Tag Archives: professor with no degree

Cassidese Glossary – Poultice Route

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.

Daniel Cassidy, in his etymological hoax, How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that in hobo slang, The Poultice Route was a term for the land of milk and honey or the southern route. This is a typical Cassidy distortion. In reality, a poultice was an hobo slang term for a dish of bread and gravy and the Poultice Route was any rail line going through Utah, where the inhabitants “are generally hospitable, and where bread and gravy is always to be had even though, on account of poverty, meat may be scarce.”

Cassidy’s claim is that the poultice of the Poultice Route is really from the Irish ball deas, which he says means “a nice place, a pretty spot, a southern place”. In reality, ball deas would simply mean a nice spot, which is vague. It is also completely unlike poultice in pronunciation. The explanation given above (and ignored completely by Cassidy) is far more convincing.

Cassidese Glossary – Mayhem

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 the etymological hoaxer, Daniel Cassidy, this word, which means a disturbance or trouble, is derived from the Irish word maidhm, which means an outbreak. This sounds plausible enough until you examine the evidence properly.

Maidhm is pronounced similarly to the English word mime. It does mean an outbreak. It is used of something which has been held in and suddenly breaks through. So a maidhm shneachta is a maidhm of snow, an avalanche. A landslide is a maidhm thalún, while a maidhm phortaigh is a distinctly Irish natural disaster, the bogslide.

So, can maidhm be used for riot or civil disturbance? Irish is very rich in words and phrases for disturbances or hubbub (an Irish word in itself). Trioblóid, ciréib, cíor thuathail, cath, ruaille-buaille, rí-rá, fuirse má rabhdaileam. Maidhm is not one that would normally be used. If someone said “Bhí maidhmeanna i mBéal Feirste aréir”, an Irish speaker would take this to mean that there were landslides of some kind in Belfast, not that there were riots.

When maidhm is used about warfare, it has a very specific meaning, namely that your defensive line has broken and that your troops are running away. In other words, it means a rout or catastrophic defeat. This is not at all what the word mayhem means, of course.

And in any case, the word mayhem doesn’t sound much like maidhm and it has an absolutely clear and undisputed history going back to the 13th century, before any Irish ghettoes appeared in the English-speaking world. It derives from Norman French and is a legal term.

The Daniel Cassidy Memorial Lecture

On the 9th of November, in San Francisco, as part of a festival called Hinterland, the Irish broadcaster and historian Myles Dungan will give the inaugural Daniel Cassidy Memorial Lecture. The Hinterland festival has two independent parts, one in County Meath and the other (HinterlandWest) in California. The Irish festival is also linked to the Hay Festival on the border between England and Wales.

Anyone who has read this blog carefully will realise that there is something very strange about the idea of commemorating Daniel Cassidy or celebrating his life.

The HinterlandWest Festival describes Cassidy thus:

Daniel Cassidy was a much-loved musician, and academic who ran the Irish Studies programme at New College, San Francisco up to the time of his death in 2008.

The comma is interesting. Did they originally have a comment about his skills as a writer and linguist but decided to remove it because they realise that the boat sailed on that one a long time ago? Or do they simply have problems with punctuation?

The facts in relation to Daniel Cassidy are clear. He was certainly a musician, though an indifferent one.

With regard to his status as an academic, there is no doubt that Cassidy worked as a lecturer at New College of California for around twelve years. Cassidy himself claimed (under a rather obvious sock puppet identity) that he had worked before that at San Francisco State but I have no confirmation of this claim.

What is very clear is that he was not entitled to be a lecturer in any university because he had no qualifications. Some sources, such as Wikipedia, claimed for a long time that he graduated from Cornell. Cassidy himself claimed to have been educated at or studied at Cornell and then at Columbia. The SF Irish American Crossroads Festival website says that Cassidy studied first at Columbia and then at Cornell, but this is contradicted by accounts of his life given by Cassidy in interviews.

The fact is that Cassidy attended Cornell for about four years on a scholarship, but left the university in 1965 without receiving a degree. He never attended Columbia University and he never got a primary degree or a postgraduate degree.

In other words, the reality is that Cassidy was just some unqualified guy who had wandered in off the street with an attitude and the gift of the gab and had no right to even apply for a job as a teacher. This is confirmed again and again in his book and in the numerous articles that appeared in newspapers around the time of its publication. In his book, Cassidy demonstrates time and time again that he didn’t care about facts or telling the truth. He knew nothing about the methods used by genuine academics. The book is weak and badly argued, with its fake phonetics, ludicrously bad referencing, a tendency to dishonestly miss out anything that conflicted with his theories and an even more disturbing tendency to simply invent phrases in ‘Irish’ that never existed and in many cases could never exist, phrases like fo-luach and sách úr and béal ónna and teas ioma and uath-anchor. The book really is a complete mess and anyone who thinks that How The Irish Invented Slang is going to make a genuine contribution to the world of etymology is delusional.

It has also been suggested that Cassidy used his unearned status as a lecturer to sexually harass young women who were unlucky enough to be studying under his guidance. This claim came from a person who left a message here and who studied at New College. I have no idea whether it’s true or not but knowing Cassidy’s arrogance and self-obsession and lack of boundaries, I don’t consider it at all unlikely.

Myles Dungan, who is delivering this inaugural Daniel Cassidy Memorial Lecture (let’s hope it’s also the last), interviewed Cassidy just after his book was published. I have already dealt with this elsewhere on this blog. It was a fairly feeble interview and a poor piece of journalism, which gave Cassidy an easy ride and failed to ask any difficult (and obvious) questions. It is strange to find Myles Dungan, who gave this toxic fraud a platform to sell his garbage to unsuspecting people back then, once again stepping up to support this liar more than a decade later. It’s doubly strange in that Myles Dungan is well-known for a blog that debunks fake news stories from history.

I don’t know who was responsible for establishing this Daniel Cassidy Memorial Lecture and damaging the reputation of the HinterlandWest Festival by associating it with a man who is universally despised by all right-thinking people. I suspect that Elizabeth Creely, one of the most vociferous Cassidy loyalists, had a hand in this bizarre decision. Whoever is responsible, the fact is that Cassidy was not a person deserving of commemoration or celebration. He was a criminal, a liar, a narcissist, a hypocrite and a total waste of space. No decent human being would knowingly associate themselves with this man and his deceptions.

The top ten Cassidy lies

There are still many people out there who are determined to carry on spreading the same old lies about Daniel Cassidy. Why do they do it? Some of them are obviously friends of Cassidy’s who want to continue believing in the myth rather than looking the facts squarely in the face. Others are just trolls, fantasists and compulsive liars, just like their hero Cassidy. Still others are stupid and naive people who have been conned into thinking that support for Cassidy is support for Irish Republicanism or socialism, while criticism of Cassidy is criticism of those causes. Anyway, to help balanced and rational people who find their way to this site to understand what a liar Cassidy was, here is a list of the top ten lies from and about Daniel Cassidy. Enjoy!

 

Cassidy was qualified

Cassidy went to Cornell but flunked out in 1965. While there is no direct evidence of Cassidy claiming that he was a graduate, there is plenty of indirect evidence. The most important piece of indirect evidence is that Cassidy worked as a professor in New College of California (and apparently he lectured in San Francisco State before that). Who would give someone a lecturer’s job if they didn’t have any degrees at all? It seems clear that there was some kind of fraud here. Until someone provides evidence to the contrary or explains how Cassidy became an academic with only a high school diploma, then the logical assumption has to be that he committed a crime in accepting a job as a lecturer, probably stealing in excess of half a million dollars from the American education system by using non-existent qualifications to gain employment.

 

The Rule of Tír

According to Cassidy, this is a rule of Irish pronunciation. In fact, it’s just another piece of nonsense invented by Cassidy. Cassidy made use of a forum for Irish learners to find out how to pronounce certain sounds. He was too stupid to understand the linguistic explanations given. Eventually, one poster said:

BOTTOM LINE?!  How do I say “tír?”

Cheer

Tear

jeer.

I’ll bet every native speaker would understand me no matter which I said.

In other words, this poster was saying, it doesn’t matter what you say really because people will understand you, NOT that native speakers use these forms interchangeably. But in the insane world of Cassidy’s head, this casual online comment was transformed into The Rule of Tír, a fictional ‘rule’ which states that they ARE interchangeable!

 

Cassidy’s grandparents

Cassidy, using his sockpuppet identity of Medbh, claimed that his grandparents spoke Donegal Irish. He gives no further details. Grandparents (plural) means that at least two of his grandparents were supposedly speakers of Donegal Irish. According to a family tree on Ancestry.co.uk, only one of Cassidy’s grandparents was born in Ireland. She was from Monaghan, so she didn’t speak Donegal Irish. The rest were born in New York and Toronto. Some of his forebears had Munster names like O’Brien and Garrity. There seems to be no certainty about where the Cassidys themselves came from, but it’s primarily a Fermanagh name, not a Donegal name.

 

Cassidy and Dallas

Cassidy claimed that he was in the newsroom of the New York Times as a rookie journalist the day JFK was shot in 1963. Yet Cassidy stated elsewhere that he was still in Cornell until 1965 and started as a rookie journalist in the NYT after he was booted out of Cornell university with no degree.

 

Cassidy was award-winning

According to the sources on line, Cassidy won an award for poetry at Cornell, before they kicked him out. In his adult life, he only won one award. He received an American Book Award for his ridiculous dreckfest How The Irish Invented Slang in 2007. We don’t know who the judges were (they don’t tell us in any detail how the judging is done), but I find it interesting that at least four of his friends are currently on the board of the Before Columbus Foundation ( based in Oakland, CA), which hands out the awards (David Meltzer, Ishmael Reed, T.J. English and Jack Foley). Cassidy was also supposed to have received a nomination (which isn’t an award) for an Emmy for his documentary Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs, but there is no independent confirmation of this anywhere on line.

 

Cassidy’s work was endorsed by many Irish speakers

This is nonsense. Some Irish speakers did support Cassidy, but we have to remember several points here. Almost all those who provided support for Cassidy (Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, Ciarán Ó Pronntaigh, Joe Lee) knew him. We have no information about the circumstances in which they gave their support. Had they read the book or were they asked to provide a favourable review ‘blind,’ without seeing the finished article? The reaction to Cassidy’s work among genuine Irish speakers who didn’t know him has been very hostile, and many people who have only a nodding acquaintance with the language have praised his work while pretending to be better informed about Irish than they really are – just like Cassidy himself.

 

Cassidy’s work was ‘peer-reviewed’

This is claimed by his sockpuppet identity Méabh, and repeated by some of his more enthusiastic and less intelligent supporters. Cassidy’s work was not peer-reviewed (the closest it got to that was when it was rejected by an academic reviewer when Cassidy tried to get it published by the University of Limerick). It was given reviews in newspapers, which is not the same thing at all. In fact, if a body of experts on linguistics, slang and the Irish language were assembled together to assess the merit of Cassidy’s work, not only would they fall about laughing, they would not be peers of Cassidy’s. A peer means an equal. Cassidy knew absolutely nothing about any of these subjects. Cassidy’s peers were other fake Irish loudmouths with no qualifications and no idea about their ancestral culture.

 

Cassidy was ‘passionate’ about the Irish language

As one Irish blogger who had listened to too many fools in New York said: Cassidy argued in his book that many American English slang words were derived from Gaelic, a claim with which some disagreed. But if they thought his argument thin, they must never have experienced his vast passion for the Irish language. Let’s just examine this one closely. Cassidy lived his whole life in cities like New York and San Francisco. There were Irish organisations in both these cities giving classes in the language. Linguaphone used to offer a course in Irish, starting in 1957, which would have been available anywhere. Yet somehow, Cassidy managed to avoid learning any Irish – or indeed buying any books, dictionaries or tape courses in or on the language – until 2001, when he was left an Irish dictionary in someone’s will. Some passion! And he never succeeded in learning any Irish. He had no idea about the pronunciation, the grammar, or the usage. Cassidy’s interest in Irish was shallow dilettantism, not passion.

 

A working-class hero is something to be ..

Cassidy really played up the working-class hero thing, cultivating a broad Brooklyn accent and talking about his past as a merchant marine (though it’s hard to work out when, or indeed, if, he was ever a merchant marine). His sister Susan commented that: Cockbum also said that Danny grew up in the “slums of Brooklyn”. we grew up on Long Island in the ’50’s – it was all country … And while his family may have been ordinary folk, they don’t seem to have been that poor. His father ran an Irish bar. Cassidy won a scholarship to the New York Military Academy, alma mater of Donald Trump and Stephen Sondheim, and then went on to Cornell. Not exactly Les Misérables

 

“…this pioneering book proves that US slang has its strongest wellsprings in nineteenth-century Irish America.”

I started writing this blog before I knew anything about Daniel Cassidy. The more I learned, the more I despised him. All I knew at the start was that the book was nonsense and that a number of high-profile buffoons were trying to pretend that it isn’t nonsense, for reasons best known to themselves. The fact is, this book is stuffed with lies. You can find lies on every page. And we’re talking whoppers here, not minnows. Cassidy invented the overwhelming majority of the Irish ‘phrases’ in this book. They have never existed. Since I began this project, none of the buffoons who have lauded this idiotic garbage has tried to defend Cassidy. We have had the occasional idiot or troll calling in to make sweeping generalisations about how the Irish talk a lot so American English must be full of Irish. But none of them has answered the challenge which I have repeatedly given them – to provide evidence that Cassidy’s phrases had any existence independent of his crazy echo-chamber of a head. Of course, none of them ever will do, because there is no evidence. Cassidy made it all up as he went along.

Eight Reasons Why Daniel Cassidy Was An Obvious Fraud

Over the last few weeks we have established that Daniel Cassidy did not have a degree from Cornell University and that he was probably without any academic qualifications at all. This will come as no surprise to those who have a background in Irish or linguistics, because there are so many things in this book which would arouse the suspicion of any intelligent and enquiring person. As Michael Patrick Brady so rightly commented on Popmatters back in 2007, “Cassidy is the co-founder of the Irish Studies program at the New College of California, a tiny liberal arts school, and though his bona fides seem in order, the book has a strange, casual tone that makes it hard to approach.” Yes, Cassidy’s bona fides seemed in order back then. We now know that his claim to be a genuine academic was a total crock. However, it is perhaps worth looking through some of the many reasons why Cassidy’s ‘research’ was obviously rubbish, even before the bombshell revelation that Cassidy had no qualifications.

  1. The book contains certain claims which are not just improbable but completely nuts, such as the claim that Gunga Din comes from Irish!
  2. The vast majority of Cassidy’s Irish candidates for the origin of English words and phrases are pure fantasy which are not found in Irish at all and which sound completely absurd to anyone who really speaks the language.
  3. Any real academic would have learned the language before writing a book about it. Cassidy didn’t feel that was necessary and many of his made-up phrases are laughable because he had no idea of grammar or usage.
  4. When Cassidy did take words from the Irish dictionaries, he took words out of context and used the most obscure meanings. For example, the word ceap has many meanings. Cassidy found the obscure poetic meaning of protector and claimed it as the origin of cop. This is like saying that because you can say ‘pillar of the community’ it’s also OK to say things like ‘I was talking to a pillar at the reception’.
  5. Cassidy rarely checked other sources for words. When he did mention the dictionary origins, it was merely to rubbish them without presenting the full facts.
  6. Cassidy invented a peculiar fake version of phonetic transcription which bears no relation to the real thing. For example, in phonetics, a j represents the sound usually represented with a y in English. This is Phonetics 101, yet Cassidy knew nothing about it!
  7. Cassidy did not use any kind of referencing system. He tended to cobble together a fake definition, some of which came from the dictionaries and some of which was his own invention, and then give three or four references to different books afterwards!
  8. Cassidy’s ‘evidence’ consisted not of proof for the existence of his Irish candidate phrases in Irish, but of the target phrases in the work of Irish-American writers, as if that proves anything!

I could go on but why bother? Anyone with an open mind and a titter of wit knows that Cassidy was a fraud.

More On Cassidy’s Degree

Recently, I received messages from Cassidy’s sister in which she stated that Cassidy flunked his degree at Cornell. If this is the case, then it seems to suggest that Cassidy had no degree.

As I have said before, I cannot prove that this particular claim is true, but I think it certainly makes sense. There is a lack of any solid information in accounts of Cassidy’s educational background. While it says on Wikipedia that he graduated from Cornell, in other interviews he simply talks about studying at Cornell. There is no indication anywhere of what level of degree he might have achieved, if any.

The fact is, knowing what I know about Cassidy, I consider the claim entirely credible. I have met plenty of narcissists like Cassidy and I know that someone like him, on realising that getting a good job required lying about his educational background, would immediately invent lots of justifications for committing such a fraud. I wudda had dat degree, only coicumstances was against me. I should really do dis, because dey need more Irish-American workin’-class stiffs like me. If I can geddaway wid dis, dat proves dat dese guys in academia are da real frauds. Dey should be thanking me! I can do good things for Irish-America if I can only get a break. I’m smart. I’ll prove it once I get into da job! etc. etc. etc.

Hopefully, Cornell University will look at this question and let the world know officially whether Cassidy was a graduate. While we wait for corroborating evidence, all I can say is that there is a real question mark about whether Cassidy had any kind of academic qualification at all. I always thought that a primary degree was a poor basis for a professorship. Graduating from high school (assuming that he even did that!) is an even poorer basis for a chair. It might entitle him to a job as a janitor. But a professorship? Not a chance!