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Amadán Aibreáin – Phil Cousineau

Ní raibh mórán ama agam ar na mallaibh, agus sin an fáth a bhfuil mé rud beag mall le hAmadán na Míosa an mhí seo.

Is é Amadán na Míosa i mí Aibreáin na bliana seo ná Phil Cousineau, “scríbhneoir agus scannánóir a bhfuil duaiseanna buaite aige, múinteoir agus eagarthóir, léachtóir agus ceannaire taistil, scéalaí agus óstach teilifíse” atá bunaithe i gCeantar na Bá in San Francisco. Tá breis agus tríocha leabhar scríofa aige, leabhair a bhaineann le réimse ábhar – úfó-eolaíocht, sioncronacht, miotas an laoich, an dóigh le bheith cruthaitheach, an turas mar oilithreacht agus sanasaíocht.

Cén fáth nach maith liom Phil Cousineau? Bhal, bheinn in amhras air cionn is gur boc mór é i saol cultúrtha Cheantar na Bá ach ní leor an méid sin ann féin.

Ní maith liom an cacamas bréagspioradálta a chleachtann daoine mar Cousineau, go háirithe nuair a bhíonn sé ceangailte le leabhair, cláracha teilifíse agus cúrsaí. Mar shampla, cuireann buafhocail bheaga amaideacha mar seo samhnas orm: “the uncanny discovery that the seeker is the mystery which the seeker seeks to know”; “writing is easy; all you do is pick the scab crusted over your soul”; “if you don’t risk getting lost, you’ll never be found”; “Stories heal the wounds inflicted by the mercurous knife of stainless steel facts”. Uch!

Tá boladh an chacamais airsean agus ar a chuid saothar, dar liom féin. Le sampla amháin a thabhairt, tá alt measartha téagartha aige ar Wikipedia, a insíonn scéal a chuid buanna agus cuid de na péarlaí eagna a chum sé. Nuair a amharcaim ar an stair, áfach, is léir gur duine darbh ainm Wordpilgrim a scríobh cuid mhór den alt. Hmm … cérbh é Wordpilgrim? An amhlaidh gur Phil Cousineau féin a bhí ann, duine a bhfuil leabhair scríofa aige ar fhocail agus ar oilithreachtaí?

Agus sin ráite, níor leor na rudaí seo le hAmadán na Míosa a thuilleadh do Cousineau. An fáth a bhfuil fuath agam dó ná dhá leabhar uafásacha a chum sé ar an tsanasaíocht ‘don phobal’, leabhair a scríobh sé cionn is gur ‘focalbhách’ é, nó gráthóir focal, Wordcatcher (2010) agus The Painted Word (2012).

Díríonn na leabhair seo ar fhocail a bhfuil spéis ag an údar iontu. Is dócha go bhfuil cuid mhór den eolas seo ceart, ní nach ionadh, mar thóg Cousineau an t-ábhar seo ó fhoinsí mar fhoclóirí a bhfuil taighde mór maith déanta ag a n-údair. An rud a chuireann iontas ormsa ná líon na meancóg sna leabhair seo de chuid Cousineau. Dar le Cousineau, Sly and the Family Stone a chum Play That Funky Music Right Boy. I bhfírinne, an bhuíon Wild Cherry a chum é agus ar ndóigh, Play That Funky Music WHITE Boy an leagan ceart. In alt eile ar an fhocal adumbrate, labhraíonn sé ar chúrsa scannánaíochta ar fhoghlaim sé faoi thábhacht na scáileanna i saothar Hitchcock ann. Déanann sé tagairt d’alt le criticeoir darb ainm Letich (recte Leitch) a bhí ag scríobh faoi scannán Hitchcock Odd Man Out. Ach, ar ndóigh, Carol Reed a rinne Odd Man Out, ní Hitchcock. Tá na meancóga bómánta chomh flúirseach sin sa leabhar seo. Bernard Share a scríobh an leabhar Slanguage, ní Bernard Shaw. Níl baint ar bith idir an focal glaum san Albainis agus gléas le hainmhithe a choilleadh. Níl baint dá laghad idir an sloinne Muir agus muir Ghaeilge na hAlban. Agus ar ndóigh, ní David Cassidy an Partridge Family a scríobh How The Irish Invented Slang, ach Daniel Cassidy.

Tá a lán tagairtí do Cassidy agus dá leabhar amaideach sa dá leabhar seo le Cousineau, Wordcatcher agus The Painted Word, cé go léiríonn an mheancóg leis an ainm gur dócha nach raibh caidreamh an-dlúth idir an bheirt drochshaineolaí focal seo.

Tá Wordcatcher líonta lán le raiméis Chasaideach, agus tá falsacht agus saontacht an údair le feiceáil ar gach aon leathanach. Glacann sé frása Cassidy comhúdar (nach gciallaíonn ach “an duine a scríobh rud éigin le duine éigin) mar bhunús an fhocail cahoots (cé go mílitríonn sé é mar comh-udar). Deir sé go ndúirt Cassidy gurbh é an focal Gaeilge tuig ba bhunus leis an fhocal dig (understand) i mBéarla na nDaoine Gorma sna Stáit, ach ní luann sé gur phléigh Walter Skeat an nasc idir twig agus tuig breis agus céad bliain ó shin agus gur fhoilsigh Eric P. Hamp alt dar teideal “On the Celtic origin of English slang dig/twig (‘understand’)” in 1981. Glacann sé teoiric Cassidy faoi bhunús Gaeilge dude ón fhocal dúd i ndáiríre, cé go bhfuil scoláirí teanga ar aon intinn, beagnach, gur ó Yankee Doodle Dandy a tháinig sé.

Cé gur lú an cacamas Casaideach sa leabhar The Painted Word, tá an méid atá ann lán chomh holc. Is fiú a alt ar an fhocal ‘lulu’ ón leabhar sin a thabhairt ina iomláine anseo.

“LULU (IRISH)

A remarkable person, thing or event. Tracked down by word detective Daniel Cassidy in Irish-American Slang, this two-syllable dandy derives from the Irish word liu luigh, “a howl, a scream, a vigorous scream of joy,” and more, “A lulu can be spectacular or awful, but it’s always a scream.” More surprisingly still, Cassidy’s sleuthing tracked down its earliest recorded mention, in the New Orleans Lantern, on November 10, 1886, where it was used to describe the shenanigans in a local baseball game: “Farrell’s two baser was a lu-lu.” The citation would have delighted the late, great Ernie Hartwell, Hall of Fame broadcaster and baseball historian, who was married to a Lulu of a wife for over sixty years.”

Cá dtosóinn? Bhal, cé gur cuma liom má bhíonn daoine ag insint bréag faoi Daniel Cassidy (ba chóir do dhaoine an comhar a dhíol leis an bhalacs bheag) ach ní Irish-American Slang an teideal a bhí ar leabhar Cassidy. Ach ní hé sin a dheireadh. De réir cosúlachta, is ón fhocal Gaeilge liu luigh a tháinig lulu an Bhéarla. Ach is frása é liu luigh, ní focal. (Shílfeá go dtuigfeadh gráthóir focal mar Cousineau an difear!) Is frása gan chiall é, ar ndóigh, ach aisteach go leor, ní hé sin an frása amaideach gan chiall a chum Cassidy le bunús lulu a mhíniú. An frása a chum Cassidy, bhí sé lán chomh bómánta – gur tháinig lulu ón ‘Ghaeilge’ liú lúith. Ciallaíonn liú scread, ar ndóigh, agus ciallaíonn lúth aclaíocht nó neart. Na céadta bliain ó shin, bhí an chiall lúcháir nó áthas leis fosta ach níl anois. Baineann “vigorous yell of joy” Cassidy úsáid as an dá chiall, ach deir Cassidy fosta go gciallaíonn sé go meafarach “a complete scream, a howler.” Ar ndóigh, chum Cassidy an frása ‘liú lúith”. Cumadóireacht lom atá ann, nach bhfuil rian de sa Ghaeilge, agus ní gá dom a rá nach mbíonn ciall mheafarach ag frásaí nach bhfuil ann. Agus sin ráite, tá níos lú céille ag leagan Cousineau (liu luigh) fiú ná mar atá ag leagan Cassidy. Ní chiallaíonn liu rud ar bith gan síneadh fada agus is é luigh aimsir chaite nó modh ordaitheach an bhriathair luí.

Tá trí rud ar a laghad déanta ag Cousineau anseo nár chóir dó a dhéanamh. Ar an chéad dul síos, níl sé ag tabhairt luach a gcuid airgid dá léitheoirí féin, daoine a bhí ag iarraidh fíricí in áit raiméis gan chiall. Ar an dara dul síos, tá sé ag cuidiú le cumadóireacht amaideach agus bréagGhaeilge Daniel Cassidy a scaipeadh. Ar an tríú dul síos, tá sé ag cuidiú le daoine ligean orthu gur fíorscoláire a bhí in Daniel Cassidy, bréagadóir neamhshrianta a ndearnadh ‘ollamh’ de in ainneoin nach raibh oiread agus céim B.A. ollscoile aige.

Is mar gheall ar na fáthanna seo a bhfuil bród orm Duais Amadán na Míosa Aibreán 2018 a bhronnadh ar Phil Cousineau ó San Francisco.

 

 

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April’s Twit of the Month – Phil Cousineau

I haven’t had a lot of time recently, so I am posting my April Twit of the Month a bit late.

April’s Twit of the Month is Phil Cousineau, an “award-winning writer and filmmaker, teacher and editor, lecturer and travel leader, storyteller and TV host” who is based in San Francisco’s Bay Area. He is the author of some thirty books on subjects as varied as ufology, synchronicity, the myth of the hero, how to be creative, travel as pilgrimage and etymology.

Why don’t I like Phil Cousineau? Well, the fact that he is a major cultural figure in the Bay Area would make me suspicious but isn’t enough on its own.

I don’t like the kind of junk spirituality that is his stock in trade, especially when it’s linked to products like books, TV shows and courses. For example, trite little epigrams like these make me physically sick: “the uncanny discovery that the seeker is the mystery which the seeker seeks to know”; “writing is easy; all you do is pick the scab crusted over your soul”; “if you don’t risk getting lost, you’ll never be found”; “Stories heal the wounds inflicted by the mercurous knife of stainless steel facts”. Yeugh …

There is an air of bullshit surrounding him and his works. To give you one example, he has a significant article on Wikipedia, which tells of his achievements and quotes some of his famous pearls of wisdom. However, when you look at the history, much of the article was written by someone called Wordpilgrim. I wonder who that was? Could it be Phil Cousineau himself, who has written books on words and pilgrimages?

However, even these wouldn’t justify a Twit of the Month Award on their own. The reason why I’m so hostile to Phil Cousineau is the two crappy books of pop etymology he has written as a logophile (lover of words): Wordcatcher (2010) and The Painted Word (2012).

These books focus on words that the author finds interesting. Much of this information is probably correct and, as it’s taken directly from well-researched sources like dictionaries, this is unsurprising. What is surprising is the sheer number of mistakes in these books. Cousineau attributes Play That Funky Music Right, Boy to Sly and the Family Stone. It’s really by Wild Cherry and of course, it’s really Play That Funky Music WHITE Boy. In an article on the word adumbrate, he talks about a film studies course where he learned the importance of shadow in Hitchcock’s work. He refers to an article by a critic called Letich (really Leitch) who was writing about Hitchcock’s film Odd Man Out. Except Odd Man Out was by Carol Reed, not Hitchcock. There are so many clumsy errors in this book. Slanguage was written by Bernard Share, not Bernard Shaw. The word glaum in Scots has no connection with a device for castrating animals. And of course, How The Irish Invented Slang was by Daniel Cassidy, not David Cassidy of the Partridge Family.

These two books by Cousineau, Wordcatcher and The Painted Word, contain a large number of references to Cassidy and his ludicrous book, though the mistake with the name indicates that there was probably no close relationship between these two crap etymologists.

Wordcatcher (2010) is particularly full of Cassidese nonsense, treated with abject laziness and a total lack of scepticism. He takes Cassidy’s ridiculous made-up phrase comhúdar (misspelling it comh-udar) seriously as the origin of cahoots. He says that Cassidy claimed Irish tuig as the origin of dig (to understand) in Black American English but fails to mention that the Irish association with twig goes back at least a hundred years, while Eric P. Hamp published an article called “On the Celtic origin of English slang dig/twig (‘understand’) in 1981. He takes Cassidy’s dúd origin of dude seriously, though scholars make the eminently reasonable connection with Yankee Doodle. He claims that Cassidy links the word fun to the Irish fonn, though this doesn’t seem to be in the book. (It’s ludicrous anyway!) He recounts Cassidy’s imbecilic theories about the origins of jazz from teas without question. He gives Cassidy the credit for identifying the Irish origins of phoney, when Eric Partridge had already done that a half century ago.

While there is less Cassidese bullcrap in The Painted Word, it is just as bad. His piece on ‘lulu’ from that book is worth quoting in full.

LULU (IRISH)

A remarkable person, thing or event. Tracked down by word detective Daniel Cassidy in Irish-American Slang, this two-syllable dandy derives from the Irish word liu luigh, “a howl, a scream, a vigorous scream of joy,” and more, “A lulu can be spectacular or awful, but it’s always a scream.” More surprisingly still, Cassidy’s sleuthing tracked down its earliest recorded mention, in the New Orleans Lantern, on November 10, 1886, where it was used to describe the shenanigans in a local baseball game: “Farrell’s two baser was a lu-lu.” The citation would have delighted the late, great Ernie Hartwell, Hall of Fame broadcaster and baseball historian, who was married to a Lulu of a wife for over sixty years.”

Where do I begin? Well, I don’t really give a toss whether people misrepresent Daniel Cassidy, because Cassidy doesn’t deserve any better, but Cassidy’s book wasn’t called Irish-American Slang. Anyway, let’s move on. Apparently lulu comes from the Irish word liu luigh. However, liu luigh is not a word in English, it’s a phrase. (You’d think a logophile would know that, wouldn’t you?) It’s a completely nonsensical phrase, of course, but remarkably, it’s not even the nonsensical and stupid phrase that Cassidy claimed was the origin of lulu. Cassidy’s equally daft suggestion was that lulu comes from the ‘Irish’ liú lúith. Liú is a word in Irish for a shout. It’s not the most common word in Irish for that concept. Scread or scréach would be far more common, but it does exist. As for lúith, it’s the genitive of lúth, which means vigour, agility, or tendon. It used to mean ‘joy’ in Irish as well but hasn’t for hundreds of years. Cassidy’s “a vigorous yell of joy” actually uses both meanings, but Cassidy also says that it is figuratively “a complete scream, a howler.” Of course, Cassidy made the expression “liú lúith” up. It is a complete fabrication, unknown in the Irish language, and phrases which don’t exist don’t have figurative meanings. However, the Cousineau version (liu luigh) is even less meaningful than Cassidy’s. Liu doesn’t mean anything without the accent and luigh is the past tense or imperative form of the verb meaning to lie or recline.

Cousineau is doing at least three reprehensible things here. Firstly, he is short-changing his own readership by giving them poorly-researched nonsense instead of real scholarship. Secondly, he is helping to spread the made-up nonsense and fake Irish invented by Daniel Cassidy. Thirdly, he is helping to pretend that Cassidy, a pathological liar who became a ‘professor’ without any genuine qualifications at all, was a real etymologist and university lecturer.

It is for these reasons that I am proud to bestow my April CassidySlangScam Twit of the Month Award on Phil Cousineau of San Francisco.