Tag Archives: Sesquiotica


According to the late Daniel Cassidy, muggy comes from the Irish múchta but this theory, like the rest of Cassidy’s theories, is about as useful as a chocolate teapot, as Stan so ably demonstrates in this post.


I wore the wrong shirt today, I’ll tell you that right away.

You know how sometimes some people will say “Well, dressed like that, you were asking for trouble”? I’m not generally sympathetic to these judgements, but oh boy, today it was real for me. That thin cotton shirt decorated with a riot of colourful tropical flora was… a bad idea.

I got mugged.

By the weather.

OK, I got outside and found the weather was muggy. Very muggy. I wound up as soaked and woozy as a sot, and my shirt stuck to me like so much muck. Yuck. A rolling stone gathers no moss, perhaps, but a walking son of rock in a floral shirt may be a fecund site for flora to take root.

Why would anyone make a tropical shirt in a clingy fabric? I have a few others that are made with coarse weaves, and…

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The Liebster Award

So, I have finally got around to responding to Emma’s very kind nomination of this blog for a Liebster Award. The Liebster Award is a kind of viral award designed to promote blogs with small readerships. Anyone can nominate a blog for a Liebster Award. If the recipient accepts it, they then nominate some other blogs they like and so it continues. The rules are as follows:

The rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and post a link to their blog.
  • Display the Liebster Award on your blog.
  • Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Answer 11 questions your nominator has asked.
  • Nominate up to 11 bloggers with less than 1000 followers.
  • Ask them 11 new questions or the same ones you were asked.
  • Let the bloggers you nominate know!
  • Copy the rules into your post.

So, first things first! Many thanks to Emma at https://wordsaretheweapon.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-liebster-award/ for nominating my blog. I am nominating the following blogs:

https://sesquiotic.wordpress.com/ (A great blog about etymology!)

https://wordpress.com/read/post/feed/13214072/899442285 (Toritto’s wonderful mixture of observations on life and politics, along with some extraordinary poems)

https://wordpress.com/read/post/feed/14434800/899778216 (Social Bridge – Jean Tubridy connecting with you from one of my favourite counties in Ireland)

http://stephaniehuesler.com/ (Stephanie Huesler’s enjoyable observations on words, writing and history)

Personally, I have enjoyed answering the questions and composing a few of my own but I realise that others may regard this as a chore. I will not take offence in the slightest if people choose to break the chain and not pass the Liebster Award on to other blogs.

Here are 11 facts about myself:

I have never seen a Star Wars or James Bond film all the way through.

There are only about three or four foods I’ve eaten that I didn’t like, things like tripe and brains.

I prefer the winter to the summer.

My favourite film is Inherit The Wind.

I love ruins and graveyards.

I don’t believe in ghosts but I like the idea of them.

I am deeply intolerant of intolerant people and I hate racists, homophobes and other bigots.

I dislike grammar bores and people who obsess about split infinitives and the like.

I always drink red wine. (When I drink alcohol, that is – I’m not hooked up to a drip or anything!)

I consider The Wire to be the best TV series ever made (so far).

If I won the lottery, I probably wouldn’t give up my job because I enjoy it so much.

Here are the questions that Emma sent and my answers to them.

Do you have a favourite accent? I love the Donegal accent. It’s very soft and lilting.

Does music help you work, or does it distract you? It distracts me. I like reggae and ska music but in moderation and not when I’m working.

Do you consider yourself an organised person? No. But I probably consider myself more organised than other people consider me, if I’m honest …

If you could play any role in the performance of a lifetime, what would it be? Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof. If I vere a rich man …

What was your favourite childhood book? Comet In Moominland by Tove Jansson when I was very young. Then The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner. I also really liked The High Deeds of Finn McCool by Rosemary Sutcliffe.

What is a past mistake you have learnt from? Without going into embarrassing detail, I can be a bit of a mouth and sometimes I have slagged people off who really didn’t deserve it. However, not on my blog. Cassidy and his vile cronies are really asking for it!

Which fictional character do you love to hate? Dare I say, Daniel Cassidy? I know he was a real person, but he was also a self-constructed myth.

Is there a particular song that chokes you up every time you listen to it? Misty, because it was played at my father’s funeral.

Do you prefer salty or sweet foods? Salty. But I eat the sweet foods as a dessert afterwards …

What would you name your autobiography? A Certain Deathtrap. It’s a description of life in Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman.

What was your favourite subject at school and why? History, without a doubt, because I love reading and learning about history.

These are my questions to the recipients, if they should choose to answer them:

  1. If you could learn any skill, what would it be?
  2. Do you have any phobias or not entirely rational fears?
  3. What is your favourite season?
  4. Is there a particular spice or herb or cooking ingredient you especially love?
  5. What three words describe you best?
  6. If you had to choose a ‘totemic’ animal that represents you, what would it be and why?
  7. If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be?
  8. Is there a particular ancestor you’re most proud of and why?
  9. What do you think of tattoos and piercings?
  10. Do you believe in ghosts?
  11. What would your dream job be?

So, thanks again to Emma, and I hope the recipients will enjoy going through the process and nominating a few other blogs!

Everyone’s a critic …

Here are a handful of links to pages which criticise Cassidy’s ridiculous book, How The Irish Invented Slang. Here is a good article from Language Hat:


Here is a review from the Irish Independent (the Indo). Cassidy made much of the fact that the papers had given him good reviews in Ireland. This is true. Most of the Irish papers uncritically supported him, largely because this is a man-bites-dog story and therefore newsworthy, however wrong it might be. However, the Independent seems to have published a couple of articles, one in August, which was positive (and therefore completely wrong) and this one by Ed Power, which quotes from an Irish academic, Professor Terry Dolan, who criticises the book kindly but firmly. Terry Dolan is a real professor, of course, and clearly qualified to discuss these issues:


Here is an interesting review from the blog Sesquiotica:


And here is Michael Patrick Brady’s comment. What do you think of the comment at the end from Cassidy’s sister? Sounds like there must have been a family falling-out there!


This is from John Madziarczyk in Seattle, which does a very good job of attacking Cassidy’s intellectual pretensions and uses examples from Hungarian to do it:


Also, don’t miss this hilarious piece on the Grammarphobia Blog by Patricia T O’Conner and Stewart Kellarman.


And let’s not forget this excellent piece by Arnold Zwicky:


There are lots of good critiques of Cassidy’s work out there. I have made my own small contribution to the campaign here and elsewhere. Slowly but surely, the balance is shifting from those who support Cassidy to those who believe in telling it like it is. In future, anybody encountering Cassidy’s ridiculous theories will be able to enter his name on Google and find the truth immediately. Let’s hope it puts a stop to this nonsense forever.