Some people come out of the Cassidy affair very badly, while others come out of it very well. One of those who deserves special mention for consistently challenging Cassidy’s nonsense is Grant Barrett. Here is a short post from Barrett’s blog http://grantbarrett.com/crank-etymologist:
Thinking phonetic similarities between words prove origin or relation is a common mistake of amateur etymologists, as in this junk etymology, where the author, a known crank who favors simplistic and unverified Irish origins for a variety of English words—because he thinks American and English lexicographers have an anti-Irish bias—posits that bunkum comes from a buanchumadh, an Irish-Gaelic word he says means “perpetual invention, endless composition (of a story, poem, or song), a long made-up story, fig. a shaggy dog tale.” Of course, he provides no written citations of the word in English-language contexts. He’s got bupkus to prove his claim.
The author, Daniel Cassidy, used to post his rubbish to the email list of the American Dialect Society, but when his rickety logic and dubious scholarship couldn’t withstand the scrutiny of interested scholars and dilettantes, he took his quackery other places to people who don’t know any better.
Posted July 3, 2006
On a different forum, http://www.wordorigins.org/index.php/forums/viewthread/663/, Barrett was attacked by Cassidy (under a false ‘sockpuppet’ identity) for having the temerity to pour scorn on Cassidy’s fake derivations:
“Barrett’s quote ‘s cam e (it is a fraud, a trick). Barrett the Parrott also claims to be Irish. So what. So is Ian Paisley. As to Munster derivations, Glencolumcille is in Donegal and Cassidy’s grandparent’s spoke Donegal Irish. Barrett the Parrott is an Anglophile hack whose boring books are in the basement of Amazon.com and in the remainder baskets of most bookstores. Before you believe a focal (word) out of Grant Parrots’ gob ( beak, mouth), check out these reviews. Barret the Parrot had better kiss the toin (buttocks) of his publishers at Oxford. With his books down around 270,000 and 600,000 on Amazon, whereas Cassidy’s book is in 5th reprint in 7 months and just won an American Book Award.
Is it a twerp (duirb, a worm)? Is it a dork (dorc, a dwarf)? Or is it Barrett the Parrot? No it’s “Superscam” (aka Barret the English Parrott) and his phoney made-up quotes.
Here are REAL QUOTES that haven’t been hahahahaha deleted hahahahahahaha.
Believe Barrett the Parrott (AKA Superscam) or Dr. Joe Lee, who is a native Irish speaker and the Director of Irish Studies at NYU? Professor Lee is one of the foremost scholars in the field of Irish Studies in the US and Ireland.”
Cassidy then goes on to reel off a favourable comment from Joe Lee about Cassidy’s book. Why Joe Lee (an Irish speaker) chose to support this ridiculous book when he must have known that it is packed full of nonsense is between him and his conscience. People like Barrett come out of this well because they stood up for the truth, the facts, and the right of ordinary people not to be conned by cranks like Cassidy. They deserve our support, our respect and our thanks.