, in a blog post called Fact or Fun, I mentioned an incredibly stupid tweet from the Boston writer Michael Patrick MacDonald, a crony of Cassidy’s. A Twitter user called Coiste Focal Nua (=New Word Committee) said that Cassidy’s book was regarded as ‘academic fraud’, whereupon Michael Patrick MacDonald wrote:

Never was academic. Bigger than that. It raises serious questions about the racist OED lapdogs.

Coiste Focal Nua replied:

No it does not. He made almost everything up. Here is a reliable enough list http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_words_of_Irish_origin

MacDonald replied with another stupidity:

That’s a ridiculous list. One of the most loquacious ethnicities in U.S. contributed a handful of words to American slang?

Of course, this is the same old nonsense we have had from every supporter of Cassidy. No specific words are mentioned. No evidence is provided. There just must be more words than that because Irish people talk a lot. Coiste Focal Nua replied with this:

Most probably. Go n-éirí leat le foghlaim na Gaeilge. (May you be successful in learning Irish.)

MacDonald’s reply was another typical piece of lame-brained nonsense:

good luck studying American social history & culture.

This is a standard response from the Cassidy-lovers. We’ve seen the same pompous rubbish from Sean Sweeney, amongst others. Apparently, there are certain arcane and obscure aspects of Irish-American culture which we non-Irish-Americans know nothing about and this is why we don’t accept Cassidy’s claims, not because they’re lies. It’s a foolish argument and it’s also incredibly condescending. I mean, what are these aspects of Irish-American culture which confirm Cassidy’s arguments? What exactly are we Irish so ignorant of?

Wow, so you mean that all those people who left Ireland, they went to America? Really? I thought they all went to Greenland, or Botswana. I know all my relatives lived in Boston and New York but I thought that was just us! So, they came over to the USA. And they lived in slum houses. Not castles … or mud huts … or houseboats? OK, slum houses. And they found jobs? They worked? Why did they work? Oh, I see, they would have starved to death if they didn’t. Never thought of that. But some of them didn’t work. They became criminals. Right. That means they broke the law? Hmm. This is getting complicated. Mind if I take notes?

The fact is, of course, that the number of Irish speakers in the community, the jobs they did or the social class they belonged to are entirely irrelevant. They mean nothing.

Cassidy’s crazy theories fall flat on one question and one question only. Are there hundreds of words in American slang which have no known origin and which resemble Irish phrases and words? And the answer to this is a resounding NO. Cassidy invented almost all the Irish phrases in the book, he lied about the definitions of the Irish words, he ignored alternative explanations. When you strip away all the rubbish, all that’s left is a handful of words and phrases like slew, galore, shebeen and sourpuss, which were already clearly labelled as words of Irish origin in the dictionaries.

The fact is, no aspect of American social history can increase the number of slang words which have matches in the Irish language. No aspect of social history can make Cassidy’s Irish better or his absurd phrases more like the real thing. No aspect of social history can make Cassidy less of a fraud and more of a scholar.

So MacDonald, wise up and stop talking nonsense! The only reason you’re supporting this shite is because Cassidy was a friend of yours. He wasn’t a friend of mine and he wasn’t a friend of the Irish language or the Irish people. And as long as you continue to support this American con-man who treated our language and culture with such obvious contempt, neither are you.

Boot and Babhta

Daniel Cassidy, in his absurd and ridiculous work of pseudo-scholarship, How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that the word boot (as in ‘to boot’) comes from the Irish word babhta.

In fact, the etymology of the words boot and bout in English is quite complex.

Boot comes from the Old English bot ‘help, relief, advantage; atonement,’ while bout comes from a Middle English word bught meaning ‘a bend’. Neither of these words has any connection with boot meaning shoe (which is from French) and only a distant connection with booty meaning captured prize, which is from Germanic through French (and acquired its current meaning as in ‘bootilicious’ through Black American English). Freebooter is from Dutch.

At some stage over the last four hundred years, the English word bout was borrowed into Irish as babhta. There is no doubt that this is a borrowing into Irish and not the other way round. As we have said before, the only words with this pattern of sounds in Irish are borrowings, words like stabht (the drink, stout), clabhta (clout), dabht (doubt) or fabht (fault).  In Irish, the meanings of the two English words boot and bout are conflated in babht, because we find expressions like de bhabhta, to boot, as well as babhta tinnis, a bout of illness.

Doggone it, Danny!

Another of the crazy and ridiculous derivations in Daniel Cassidy’s book How The Irish Invented Slang is his speculation about the origins of the word doggone. It is worth giving Cassidy’s entry on this subject in full, as it shows clearly how fraudulent and incompetent Daniel Cassidy was.

Doggone, excl., adj., adv., an exclamation of irritation, disappointment, someone or something nasty, crude, gross; darned. Not recorded in English till the 19th century. Origin unknown.

Dogairne, n., a gross crude person or thing. Dógan, n., a sort of oath or exclamation, (Ó Dónaill, 1977, 427; Dwelly, Gaelic-English Dictionary, 1901, 347.)

Let’s just examine Cassidy’s claim carefully. First of all, Cassidy says that the origin of ‘doggone’ is unknown. Is it?

Of course not! As usual, Cassidy was lying.

The dictionaries are agreed that dog-gone or doggone is a 19th century Americanism and that it is a minced oath, a disguised blasphemy. The Oxford English Dictionary says it is ‘generally taken as a deformation of the profane God damn.’ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.) says that ‘doggone’ is an ‘alteration of the Scots dagone,’ which is in turn an ‘alteration of goddamn.’ Merriam-Webster says that it is ‘a euphemism for God damn.’

Furthermore, God damn and doggone are used in exactly the same way. Sometimes they are an exclamation, God damn it! (Doggone it!) What have you done? and sometimes as an adjective, Just take the goddamn (doggone) money already!

It is an indication of how stupid and deluded Cassidy was that he seems to think giving two derivations strengthens his case. Of course, in reality, the fact that Cassidy provides two completely separate words in different languages just serves to show how easy it is to find a spurious Gaelic derivation.

Dogairne is a rare word derived from docair (more usually deacair in modern Irish), which means ‘hard, difficult’. Dogairne is a noun, and is defined as ‘A gross, crude, person or thing.’ Doggone, of course, is not used as a noun. You can’t say ‘My cousin is a total doggone.’

As for dògan, this is a Scottish Gaelic exclamation. The Scottish Gaelic dictionaries make it quite clear that this is a borrowing from doggone or from the Scots equivalent. Note also that Cassidy once again betrayed his total ignorance of the Gaelic languages, as he wrote it as dógan. Anyone who knew the slightest thing about Irish and Gaelic would know that Scottish Gaelic always uses grave accents (the ones that slope back) while Irish always uses acute accents (sloping forward).

 

My Arse, Cassidy!

As I have repeated over and over again in this blog, Daniel Cassidy’s claims about Irish are almost entirely rubbish. His methodology consisted of finding phrases in English, deciding that they came from Irish, and then hunting through Irish (and/or Scottish Gaelic) dictionaries to find Irish equivalents. However, as there was hardly ever a satisfactory equivalent in the dictionaries, Cassidy put words together in ridiculous and unrealistic ways. According to his supporters, this doesn’t matter, because the Irish in 19th century slums supposedly forgot all their grammar and apparently stuck words together in random and incomprehensible ways.

Here’s a clear example of what Cassidy did. Suppose I am Cassidy and I decide that the phrase ‘My arse’ as an expression of scepticism at someone else’s words doesn’t come from the English words ‘my’ and ‘arse’. So I go to an Irish dictionary. I don’t actually speak any Irish, of course, and I’m not really sure about the pronunciation, but what the Hell! I’m Daniel Cassidy! I’m a genius! So, I find the word maith which means good or well, and which is pronounced mah or moy. So far, so good! Then I look for something which might go with it. Ah, there’s a word arsa, which means ‘said’.

So, if I put maith and arsa together, I get the ironic ‘Irish’ phrase maith arsa, which means ‘well said!’

Of course, this isn’t a real phrase, and it only makes sense if you pluck definitions for the component words randomly out of dictionaries. In Irish, the word arsa is limited in its use. It only ever occurs sandwiched between reported speech and the name of the person speaking. Almost all of the phrases in Cassidy’s book are like this, childish fakes based on misunderstood out-of-context dictionary entries which bear no relation at all to the genuine Irish language, a language of which Cassidy was totally ignorant.