Tag Archives: fake professor

Cassidese Glossary – Mash

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.

Masher is a slang term for a young man of fashion who frequented 19th century theatres because of his devotion to the leading ladies, while the verb mash is defined as an infatuation or act of flirtation.

There is a discussion of its origins here in an excellent blog post from Anatoly Liberman: http://blog.oup.com/2011/01/masher/.

And here’s another from World Wide Words: http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-mas1.html

Both of these sources are inclined to regard masher and mash as being extensions of the English word mash meaning to crush and both of them point to the similarity between the uses of mash and the uses of the word crush.

Cassidy’s claim was that it derives from the Irish maiseach, an obscure adjective meaning beautiful or elegant (according to Ó Dónaill’s dictionary, maisiúil is the usual adjective formed from maise. I wouldn’t use maisiúil or maiseach, though I use maise all the time in idioms like Ba d(h)eas an mhaise dó é, it was a nice thing for him to do). How an adjective meaning beautiful in Irish gave rise to a noun meaning lady’s man and a verb meaning to have a crush in English is not explained, but then very few of the claims made in Cassidy’s book stand up to any scrutiny at all

Cassidese Glossary – Lucre

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.

Long ago, in Central Europe, there were two language groups which resembled each other. One was the ancestor of Latin, the other the ancestor of Irish. These language groups had many similar words, like the words for land or sea. They also had a similar word for value or wealth. In Irish, thousands of years later, this was to become luach. In Latin, the word became lucrum, and this later developed into the French lucre, which by the time of Chaucer had been borrowed into English and was used to mean ‘money’. It was often used with words like foul or filthy to show that wealth was corrupting.

This is how English got the word lucre, as in ‘filthy lucre’. There is no doubt or room for argument about this. The word lucre came from French, which developed out of Latin. The word is a cognate (a cousin, if you like) of the Irish luach. But it isn’t a borrowing from Irish. So why is it in this book? How is it relevant to Cassidy’s theory of Irish influence on English?

Tá mise chomh haineolach leat féin! (Your guess is as good as mine.)

Cassidese Glossary – Hoax, Hocus

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.

The word hoax has a well-established origin in English. Hoax derives from an earlier word hocus, which meant to confuse, befuddle, drug or trick someone. Hocus almost certainly derives from hocus pocus, a garbled version of Latin hoc est corpus. Hocus has been around for hundreds of years, while hoax is more recent.

Cassidy doesn’t accept this. He prefers a derivation from the Irish olcas, which is pronounced olkass. (Not holkas) It doesn’t sound much like hoax. And does it mean the same thing as a hoax? No, it means badness or wickedness. Hoaxes are sometimes evil and wicked. Sometimes they are just playful. But they always involve the notion of dishonesty, of tricking people. In Irish, the words bob (as in bob a bhualadh ar dhuine, to play a practical joke on someone) or cleas (as in cleas a imirt ar dhuine, to play a trick on someone) would be the usual words for hoax. Not olcas. I should also point out that olcas is an abstract noun, not an adjective as Cassidy states.

Cultural Appropriation/Leithghabháil Chultúrtha


There was an interesting little article in NósMag recently about leithghabháil chultúrtha, or cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation is basically the misuse of a minority culture by a majority culture. The NósMag article asked the question, where do we draw the line? There was an immediate response by Dennis King, who wrote this on Twitter with a picture of Cassidy’s ludicrous book: An leithghabháil chultúrtha é nuair a scríobhann duine ar bheagán Gaeilge leabhar a bhfuil a lán cacamais faoin nGaeilge ann? (Is it cultural appropriation when someone with little Irish writes a book which is full of crap about Irish?)

There have been a lot of arguments about what is or is not cultural appropriation. I don’t think anyone would argue about the most extreme cases – the Black and White Minstrel Show, or the writings of Asa Earl Carter are definitely inappropriate. Others are more dubious. Is it wrong for Anglo children to use a piñata? Should non-African Americans play the blues? Is it cultural appropriation when people get tattoos in bad Chinese or even worse Irish?

Wherever we draw the line, there is no doubt that Dennis King is right and that Cassidy is on the wrong side of it. After all, Cassidy’s book is basically a collection of made-up rubbish by a man who couldn’t even be bothered learning any Irish. Like Dennis King, I find Cassidy’s smugness and arrogance deeply offensive. It makes me angry to hear someone claiming that baloney comes from the Irish béal ónna, when there is no Irish phrase béal ónna – Cassidy invented it and then pretended it was Irish. Or that crony comes from Irish comhrogha, which exists but never had the meaning of friend or companion. Or that giggle comes from gíog gheal, which (if it existed), would mean a bright squeak. It’s all insulting, arrogant, stupid nonsense from a man with no degrees or qualifications who managed to con his way into a university job. Cultural appropriation or not, it’s a pack of lies.



Bhí alt beag spéisiúil ar NósMag ar na mallaibh faoin leithghabháil chultúrtha, nó an cultural appropriation, mar a thugtar uirthi i mBéarla. Is é atá i gceist leis an leithghabháil chultúrtha, lena rá i mbeagán focal, ná mórchultúr ag baint mí-úsáid as cultúr mionlaigh. Cuireadh an cheist san alt ar NósMag, cá háit a dtarraingítear an líne? Bhí freagra ann láithreach ó Dennis King, a scríobh seo ar Twitter maraon le pictiúr de leabhar bómánta Cassidy: An leithghabháil chultúrtha é nuair a scríobhann duine ar bheagán Gaeilge leabhar a bhfuil a lán cacamais faoin nGaeilge ann?

Bhí a lán argóintí ann le blianta beaga anuas maidir le cad is leithghabháil chultúrtha ann agus na rudaí nach leithghabháil chultúrtha iad. Ní dóigh liom go mbeadh amhras ar dhuine ar bith faoi na cásanna is measa – is cinnte nach bhfuil The Black and White Minstrel Show nó scríbhinní Asa Earl Carter inghlactha ar chor ar bith. Tá rudaí eile níos éiginnte. An bhfuil an ceart ag páistí nach bhfuil acu ach Béarla piñata a úsáid? Ar chóir do Mheiriceánaigh nach bhfuil de bhunús Afraiceach na gormacha a sheinm? An leithghabháil chultúrtha é nuair a fhaigheann daoine geala nach Gaeil iad tatúanna i ndrochShínis nó i nGaeilge uafásach?

Cibé áit a dtarraingítear an líne, is cinnte go bhfuil an ceart ag Dennis King agus go bhfuil Cassidy ar an taobh mhícheart den líne sin. Níl i leabhar Cassidy, i ndiaidh an tsaoil, ach bailiúchán de raiméis a chum duine nach dtiocfadh leis bheith gaibhte Gaeilge ar bith a fhoghlaim. Go díreach cosúil le Dennis King, cuireann féinsástacht agus ardnósacht Cassidy olc an domhain orm. Cuireann sé fearg orm nuair a chluinim duine ag rá gur ón Ghaeilge béal ónna a tháinig an focal baloney, cé nach bhfuil a leithéid de fhrása ann – chum Cassidy é agus lig air gur Gaeilge a bhí ann. Nó gur ón ‘Ghaeilge’ gíog gheal a tháinig giggle an Bhéarla, in ainneoin go bhfuil fianaise chuimsitheach leis an bharúil sin a bhréagnú. Níl ann ach raiméis mhaslach, ardnósach, amaideach ó fhear nach raibh céimeanna ná cáilíochtaí ar bith aige ach ar éirigh leis post ollscoile a fháil trí chaimiléireacht. Níl sa bhrilléis seo ach deargbhréaga, bíodh sí ina leithghabháil chultúrtha nó ná bíodh!

Why The Rubber Bandits Were Conned

I have decided to write a brief post here just to explain to casual visitors why the Rubber Bandits were conned when they decided to publish a list of some of Daniel Cassidy’s fake derivations of American Slang from Irish on August 11th. Anyone who wants to know more can look at the older posts on this blog, where the material below is explained in greater detail.

Daniel Cassidy was born into a lower-middle class Irish-American family in NY in 1943. His father ran a bar and he was raised in the green pastures of Long Island (though he carefully cultivated the image of streetwise ghetto man-of-the-people). He was a bright child and went to NY Military Academy (alma mater of Donald Trump) on a music scholarship. From there, he went to Cornell University. While at Cornell, he wrote some poetry which was published but he then got into drugs and flunked out without a degree.

He worked for a little while in the NY Times, went to California, then ended up in rehab for two years. He learned to play guitar in rehab, cut an album (unsuccessful) and became a musician. For years, he disappears from the radar. Then he wrote some scripts. He claimed that he sold one of these scripts to Francis Ford Coppola but in different interviews, he mentions two different scripts as the one he sold. In the mid-90s, he produced a couple of pro-Sinn Féin video documentaries about the Six Counties, which aren’t even mentioned on IMDB.

He became a Professor of Irish Studies (!) in 1995 at a small radical college in SF called New College of California. How he became a professor when he didn’t have any qualifications is a mystery, but it seems clear that Cassidy himself claimed to have degrees he didn’t. According to one allegation from a person who contacted me, he was a serial sleaze who continually hit on female students. He used his position to cultivate ‘friendships’ with high-profile Irish-Americans and Irish people who could be useful to him. In 2007, he published a book called How The Irish Invented Slang, a nonsensical piece of crap which claims that lots of American slang comes from Irish. However, because Cassidy didn’t speak any Irish, he just made up lots of bizarre phrases which have never existed in Irish. Honky-tonk, apparently, comes from aingíocht tarraingteach, which means something like attractive peevishness. Baloney is from béal ónna, which Cassidy claimed meant nonsense (literally ‘naïve mouth’). Geezer comes from gaosmhar, which Cassidy claimed means wise person. It doesn’t. And in many cases, Cassidy simply ignored the fact that the words already had perfectly clear derivations. A longshoreman is a ‘man along the shore’, not an old-fashioned Irish word for a sailor. There are hundreds of these fake, made-up derivations. Almost none of these claims has any substance, and the handful that do were plagiarised by Cassidy from other people.

The book was criticised immediately and strongly by real scholars but Cassidy and/or his wife used sock puppet identities to attack anyone who told the truth about the book. Meanwhile, Cassidy’s friends and cronies were ever-present, boosting his reputation, providing good reviews, generally lying their arses off in support of the book. And because the book pretended to be a radical departure, a man-bites-dog story about how Anglophile scholars had systematically excluded the story of Irish’s influence on English, lots of people who think with their arses instead of their brains were quite prepared to make this arrant raiméis a viral phenomenon.

Cassidy fell sick shortly after the book was published and died of cancer in 2008. Unfortunately, the book and the ridiculous theories are still with us.

In short, if you ever look around and wonder why the world is such a shite place and why we have the leaders we have, look no further than the Cassidy Scandal. The same stupidity, pomposity, arrogance, narcissism, cronyism and manipulation that have allowed Cassidy’s nonsense to thrive are what fuels people like the Tea Party and Donald Trump and the supporters of the Irish Slavery Meme. Nobody should support this garbage, least of all people who believe in decent, liberal, democratic values.

And that’s why Murchadh Mór is right. The Rubber Bandits left their sense outside with the horse when they chose to support this shite.

San Francisco Irish Crossroads Festival

If you go onto the site of the San Francisco Irish Crossroads Festival, under the In Memoriam section you will find a brief biography of Daniel Cassidy:

Danny Cassidy – Daniel Patrick Cassidy, author of “How the Irish Invented Slang: the Secret Language of the Crossroads” founded the Irish studies Program at New College of California and co-founded the Crossroads Irish-American Festival.

Cassidy grew up in Brooklyn, and was shaped by the world that he encountered there.  His career was rich and varied.  He started his education at Columbia University, and went on to get a Masters in History at Cornell. He also became recognized for his work as a poet at this time.  He worked for the New York Times as a news assistant in the United Nations Bureau.

He then became a musician, recorded an album, and performed on stages from Carnegie Hall to the Los Angeles Civic Auditorium, with luminaries including George Carlin, Kenny Rankin and Lily Tomlin. In addition to being a musician, Cassidy wrote film scripts and created a documentary, “Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs,” nominated for an Emmy, which was focused on civil rights abuses in Northern Ireland.  Cassidy also worked as a Union Organizer for over 20 years. He was also a fervent supporter of the Irish Republican movement.

In the 1990s, Cassidy started a new chapter of his life working at New College of California.  He founded the Irish Studies Program there in 1995 and went on to create a Media Studies Program.  His vision of Irish Studies was built on his understanding of the central role of the Irish in American history and of Ireland for Post-colonial Studies.

In the spirit of the mission of New College, he embraced the value of serving community outside the classroom as well as students in the classroom.  As a result, Irish Studies at New College offered classes populated by credit and audit students, and produced many programs throughout the year for the community.  The heart of that work, done in March, evolved into the Crossroads Irish-American Festival.  Cassidy, a founder of the Festival, provided guidance for that evolution. 

Cassidy’s book, “How the Irish Invented Slang,” grew out of an epiphany he had about the Irish language, as the result of encountering an Irish dictionary willed to him by a good friend.   As Danny discovered: “we had never stopped speaking Irish in my family.”  That insight would drive him to write “How the Irish Invented Slang,” which won the American Book Award in 2007.

We honor Danny Cassidy as the force behind the creation of the Irish-American Crossroads Festival, and whose spirit, wisdom and energy we continue to draw on.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

Reading this, you would think that Cassidy had a varied and fascinating life, a life full of achievement and success. People who have read this blog will realise that this is very far from the truth. Cassidy’s was a life of things started and left unfinished, promise unfulfilled, paths that went nowhere, a life of failure and underachievement.

Leaving aside the fact that he was raised in the green quiet of Long Island and not in Brooklyn, let’s start with the claim that he got a degree from Columbia and an MA from Cornell. Everywhere else, it says that he went to Cornell for his primary degree, which is true. He spent about three years at Cornell before he was kicked out without a degree in 1965.

It seems that he never went to Columbia at all. He was completely unqualified to be an academic and presumably lied his way into the academic jobs he had in the decade and a half before his death.

During his stay at Cornell, he had a few poems published in newspapers and won a prize for poetry in the university. The only poem I’ve succeeded in finding by Cassidy online is very underwhelming. He never really made it as a poet. He never published any anthologies or won any non-university prizes for poetry.

Some sources describe him as an ex-merchant mariner, though this isn’t mentioned in the biography above. Did he work as a sailor? Apparently, he did, though he can’t have spent long at it. He was kicked out of Cornell in 1965. Six years later, in 1971, he released an album and was at the height of his music phase. In between those two points, he apparently worked for the NY Times, sailed the seven seas and also had a two-year spell as an inmate in Phoenix House, a drug rehabilitation centre. (“Cassidy had been a copy writer and seaman but learned to play guitar while staying at Phoenix House”.) So, that’s six years, minus two in Phoenix House. So maybe he spent a year in the NY Times and three years at sea. Or two years and two years. Or three years as a journalist and one at sea. Somehow, these careers ended up with addiction and he then met Kenny Rankin and learned to play guitar in rehab.

His life as a musician doesn’t seem to have taken off either. He produced an album but this wasn’t a great seller. While the spiel above makes it sound like he enjoyed great success, there isn’t much evidence of this. As another source on line says: “In mid-June 1972, Cassidy appeared on The Tonight Show with Carlin, during a week in which Johnny Carson was on vacation, and Wilson was guest-hosting the show. Cassidy also opened for Carlin on some tour dates. Cassidy’s music career never took off, however, and he left show business to establish an Irish studies program at New College of California.” It is unclear how long he spent playing music until he gave up, or what exactly he did for the next twenty odd years until he founded the Irish studies programme at NCoC.

Various sources tell us that he worked as a scriptwriter in Hollywood, apparently writing for Danny Glover and Francis Ford Coppola. Yet a glance at the Cassidy Papers, now held in New York, shows that this script-writing began about 1987 and went on throughout the early 1990s. He may well have sold scripts, because scriptwriting seems to be like a kind of futures market. However, there is little enough evidence of achievement. Certainly, none of the scripts he wrote has ever been turned into a film.

The only real films he was associated with were two documentaries he made about Northern Ireland. Both of them appeared in the mid-1990s when he was ‘starting a new chapter of his life’ as an academic. Apparently one of these, Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs, was nominated for an Emmy, though there seems to be no independent confirmation of this. Neither of them is mentioned on IMDB.

Then in 1995, he started the Irish Studies program(me) at NCoC, and he continued with that until shortly before his death, when NCoC was closed and he was left unemployed and suffering from his last illness. Before NCoC closed, Cassidy published his mindless and trashy book, which having been rejected by a serious academic publisher, was essentially vanity-published for him by his mate Alexander Cockburn. It is still in print, still spreading its insidious fake-Irish poison.

In other words, the nonsense given on the website of the Irish Crossroads Festival bears very little resemblance to the truth. It seems that lies and half-truths and evasions followed Cassidy wherever he went, whatever he did.