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 Daniel Cassidy in his work of fake etymology, How The Irish Invented Slang, the origins of the word longshoreman lie in the Irish language. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union disagrees with him. According to their website:
“The origins of the ILWU lie in the longshore industry of the Pacific Coast – the work of loading and unloading ships’ cargoes. In the old days of clipper ships, sailings were frequently unscheduled and labor was often recruited at the last minute by shoreside criers calling: “Men along the shore!” – giving rise to the term “longshoremen.” The work was brutal, conditions unsafe, employment irregular, and the pay too low to support a family.”
This is actually inaccurate. As David Gold has pointed out, the term longshoreman was first recorded in 1792, before there was any longshore industry on the Pacific Coast of the Americas. In other words, the explanation given in the source above is correct, but this happened on the Atlantic Coast.
According to Daniel Cassidy, the word longshoreman comes from the Irish loingseoir, which is one word (along with mairnéalach, maraí, farraigeach and seoltóir) for sailor. It is pronounced lingshore. Why the lubbers along the docks would be called sailors when they unloaded cargoes is difficult to explain but then almost nothing Cassidy wrote stands up to any scrutiny at all.
However, I should point out that not only is Cassidy not right about the Irish origin of longshoreman, this is one of the many claims he plagiarised without acknowledgement from the Daltaí Boards forum, where it appeared in April 2002, years before his book was published.