Tag Archives: Irish etymology of slang

Minding your As and Bs

Over the last few weeks, I have been working on a Cassidese Glossary, taking the words in the dictionary section of Cassidy’s book one by one, with less of the invective I have heaped on Cassidy and his cronies in the past.

I have now completed the As and Bs and I will continue to work on this over the next year or two until I have finished the alphabet. However, there are already lessons to be learned from the words and phrases beginning with A and B, so I will return to a little of the invective for one post and analyse what we know from these two sections.

Firstly, the A and B sections of Cassidy’s dictionary contain 75 entries. A handful of these are genuine Irish but before any of Cassidy’s supporters gets too excited, there was never any doubt that these words and phrases were Irish. There are eight of these: acushla, agrah, alanna, An Gorta Mór (which is purely Irish and was never borrowed into English), aroon, Arrah na Pogue (a play title), astore, avourneen. There are also words that have been claimed for Irish in the past, such as ballyhoo and bard and buddy, though it is highly unlikely that these really do come from Irish. 

There is a small number of phrases and words that are genuine Irish but there is no evidence that they are the origin of the terms claimed by Cassidy. In many cases, Cassidy altered the meaning and provided faked definitions for these words. For example, ainfheoil doesn’t mean a sexually transmitted disease. Aonóg doesn’t mean rough-house play. Ball doesn’t mean a dance or party in Irish. Beachtaí does not ‘figuratively’ mean a judge. Báinín does not mean ‘any type of overcoat’.

A great many of the words mentioned have such ancient roots in English that there is no chance they could ever derive from the Irish roots that Cassidy claims for them. For example, bicker, blow and booze have well-attested histories that leave no room for a supposed Irish origin.

Another major category is the set of made-up phrases or compound words, phrases that do not (and in most cases could not) exist in the Irish language. For example, báille vicus, béal ónna, baothán nathánach, b’aifirt, béas núíosach, béalú h-ard, búbaí háit, bogadh luath, buan-díchiall, boc aniar, bocaí rua, bodaire an aicme áin, beart t-aon, buanchumadh, beathuis. These often violate basic rules of grammar and sound ridiculously clunky and contrived to anyone who has actually learned some Irish – something that Cassidy couldn’t be bothered to do.

In short, Cassidy’s work is simply fraudulent, incompetent nonsense. Out of 75 entries under A and B, the only slightly possible claim is that boc mór is the origin of big bug. However, even with this claim, there are problems. For one thing, big bug makes perfect sense in English. Also, big bug is not found in Ireland and you would expect the phrase big buck to be found at least as commonly as big bug if boc mór were the origin. In other words, it is a possible influence but no more than that.

If the pattern found with the As and Bs is repeated with the rest of the letters, it is unlikely that there will even be one new credible word of Irish origin out of the hundreds given by Cassidy in his book. In other words, if there is anything of value in Cassidy’s book (if), it will pale into insignificance in comparison with the fakery and nonsense that this worthless lying creep and his dim-witted cronies have spread among the Irish-American community.


When is a troll not a troll?

In 2013, I decided to start this blog as a response to Daniel Cassidy’s book How The Irish Invented Slang. My reasons for hating this book were numerous: I am a lover of the Irish language, and Cassidy’s idiotic book is stuffed full of fake Irish which has nothing to do with the genuine article; Cassidy was good at sliming and sucking up to well-connected people and he used these carefully-cultivated links to give an air of scholarship to a work that is no more scholarly than Erich von Daniken; Cassidy cultivated an image of radicalism, so that any attempt to tell the truth about Cassidy’s hoax has been attacked as an attempt to protect mysterious right-wing and Anglophile cliques in the world of linguistics. During my research on Cassidy, I also found out (from his sister) that he failed his degree at Cornell and that the only explanation for his ‘professorship’ at New College of California is straightforward and simple fraud.

Over the last five years of blogging, I have been criticised many times. On a number of occasions, I have been accused of being a troll. The last time I was accused of trolling was a couple of months ago, by Cassidy’s brother Michael.

So, I have been thinking recently about what a troll is and what a troll is not and I thought I would share these thoughts with my readers here. Firstly, let’s take a common definition of the term, such as the definition from Wikipedia:

In Internet slang, a troll is a person who starts quarrels or upsets people on the Internet to distract and sow discord by posting inflammatory and digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses and normalizing tangential discussion, whether for the troll’s amusement or a specific gain.

The first point that leaps out here is the bit about ‘in an online community’. CassidySlangScam is a blog established by me to tell the truth about Daniel Cassidy’s book, and also to provide information about genuine and not so genuine claims about Irish etymology made by people other than Cassidy. On those occasions where I have left messages on more public forums, I have never deliberately sought to cause offence. My primary aim here is to provide information, to counter the lies and the nonsense spread by Cassidy and his crony friends.

The problem seems to be that some people regard not agreeing with them as trolling. It isn’t. I am not primarily trying to upset people, though I really don’t care if I do upset people who deserve it. The fact is – and it is a fact – that Cassidy and his odious clique of hangers-on began this. They spread fake information, slandered genuine scholars, attacked anyone who disagreed with what was an obvious and demonstrable piece of dishonesty. There is a long list of ugly, misshapen and entirely bogus phrases in Cassidy’s book. In this blog, I have consistently challenged Cassidy’s defenders to provide genuine, objectively-verifiable evidence of any of his claims. None of them has ever done so. These people think they are special, better than the rest of us, just as Cassidy did. They think they have a right to have their ideas taken seriously, even when those ideas are pure invention and they are not prepared to defend them with proof.

They also like to pretend that Cassidy was an honest and well-intentioned man who just got it a bit wrong. This also flies in the face of all the evidence. This blog gives dozens of examples of this man’s dishonesty, pomposity, arrogance and bad faith. This man deserved no respect. He was not even deserving of my pity.

If anyone thinks I should be kinder about Cassidy (and presumably those who call me a troll are claiming that my attacks on Cassidy are unjustified), then they need to offer some proof that he wasn’t a liar. Nobody has ever provided any proof that Cassidy was anything other than a narcissist and a fake. Until they do, I’ll keep on telling the truth and saying that Cassidy and anyone who defends his hoax is a shameless liar.

After all, if they could disprove this blog and give evidence that Cassidy was right, wouldn’t that strengthen the case that I’m a troll? But if they think everyone should accept their beliefs without evidence, and that they have a right to come here and insult me and other critics of Cassidy without any attempt to argue rationally, isn’t that proof that they are the trolls?