Tag Archives: Sean Sweeney

President Evil

I would like to express my horror and disdain at the election of Donald Trump to the White House. While we should not forget that Hillary Clinton won the majority of the votes, it is deeply shocking that a man like Trump was able to win sufficient support to take the Presidency. It is appalling that millions of people put their trust in this New York narcissist and alumnus of the New York Military Academy, a man who lied incessantly to get what he wanted, a man given to bullying and sexual harassment, and a man who accused anyone who challenged him of being an elitist and a pawn of the establishment. I am sure Corinne Marrinan and Peter Quinn and Michael Patrick MacDonald and Peter Linebaugh and Niall O’Dowd and Sean Sweeney and all the rest of them are as dismayed as I am at the result.

However, as these people have spent the last nine years defending Daniel Cassidy, a New York narcissist and alumnus of the New York Military Academy, a man who lied incessantly to get what he wanted, a man given to bullying and sexual harassment, and a man who accused anyone who challenged him of being an elitist and a pawn of the establishment, you’ll perhaps understand why I don’t have a lot of sympathy for these people. Welcome to the ‘post-truth’ world you helped to create, a world where facts count for nothing and any lie is justifiable in the service of your own particular ideology. As you can see, this kind of dumb-ass relativism cuts both ways. If smart metropolitan liberals can support mindless fact-free bullshit when it suits them, they don’t really have the right to get angry when knuckle-dragging dim-witted fascists do the same thing.

So, God help the American people, and God forgive all the morons  like Corinne Marrinan and Peter Quinn and Michael Patrick MacDonald and Peter Linebaugh and Niall O’Dowd and Sean Sweeney who helped to make this ‘post-truth’ nightmare a reality by not insisting that a lie is a lie is a lie, even when it comes from your friends.

Fact or Fun?

While I don’t intend to blog on a regular basis in 2016, I have decided to start the New Year with a post about a question which has been bothering me for some time. Basically, there are two attitudes towards Cassidy’s fake ‘research’ among those who support him. One is that Cassidy didn’t claim to be a serious academic researcher and that his book was just a bit of fun. The other, opposing view, is that Cassidy’s work is of immense value and significance and that it ‘throws down a gauntlet’ to the prevailing academic view of Irish influence on English.

Why is this issue worthy of a post? Well, firstly, there are some clowns like Donnacha DeLong and Michael Patrick MacDonald who actually try to maintain both of these contradictory views at once! According to DeLong, Cassidy’s work is simply a set of suggestions humbly offered to the public for their consideration with much of it clearly labelled as speculative, yet at the same time Cassidy was pushing at an imaginary ‘locked door’, which presumably means that the world of academia and the dictionary makers were the ones who locked the door to prevent Irish derivations from gaining access. Of course, the truth is, they’re quite willing to accept Irish derivations when words genuinely have Irish derivations, like shebeen and sourpuss. What they don’t do is accept lunatic off-the-wall derivations without any evidence, and why should they?

An even stupider statement of the same ilk is found on Twitter, where Cassidy’s chum(p) Michael Patrick MacDonald answered an intelligent critic who described Cassidy’s book as ‘academic fraud’ with the words: ‘Never was academic. Bigger than that. It raises serious questions about the racist OED lapdogs.’

So, it’s not academic. But it challenges the running dogs of English imperialism at the OED. Just not with facts or evidence, apparently. It’s bigger than that. (Have you been taking lessons from Dylan Avery, Michael?)

You see, if Cassidy’s work was just a joke, then it isn’t entertaining, or interesting, or worth reading, because it’s a very unfunny joke. Either Cassidy’s derivations are the Irish origins of English phrases (which they aren’t) or the literary quotes and stupid comments and anti-intellectual jibes in How The Irish Invented Slang are just a random collection of nothings thrown together by one man’s crazy obsession.

And if Cassidy’s book isn’t just a piece of ‘amusing’ fluff without any real substance, if it is a genuine challenge to the academics, then why doesn’t it play according to the rules of academia? I mean, academic methodology isn’t random, any more than the selection process for professors is random.

If Cassidy wanted to challenge the dictionary dudes, there were certain things he needed to do. The first and most indispensable of these things was to learn Irish. And in spite of Cassidy’s claims that places like New York were awash with Irish even in the twentieth century and that his grandparents spoke Donegal Irish (though none of them came from Donegal – his one Irish-born grandparent came from Monaghan), Cassidy seems to have never engaged with the Irish language in any manner, shape or form until he was in his late fifties. It is bizarre that a man who spoke no Irish thought it was OK to invent phrases by picking words out of the dictionary and throwing them together with a blithe disregard for how the language is actually used. However, Cassidy was a nut-job and that’s why it seemed perfectly fine to him.

Anyway, because he also discussed Scottish Gaelic, Cassidy would have needed a working knowledge of Gaelic too. Plus a knowledge of slang and non-standard English and of the sources available for those subjects.

Not only that, but in the world of linguistics, there are thousands of articles and books available on the subject of language contact. Just try putting in keywords like ‘language contact’ and ‘loanword’ on Google and see how many references come up. The fact is, whole books have been written about the way that vocabulary is borrowed when languages come into contact. For example, it will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever thought about it that nouns are borrowed most frequently and that this is a universal of language contact. (Rather than random bits of phrases like ‘n-each’!) A knowledge of this literature would also be an essential for writing an academic book about the influence of one language on another.

Is this reasonable? I hear some people say. Cassidy would have had to have devoted most of his life to acquiring the skills necessary to write the book. Yeah, like tens of thousands of people in academia, he would have had to have done more than scratch at the surface and blether. People do spend their whole lives acquiring a knowledge of a particular field. If someone wanted to write an academic work about quantum physics or pure mathematics, you would expect them to know everything about the basics of the subject and virtually everything about the particular topic they are specialising in before setting pen to paper. Most people think there is no special skill involved in linguistics (because most people know jack shit about linguistics) but believe me, you can’t walk into any field of academic study and make a valid contribution without either being a total genius (which Cassidy certainly wasn’t) or having done the necessary work first.

Which brings me to another thing Cassidy didn’t do. When anyone sets out to write a dissertation or a book or a long article in any field of academia, the first thing they do is a literature review. This doesn’t mean they read a novel and discuss it. It means that they find out what has been written about their area of study, examine it, look for strengths and weaknesses, assess the current state of knowledge in the field. They do this because you don’t want to spend three years working on reinventing the wheel. They also do this because true learning tends to progress incrementally on the basis of what other people have already done rather than through massive sudden paradigm-shifts like the one claimed for and by Cassidy. And they also do it because if you don’t do it, you could be repeating claims or ideas which have already been made by other people, leaving you open to allegations of plagiarism. Cassidy failed to do this, of course, and there are many, many claims made in Cassidy’s book which have already been made by others: longshoreman coming from loingseoir; uncle in ‘say uncle’ coming from anacal; shanty coming from seanteach; snazzy from snasach. In fact, anything even slightly believable in Cassidy’s book was already out there. Only the flagrant rubbish is original.

What else didn’t Cassidy do? Well, one obvious thing is to give equal and fair respect to all of the potential origins. To give an example we have had recently in connection with that pompous twit Sean Sweeney, there are many different claims for the origin of the slang term ‘so long’. Some suggest it comes from Arabic (or Urdu or Malay) salaam, or from shalom in Hebrew, or from slán in Irish, or from German adieu so lange or from Scandinavian equivalents like Adjø så lenge (where the so lange and så lenge mean ‘for now’). Rather than research the term thoroughly and give the full range of potential explanations, Cassidy applies a racist and ad hominem approach. Basically, according to Cassidy, all non-Irish non-Catholic English-speaking lexicographers are liars and any explanation which does not involve an Irish origin should be airbrushed out of the record. (Including Terence Dolan’s 2004 Dictionary of Hiberno-English, which mentions the slán theory but dismisses it as improbable.)

However, there is an even more fundamental flaw in Cassidy’s methodology. In one unintentionally funny comment on a review of the book, Donnacha DeLong says that ‘This is how research in this area happens, someone speculates and then others investigate and either verify or falsify what they’ve done.’ Really? That’s how it happens? So, I suggest that twerk comes from the Irish ‘tairg’ meaning ‘offer, proffer, move, put forward, express readiness to’ and then I just sit around waiting for someone else to point out that twerk originates in the southern USA in the last twenty years and that it is far more likely to be somehow related to words like ‘work’ and/or ‘twitch’ and that tairg basically means offer and doesn’t sound like twerk anyway? So, Donnacha, you think academic linguists just sit around with an empty schedule and a belly full of swan waiting for other people to do their job for them? The fact is, Cassidy and only Cassidy was responsible for the shite he wrote. It was his job, as it’s the job of every academic (even a fake one like Cassidy), to sift the bollocks from the bullseyes and write something which is a reasonable stab at the truth before anyone else even gets a sniff of the manuscript.

Cassidy failed to do what needed to be done, because he was incompetent, crazy as a soup sandwich, lazy as a piper’s little finger, stupid as a kish of brogues, useless, totally unqualified and completely lacking in any of the skills necessary to be an academic of any kind.

Hopefully my next post will be on my Liebster Award nominations and some information about my favourite subject – me!

 

 

James B

One of the least pleasant aspects of writing this blog is dealing with Cassidy’s supporters, many of whom show signs of the same mental illness, arrogance and stupidity that made their guru such a waste of space. Recently, someone calling himself James B tried to post a message as a reply to Emma’s nomination of this blog for a Liebster Award. For a while, I thought of just ignoring it, because I’ve answered this kind of nonsense over and over again and nothing’s changed. However, on reflection, I’ve decided to rescue it from the bin and make a post of it. Here’s what ‘James B’ had to say:

“Perhaps this award will propel the courageously anonymous “Debunker” to reveal something about himself – like his actual name and his credentials (if he has any at all), since he has no reservations doing the same for the late Professor Cassidy. But don’t count on it. We know how rats run from the light of day.”

Where do I start? Well, first things first. This message came from New York, from the same person who posted recently under the name of Jimbo. He uses the email address AfterTheFall@gmail.com. A troll with the username AfterTheFall also contributes regularly to NY Curbed, where he shows a great deal of interest in the New York Citibike scheme and the activities of Margaret Chin, a local politician. Both of these issues are also dear to the heart of Sean Sweeney, who has posted in many places in support of Cassidy’s rubbish. So, while I can’t prove it, I believe that this is either Sean Sweeney or a close associate of Sean Sweeney.

I won’t labour the obvious point that using a fake identity to criticise someone for writing anonymously isn’t very consistent or logical, and I won’t waste any time mocking the pretentious New York ‘Goodfella’ cliché in the last line. You … doidy … rats …

As in the last message (or the last few messages, if this is a sockpuppet for SS), the poster is still refusing to deal in facts or evidence. While he mentions the revelations about Cassidy’s qualifications, he again refuses to acknowledge them or discuss them. I mean, if he doesn’t believe in them, surely he should be using his post to defend Cassidy’s reputation? And if he does accept them, then he obviously doesn’t consider the scale and severity of Cassidy’s academic fraud to be a problem. I mean, when is he going to stop attacking the messengers and address the evidence that his friend Cassidy was a fraud?

As I have said many times, who I am is completely irrelevant, as are my qualifications. That I am better qualified than Daniel Cassidy is true – around 40% of the population of Ireland has a degree and is therefore better qualified than DC, and that’s not even including thousands of teenagers who pass competitive examinations in the Irish language every year, demonstrating a knowledge of the Irish language which Cassidy never had. But I have never said that people should trust what I say because of my qualifications. I have said, repeatedly, that people should go to primary sources and check them. And let’s not call him ‘the late Professor Cassidy’. Thanks to Cassidy’s sister and the registrar at Cornell, we know that he didn’t have a degree and that means that he obviously wasn’t a real professor. He was Cassidy, the nut Cassidy, the fraud Cassidy, or perhaps Mr Cassidy if I’m feeling nice. But why should I or anyone else call him Professor?

You see, what this blog is about is informing people of the truth, using proper evidence-based methods. Here’s an example, in case you’ve forgotten what the truth is like. The English dictionaries say that the American English expression buncombe (or bunkum) comes from Buncombe County in North Carolina and dates back to a number of filibustering speeches made by Felix Walker in 1820. When challenged, he said that he was ‘speaking to Buncombe’ and not to Washington. This expression goes back to the 1820s and is found first in a journal of 1829, but was later used by other sources in the early 19th century and was even used by Thomas Carlyle in Britain – also with the spelling Buncombe. Bunkum came later. And the early references are to people ‘speaking to Buncombe’, as in the North Carolina story, not ‘talking Buncombe’ or ‘talking bunkum’. Cassidy then comes along and claims that this story is nonsense and that the word really comes from Irish buanchumadh, which he says means a long-drawn out story. He provides no evidence for either claim. The real origin story is solid. The word buanchumadh is not in any dictionary or Irish text. There is not a shred of evidence that buanchumadh has ever existed and, as I have explained before, it doesn’t work as an Irish expression.

Most of Cassidy’s claims are similar. Worse still, lots of people think they know some Irish from reading Cassidy’s book. The nonsense phrases invented by Cassidy are spreading virally. Because of the Cassidy hoax, there are t-shirts available on line with Giog Gheal (sic) on them. This is another fake Cassidy phrase. There are people walking around with Dead Ráibéad tattooed on their arms. More fakery. Some history books have been polluted with this childish fraud, and are full of fake Irish nonsense. Thousands of people who don’t know any genuine Irish at all are convinced that Cassidy’s made-up rubbish is real. That’s why Cassidy and his supporters are traitors to the Irish language. These scum (which of course comes from Irish is cum meaning ‘is invented’ – only joking!) are betraying our heritage by pretending that a fake version of the language is the real thing.

I suspect that James B or Jimbo or Sean or whoever he is already knows that he’s wrong. If he thought he could provide some evidence to defend Cassidy’s theories, he would have done so by now. But rather than admit that he got it wrong, he is such an egomaniac that he’d prefer to carry on lying and disrespecting our language and our culture, while sneering at people who actually speak Irish, because that’s the kind of person he is. A person whose values are purely cosmetic and who doesn’t really care a damn about Ireland or its language. Greater love hath no man than this, that he betray his country for his cronies.

So, James B or Jimbo or Sean, or whoever you are, nobody gives a damn about the opinions of a self-deluding crank like you. You may not have admitted it to yourself yet, but you know full well that Cassidy was wrong, and that all the evidence is against you. Still, don’t get downhearted at your own stupidity. Why don’t you go out for a nice meal to cheer yourself up? I believe the restaurant at SoHo House is great. Just don’t forget your wallet …

The Plural of Roof

I recently received a rather offensive message from someone called Jimbo. Jimbo had nothing to say about the revelations that Cassidy had no degrees or the huge volume of evidence presented here that his book is fictional nonsense. Jimbo suggested that I am less educated than I claim to be because, apparently, I can’t spell the plural of roof.

According to Jimbo, the plural of roof is roofs, always and in every dialect of English. He sent me a couple of links to ‘prove’ this, though apparently he didn’t read them very carefully, as the comments on them confirm that outside of the States, rooves is an acceptable and quite common spelling among educated people. A search for phrases like ‘thatched rooves’ or ‘tiled rooves’ on Google turns up lots of perfectly well-written material from outside the States and the OED also sanctions it, saying that it is an acceptable variant in the UK. (It’s also used a lot in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, judging by the comments.)

So, Jimbo is not right about this. Roofs may be the most common spelling but it’s not the only version. And even if rooves were incorrect, it wouldn’t bother me greatly. I use English less than half the time and I have never claimed to be omniscient. I make mistakes and when I do, I admit them. However, I suspect that Jimbo is not really that concerned with my English spelling.

I am not saying that Jimbo is a sockpuppet for Sean Sweeney, the childish, tiresome little numpty who keeps posting here and elsewhere in defence of Daniel Cassidy’s indefensible book without clarifying what his relationship with Cassidy was. No, Jimbo is probably not Sweeney. I am sure there are hundreds of thousands of people whose twin obsessions are defending Daniel Cassidy’s reputation and taking the New York Citi Bike scheme to task for the siting of its ranks in Soho.

However, if it should turn out that Jimbo and Sean Sweeney are one and the same, it would demonstrate beautifully that he is incapable of providing any defence for Cassidy or his ideas, because if all he can do is question my non-American spelling of rooves, then it’s quite obvious that he can’t find even a tiny shred of evidence that Cassidy got it right about anything. And instead of accepting that and publicly admitting that he got it wrong, he is still trying to snipe at people who are telling the truth because it isn’t the truth he wants to hear. Which would make him a pretty sad and pathetic character, wouldn’t it?

However, I’m sure Jimbo isn’t Sweeney. I mean … surely nobody is that sad and pathetic …

More on Sean Sweeney

I found another piece online from Sean Sweeney, who is apparently some kind of big wheel (mar dhea) in New York local politics. Sweeney obviously thinks that Cassidy was right, though he doesn’t have a great record in picking reliable friends and allies. His close ally in SoHo, Don MacPherson, is currently serving a long sentence for a massive mortgage fraud. Sweeney was apparently convinced of MacPherson’s innocence (http://observer.com/2009/04/crank-or-champion/) but that didn’t stop MacPherson from pleading guilty at the trial!

Anyway, back to Sweeney’s irrational and half-baked defence of Cassidy’s absurd book. After failing to provide any evidence for his crackpot friend’s theories when challenged to do so and failing to convince the administrators on Wikipedia that he had anything worthwhile to say about Cassidy’s lying dreckfest, Sean Sweeney then decided to post his irresponsible nonsense on a discussion on the website of Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. An individual called Sean Mc Shee had posted on January 30, 2013, about the phrase ‘so long’.

I’ve wondered if it derived from the Gaelic “slan” – sometimes used as a goodbye – it sounds like it could be an anglicized spelling of a word heard orally. And if first appears right after the potato famine.

This is a perfectly reasonable comment and there is nothing wrong with wondering or asking the question. The answer which Sweeney gave was much less reasonable. On June 17, 2014, he posted the following reply:

Actually, it does. Unfortunately, because it originated as street slang, dictionaries are loathe to list it and just add “origin unknown”, something they do with many US slang words of Irish origin. I urge you to read Daniel Cassidy’s “How the Irish Invented Slang” to learn more.

The same old rubbish. Not ‘it might do’ or ‘it’s possible’. The expression must come from Irish, because Sweeney says so and Sweeney knows it all! The truth, of course, is very different. It always is with Sean Sweeney! And of course, there’s no word of warning about Cassidy’s book containing nonsense, in spite of the fact that he admitted as much in his comments here. (“Some of Cassidy’s derivations may be nonsense …”)

For those who don’t share Sweeney’s delusional belief in his own omniscience and want to learn the real facts about the possible origins of the phrase ‘so long’, I suggest you follow these links:

http://vernondent.blogspot.co.uk/2005/12/carnival-of-etymologies_15.html

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=so+long

The truth is, slán is only one of a number of possible derivations, some of which are considerably more credible than the Irish one. And what evidence does Sweeney have for the claim that the dictionaries ignored it because it originated as street slang? None whatsoever, of course! The real reason why they say that its origin is unknown is because there are a number of different possible origins and there is no way of knowing which is correct. But if you’re as important as Sean Sweeney thinks he is, you don’t have to bother with boring details like facts. You don’t have to defer to the opinions of experts in the field who really know what they’re talking about! Whatever you say instantly becomes the truth, and of course any rubbish books produced by your mates also instantly become the truth as well!

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work with statements given in a police station or a court of law … Nach mór an trua é sin ach nach beag an t-iontas!

Nollaig Shona!

While I pay very little attention to the blog these days, I still manage to post on occasion and it seems appropriate to wish everybody who visits this site Christmas greetings in our language.  To Cassidy’s supporters, to the Grand Cleagles of the Cassidy Crony Club like Peter Quinn and Sean Sweeney and Joe Lee, I also wish them a Nollaig Shona and a good year in 2015 but I really think they would have a better year if they could somehow find it in themselves to reconnect with their lost integrity and finally admit the truth about Daniel Cassidy – that his book and his theory are complete shite, that How The Irish Invented Slang is a huge insult to the Irish people and that they have been taken in by an ignorant con-man. Their continued refusal to set the record straight speaks volumes about the kind of people they are.

To those who have read this blog and agree with me, I repeat the appeal I have made before. Please spread the word about Cassidy and his ridiculous theories so that no more innocents will be fleeced by the Great Fraud and his cronies.

And to everyone, everywhere, even those deluded souls who continue to believe in Cassidy’s sincerity despite all the evidence to the contrary –

Nollaig Shona agus Bliain Úr faoi mhaise daoibh!

The Madness of Sweeney

I have received a message from someone calling themselves Sean Sweeney, who has contributed a number of rather rabid and not very intelligent posts in support of Daniel Cassidy’s crazy theories on different websites. I don’t know if this person is genuinely just a fan of Cassidy’s or if he is a sockpuppet for one of Cassidy’s Cronies.

Now, I am a great believer in democracy. Debate is a fine thing. However, I have gone to a lot of trouble to produce an intelligent and trustworthy blog (far more trouble than Cassidy ever went to!) and I don’t want this to become some kind of Democracy Wall for every saucer-eyed crazy and deluded idiot to deface with their stupidities. For that reason, I will publish this message along with an appropriate answer here.

This is what Sweeney says:

So, a people as garrulous, vibrant, influential, street-wise and abundant as the the Irish contributed a mere handful of words to the language, whilst other groups have contributed hundreds? Get real.

Some of Cassidy’s derivations may be nonsense, but nowhere as nonsensical as what you claim.

And here is my reply.

Personally, Sweeney, I think you have some nerve telling me to get real, when you are trying to tell people that Daniel Cassidy’s book is worth reading! With all due respect (and that’s no respect at all), you claim that the Irish language must have contributed hundreds of words to American vernacular because the Irish talk a lot. Talk about a non-sequitur! Nor is it bringing anything new to the debate. It is the same weak and childish argument used by Cassidy when he said that he knew Irish people who could talk the paint off walls, so how come they made no contribution to American vernacular? (His answer was, of course, that a sinister cabal of Anglophile dictionary-makers had conspired to hide the fact that they did! What were you saying about me getting real?)

Why MUST the Irish have contributed hundreds of words to American vernacular? (Apart from the fact that you say so, of course!) Language contact is a complex sociolinguistic situation and there are lots of factors at play. How many of the Irish immigrants were already bilingual when they arrived? What was the language of choice among young Irish immigrants? What was their attitude towards Irish – did they think of it as something good or as the language of the old lad in the corner? (Douglas Hyde was told by an Irish American in Boston that there were two kinds of cranks they didn’t like – cranks who are against alcohol and cranks who are in favour of the Irish language!) Was there already a fully developed urban slang in English when they arrived? And is it really true that other languages gave hundreds of terms to American vernacular? Yiddish certainly gave more than Irish but I don’t think there are that many common Yiddish expressions in vernacular American English (i.e. slang terms like putz and shmuck) – probably no more than a couple of dozen. For German it’s even fewer, and there were probably as many German as Irish immigrants and almost none of them were bilingual!

In other words, Sweeney or whoever you are, this isn’t a rational argument based on facts. It’s just a sweeping generalisation unsupported by any evidence.

And that brings me to the most important part. In this blog, I have analysed a large number of Cassidy’s fake derivations and given the truth about them. I have also stated that apart from obviously Irish words like machree, whiskey and shebeen and the handful of other words which are already given as Irish or Shelta in mainstream dictionaries such as sourpuss, slob and moniker, there are only a couple of words in Cassidy’s book which might be considered to be possible, such as snas for snazzy and deifir for jiffy. And that doesn’t make them right, just worthy of further consideration. For the rest, the derivations given in this book are as stupid and improbable as béal ónna for baloney or gus óil for guzzle. They are complete nonsense.

In spite of all the evidence presented here you apparently STILL believe that the Irish gave hundreds of words to American vernacular. Fine! Do you believe that I have got it wrong about some of these words on the blog? Tell me which words and why I’m wrong! Do you believe that some of the words I haven’t dealt with in Cassidy’s book are good candidates? Then tell us what those words are and tell us why they are good candidates. And I’ll do my best to argue against them using logic and facts. (Or in the unlikely event that I agree with you, I’ll say that too.)

Debates like this need to be based on facts. If you’re prepared to offer some facts and debate rationally, then bring it on! If all you want is to repeat baseless irrational opinions over and over again, then go and waste someone else’s time.