Tag Archives: Murchadh Mór

Why The Rubber Bandits Were Conned

I have decided to write a brief post here just to explain to casual visitors why the Rubber Bandits were conned when they decided to publish a list of some of Daniel Cassidy’s fake derivations of American Slang from Irish on August 11th. Anyone who wants to know more can look at the older posts on this blog, where the material below is explained in greater detail.

Daniel Cassidy was born into a lower-middle class Irish-American family in NY in 1943. His father ran a bar and he was raised in the green pastures of Long Island (though he carefully cultivated the image of streetwise ghetto man-of-the-people). He was a bright child and went to NY Military Academy (alma mater of Donald Trump) on a music scholarship. From there, he went to Cornell University. While at Cornell, he wrote some poetry which was published but he then got into drugs and flunked out without a degree.

He worked for a little while in the NY Times, went to California, then ended up in rehab for two years. He learned to play guitar in rehab, cut an album (unsuccessful) and became a musician. For years, he disappears from the radar. Then he wrote some scripts. He claimed that he sold one of these scripts to Francis Ford Coppola but in different interviews, he mentions two different scripts as the one he sold. In the mid-90s, he produced a couple of pro-Sinn Féin video documentaries about the Six Counties, which aren’t even mentioned on IMDB.

He became a Professor of Irish Studies (!) in 1995 at a small radical college in SF called New College of California. How he became a professor when he didn’t have any qualifications is a mystery, but it seems clear that Cassidy himself claimed to have degrees he didn’t. According to one allegation from a person who contacted me, he was a serial sleaze who continually hit on female students. He used his position to cultivate ‘friendships’ with high-profile Irish-Americans and Irish people who could be useful to him. In 2007, he published a book called How The Irish Invented Slang, a nonsensical piece of crap which claims that lots of American slang comes from Irish. However, because Cassidy didn’t speak any Irish, he just made up lots of bizarre phrases which have never existed in Irish. Honky-tonk, apparently, comes from aingíocht tarraingteach, which means something like attractive peevishness. Baloney is from béal ónna, which Cassidy claimed meant nonsense (literally ‘naïve mouth’). Geezer comes from gaosmhar, which Cassidy claimed means wise person. It doesn’t. And in many cases, Cassidy simply ignored the fact that the words already had perfectly clear derivations. A longshoreman is a ‘man along the shore’, not an old-fashioned Irish word for a sailor. There are hundreds of these fake, made-up derivations. Almost none of these claims has any substance, and the handful that do were plagiarised by Cassidy from other people.

The book was criticised immediately and strongly by real scholars but Cassidy and/or his wife used sock puppet identities to attack anyone who told the truth about the book. Meanwhile, Cassidy’s friends and cronies were ever-present, boosting his reputation, providing good reviews, generally lying their arses off in support of the book. And because the book pretended to be a radical departure, a man-bites-dog story about how Anglophile scholars had systematically excluded the story of Irish’s influence on English, lots of people who think with their arses instead of their brains were quite prepared to make this arrant raiméis a viral phenomenon.

Cassidy fell sick shortly after the book was published and died of cancer in 2008. Unfortunately, the book and the ridiculous theories are still with us.

In short, if you ever look around and wonder why the world is such a shite place and why we have the leaders we have, look no further than the Cassidy Scandal. The same stupidity, pomposity, arrogance, narcissism, cronyism and manipulation that have allowed Cassidy’s nonsense to thrive are what fuels people like the Tea Party and Donald Trump and the supporters of the Irish Slavery Meme. Nobody should support this garbage, least of all people who believe in decent, liberal, democratic values.

And that’s why Murchadh Mór is right. The Rubber Bandits left their sense outside with the horse when they chose to support this shite.

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A Quick Update

There is quite a lot of news to report. Firstly, Murchadh Mór has posted an alternative to the Rubber Bandits’ silly piece of Cassidese nonsense in Nós (http://nos.ie/gniomhaiochas/teanga/na-rubberbandits-an-ghaeilge/) and on Facebook. What he has done is to give a number of words that really do come from Irish. I hope that this will have some effect and that it will be spread the way the original list of nonsense derivations has been spread.

I’m not sure if it will, for one very simple reason. The original list, along with the rest of Daniel Cassidy’s book, is full of words for which nobody would ever have suspected an Irish origin. Longshoreman from Irish loingseoir? Really? Sucker comes from Irish sách úr? What? Wanker from uath-anchor? That’s amazing!! Except Cassidy’s claims are all lies and nonsense, a concoction of fake Irish and deliberate distortion. The list given by our friend Murchadh Mór is considerably less ball-grabbing, simply because it’s actually true and because of that, the claims made are less bizarre and left-field.

I hope the Rubber Bandits will see sense and stop spreading this childish shite. We all know it’s rubbish (including the Bandits by now). And hell, it’s not as if myself or Murchadh Mór are implacable enemies of the Rubber Bandits and all they stand for. We’re not irate peasants standing here with blazing torches and pitchforks shouting “Aargh! Burn the rubber-faced spawn of Lucifer!” In terms of political and social opinions, I doubt if you could get a Rizla paper between us. I was posting happily in support of Liam Hogan months before any of this stuff came up on Twitter and I reckon most of our opinions coincide closely. Plus much of their material is actually very funny. It’s just that in this case, they’re peddling fake news and supporting a bunch of liars and I’d rather they didn’t.

As a result of the controversy over the RBs’ tweet, the number of hits on this site has spiked. Every year, the number of visitors and hits has surpassed the year before. This year, the number of visitors outstripped last year’s figure about a month ago and just today, we surpassed the number of hits we achieved last year. Which means that more and more people have now been informed about Cassidy’s nonsense, thanks to this blog and to others with a sense of responsibility and a love of the language like Murchadh Mór and Ciara Ní Aodha.

Finally, I would like to point out that someone has commented on the derivation of the term leprechaun. Apparently an Italian academic suggested that lúchorpán (small-bodied creature) is not the genuine origin of later terms like leipreachán. His idea, given in an article in the Cambrian Journal of Celtic Studies, is that it derives from the Latin Lupercus, the Roman version of Pan whose festival was the famous Lupercalia. I don’t know if he has any evidence for this and I really don’t care, because it doesn’t change the fact that the English word leprechaun comes from Irish. Its ultimate origins are completely irrelevant. Apparently the word Gael comes from a Welsh word meaning ‘wild man’ but there is no doubt that Gael and Gaelic entered English from Irish or Scottish Gaelic, not from Welsh, so we say that they are Gaelic loanwords in English. The ultimate derivation of the word is not relevant because how far back do you go and where do you stop? And after all, if the word lúchorpán is the correct origin, the chorp part of it is a loan from the Latin corpus anyway.

Leprechaun is absolutely, definitely an English word of Irish origin. It occurs in Irish first in the 14th century, where the lúchorpáin are found in the sea under Dundrum Bay in County Down, though that story is thought to be a rewriting of an earlier version. In English, it first occurs as ‘Irish lubrican’ in 1604. And I know that ‘hey, did you know that leprechauns aren’t Irish … they’re fucking Italian … I shit you not!!’ has a lot more wow factor than the truth. Unfortunately though, like many glittery little factoids, it happens to be a pile of utter shite garnished with iron pyrites, and some of us still care about not wasting our time with things like that.

Murchadh na dTvuíteann’

I am not very keen on new technology. I don’t like telephones, mobile or immobile, and I have never tweeted in my life. However, I notice that a certain Murchadh Mór, who tweets in Irish, has recommended cassidyslangscam on his twitter account with the words “An-bhlag faoin mbobarún Cassidy”.

I am grateful to him for this – every little helps! But the wording of his tweet got me thinking. That word bobarún is a nice one. It means a fool, a twat, a booby. Although I don’t speak the same dialect as Murchadh, bobarún is perfectly clear to me. If Cassidy were right, why don’t New York taxi drivers shout ‘bobberoon!” at each other out of their cab windows? Or ‘playkyah!’ or ‘ommadawn!’, or ‘lah jeea!’ Irish is a perfectly expressive language and there are plenty of genuine Irish expressions which could so easily have been borrowed.

However, for whatever reason, almost no Irish expressions were borrowed, least of all the made-up, clumsy expressions which nobody ever used and which nobody would understand given by Cassidy in this book. That’s why this blog is so full of contempt for Cassidy, and that’s why Murchadh Mór calls Cassidy a bobarún. Because Irish speakers can immediately recognise that Cassidy’s claims about Irish are childish bullshit.