Tag Archives: lies

Hugh Curran Defends Himself (In English)

I have just received an answer to my last post from Hugh Curran. As I suspected, he doesn’t speak Irish. Here are his comments and my answers to those comments.

First of all, I never claimed to be a fluent Irish speaker but I have explored the etymology of Irish names and places fairly extensively.. My cousins, my parents, my aunts and uncles are all fluent Irish speakers. Our family immigrated to northern Canada when I was only eight years old so we seldom spoke Irish after that.

No, you never specifically stated that you were a fluent Irish speaker. However, as I pointed out, anyone reading your comment would assume that you were fluent. If someone said that they taught French and were born in France, you would assume they were competent in the language. What reason do you have for telling people about your Irish credentials at the start of the comment other than to imply that you are qualified to make a judgement on this question, which you obviously aren’t? And as for your relatives speaking Irish, what relevance does that have? You are the one making the comment and you don’t speak Irish and are unqualified to decide what constitutes plausible Irish or implausible Irish.

I”m surprised at the degree of vituperation in your response, especially by calling me a “liar” because of my comments on Cassidy’s book. This is. to my mind, beyond the pale. Then you also feel the need to bring in my Buddhist background, which you have absolutely no knowledge of, which is so bizarre that there is little use in further discussion.

As for the degree of vituperation, that depends on whether Cassidy was a misunderstood genius or a half-crazy con-man. Strangely, this is an issue you don’t discuss in your message. This is the crux of the whole thing. Either Cassidy’s work is an appalling hoax which no decent human being would support, or it’s a revelatory work of linguistics. If it’s the former (which it is) then your comments are supporting lies and my anger is justified.

I have been working for years to inform people about Cassidy’s lies and his exploitation of the Irish language. The evidence is freely available but clowns like you continue to pretend that that evidence doesn’t exist and that you know better than all the scholars and linguists and lexicographers. It makes me angry to see people championing these lies, helping to fleece the gullible and worse still, encouraging people to believe that arrant nonsense like fo-luach and sách úr and gus óil are genuine Irish.

I am not a Buddhist, though I do know a fair amount about Buddhism and I have more respect for Buddhism than for most religions. You think it’s bizarre that I mention this but to me, Cassidy’s work is about egoism and bigotry and dishonesty. Unless I’ve been misinformed, Buddhism sets great store by honesty and truth and humility. In other words, I think there’s a degree of hypocrisy in your position.

I presume from your comment that “there is little use in further discussion” that we probably won’t hear from you again. You are welcome to reply and I will publish and answer anything you say. However, I would remind you that I challenged you (as I’ve challenged every supporter of Cassidy) to read the posts here and provide evidence to refute my refutation of his nonsensical book. A cynic might say that you are refusing to engage in further discussion because you know that this is an argument you’re not going to win, because myself and the other critics of Cassidy are the ones who are telling the truth.

However, this isn’t about you and it isn’t about me. At the end of the day, this is about Cassidy and his lies and it’s about ensuring that as few people as possible are misled and cheated. Remove your comment from IrishCentral and I will take down this post and the other two. Continue to act as an enabler for a dead con-man, and I will consider myself entirely justified in continuing to call you a liar.

Keister

 

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 crazy piece of garbage 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 an old English or Scots expression for a trunk or case (the related word kist is still used in Ulster-Scots) and this has a cognate in German, Kiste, which is pronounced 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 as stupid and incompetently-researched as everything else in this apology for a book.

 

Snaking the Deck

Apparently, snaking the deck is a slang term for marking a deck of cards in gambling. Anyone with any sense or intelligence would regard this as an English term based on the legendary untrustworthiness of snakes. By snaking the deck, you make it dishonest.

Daniel Cassidy, author of the ludicrous book, How The Irish Invented Slang, didn’t have any sense or intelligence. He chose to attribute the origins of this phrase to the verb snoíochán, which he defines as: “marking, clipping, cutting, meddling with (a deck of cards).

Now, when you look on page 1076 of Dinneen’s dictionary (as per Cassidy’s reference), you find that the word referred to by Cassidy is spelled snoidheachán and is defined as ‘act of carving, whittling or planing.’ There is no reference to marking or clipping, nothing about decks of cards. I wonder how far you would get in Las Vegas if you tried to mark the cards by ‘carving, whittling or planing’?

As usual with this insane catalogue of nonsense, Cassidy’s definition of snaking the deck is all my asp and a load of old cobras.

Cooze

Another really stupid claim from Daniel Cassidy in his absurd book, How The Irish Invented Slang, is that the American slang term cooze derives from Irish. Cooze is a crude term for the vagina which first surfaces in American slang in the 1950s. It doesn’t really exist in Ireland, apart from among fans of the Sopranos and the Wire. There is no definite explanation for its origin, though apparently there is an Arabic word with a very similar sound and meaning, so it has been speculated that it derives from GIs returning from North Africa at the end of the Second World War.

Daniel Cassidy observed that there is a word cuas in Irish. He says that:

Cuas, anat. n., a cavity; an orifice; a hole; fig. a vagina. “Cuas” is an utterly neutral anatomical term in Irish.

This looks quite convincing, as long as you accept Cassidy’s Do-It-Yourself definition at face value and don’t look at the original sources, the Irish dictionaries. Here’s what Ó Dónaill says:

1. Cavity; hollow, recess. ~ crainn, hollow of tree. ~ aille, hole in cliff. 2. Cove, creek. 3. Anat: Sinus, cup. ~ coirp, sróine, body, nasal cavity.

Dinneen is pretty much the same, though it does say that cuas means ‘an orifice in physiology’.

There is an excellent book of Irish-language sexual slang which I have mentioned before. It is Ó Ghlíomáil go Giniúint by D. Ó Luineacháin (Coiscéim, 1997). In this 76 page treatise, Ó Luineacháin gives a huge number of slang terms. Yet he fails to mention the use of cuas to mean vagina. The reason for this is quite clear. It doesn’t mean vagina. Its usual meaning is a shallow alcove or inlet or recess. There is no evidence apart from Cassidy’s invented quotes and nothing Cassidy said is worth a nine-dollar note.

I don’t know where cooze comes from, but it doesn’t come from cuas.

More lies, more distortions, more nonsense.

 

 

Craps

Another ridiculous claim made by Daniel Cassidy in his nonsensical book, How The Irish Invented Slang, is the idea that the name of the game of craps, an American dice game, comes from Irish. All of the dictionaries trace the origins of craps to Louisiana. The game derives from crapaud, the French for toad, because people squatted like a toad over the ground as they played it. Cassidy doesn’t bother mentioning this alternative, well-established and highly probable explanation.

Cassidy’s made-up explanation is that it comes from  crath abair, which Cassidy says means ‘shake-say’. Of course, this would really be craith or croith, not crath, and it wouldn’t sound much like craps (krah-abbur is the way most people would pronounce it). If craps were of Irish origin, it would be far more likely to have some connection with cnaipí (pronounced krippee in Ulster Irish, which means buttons).

Cassidy’s suggestion Is wildly improbable, like almost every suggestion in this ridiculous book. There is absolutely no evidence for it and the French explanation makes a lot more sense.

Carrying The Banner

Another utterly ridiculous claim in this absurd book, How The Irish Invented Slang, is that the slang term ‘carrying the banner’ comes from the Irish comhshaoránach bonnaire, which supposedly means ‘fellow-citizen foot-man or walker’. If you speak any Irish at all, which Cassidy didn’t, you will realise how crazy this claim is.

For one thing, the word saoránach originally meant a freeman. It only acquired its current meaning of citizen when the Irish state was struggling to develop a modern vocabulary after the language had been sidelined for centuries by the British. It first occurs in this sense in the 1922 constitution. And bonnaire is an unusual word for a walker or a footman. The whole phrase (which would be pronounced koh-heerannah bonnarra if it really existed) is ridiculously contrived. It is not real Irish. It was invented to order by an ignorant fantasist in order to sound like an English slang expression.

Then there is the little matter that carrying the banner, a slang term for walking the streets all night, is very easy to understand. If you carry the banner in a parade, you keep walking the streets. You don’t bring the banner into a bar or a house. You walk with it. So this is a jocular way of saying that you have nowhere to stay and you walk the streets all night. It’s not rocket science. How anyone could be stupid enough to believe Cassidy’s version is a mystery to me.

Guzzle

The word guzzle first occurs in English in the late 16th century. There is no certainty about where it comes from, though it is probably imitative, based on the sound that people make when they swallow food or drink quickly.

The charlatan Daniel Cassidy, in his ridiculous book How The Irish Invented Slang, disagreed. He claimed that it comes from gus óil, which he claims is an Irish phrase meaning ‘a vigorous drink; high-spirited vigorous drinking , (act of) gulping down a drink, to drink with great vigour, to drink greedily.’ It doesn’t, of course. The word gus means ‘force, vigour, resource, enterprise, spirit, gumption, self-importance’. Óil is the genitive of ól, meaning drink or drinking. If gus óil existed, it would probably mean the tendency to be arrogant or fired up because of taking too much drink. It wouldn’t mean guzzling.

I suggest you copy the phrase “gus óil” and put it in a searchbox in Google. See if you get any hits unrelated to Cassidy! In fact, do it with all of Cassidy’s made-up rubbish and you’ll get the same results.

Why do clever people believe in stupid ideas?

This is one of the most important questions raised by Cassidy’s book How The Irish Invented Slang.  Why did so many people support this nonsense? I am not talking about those who were friends or relatives of the author. The fact that they praised it is no surprise. It is harder to explain why so many people who have no obvious vested interest in Cassidy or his ideas supported this book and continue to support it. This is an important question. Why do reasonably clever people believe in stupid things?

Firstly, you have to consider the psychology of belief. People are hard-wired to look for patterns in things. This is why people see the face of Elvis in pancakes. There is probably some evolutionary advantage to finding patterns but there is no doubt that it needs to be tempered with some kind of scepticism and reason. Many people don’t use reason in choosing their beliefs. They will choose a theory because it suits them rather than because it fits the facts, because it is flattering to them, because it makes them feel privy to arcane and secret knowledge, and because it allows them to feel superior to the ‘blinkered’ and ‘narrow-minded’ academics.

All too often, people (especially those who choose flaky theories) find that the facts contradict their beliefs. People find it hard to live with conflicting views of the world. It makes them uneasy. Psychologists call this unease cognitive dissonance.

So they then have a choice. Rational people tend to look at the facts and alter their theory to conform with them, or even abandon the theory altogether if it cannot be mapped onto the landscape of reality.  However, a great many people react in the opposite way. So, when their beliefs conflict with the facts, these people start to find specious reasons to deny those facts (http://www.politics.ie/forum/culture-community/208192-phrases-words-weve-given-english-language-22.html), like this person responding to criticism of Cassidy’s work on the grounds that Cassidy’s made-up phrases don’t make any sense in terms of Irish grammar:

‘I would expect grammatical errors if the origins were found in illiterates and near illiterates interacting with other illiterates and near illiterates, these wern’t Galway College grads, they were peasants interacting with other peasants..’

The idea that illiteracy means that you can’t retain even the most basic grammar is ridiculous but this person is determined to clutch at any straw to avoid changing his mind.

These people also use ad hominem arguments (arguments based on the character of the people making the argument), such as this piece of stupidity from an Amazon review:

‘Also, I don’t need so-called professional scholars to approve what I will or will not believe. It’s obvious, for instance, that any book with the title “Oxford English Dictionary” is necessarily going to be prejudiced against admitting any kind of Irish influence, if it can be avoided, especially when one considers the time period in which the OED was originally formulated.’

Why necessarily? Is this fool saying that nobody in the Oxford University Press is Irish, or that that they are all WASPs who went to Eton? This might have been true a hundred years ago. It’s not true now, and even if it were, would this necessarily mean that all of them would twist the facts to reject derivations from the Irish language rather than do their job properly?  

It is interesting that there are plenty of people on Amazon and other review forums who have spotted the flaws in Cassidy’s arguments. It is obvious that many of them have no specialist knowledge of Irish or linguistics. The difference between these people and the flat-earthers who believe in Cassidy is probably not primarily one of intelligence, or even of knowledge. It’s about psychology. There are some people who are rational and want to find out the truth, whatever that truth is (note that rational doesn’t necessarily mean unemotional – anger or admiration are fine as long as they are based on reason.) And there are others who just believe in what they want to believe. It doesn’t matter how much proof there is, or how ridiculous the ideas are, or how big the gap between the theory and the reality. Once they’ve made their minds up that the world is ruled by lizards in rubber suits or that the government is putting LSD in the water supplies because the Freemasons and the Zionists told them to, or that American slang was influenced by a fictitious dialect of Irish which left no trace anywhere until it was ‘rediscovered’ by Daniel Cassidy, that’s it and no amount of intelligent argument will make them doubt themselves.

Sneak

According to Cassidy, the English word sneak comes from the Irish snighim. He also claims that the Barnhart Dictionary of English Etymology concurs. I haven’t got a copy of Barnhart’s and I can’t be bothered to go and look for one, but this claim seems unlikely, given that all the other dictionaries trace it, quite logically, to the Old English snican which is related to cognates in the other Germanic languages as well as to the root of the English word snake. As usual, Cassidy is being economical with the truth here. Snighim is also an unsuitable source for a word used of people, anyway, because it is used for slow-moving animals like snails and slugs. It doesn’t mean to move sneakily or furtively. However, in any case, it has an impeccable Germanic origin and so it can’t come from Irish. As usual, it’s total nonsense.

Raspberry

The experts tell us that raspberry (as in ‘to blow a raspberry’) is rhyming slang and comes from ‘raspberry tart’ = fart. This seemed quite logical to me but then I realised that Daniel Cassidy had really nailed it with his Irish interpretation. The truth is given by Cassidy on page 235 of his magnum dopus, that raspberry comes from the words roiseadh búirthí, which translates as a volley of bellowings. Yes, an Irish speaker wouldn’t do anything as obvious as using the word broim (fart) in their version of raspberry. They would use roiseadh búirthí, a phrase which, I am led to believe, is often used in the Irish of Corcabottle in the Monster Gaeltacht to describe the farting noise produced by the propulsion system of flying pigs, as well as the noise horses make when you pull their feathers out …

(NB The above post is ironic! Yes, I know there is no such thing as Monster Irish. The Gaeltacht of Corcabottle does not exist, and Irish, while it is a beautiful and highly expressive tongue, does not boast any term for the propulsion system of a flying pig or the noise horses make when you pull their feathers out. I was merely mocking the ridiculous opinions of Daniel Cassidy concerning the Irish language and the slang of America. I thought that would have been quite obvious but someone sent me a comment telling me that I don’t know anything about Irish because I can’t spell Munster! I forgot that people can ‘parachute’ in to any page without understanding the context of the blog properly and so it’s better to avoid irony. I have learned my lesson.)

And just to make it clear that I do speak Irish, here’s that paragraph in our language:

Íoróin a bhí i gceist sa phostáil thuas. Tá a fhios agam go rímhaith nach bhfuil a leithéid de rud ann agus Monster Irish, nach bhfuil aon Ghaeltacht ann darb ainm Corca Buidéil agus cé gur teanga bhreá thromchiallach í an teanga s’againne, is oth liom a admháil nach bhfuil aon téarma aici ar an chóras tiomána a bheadh ag muc eitlitheach ná ar an fhuaim a dhéanann capaill nuair a phioctar na cleití díobh. Ní raibh mé ach ag magadh faoi bharúlacha áiféiseacha Daniel Cassidy maidir leis an Ghaeilge agus béarlagair an Oileáin Úir anseo. Shíl mé go mbeadh an méid sin soiléir go leor ach scríobh duine éigin chugam lena rá liom nach bhfuil Gaeilge ar bith agam cionn is nach dtig liom Munster a litriú! Rinne mé dearmad go dtig le daoine ‘paraisiútáil’ isteach ar leathanach ar bith gan comhthéacs an bhlaig a thuiscint mar is ceart agus is fearr an íoróin a sheachaint, mar sin. Tá ceacht foghlamtha agam.