Tag Archives: Irish

Cassidese Glossary – Keister

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.

This seems to be a common expression in America but it is completely unknown in Ireland. It is used to mean ‘bottom’ and seems to be an informal and inoffensive word often used with children. According to Daniel Cassidy in his work of pseudo-etymology, How The Irish Invented Slang, this word derives from the Irish word ciste meaning ‘chest, coffer, treasure, fund’. This is nonsense. The Irish word is derived from Latin, either directly or via an Old English borrowing.

The original Latin word is cista, which means a chest or box. This Latin word was also borrowed into German as Kiste, which is pronounced quite like keister. The German expression Kiste has several meanings. One is trunk or case and the other is what you use to sit on a trunk or case, your backside. This is the origin of the word keister in American speech. As I have already said, the term keister is completely unknown in Irish English, and the word ciste does not have the meaning of backside, so Cassidy’s claim is obviously incorrect.

Cassidese Glossary – Jerk

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.

Jerk, a slang term for “tedious and ineffectual person,” first appears in American carnival slang in 1935. Its origin is uncertain, but it possibly derives from jerkwater “petty, inferior, insignificant”. This term goes back to the days of steam trains, when the water for the steam engine needed to be replenished regularly. In small towns, they needed to form a human chain and “jerk” the water (i.e. lift it on a rope) to fill the engine. Thus a small, hick town was known as a jerkwater town. (Some experts say that jerking water refers to a system whereby water was lifted while the train was in motion, but this doesn’t change the basic argument, that jerkwater is a railroad term for an insignificant town). This may have also been influenced by the phrase jerk off, referring (for obvious reasons) to masturbation.

These are the facts. Daniel Cassidy, in his book How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that this word derives from déirceach. Déirc is the Irish for alms and a déirceach can be either a beggar or a person who gives out alms, and Cassidy makes much of the fact that both beggars and charity-givers (many of whom offered starving people food in return for a nominal religious conversion in Ireland) were both regarded as jerks by the Irish. If this were the genuine etymology, this speculation might be of interest, but déirceach is not a common word and especially not in the sense of beggar, which is usually bacach in spoken Irish. There is absolutely no reason to suppose that déirceach is the origin of the American English jerk or has any connection with it.

 

Cassidese Glossary – Jazzy

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.

Cassidy claims that while jazz derives from teas, jazzy derives from the adjectival version teasaí. It seems obvious to me (and to any other sensible human being) that jazzy is simply an English adjectival form derived from jazz, just as a day of rain is a rainy day or a stew with lots of meat is described as meaty. Cassidy frequently did things like this. For example, look at his claims in relation to the supposed link between croak and Irish croch.

Cassidese Glossary – Jag (2)

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.

According to the late Daniel Cassidy, jag in the sense of being drunk (to have or get a jag on) is not related to the word jag meaning a load. According to him, it comes from the Irish word deoch, meaning drink (see here for pronunciation: https://www.focloir.ie/en/dictionary/ei/beverage#beverage__2)

This is very implausible. The most commonly accepted theory is that jag is the same word as jag meaning a load – to have a load on is certainly a reasonable metaphor for drunkenness. As you can see in the link above, deoch does not sound like jag.

Cassidese Glossary – Gage

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 late Daniel Cassidy, in his work of false etymologies, How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that gauge or gage, a slang term for cannabis, derives from the Irish gaid.

Gaid is the plural of gad, which means a withe (a flexible stick) or else rope, usually rope in the form of a halter or noose (as in damhsa an ghaid, the gallows dance, dance on the end of a rope). Of course, rope is sometimes used as slang for cannabis, but not because it looks like rope. Ropes were made of hemp, which is cannabis. The word canvas also comes from cannabis. The chances of gaid being the origin of gage/gauge are next to zero, as withes and leaves of grass are very different things. Modern Irish speakers tend to call cannabis raithneach (fern) or féar (grass).

The mainstream dictionaries give various possible sources. One is a 17th. century term for a pipe, which seems quite unlikely to me. Another often-quoted idea is that this is a corruption of ganja, a West Indian term for dope derived from one of the Indian languages like Hindi or Gujarati. However, it seems that gage was also used as a term for a small quantity of something (possibly related to the word gauge meaning measure) and the term ‘a gage of tobacco’ is recorded from 1837. This last origin seems to be the strongest candidate.

Cassidese Glossary – Dingbat

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.

There is no real evidence for the origin of this word. It crops up first in America in the 1830s, with a number of different meanings. You can find an account of these facts here, on Douglas Harper’s excellent blog: https://www.etymonline.com/word/dingbat

Daniel Cassidy, in his work of false etymology, How The Irish Invented Slang, claims that it derives from the Irish duine bocht, a poor person. A hobo or tramp is one of the meanings of dingbat, but doesn’t seem to be the first or the main meaning. The pronunciation is reasonably close but not perfect. Listen to the sound files for duine and bocht here.

Duine: https://www.focloir.ie/en/dictionary/ei/bod#bod__2

Bocht: https://www.focloir.ie/en/dictionary/ei/abject#abject__2

In other words, this is just possible but there is no evidence at all in its favour.

Incidentally, in earlier versions of his theories, Cassidy claimed that dingbat came from duine bod, which he thought meant a tramp. It fact, if it existed, it would mean something like ‘person of penises’.

Cassidese Glossary – Cold Turkey

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 term ‘cold turkey’ makes its appearance quite late on, in the early 50s. There are various theories about its origin. The most convincing is quite simply that it is descriptive of the cold clammy flesh and goosebumps associated with withdrawal.

Cassidy, of course, had a different view. According to him, this is the Irish word coillteoireacht, which he claims means ‘cutting off, expurgation, castration’. Back in the real world, coillteoireacht is an abstract noun from coillteoir, which has two separate meanings and two separate etymologies. One is from the noun coill, meaning a wood. In this case, coillteoir means a woodcutter or forester. The other is from the verb coill, meaning to geld or to spoil. So coillteoir means someone who castrates or despoils. In other words, coillteoireacht can mean ‘the actions or behaviour of one who is engaged in forestry work’ or ‘the actions or behaviour of one who castrates or despoils.’ Neither of these is any way a good match in terms of meaning or of pronunciation.

There are Irish terms for the bad effects of coming off the drug you’re addicted to, notably alcohol. For example, haras (from English horrors) or rámhaille (raving). There is no reason to suppose that anyone would use a word like coillteoireacht to describe the effect of coming off a drug.

Cassidese Glossary – The Bee’s Knees

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.

I had assumed that ‘the business’ for something great or outstanding was the original and that ‘the bee’s knees’ was a jocular version of this. Apparently, this is not the case. It seems that the bee’s knees came first and that this was then reinterpreted as ‘the business’. You live and learn. For example, the OED website has this:

(https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/explore/what-is-the-origin-of-the-phrase-the-bee-s-knees/)

The phrase was first recorded in the late 18th century, when it was used to mean ‘something very small and insignificant’. Its current meaning dates from the 1920s, at which time a whole collection of American slang expressions were coined with the meaning ‘an outstanding person or thing’. Examples included the flea’s eyebrows, the canary’s tusks, and one that still survives – the cat’s whiskers. The switch in meaning for the bee’s knees  probably emerged because it was so similar in structure and pattern to these other phrases.

Cassidy’s claim is that this comes from the ‘Irish’ phrase an béas nuíosach, which he claims means:

Béas núíosach (pron. bæs núísǝċ, bæs núísǝh), fresh new style, novel manner; fig. the new thing.

Of course, this is not a real Irish phrase and invented phrases do not have figurative meanings. Try putting it in inverted commas and searching for it in any Irish dictionary, corpus, database, or indeed on Google itself. The only references you will find to it are in connection with Cassidy and his book. Note also the peculiar ‘system’ of transcription invented by Cassidy, using bits of outmoded Irish orthography (ċ), current Irish orthography (í), and the IPA (æ, ǝ).

Incidentally, go to the online Irish dictionary here to find out how you say ‘the bee’s knees’ in REAL Irish: https://www.focloir.ie/en/dictionary/ei/the+bee’s+knees

 

 

Cassidese Glossary – (Mark) Anthony

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.

Cassidy claims, without providing any evidence, that the gambling term Mark Anthony, apparently used as a version of the term mark meaning a target or a victim of professional gamblers, comes from the Irish marc andána, ‘a reckless mark’. There is no evidence of marc in Irish being used to mean a victim or target rather than a mark. The term andána does exist but is fairly obscure and is pronounced andahna or andawna. There is no evidence of the two words occurring together anywhere. They are not a recognised phrase and Cassidy had no authority for his claim that they constitute a meaningful phrase in Irish.

Of course, the most likely explanation for this English slang term is that it is English, that people began with the term mark and then added Anthony to it because the name Mark Anthony is well known. It should also be pointed out that it may have been influenced by a work of 19th century Irish fiction, The Fortunes of Hector O’Halloran and His Man Mark Anthony O’Toole, by W.H. Maxwell.

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.