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.
In his work of false etymology, How The Irish Invented Slang, Daniel Cassidy claimed that the expression ‘in Dutch’ (meaning ‘in trouble’) comes from the Irish duais. We do not know where ‘in dutch’ comes from, though it probably has some connection to Dutch or German (as in Pennsylvania Dutch, who are Deutsch rather than Dutch).
There are two duais words in Irish. One means a prize or award or reward, especially the gift given to a poet as a reward for a poem in praise of a chieftain. The other means trouble or effort and is related to dua, which means effort or hard work. (This word is spelled duabhais in Dinneen’s dictionary.) While duais for an award is very common, the word duais/duabhais meaning trouble is rare (though it does occur a couple of times in one of the most famous literary works in the Irish language, Cúirt an Mheán Oíche).
There is no evidence of a phrase like i nduais meaning in trouble, and if it did exist, it would be pronounced i nooish. As usual, Cassidy’s claim relies on the existence of Irish candidate phrases that do not exist.