Tag Archives: How The Irish Invented Slang

IrishCentral and Irish Slavery

Recently, I came across a fascinating document on line by an academic at the University of Limerick called Liam Hogan. In March 2016, in the run up to St Patrick’s Day, Hogan published an open letter to The Irish Examiner, Scientific American and IrishCentral, criticising the nonsense they have promoted which claims that huge numbers of Irish people were enslaved by the British and that the first slaves in the Caribbean and in the Americas were really Irish. Hogan is pointing out that the indentured servitude and penal servitude of the Irish in the 17th century, while it was harsh and brutal, wasn’t the same as chattel slavery and should not be compared directly to it. He also points out that there are outright fabrications, distortions and exaggerations in the accounts of Irish ‘slavery’.

You can find it here: https://medium.com/@Limerick1914/open-letter-to-irish-central-irish-examiner-and-scientific-american-about-their-irish-slaves-3f6cf23b8d7f#.mqeiu3req

Hogan states that it is important for people in the Internet age to check sources and be responsible in what they publish. He points out that white supremacists and opponents of the Black Lives Matter campaign are using this disinformation to make light of the legacy of slavery among African Americans.

The letter was signed by fifty academics, primarily history specialists. Two of the publications targeted by Hogan, the Irish Examiner and Scientific American, accepted the criticism and changed their output accordingly. What was the response of Niall O’Dowd and IrishCentral? Well, anyone who has read this blog will have a pretty good idea. The response was to ignore it. The original article is still on IrishCentral. You can find it here: http://www.irishcentral.com/roots/irish-the-forgotten-white-slaves-says-expert-john-martin-188645531

There are some interesting parallels here to my issues with IrishCentral. For a number of years, IrishCentral has published and republished an article by Brendan Patrick Keane about the theories of the late Daniel Cassidy, who claimed that much American and English slang comes from the Irish language. This article, like Cassidy’s book, is an incompetent collection of lying garbage. I have repeatedly criticised it here, along with IrishCentral’s editor, Niall O’Dowd, who has continued to promote this pompous crap. My criticisms have been ignored. This is only a small blog, so perhaps that is unsurprising. However, the fact that Niall O’Dowd is such a creep that he simply ignores fifty prominent academics who are accusing him of supporting false claims which have been used by white supremacists to further their ends is a surprise, even to me. (And I have actually read Niall O’Dowd’s autobiography. Jeez, what a tedious waste of a day that was! Still, thank God I only read it. I didn’t have to live it …)

There is another interesting parallel. While we don’t know who penned the IrishCentral article on Irish slaves (it’s just labelled IrishCentral Staff) it quotes from a prominent 9/11 Truther called John Martin, who is described as an ‘expert’. Brendan Patrick Keane, the author of the crap article on Cassidy, is also a 9/11 Truther.

An even stranger parallel is that an Irish numpty called Donnacha DeLong supported Cassidy and was criticised by me here. Guess who published an article critical of Hogan on his blog in May 2016? Yep, Donnacha DeLong! You can find it here: https://donnachadelong.info/2016/05/13/irish-slavery-fact-or-myth/

DeLong’s arguments are as imbecilic as the crap he advanced in defence of Cassidy. He describes this as a ‘stupid debate’ and accuses Hogan of making ‘a name for himself condemning those who talk about the Irish history of slavery’. DeLong condemns racism and the racists who misuse the Irish slave meme but then says ‘lumping everyone who’s looking into the treatment of the Irish in the 17th Century in with neonazis and racists is simply wrong.’ He doesn’t explain who exactly is doing this lumping. Hogan is certainly not accusing everyone who believes in the Irish slavery meme of being a racist and he’s not saying that the English treated the Irish well. He’s saying that the way people of African descent were treated was much worse. Which it was.

DeLong recommends that people should look at other sources, like Peter Linebaugh’s co-written The Many-Headed Hydra. Linebaugh, a very mediocre Marxist historian, was also a big fan of Cassidy’s nonsense. Like DeLong’s, Linebaugh’s response to Cassidy’s work shows that he simply can’t be arsed doing the research a real historian or journalist should do.

Anyway, a thousand thanks and a big round of applause to Liam Hogan and to everybody else in this story who has stood up for honest, evidence-based research and journalism. As for Donnacha DeLong, Niall O’Dowd, John Martin, Brendan Patrick Keane and all the rest, shame on the lot of you, you shower of dim-witted post-truth arseholes! People like you make me ashamed to be Irish!

The Big Bad Wolof

The other day, I came across a comment which Cassidy wrote on the Daltaí Boards in 2005. It shows plainly what a worthless, whining, self-righteous dimwit Daniel Cassidy was. Here’s Cassidy’s post, interspersed with my comments:

Terence Patrick Dolan, in his Dictionary of Hiberno English claims that smithereens and kabosh are not Irish.

He is an English professor at UCD.

Here, of course, we are being invited to sympathise with Cassidy and regard Dolan, the ‘establishment’ academic, as a fool (even though Cassidy quoted Dolan as an authority long after this, when the book was published). However, as soon as Cassidy posted this, another member of the site with the username Daisy challenged him. He was distorting the facts. Dolan mentions the proximate origin of smidiríní and the word smiodar but he (rightly) is unsure whether the word smiodar is originally a loanword from English. It certainly looks like it’s from smith and therefore of Germanic rather than Celtic origin. And kybosh, as we’ve discussed before, almost certainly isn’t of Irish origin.

When I suggested that glom, which is NY slang meaning to grab, might be derived from the Irish word gla/m I was laughed off the American Dialect Society website. They have a sarcastic motto…if any word is origin unknown they say it must be “Wolof or Irish.” It is meant to be a joke, since the assumtpion is that there are no Wolof or Irish words in English and American speech.

Again, this shows what a useless, lazy, incompetent little twit Cassidy was. Glom is ultimately from Scottish Gaelic glàm, via Lowland Scots glaum. All the dictionaries agree on this. It isn’t New York slang and it doesn’t derive from an undercurrent of Irish below the surface of American society. It is irrelevant to his thesis. As for the ‘sarcastic motto’ about Wolof and Irish, it’s quite possible that people used ‘Wolof and Irish’ when addressing Cassidy and his arrogant bullshit. But the real phrase, known to linguists the world over, is ‘to cry Wolof.’ This is a jocular reference to ‘crying wolf’, and it means that someone is using the evidence of obscure languages to prove a point so that few scholars will be able to follow them. In a sense, Cassidy was crying Wolof, because there are relatively few linguists out there with Irish. If Cassidy had been claiming a massive influence from Russian or German in English, he would have been outed as a liar immediately. He was able to hide behind the obscurity of a language which relatively few people speak (Cassidy certainly didn’t speak any Irish, as I’ll demonstrate below).

I suggested ward “heeler” might be from éilitheoir and slugger might be from “slacaire” (a batter, a mauler) and brag from bréag and these etymologies were utterly dismissed in a blizzard of hostility on the ADS-LIst.

But what d’ye expect from a pig but a…grunt?

What indeed would you expect from a pig but a grunt? This is so typical of the lying bullshit Cassidy tried to use to fool the public in his insane book. A word which means claimant or plaintiff and is pronounced aylihore is a better source for a politician’s helper than the English heel + er? To me heel + er makes perfect sense, because he walked at the politician’s heel or brought his supporters to heel. What about slugger? Why wouldn’t it be slacker if it came from slacaire? And what about other possible origins? What about schläger in German, which means a hitter or a bat, or a cognate in Swedish or Dutch or English dialect? As for bréag, it’s quite obvious why the people from the ADS-List thought Cassidy was a time-wasting crank. The words brag and bost (brag and boast) are found together as a phrase in English within a generation of the Black Death in the 14th century. If brag is so ancient in English, how can it have anything to do with Irish, or with American slang? And bréag doesn’t mean a boast, it means a lie, which isn’t the same thing.

To think that ten million Irish people came to North America over 500 years — at least 60% of whom were Irish speakers — and left no lexical imprint on the vernacular is a counter-intuitive impossibility. But in American and English scholarly discourse and among ALL DICTIONARY EDITORS in 2005 it is the Iron Law of English linguistic neo-orthodoxy.

Again, most American dictionary editors are “more English than the English…”

Again, in this case Cassidy is trying to lead people into a morass of ignorance (and it’s amazing how many people have been more than willing to follow him into it!) Yes, lots of Irish speakers went to the States down the years but the words ‘counter-intuitive impossibility’ are just more of Cassidy’s self-serving crap. Why is it so counter-intuitive that Irish would leave little trace? There are millions of people of Indian and Pakistani origin in England. How many Hindi or Urdu words are used in English slang (apart from words that date back to the Raj like blighty?) I can’t think of any. The point being, the borrowing of vocabulary depends on lots of different factors. Cassidy failed utterly to demonstrate the influence of Irish on English. I’ve just shown that with Cassidy’s examples above. Cassidy didn’t provide evidence, or research properly, or give references. He just stated that there was a phrase similar to something in English and in most cases, like baloney and béal ónna or crony and comhroghna, his ‘Irish’ candidates were simply nonsense he had just made up and didn’t exist in Irish at all! Then, to protect himself from criticism, he pretended that the academics were all involved in some pro-English conspiracy! In the years since I started CassidySlangScam, I have repeatedly challenged his supporters to provide the proof that he didn’t. Not one of them has ever done so and not one of them ever will, because the evidence simply doesn’t exist.

So at this point all agree that every ethnic group in America has contributed to the hybrid vernacular tongue that created our culture but…the Irish.

Gaeilge dofheicthe agus balbh, covered over with a shroud of “whiteness.”

What a total and utter cretin! The Irish have contributed to American English, with a handful of words and a few idioms which have been translated like ‘to hit the road.’ But have other groups like the Germans or the French or the Swedish really contributed a lot more than the Irish? No, they haven’t. German has contributed loads of words for philosophical or culinary concepts but ordinary ‘street’ words of German origin like keister and spiel are a mere handful. Even less in the case of Swedish. There are a few slang words from French like craps and dime but again, we’re talking about a handful. (Leaving aside the huge numbers of French words borrowed into English from the Middle Ages onwards, which are completely irrelevant to Cassidy’s argument.) Cassidy is just lying and distorting the truth when he writes this – as usual.

As for Gaeilge dofheicthe agus balbh, covered over with a shroud of “whiteness” … This just shows that Cassidy didn’t give a toss about our language. He thinks he’s saying ‘Invisible and dumb Irish language’ – whatever that means. (Unseen and unheard, perhaps?) But Gaeilge is a feminine noun, so it would have to be dhofheicthe and bhalbh, and then again, when you have two adjectives together after a noun you don’t put and in as you do in English, so it would be Gaeilge dhofheicthe bhalbh. Even if you correct the grammar like this, it still sounds like shite. A real Irish speaker might say something like “Rinneadh neamart sa Ghaeilge agus fágadh gan ghuth í.” (The Irish language was neglected and left without a voice.) Or dozens of other things but they would say it in a way that genuinely works in Irish. Cassidy had no understanding of this because he didn’t know any Irish.

As for the nonsense about ‘whiteness’, this is typical of Cassidy’s fake radicalism. Cassidy was a pompous nobody with no qualifications, a thief and a liar and a charlatan. He had absolutely no right to appoint himself a spokesperson for the Irish diaspora, and anyone who supports him is either a liar or a nut-job or a fool. Take your pick.

More on New College of California

I found this comment on New College of California in a very interesting blog. You can find it here:

https://newcentrist.wordpress.com/2008/04/03/another-progressive-institution-new-college-of-california-closes-its-doors/

In the case of New College, a clique of followers gathered around the school’s president, Peter Gabel. I witnessed this myself when Gabel brought Michael Lerner (among others) to discuss their vacuous “politics of meaning.” I can remember thinking at the time (and I was in my early 20s) that this supposed politics was devoid of any political content. It was feel-good 1960s catharsis.

But people fawned all over Mr. Gabel and presented him as some sort of intellectual, of all things. He brought in a coterie of incompetent buffoons heading sundry “interdisciplinary” programs while these teachers lacked the basic domain knowledge to even begin to make connections within a discipline, let alone across them. But Gabel was smart in knowing they would be loyal to him when things eventually went bad. Others have identified this as Founder’s Syndrome “in which charismatic leaders think they can run complex community service organizations by force of personality, rather than via plans, processes, and rules.”

This is really spot-on. This individual was obviously there at the time and saw Cassidy and his pathetic cronies in action. The comment about the coterie of incompetent buffoons might have been written specifically with Cassidy in mind. Cassidy was an ignoramus with absolutely no knowledge at all of the subjects he was supposed to be teaching. I wonder how many others there were like Cassidy and how many of them are still around in San Francisco?

 

It has been said …

We’ve all heard of Uncanny Valley, that virtual realm where the animation is nearly convincing but just slightly off and that slight unreality is enough to unsettle and perturb. However, there is another virtual realm located in a misty valley in cyberspace. Let’s call it the Kingdom of Quotatia. You can get to it by uttering the magic words It has been said.

You see, there is an awful lot of misinformation out there in cyberspace. And it’s not hard to spot bullshit. But with the help of the magic words, you don’t have to bother proving anything or disproving it. All that’s necessary is for someone, somewhere to have said it and bingo, you can quote it. It doesn’t matter if the person who said it was a complete nut-job and fantasist. It doesn’t matter if there is absolutely no evidence for it. If somebody has said it, it automatically becomes A THING. And when it’s A THING you can use it. However dumbass and absurd and ludicrous it is, you can claim it because someone else said it.

Jason Colavito has written a great deal about the way that errors are created and then spread by pseudoscience writers. They quote each other’s mistakes, building vast edifices of trash on misunderstandings and misquotations and downright lies. That’s why so many people spread nonsense like Cassidy’s claims or the rubbish about Dracula being Irish. With the magic power of the words It has been said, you can spread any kind of lying trash you want and you don’t have to worry about the fact that it’s bullshit. Because somebody else said it and you can put the blame – and the responsibility – on them.

Why you should boycott the San Francisco Irish-American Crossroads Festival

Yesterday, the Fourteenth Irish-American Crossroads Festival began in San Francisco. On June 30, 2015, I devoted a post to criticising this festival. As I pointed out then, there is an In Memoriam on the website of the festival which contains several lies about Daniel Cassidy, who was instrumental in founding the festival. It claims that he had degrees from Cornell and Columbia. In reality, he had no degrees from anywhere. It claims that he was a professor of Irish Studies and Media Studies at New College of California. In reality, without any qualifications or academic publications, Cassidy was not entitled to be a professor in any university, though he certainly had no moral qualms about collecting the salary or using his undeserved status. There is plenty of evidence that he pretended to have these qualifications, and in my book, that also makes Cassidy a criminal. It also contains flattering material about Cassidy’s absurd book, How The Irish Invented Slang, a disgusting assault on the Irish language and on Irish scholarship by a man who couldn’t even be bothered learning the basics of grammar and vocabulary. As I have said elsewhere recently, Cassidy’s ridiculous theories are the linguistic equivalent of blackface. They are a thin veneer of fake ethnicity hiding a deep disrespect for the genuine article. Nobody with any decency would support this offensive Anglocentric rubbish.

Since I posted this criticism, I am quite sure that someone associated with the Irish Crossroads Festival has seen it. They have not contacted me to defend their absurd decision or removed their lies from the website. Why not? Well, with so many friends and enablers of Daniel Cassidy  associated with the festival, it comes as no surprise that the dishonest version continues to have pride of place on their website and that they refuse to engage in a rational debate they will inevitably lose.

So, as those responsible for the festival refuse to do the right thing, I am appealing directly to the festival’s sponsors. You wouldn’t support a blackface minstrel show, so why would you support a festival which refuses to condemn cultural appropriation or call a liar a liar or distance itself from a criminal fantasist whose fake version of the Irish language continues to pollute the internet? Here is a list of sponsors taken from the festival’s website. I appeal to each and every one of them to put pressure on the organisers of the festival to do the right thing and remove these lies from the festival’s website.

Government of Ireland’s Emigrant Support Programme & Cultural Relations Programme

Peter & Joan Cuddihy

Monica McGuire

David J. Philpott & Karen Philpott

Ranger Pipelines

Nancy Quinn & Tom Driscoll

Timothy F. Sullivan

Wheelcare Express, Inc.

Zellerbach Family Foundation

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (I.B.E.W.) Union, Local #6

I.A.T.S.E. Local #16 Stagehands Union

Mahoney Vineyards

United Irish Cultural Center & Irish Cultural Centre of California

Boru Jewelry

Brody, Walsh & Brody Employee Benefit & Insurance Services, Inc.

Carpenter’s Union Local #22

Doherty Restoration

Gilligan Development

Harrington’s Bar & Grill

McCarthy Moving & Storage

Paragon Real Estate Group, Pete Brannigan

Powerscreen of California & Hawaii

Riordan & Horgan Law Firm

Tourism Ireland

Shaw Pipeline

Eek! Cassidy has risen from the grave …

I recently came across a disturbing little blog from California by an individual calling themselves Wandering Graveyard Rabbit. You can find it here: http://wanderinggyrabit.blogspot.co.uk/2008/11/abandoned-cemetery-purissima-in-half.html It ran from 2008 up until 2012. I was shocked to see that the individual who wrote the blog claims to be Daniel Cassidy:

Over the years I have lectured and assisted in family history under the guise of Danny Cassidy-Professor, film maker and award winning Author (How the Irish Invented Slang The Secret Language of the Crossroads).

In other words, Daniel Cassidy has returned from the grave and until five years ago, he was frequenting Californian graveyards as … appropriately enough … a dead rabbit.

However, the individual also mentions a daughter and a bath products business (I don’t think Cassidy had either). In that case, it could be that the person who wrote the blog means guidance rather than guise and that Daniel Cassidy did die in 2008 as we always thought.

However, I intend to eat a lot of garlic for the next couple of weeks, just in case …

Tuilleadh ar Mháirtín Ó Muilleoir/More on Máirtín Ó Muilleoir (Dátheangach/Bilingual)

Bhí toghchán againn sna Sé Chontae Déardaoin. Níor tháinig deireadh na dtorthaí amach go dtí maidin inniu agus bhí áthas an domhain orm nuair a chuala mé iad. Bhí Arlene Foster, ceannaire an DUP, i ndiaidh olc a chur ar gach aon duine sa phobal náisiúnach anseo lena dímheas ar an teanga agus leis an dóigh ar mhaslaigh sí daoine a bhí ag iarraidh ar an DUP Acht na Gaeilge a thabhairt isteach. Ní bheadh ann ach “géilleadh chun síthe” (appeasement), dar léi. Má thugann tú a bhfuil uaidh don chrogall, beidh sé ar ais arís le tuilleadh a iarraidh gan mhoill. Chuir na vótóirí pionós uirthi as a biogóideacht arú inné!

Ar ndóigh, nuair a vótáil an chuid ba mhó de na daoine san oileán seo ar son Chomhaontú Aoine an Chéasta beagnach scór bliain ó shin, bhí Acht na Gaeilge mar chuid den chomhaontú. Vótáil daoine ar son an Chomhaontaithe ar fad, ní ar son na ngiotaí sin de a chuirfeadh gáire ar bhéal Arlene Foster. Is cuma cá mhéad a bheadh air (agus creid uaim é, níor mhaith liom féin airgead á chur amú ar rudaí gan tábhacht – ba mhaith liom príomhchosaintí na teanga a choinneáil, rudaí ar nós cláir theilifíse agus raidió, áiseanna leabharlainne, an ceart freagraí a fháil i nGaeilge ar litreacha a chuirtear chuig eagraíochtaí an stáit i nGaeilge). Agus i gcead don Bhean ‘Uasal’ Foster, ba mhaith liom cearta a bheith ag lucht labhartha na Polainnise fosta, ach níl an Pholainnis i gcontúirt agus níl stair na mílte bliain ag an Pholainnis sa tír seo.

Toghadh Máirtín Ó Muilleoir i ndeisceart Bhéal Feirste agus tá mé thar a bheith sásta. Cuireann sin teachtaireacht láidir chuig Arlene Foster agus a cairde biogóideacha. Agus sin ráite, tá mise in éadan Arlene Foster mar gheall ar an easpa measa atá léirithe aici ar an Ghaeilge (agus ar chúiseanna eile fosta, ar ndóigh.) Mar atá ráite agam roimhe ar an bhlag seo, thug Máirtín Ó Muilleoir tacaíocht do Daniel Cassidy, duine a raibh dímheas de chineál eile aige ar an teanga agus ar an chultúr s’againne. Is ionann bréaga Cassidy agus ‘aghaidh dhubh’ i gcúrsaí siamsaíochta, leithghabháil chultúrtha gan náire. Ba chóir dó a rá go soiléir neamhbhalbh nach raibh an ceart ag Cassidy agus nach raibh ann ach caimiléir, in áit bheith ag sodar i ndiaidh uaisle Mheiriceá agus ag tacú le teoiricí bómánta Cassidy le Michael Patrick MacDonald, Peter Quinn agus an chuid eile de chlub móidíní Cassidy a shásamh.

Tá rogha shimplí romhat, a Mháirtín. Más breá leat an teanga, bí á cosaint. Mar a dúirt duine críonna éigin, gura thusa an t-athrú ba mhaith leat a fheiceáil ar an domhan! Mura dtig leat bheith gaibhte sin a dhéanamh, beidh a fhios againn nach bhfuil sa ghrá sin atá agat don teanga, dar leat féin, ach béalghrá le vótaí a fháil.

 

 

We had an election in the Six Counties on Thursday. The last of the results only came out this morning and I was delighted when I heard them. Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, had offended everyone in the nationalist community with her contempt for the Irish language and with the way she insulted people who were demanding that an Irish Language Act be brought in. It would only be appeasement, she said. If you give a crocodile what it wants, it will be back looking for more in no time. The voters punished her for her bigotry the day before yesterday!

Of course, when most of the population of this island voted for the Good Friday Agreement nearly twenty years ago, the Irish Language Act was part of the agreement. People voted for the whole Agreement, not for those bits of it which would put a smile on Arlene Foster’s face. It doesn’t matter how much it would cost (and believe me, I don’t want money to be wasted on trivial things – I want the principal defences of the language to be maintained, things like television and radio programmes, library resources, the Irish medium schools etc.) And with respect to Mrs Foster, I want Polish speakers to have their rights too, but Polish is not endangered yet and Polish does not have thousands of years of history in this country.

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir was elected in South Belfast and I am very pleased about that. It sends a strong message to Arlene Foster and her bigoted friends. Having said that, I am against Arlene Foster because of her lack of respect for our language (and for other reasons, of course). As I have said before on this blog, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir supported Daniel Cassidy, a man who showed another kind of disrespect for our language and our culture. Cassidy’s lies are the equivalent of ‘blackface’ in the world of entertainment, a shameless piece of cultural appropriation. Ó Muilleoir should say clearly and unambiguously that Cassidy was wrong and that he was nothing but a charlatan, instead of chasing after a bunch of American big wigs and supporting Cassidy’s moronic theories in order to suck up to Michael Patrick MacDonald, Peter Quinn and the rest of Cassidy’s fan club.

You have a simple choice, Máirtín. If you love the language, defend it! As some wise person said, be the change you want to see in the world! If you can’t be arsed to do that, we will know that that love you claim to have for the language is nothing but lip service to garner votes.