Tag Archives: 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.

Why Hugh Curran Is A Lying Scumbag

Recently, I let fly at a dimwit called Hugh Curran who ‘teaches’ at the University of Maine. I have just found another post by him on IrishCentral, below another of Brendan Patrick Keane’s appalling pieces on Irish. This is every bit as ignorant, badly-written and moronic as the post he left under Keane’s other article on Cassidy’s work. I won’t quote it all, but here is some of it, in italics, with my comments.

I teach a course on Irish (Gaeilge) and one of the exercises given to students is to identify words that they use in everyday speech that are of Irish or Scots Gaelic origin. For instance, they sometimes eat a big Mac (mac=son) at MacDonalds (MacDomnall) and use the Mac computer (MacIntosh=MacTaoiseach=leader) and drive to Bangor (Benn chur=circular hill) by way of Kelly (Ceallach) and Hogan (h Og an) Roads to a Mall to purchase at a sales Galore(go leor=much or big) at Radio Shack (teach=pronounced shack) that is going out of business. A few students live in Derry (Doire=oak) in NH. There are multiple other place names in the U.S. and Canada that have Gaelic or Celtic names that would need much more space than this response even to begin to examine. But it helps students to point out how many names in common English usage have Gaelic roots such as Kevin (Caomhain) Aodan-Aedhan or Aodhan), Kenny & Kenneth (Ceannaidh), Eriin (eirinn), Murphy (Murchu), Duffy (Dubthaigh). Campbell (cam beall=twisted mouth) & Cameron (cam shrone=twisted nose).

Once again, this scumbag is boasting of his abilities in the Irish language. Well, if you teach it, you must be able to speak it, right? Wrong, actually. On his own admission, he isn’t fluent in the language. Though he only admitted that when criticised by me on this blog. I also found this, which certainly suggests a competence in the language which he doesn’t have: Poet and free-lance writer. Translator of old Irish poetry… Teacher of Gaelic and cultural studies.

Of course, all the stuff about names and placenames is completely irrelevant. Did anyone ever suggest that Kevin doesn’t come from Irish, or that Derry in Maine wasn’t named after Derry here? Of course not! What this does show, very clearly, is that Curran doesn’t know anything about the Gaelic languages. Mac Taoiseach? Really? Don’t you mean Mac an Taoisigh? Is beall the Scottish Gaelic for mouth? I thought that was beul (and béal in Irish). And cam shrone is Scottish Gaelic for crooked nose? Not camshròn? And Doire doesn’t mean an oak, it means an oak wood. An oak tree is dair or crann darach. His analysis of the origin of Bangor is shite as well, but I’ll let anyone who’s interested look it up for themselves. Apparently Curran also thinks shack comes from teach. Any evidence? They don’t sound at all similar. Chah, shack. I’m not getting it. Is Che as in Guevara Lynch similar to Shek as in Chiang-Kai? Not a lot … And the opinion of experts like this (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=shack) is against shack coming from Irish, but then, Curran is far too big-headed to believe that he knows less than experts who spend their lives researching these things. Here’s some more childish nonsense from this arrogant self-worshipping twit.

Other common words such as: muck & mucky=pig as well as such words as bog=soft, possibly bogy in golf), smashing (is maith sin) are so entrenched in the English language that their sources are forgotten. It is one of the curious features of the English language is how little credence is given to native British=Welsh and Irish & Scots language) that English etymologists have gone to great lengths to derive words from classic sources while neglecting the language that has been alive for a thousand years before the Anglo-Saxon invasion in the 5th century. What is often neglected among etymologists or those who state, rather glibly, that there are only a handful of words of Gaelic origin in the English language is that everyday English speech uses names and place-names rooted in Scots & Irish history.

Which words are these that are ignored by the world of scholarship? Care to give us an example instead of an assertion? If muck = pig is one of them, the similarity between Irish muc (pig) and English muck (dirt) is purely coincidental. Muck is found in Middle Englsh and is almost certainly a borrowing from a Norse word meaning ‘dung’. (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=muck) Bog does come from Irish or Gaelic (from bogach, not directly from bog) and ALL the dictionaries agree that this is the case. (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=bog) The meaning of bogey in golf isn’t a match. So how is any of this relevant? Smashing probably doesn’t come from is maith sin, and there are many expressions in English like a hit, a smash hit, a belter, a knockout, or the English Midlands slang word bostin’ (=busting) which use the same metaphor. Anyway, sorry about this, but here’s more of Curran’s childish bullshit.

English etymologists often have little understanding of lenition (ie nasalization) and eclipsing of initial letters which changes names and words (eg Seamus=shamus=a Hamish when addressing someone with that name) Although the book “How the Irish Invented Slang” is sometimes maligned because a few of the several hundred words are of questionable Gaelic origin, yet the vast majority are correct and the book makes for fascinating reading.

Of course, it makes no difference that people don’t understand lenition, because when you ask an Irish speaker the word for the moon, they will say gealach, not ghealach or ngealach. It’s the basic, unmutated form of a word that tends to pass between languages. (Hamish and Iain in Scotland are rare exceptions where the English version chose the vocative case rather than the nominative.) Cassidy’s daft claims which rely on these mutations to ‘sound right’ like bhuail for whale or n-each for nag are just nonsense. And as for the comment that ‘a few’ are ‘questionable but ‘the vast majority are correct,’ that was around 10 September 2016. By the time Curran posted his other comment on 7 December 2016, he was claiming that Cassidy’s work was 80% plausible and these were apparently right ‘more often than not’, which means that it was 40-50% correct overall (something over half of 80%, in other words). So, which is it? The vast majority correct with a few errors, or half wrong? (The truth, of course, is almost all wrong and the rest plagiarised!) This cretin Curran is obviously just plucking random crap out of his arse and throwing it at the public like a bored chimpanzee in a zoo. Truly, a worthy follower of the Great Fraud Cassidy!

Fortunately, somebody with more sense than Curran then challenged him, but unfortunately this comment has since been deleted, so we don’t know its content. However, we can guess a little from Curran’s reply. For example, this person was obviously right about nasalization and lenition, from Curran’s reply below.

If lenition and nasalization are “totally separate processes” why do earlier (;ie 1930s) books refer to nasalization rather than “lenition”?

This is another piece of evidence that Curran has his head firmly shoved up his arse and knows nothing about linguistics or the Gaelic languages. Nasalization was formerly an inaccurate name used for eclipsis, not lenition. They are two completely different things!(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_initial_mutations)

You also write “a lot of these etymologies are totally speculative”. This is absurd. There are scholars who have devoted their lives to etymological studies, even if their etymologies are calculated guesswork. Read over Partridge’s “Origins”. It might help you develop more understanding of this complex topic that you write off.

Wow, talk about being a pompous shithead! You mean the kind of deep understanding you have, Curran? How exactly does Partridge’s dictionary of etymology confirm any of Cassidy’s ludicrous claims? Got any examples? Any evidence? This is simply a diversionary tactic used by many followers of pseudo-scholarship. When questioned, they mention an irrelevant source which their opponent probably won’t have access to in order to intimidate the opposition and pretend to be experts.

The fact is, there are fantasists and con-men and liars like Daniel Cassidy who make up nonsense and pass it off as fact, and there are real scholars (Partridge included) who follow sound methodology and get it right. And you in your boundless arrogance, Curran, have decided to ignore all the evidence and support an obvious liar instead of the international community of real scholars. God help us, and more importantly, God help any poor student at the University of Maine who gets Hugh Curran as a Tutor-Instructor in Irish Gaelic in the Critical Languages Program.

How the fuck can anyone teach language skills, and critical skills, and thinking skills, if they don’t have any?

The English For Comhar

I recently criticised the claim made by Daniel Cassidy and perpetuated by some of his apprentices in idiocy that the word comhar is of central importance in Irish culture and language and that it is ‘a long-standing ideal of cooperative society’.

By a strange coincidence, someone asked me the other day to find out where bee comes from, as in a sewing or spelling bee. It turns out that bee is thought to be a corruption of been or bean, an English dialect word meaning a favour or a gathering of people to help out a neighbour. It suddenly struck me – BEAN OR BEEN IS THE ENGLISH FOR COMHAR!

In other words, it must be a central concept of Anglophone culture, a long-standing ideal of a cooperative society! I’m so excited at having made this major anthropological discovery just by clicking a mouse a couple of times.

I am beginning to see the appeal of Cassidy’s methods. It’s so much easier to make major discoveries when you don’t have to do any work or present any evidence! Brilliant! Remember, you heard it here first …

 

(Just in case anyone has stopped by here without understanding the context of the blog, let me make it quite clear that I am being sarcastic here!)

 

Comhar

In a tweet in December 2014, Michael Patrick MacDonald was once again demonstrating his naivety by commenting in relation to the word comhar, which apparently he learned from Cassidy. In reply to someone who gave the real meanings of the Irish word, he said: “Besides whatever dictionary meaning. It’s a long standing ideal of cooperative society.”

In another article on the band the Dropkick Murphys, dated 2012, he also quotes his friend Cassidy about this word:

“Comhar (pron., co’r), n., co-operation; alliance, reciprocity, mutuality; companionship, a cooperative society; cómhar na gcómharsan (pron. co’r na go’ r-arsan), system of reciprocal labor among neighbors, companions, friends, etc.; cómhar na saoithe (pron.co’r na seeh’e), the companionship and society of artists and scholars.”

In fact, Cassidy (and MacDonald) grossly overstated the importance of this word and its centrality to Irish culture. It is mostly used in phrases like ‘ag obair i gcomhar lena chéile’ (working in partnership with each other) or “dhíol mé an comhar leis” (I paid him back for the favour). While it is sometimes used on its own (it is famously the name of an Irish-language magazine) these uses are quite rare. If it really had such a central importance in Irish culture, why has no Irish anthropologist or sociologist (to my knowledge) ever written an essay or an article on it? Where did Cassidy get the idea that it was so important?

The answer is, of course, that Cassidy looked in the dictionaries and found entries describing comhar as mutual work, partnership and cooperation, and the rest came from his imagination. You see, Cassidy claimed to be a socialist (not that his behaviour gave any hint of genuine socialist principles), and so he romanticised Irish by pretending that a kind of peasant communism was built into the very fabric of the language. Of course, there was some degree of collectivism and mutual self-help in Ireland, just as there was in every peasant society but the idea that Irish people lived by the (proto-communist) principle of comhar just as Sicilians followed the code of omertá is just nonsense.

The tweet from Michael Patrick MacDonald is really quite funny. An American who doesn’t speak any Irish is pontificating about the importance in Irish culture of the word comhar, and saying to someone else that it’s quite OK to ignore the dictionary definitions produced by real Irish scholars (Besides whatever dictionary meaning. It’s a long standing ideal of cooperative society). The person who told him about its importance was another American, Daniel Cassidy, who didn’t speak any Irish or know anything at all about the language either! What a joke!

The claim is a pure fake, like everything else derived from the late Daniel Patrick Cassidy and spread like a plague of ignorance by his cronies.

Masher

This is another stupid and unfounded claim made by Cassidy in How The Irish Invented Slang. Masher is a slang term for a young man of fashion who frequented 19th century theatres because of his devotion to the leading ladies.

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). 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 Cassidy probably didn’t know what an adjective or a verb are, and he certainly had very little in the way of common sense or academic ability.

In short, this is yet another completely ridiculous claim, unsupported by any evidence at all.

A Renegade History of the United States

I recently came across another good example of a person who has been hornswoggled and thoroughly conned by the Great Fraud Daniel Cassidy. It is in a book called A Renegade History of the United States by Thaddeus Russell, a book which has enjoyed some popularity since its publication in 2011 because it takes a radical new slant on American history. Apparently, the orthodox Pilgrim Father culture of WASP America had little importance in the development of American culture and everything original and creative in America came from the immigrant non-WASP proletariat, along with the slaves and the Indians.

His work has been controversial and has been criticised by many for claiming that many freed slaves actually missed the good old days of slavery. Yes, seriously … Whether he is right about any of this is not a question I can discuss here because I haven’t read the book and I’m not likely to either. From Googlebooks I know that pages 148-9 of this book contain an awful lot of garbage copied out of Cassidy’s book:

No matter who you are, you may very well owe much of your vocabulary to the filthy, primitive, uncivilised Irish Americans of the 19th century. If you ever use or enjoy the terms “babe”, “ballyhoo”, “bee’s knees”, “bicker”, “biddy”, “big shot”, “billy club”, “blowhard”, “boondoggle”, “booze”, “boss” etc. etc.

Russell quotes more than a hundred of the words from Cassidy’s book. In a footnote, he says that “A few critics have contested some of the broader claims made by Daniel Cassidy in his book How The Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads (Petrolia, CA: Counterpunch, 2007), from which this list was taken, but the sheer volume of the evidence strongly suggests that, at the very least, working-class Irish Americans greatly shaped American vernacular language.’

In other words, Russell thinks that the sheer volume of Cassidy’s claims means that some of them must be correct. This is complete nonsense, of course, which Russell could easily have discovered if he had bothered his arse looking up the origin of words like stutter, giggle or throng on Google. He could have done so easily and found out that stutter is a very old term in English cognate with German stossen, or that giggle is related to German gickeln or that throng is a Germanic term and that Irish drong is a borrowing from Germanic.  I reckon that a real historian with a spare hour and access to the internet could easily disprove the majority of the claims on this list.

So why did Russell go ahead and copy out all of this Cassidese bullshit in 2011, years after scholars had demonstrated that Cassidy was a fraud?

Who knows? Stupidity? Incompetence? Or just an obsession with narrative, with the importance of story over history and to hell with the facts if they get in the way?

Did The English Ban Irish?

In my last blog post, I commented on a terrible St Paddy’s Day article by Mark Bergin called May The Road Rise To Meet You. This article, in addition to supporting Cassidy’s nonsense, is full of mistakes. It should be obvious what you are in for as soon as you read this: The Celtic thought process is not like that of the left-brain-dominant world. Irish thought resembles the Celtic knot, twisting and turning with a glorious lilt. And nowhere is that lilt more obvious than in the language. Personally, I despise this kind of patronising mysticism. The Irish are every bit as capable of rational, linear, cause-and-effect thinking as any other people on earth. The idea that the Irish are somehow childlike and mystical and different from the rest of the human race is a discourse derived from British Imperialism, however much of a positive and pro-Irish spin you try to put on it.

However, there is one important mistake in Bergin’s article which I would like to correct, because although (to the best of my knowledge) Cassidy never claimed this, it has been repeated by several of Cassidy’s supporters, the claim that the English banned the Irish language under the Penal Laws. Here’s what Bergin has to say:

But starting in the 17th century, our language was made illegal, banned. Speaking Irish could get you jail time and a good beating.

Bergin is not alone in making this claim. For example, on Amazon, we find this moron holding forth in support of Cassidy’s mindless drivel:

They were also severely penalized for speaking Irish (it was legally banned in Ireland by the British). Not conditions conducive for generating literary traces that professional linguists can track from the comfort of their stuffed chairs.

I am always interested in the way that false ideas are spread and turned into certainties. The fact is, of course, that the English administration in Ireland was no friend to the Irish language. Irish was progressively squeezed out of any realm of life which would have given it power or influence. I am not defending the English here. But the Penal Laws were about disadvantaging Roman Catholics (and to a lesser extent, non-Anglican Protestants), not about attacking Irish speakers or Irish culture. The fact is that there was never any law against speaking Irish. This is a complete myth.

The Church of Ireland (the Anglican church of the British Ascendancy in Ireland) continued to produce material like the Bible (1686) and The Book of Common Prayer in Irish-language editions throughout the Penal Era. In the early 19th century, The War Office even published demobilisation instructions in Irish for Irish-speaking soldiers who didn’t speak English!

So, if this is a complete myth, where does it come from? It seems to me that there are two possible reasons (apart from the sloppiness and incompetence of lazy internet users and crap journalists, that is!) One is that the Irish language was banned inside the English enclave around Dublin called the Pale by the Statutes of Kilkenny in 1367. This was probably not enforced and being long before the Reformation it had nothing whatever to do with the Penal Laws. The other is that in the 18th century, the Irish language was banned in the legal system (possibly misinterpreted by idiots as ‘legally banned’). This meant that whatever the language of a community, the English language was the working language of the courts. However, witnesses continued to give evidence in Irish if they didn’t speak English, and lawyers or clergymen interpreted for them. There was no blanket ban on speaking Irish in courts and there is a stack of well-documented evidence to prove it.

The Famine was a crime against humanity. What the English actually did in Ireland was bad enough. We don’t need to make up false and ridiculous claims that people were randomly beaten up and thrown into jail for speaking the only language they were able to speak.