Tag Archives: nonsense

More on Professor Joseph Lee

 

Among the numerous cronies who have boosted the reputation of the charlatan Daniel Cassidy and his absurd book, How The Irish Invented Slang, one of the worst is Joe Lee, a respectable academic historian and scholar who is connected with New York University.

Lee provided a gushing and ridiculously positive review for the back of Cassidy’s book.

“In this courageous, crusading manifesto, Daniel Cassidy flings down the gauntlet to all those compilers of dictionaries who fled to the safe haven of ‘origin unknown’ when confronted with the challenge of American slang …The originality and importance of the argument makes this an exciting contribution to both American and Irish Studies. This is a landmark book, at once learned and lively, and quite enthralling as to how American English acquired so vibrant a popular vocabulary.”

I have read some of Lee’s work. In spite of his idiotic support for Cassidy, he deserves to be respected as an historian. Interestingly, he is critical of the traditional nationalist narratives. For example, he is critical of the claims that there was enough food in Ireland to feed the population during the Famine years. Why he chose to take the reputation which he has acquired through decades of hard work and study and flush it down the pan by supporting a joke like Cassidy remains a mystery. There is no doubt that he knew Daniel Cassidy and many of Cassidy’s friends. Does this explain it? Was it simple nepotism?

Or was it pity? Did he choose to support Cassidy because Cassidy had no health insurance after the collapse of New College and was relying on the sales of the book? If so, this was a shitty thing to do. The Irish people are not responsible for Daniel Cassidy and we are certainly not responsible for one of the richest nations on earth choosing to have a cruelly inadequate health care system. If he wanted to help Cassidy, Lee could have remortgaged his house to pay the insurance bills, not sold out our language and culture.

Or was it a more selfish motive? Was Lee trying to stay on the right side of a parcel of cronies, men like Peter Quinn and Pete Hamill, who would do anything to avoid admitting that Daniel Cassidy was a fraud?

Of course, I suppose there is a possibility that Lee genuinely believed the praise he lavished on the book. However, I find this impossible to believe, because Lee is not an idiot. How could anyone who speaks Irish believe that more than a handful of the ‘Irish’ phrases in this book are genuine? (Of course, he’s not a linguist, but even so!) And we have to remember that Lee is an academic. He must have seen dozens, if not hundreds of theses and dissertations. He knows full well that any thesis or dissertation with standards of scholarship as poor as Cassidy’s would not be acceptable in any university, anywhere.

There is also another bit of evidence, posted by someone using the username ap-aelfwine on this forum: http://gaeilge.livejournal.com/175737.html

The bit of Cassidy’s work I’ve seen struck me as dubious,* although I recently heard a faculty member–a clueful historian who has good Munster Irish–at the programme I just graduated from say he thought C. was pointing in some directions that deserved exploration. It was in the midst of a reception–I didn’t get a chance to ask him more about it, unfortunately.

The clueful historian is obviously Lee. It doesn’t surprise me that he was still making broadly positive comments about Cassidy in 2010, because he had been stupid enough to put his endorsement on the book a couple of years earlier. But ‘pointing in some directions that deserve exploration’ (a view which is also foolish, in my opinion, and there’s plenty of evidence of that in this blog) is a far cry from ‘landmark book’, ‘courageous and crusading manifesto’, or ‘learned and lively’, never mind ‘an exciting contribution to both American and Irish Studies’. Yet Lee’s review still stands on the back of every copy of this ludicrous turd of a book. No doubt many people have been conned into believing that Cassidy’s work is a genuine piece of scholarship because of Lee’s endorsement and his continued refusal to set the record straight.

Or could it just be that Lee is a victim of that old enemy of rationality, the arrogance and hubris that so frequently goes with titles like Professor and Senator, the feeling that who you are makes you above the ordinary decencies that lesser folk have to live with?

Who knows? Who cares? Integrity is a precious commodity. Life is far too short to waste on people who are prepared to squander their reputation on a putz like Cassidy, whatever bizarre motive they had for doing so.

Will The Real M.M. Please Stand Up?

I recently had a go at Cassidy and some of his cronies, who posted reviews of one another’s books on Amazon without giving any indication of who they were. This is an immoral thing to do, in my opinion. It’s not against the law, though it is against Amazon’s own rules: “…family members or close friends of the person, group, or company selling on Amazon may not write Customer Reviews for those particular items.”

I had another look at some of the comments surrounding Amazon reviews of Cassidy’s work. One of the strongest critics on Amazon.com was D. Norder, who made a spirited and entirely sensible attack on Cassidy’s lack of methodology and total incompetence. Norder made the minor mistake of talking about Gaelic rather than Irish – if it is a mistake. After all, Cassidy frequently dragged in Scots Gaelic when he couldn’t find what he was looking for in Irish dictionaries and the term Gaelic can be used to cover both languages (and Manx).

Among those who criticised Norder was a person calling themselves M.M.. Referring to this supposed lapse by Norder, M.M. had this to say:

Seems from the other comments that D. Norder has been outed as not knowing his/her facts. But those of us that have studied Irish history are well acquainted with revisionists that try to gloss over or completely discredit facts that do not align with their agendas.

This comment is nasty, irrational and entirely inappropriate. Cassidy’s book is so full of lies and inaccuracies and grandiose crazy claims unsupported by any evidence at all, while Norder is dealing in a couple of genuine facts like the origin of bunkum. To pretend that this is about revisionism is showing scant respect for those who genuinely oppose revisionist rewritings of Irish history. As I’ve said here before, Cassidy was a revisionist (revisionism means rewriting history, whatever the political slant). His work was obviously nonsense. Open any page at random and you will find a piece or several pieces of demonstrable rubbish.

Worse still, M.M. is pretending to be simply a concerned citizen defending Cassidy because they think he was right.

However, if we look at M.M.’s profile, we find that she (I think it’s a woman) was: ‘the student coordinator for an Irish Studies Program at a private University in San Francisco’ and that she was ‘very involved in the Irish American community.’ I may be wrong about this, but I think the only Irish Studies Program in a private university in San Francisco was the one at New College of California, which would mean that M.M. was a close associate of the late Daniel Cassidy. In other words, far from being an impartial observer with a love of truth, this is a partisan scumbag who is determined to gloss over or lie about any facts which don’t align with her twisted agenda of defending a worthless buffoon who she happened to consider a friend.

You will probably be able to find out who this particular scumbag is by looking at Irish Studies and New College of California on Google and searching for someone with the initials M.M.

Of course, if these people had any shame at all, they would be tormented by a deep sense of self-disgust and self-loathing as they skulk around the Internet depositing arrogant, dishonest crud like this. However, as people like M.M. and the rest of the Cassidy Cargo Cult seem to be without the slightest glimmer of shame, we’ll just have to do the disgust and loathing for them.

It’s Official – Brassiere Is Irish Too!

Following on the revelations that mazel tov and vichy water are derived from Irish, the Irish Milesian Academy For Intellectual Arts (IrishMAFIA), which was set up to continue the etymological work of the late Daniel Cassidy, has announced that brassiere derives from Irish. Brendan Patrick Gurne, Professor of Creative Etymology at IrishMAFIA, shared his thoughts with our correspondent.

“If you look on the Anglophile etymology websites, they will tell you some implausible story about brassiere coming from the French word for arm as a military arm-protector, then a breast-plate and finally as the modern brassiere but of course, we don’t have to follow any of these university etymologies because orthodox scholarship is all part of an Anglophile conspiracy against the Irish. I guess Oxford scholars wouldn’t know this, but women don’t wear bras on their arms, guys! The origin of this word in Irish is obvious. It comes from breá meaning fine and saor meaning free, thus women who had been used to constrictive corsets called the new underwear breá saor [brah seer], fine and free! The French brassiere is completely unsupported!”

John Weeney of the SoLow Alliance agrees:

“Anyone who disagrees with the Irish origin of the word brassiere, or indeed with any of my opinions or any of the opinions of any of my friends is clearly a self-hating Irishman. I mean, why would anyone deny my right to rewrite the entire linguistic history of Ireland and the USA on the basis of my Christmas card list? No Irish need apply, that’s why! Brassiere is obviously an Irish word. Vive la … similarity, whatever that is in French.”

Peter Quint, Professional Irish-American, said: “What a shame that Danny isn’t here to see his work on the Irish origins of words vindicated!”

Outside of the circle of Cassidy’s friends, reaction to the revelation has been muted.

“I NEVER TUTCHED THOSE BRAS. THEY WOS BLOWN INTO MY BAG BY THE WIND” said a man with a tinfoil hat on the Internet.

… And a Slice of Cold Turkey

In his insane collection of fake etymology, How The Irish Invented Slang, Daniel Cassidy made many ridiculous claims. None is more ridiculous than his claim about the origins of the expression ‘cold turkey’, a slang term for the awful fever and craving which an addict goes through when giving up drugs (especially heroin). Cassidy would have known a thing or two about this, as he spent 23 months in rehab at Phoenix House, where he managed to kick his narcotics habit. (Please note, I am not sneering at Cassidy here. I have nothing but respect for people who manage to overcome addictions. My beef with Cassidy is to do with his arrogance, his nastiness and his incompetence, not his history of drug-abuse).

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. So 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.’ Well, that’s such a close correspondence to the meanings of cold turkey, it’s truly amazing nobody ever made the connection before, especially when you consider that coillteoireacht almost sounds a little bit like cold turkey!

Of course, this is complete nonsense. It isn’t a fit in terms of meaning, or sound, or the date of its appearance, and an Irish speaker back then would probably call it haras na ndrugaí (from English horrors), or rámhaille na ndrugaí, or something like that. Coillteoireacht? Not a chance!

Incidentally, this reminds me of a well-known story about an Irish country and western band back in the 60s and 70s who called themselves Big Tom and the Mainliners, unaware that mainliner had the slang meaning of heroin-user in the States. When Big Tom went to America, loads of druggie types turned up to the concerts only to find that Big Tom was more Jim Reeves than Lou Reed.

 

The Linguist’s List

I recently stumbled upon an interesting source, at linguist.list.org. It is a list of the exchanges between the late Daniel Cassidy, phoney scholar, and members of the American Dialect Society in 2003 and 2004. There are a number of interesting things about this. One of the most amazing things is the level of politeness and deference shown by the members of the ADS towards a man who was obviously crazy, though I would have to say that his credentials look more impressive than they really were and they would have had no way of knowing that he didn’t know any Irish at all.

In his posts, Cassidy did exactly what he did in the book. He simply ignored anything which didn’t suit him, refused to give any evidence which related to the actual words (rather than the social context of the time, the number of Irish speakers in the community etc.) and kept up an endless stream of word-play which I suppose he must have thought was funny but just ends up being irritating and gives his comments a protective camouflage of jokiness.

However, the thing which really stands out in these exchanges is the number of words which are given completely different Irish derivations on this forum and in the book which was published three years later.

For example, in this list, he claims that he has solved the mystery of samollions (a slang term for lots of money, apparently). He says that it comes from suim oll i n’eineach. I imagine this is probably meant to be suim oll in éineacht, as he glosses it a huge amount (sum) all at once. In the book, this is given as suim oll amháin, which he claims means one big sum. (In reality, oll is a prefix in modern Irish so you would have to say ollsuim, not suim oll, so the claim is obvious rubbish anyway, whatever random element Cassidy chose to put at the end.)

Then there are the many expressions which are minced oaths in English and which begin with Holy (Holy Cow, Holy Mackerel). In this forum, Cassidy claimed that these are really the word oille (a nominal form of the adjective oll). I have never heard the word oille in use and I suspect that most Irish speakers would say the same, though it is certainly in the dictionary. Cassidy also claimed that this was pronounced something like holly, as he believed that Irish words that begin with a vowel are pronounced with a h-, which of course is completely untrue. This claim had been dropped in the book, so these oaths were half-English and half-Irish in that version. Cassidy claimed in the book that the Mackerel of Holy Mackerel is Mac Ríúil, Kingly Son. In this list, it is Mac Ríogh-fhuil, Son of King-blood, or as the Great Fraud put it, Great Royal-Blooded Son.

Then there’s growler, a pot used for getting a ‘carry-out’ of beer in the tenements of New York. In the book, this was given the unlikely Irish origin of gearr-ól úr (‘a fresh short-drink’). In this forum, it is given the even more unlikely derivation of gearradh ól leor, which Cassidy defines as ‘plenty of fast drink’. Apparently the gearradh (a word meaning cutting) is supposed to mean quick and Cassidy obviously didn’t know how the word leor is used in Irish.

There is another spate of comments on this list after the publication of Cassidy’s book. By that stage, none of the experts involved were in any doubt that Cassidy was a fraud and they said so clearly and repeatedly. One particular comment caught my eye, from a medievalist called Amy West:

“Having seen Cassidy’s signature block at the end of his archived posting on “big onion,” I’m wondering if there’s a much larger criticism of Cassidy’s work other than, as Grant said, the work being “unreliable and not to be trusted.” With his position as a professor of Irish Studies, should we be holding him to an even *higher* standard even though this is not an academic work? If so, would this be an instance of not academic fraud but *malpractice*? That is, we know what academics can and should do: look for tangible evidence, present points against, think and read critically, attempt to be objective and rational. He not only fails to do this, but engages in superficial thinking using superficial connections /resemblances, a lack of concrete evidence, with an agenda and not only a lack of recognition of counterarguments and other positions but derisive dismissal of them: things I expect more from my freshmen than a professional academic. And those are things I would not tolerate from my freshmen.”

Obviously she didn’t realise what we now know to be the case, that Cassidy was completely unqualified to be a professor of anything, but her comments are exactly right. Cassidy failed to follow even the most basic principles of genuine academic research. He was a fraud and it is bizarre that years later, I am still having to argue with deluded people who insist that Cassidy was some kind of linguistic guru.

 

 

American Book Awards

Much has been made in some quarters of the fact that Cassidy’s ridiculous book How The Irish Invented Slang won an American Book Award.

There are several reasons why this fact is unremarkable and proves nothing about its worth.

Firstly, it is in the nature of the American Book Awards that they give equal status to all the shortlisted books. In other words, everyone is a winner, and hundreds of writers could legitimately be described as winners of the American Book Awards. Among the winners are a few big names, like Dave Eggers and Toni Morrison but the names also include mates of Cassidy’s like the ubiqitous Peter Quinn and Michael Patrick MacDonald.

The American Book Awards (not to be confused with the more prestigious National Book Awards) are awarded annually by the Before Columbus Foundation. A look on their website shows that several names on their board are friends of Cassidy’s, people like the poet David Meltzer. Now, I don’t know if this was cronyism in action, because I don’t know how the books are chosen or how big a role the board has in this.

David Meltzer may be guilty of nothing more than having bad taste in friends. But it does seem strange that this awful, crappy book was given an American Book Award, and that two friends of Cassidy’s are on the board of the organisation which hands these awards out.

Incidentally, I also found an article by Daniel Cassidy in a tribute to David Meltzer in the magazine Big Bridge (Issue 11). It is called the Song of the Spailpín, and it is as bad a piece of garbage as Cassidy ever wrote anywhere.  You can find the whole sorry piece of shit here (http://www.bigbridge.org/issue11/dmpoetcassidy.htm), if you’re really interested. However, here are some observations.

Cassidy refers to the travelling Johnson family, and says that this comes from Teannas án. As usual, Cassidy thought that a slender t can be pronounced as a j in Irish, which it can’t. The word án is literary and hardly used in Irish, and this phrase as a whole would mean ‘noble tension’. Obviously, the reality is that this family were called Johnson because one of their ancestors was called John and that’s that. Cassidy’s explanation is just the jabbering of a lunatic.

Cassidy claims that two songs, Mike from Tipperary and The Monster Gila Route (sic – it’s really The Gila Monster Route) contain secret Irish messages. Cassidy gives the words in bold type and then gives a little glossary underneath.

Here are some of the many stupidities in this glossary.

Holler, ditch, gump, burg, and booze have all been dealt with in this blog before.

The word shirkin’ in the song is obviously shirking as in not doing any work. Cassidy claims that it is really seargadh (pronounced sharruga or sharrugoo), meaning to shrivel or dry up.

Dingbat, according to Cassidy’s useless book, comes from Irish duine bocht, a poor person. In this glossary, he decided it comes from duine bod, which he defines as ‘A lout, a thickset churl, fig. a migrant worker or hobo.’ In reality, the phrase duine bod doesn’t exist, and if it did it would mean something like ‘a person of penises’. It should also be apparent to even the most deluded supporter of Cassidy that if the origin of dingbat is ‘obviously’ duine bod in one version and ‘obviously’ duine bocht’ in another version, then in reality there is nothing obvious or real about the connection.  Apparently, the original meaning of dingbat was thingumabob, so my bet would be that it is related to the German Dingsbums or Dingsda, both of which have the same meaning.

The word gila, as in gila monster, is from the Gila river basin. It does not come from gealbh [gyalloo or gyalluv] which Cassidy says means bad weather. Cassidy gives no evidence that this word even exists, it is not in any dictionary and what exactly is the connection between gila monsters and bad weather anyway?

The word frisk is the same as the word for pat down, and it dates back to the late eighteenth century in English. The relation between it and the earlier meanings of frisk (to gambol) is unclear. However, the word forúscadh is a pure Cassidy invention which does not occur in any dictionary, and even if it did exist, how is a word pronounced fohrooska or foh-rooskoo likely to become frisk?

Flop is obviously what a tired person does when they reach a bed. This is a very old word in English, probably a variant of flap. Foleaba is another made-up Cassidy word which doesn’t exist in any dictionary or text.

However, this is only mildly stupid and dishonest compared to his explanation of bindle, a term for a vagrant’s bundle, a word which is obviously derived either from bundle itself, from the related German term Bündel or from a related English dialect or Scots term. Cassidy derives this from a word for a ferule (bianna) and a misspelt word for a snare (dul – it should be dol). How you get from ferule of a snare to a stick with a bundle on it is hard to work out unless you are as insane as Cassidy was. Or as Cassidy himself said, only poets can dig this crossroads cant…. Yeah, right, Danny!

But the prize for idiocy in this article surely goes to his explanation for blanket stiffs, which according to him comes from bliadhna chuid staif  which he defines as ‘annual groups of burly strong persons, fig.. migratory harvest workers’. This breaks just about every rule of Irish grammar you could mention and is simply meaningless nonsense.

If I were David Meltzer, I would be deeply insulted at having this ludicrous catalogue of garbage dedicated to me. Cassidy could have written a poem or a song in Meltzer’s honour but instead he chose to use the magazine to plug his insane book and con a few more mugs out of their hard-earned dollars.

Cassidy and Irish

I found a very interesting comment on one of Brendan Patrick Keane’s stupider posts on IrishCentral. The author, Elaine Ní Bhraonáin, is an Irish-language expert who plainly didn’t find Cassidy as impressive as the CCC (Cassidy Crony Club) would have us believe!

Breandan a chara, I organised an event where Daniel spoke a good few years back but was shocked to learn that he had made no effort whatsoever to learn the Irish language prior to writing this book. He had no grasp of pronunciation as Gaeilge at all. It could be an interesting PhD topic for someone to study but the book itself lacks real evidence. When I met him, he looked at my name tag and said “I’m not even going to try and pronounce that name” which I thought odd for an academic involved with Irish/English language research. Le meas Elaine Ní Bhraonáin

Imagine the arrogance! A person who is unable to read a simple name badge in the Irish language, and yet he thinks he is in a position to rock the world of Irish linguistics to the foundation! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. What a putz!

Origin Unknown?

It is amazing how many people online have rushed to repeat Cassidy’s claim that most or many of the words in Cassidy’s book are given as ‘origin unknown’ or ‘origin uncertain’ in the dictionaries, without checking the facts for themselves. For example, here’s a quote from Joe ‘The Prof’ Lee:

Daniel Cassidy flings down the gauntlet to all those compilers of dictionaries who fled to the safe haven of ‘origin unknown’ when confronted with the challenge of American slang. 

And here’s another one from the infantile Educational Cyber Playground:

The Dictionary has printed that most of Cassidy’s English words are listed “origin unknown,” and when you think about the huge diaspora, it’s a certainty that the Irish would have contributed words to English.

The Dictionary? Where can I buy THE Dictionary? And did anyone ever really claim that the majority of words in Cassidy’s crapfest are ‘origin unknown’,  even Cassidy himself? He certainly played down the amount of information available about many of the words he proposed daft origins for, but I don’t think the majority of his entries contain the phrases ‘origin unknown’ or ‘origin uncertain’. 

In a number of posts on this blog, I have already pointed out that Cassidy played fast-and-loose with the dictionaries and claimed that a lot of expressions were origin unknown when their origins were very well-known (grumble, for example). 

I therefore decided to go through  Cassidy’s book and compare Cassidy’s version to the reality. However, I am not a masochist and the thought of reading every page of Cassidy’s sad testament to human ignorance was just too much for me, so instead of that, I checked the first hundred headwords in the glossary part of it and researched them. Some words like blowen (ever heard that one? Me neither!), or beak (magistrate) or boogie are certainly origin unknown. But many others were misrepresented by Cassidy. Being generous (and assuming that my sample is representative of the document as a whole), no more than 10% of the words are really lacking a reasonable explanation. For example, Cassidy says that bullyrag is ‘origin unknown’. Yet a quick glance online shows that rag can mean ‘to scold, torment or tease’. So bullyragged might just mean ‘browbeaten by a bully’, which is pretty much what it means anyway. And an aggressive shill being called a capper makes perfect sense to me. A person makes an offer, the shill caps that offer and pushes the bid up, so they are a capper.

I should also point out that in most of the cases where the word is ‘origin unknown’, Cassidy’s supposed ‘Irish’ origins are nonsense and could not possibly be correct. 

The idea that Cassidy found vast numbers of words labelled ‘origin unknown’ with clear origins in Irish which the Anglophile linguists had deliberately ignored is another red herring, created by this evil con-man to deceive the fans of his book who he treated with the same easy comtempt as he treated the Irish language, the world of academia and the people who were foolish enough to regard him as a friend.

 

Hall of Shame Special – James R. Barrett

I recently came across another deserving target for my wrath, a book called The Irish Way: Becoming American In The Multiethnic City by Professor James R Barrett. It includes several pages of Cassidese nonsense like the following: 

“Corruptions of the Irish Gaelic language survived in the memories of old-timers and were refreshed by more recent immigrants. Irish words, phrases, accents and pronunciations seeped into the English of working-class neighbourhoods.”

Why am I angry about this?  Well, in some ways, I shouldn’t get worked up. There are things which are far more important in the world and I should watch my blood pressure and not allow idiocy like this to annoy me, but I just can’t help it. Here we have a career academic who quotes from Cassidy describing him as ‘linguist Daniel Cassidy’  Linguist? Cassidy was not a linguist in the sense of speaking many languages (judging by the book, he could barely speak English and didn’t know any Irish at all) and he certainly wasn’t trained in the theoretical study of language. Presumably this man Barrett read the book or at least looked at it. Didn’t he get suspicious at the lack of methodology, the lack of a bibliography, the fact that nothing is properly referenced? The claim that the name of a fictional character in an Indian poem by Kipling is really derived from Irish didn’t set any alarm bells ringing?

Apparently not, because James Barrett gives a list of words like slugger, dude, square, sucker, stool pigeon, squealer, swell, taro (I think he means faro, the card game, not taro the Japanese sweet potato), racketeer, scam and jazz. Of course, Cassidy claimed that all these words derive from Irish.  Readers of this blog will know that none of these words is really from Irish or Scottish Gaelic. And Barrett would know it too, if he had bothered looking these words up in dictionaries to see what real experts who know what they are talking about have said about them.

I mustn’t get angry … But, really! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE? This man is a highly qualified academic but apparently he is so lacking in scepticism and common sense that he just buys all of this tosh from Cassidy as if it’s real, without questioning it or investigating it or confirming it, even by surfing on Google for a quarter of an hour. And remember that this book came out in 2012 (and is about to be reprinted – it will be interesting to see if it still contains the same crap about slang). This is too early for cassidyslangscam, but not too early for a lot of other people who credibly and skilfully demonstrated that Cassidy’s book is simply nonsense written by an unqualified con-man. (Actually I should rephrase that: Cassidy was certainly a highly qualified con-man but he was unqualified to carry out any kind of academic work.)

Worse still, Barrett’s book has been reviewed in all kinds of publications and by all kinds of people. As far as I can see, not one of them has picked up on the claims that terms like square and jazz and block come from Irish and questioned their validity. Not one reviewer has taken issue with Barrett using Cassidy’s book as a source, in spite of the fact that it is like someone including theories about aliens building the pyramids in a serious book on Egyptology.  

Is this really what we’ve come to, a situation where the education system is so bad that even highly educated people are completely unable to recognise an insane load of cacamas for what it is?

Mutt

Mutt is an American expression for a mongrel dog. According to the dictionaries, the term mutt is thought to be a version of muttonhead, which enters English around the same time (beginning of the twentieth century) and means a fool or a dolt. There is no great mystery about this. Muttonhead is saying that something or someone resembles a sheep and mutt is used of people as well as dogs from the start. Of a person, this probably means they’re stupid. Of a dog, it probably just means that they have a shaggy and unkempt coat.

Daniel Cassidy, the Great Fraud, says that mutt doesn’t come from muttonhead. According to him, it comes from madadh or madra (mada in Dinneen) the Irish for dog (not mongrel.) These words begin with m but apart from that, they don’t sound much like mutt.

However, the funniest thing in this piece is the way that Cassidy tries to rubbish the derivation from muttonhead.

“Some Anglo-American lexicographers derive mutt from muttonhead, as in a sheep’s head. But a muttonhead is a dunderhead or a dolt. Most mutts are (street) smart.”

Well, that proves it then! Hearken to his cold, inexorable logic …

What a total putz!