Tag Archives: slang

Cassidese Glossary – Big Onion

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.

The Big Onion is a term of recent coinage based on the name for New York, The Big Apple. The Big Onion is used of the ethnic history of the Lower East Side, because that history is like peeling back the layers of an onion. There is a Big Onion walking tour (mentioned by Cassidy) that deals with this ethnic history.

In other words, the term ‘The Big Onion’ is recent and entirely self-explanatory in English.

Cassidy claims that this comes from ‘the big Anonn’, which he claims means ‘far side, other side’. In fact, anonn is a word used only with movement. You can say you went anonn over a river, but when you are on the other side, you are thall, not anonn.

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Cassidese Glossary – The Bee’s Knees

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.

I had assumed that ‘the business’ for something great or outstanding was the original and that ‘the bee’s knees’ was a jocular version of this. Apparently, this is not the case. It seems that the bee’s knees came first and that this was then reinterpreted as ‘the business’. You live and learn. For example, the OED website has this:

(https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/explore/what-is-the-origin-of-the-phrase-the-bee-s-knees/)

The phrase was first recorded in the late 18th century, when it was used to mean ‘something very small and insignificant’. Its current meaning dates from the 1920s, at which time a whole collection of American slang expressions were coined with the meaning ‘an outstanding person or thing’. Examples included the flea’s eyebrows, the canary’s tusks, and one that still survives – the cat’s whiskers. The switch in meaning for the bee’s knees  probably emerged because it was so similar in structure and pattern to these other phrases.

Cassidy’s claim is that this comes from the ‘Irish’ phrase an béas nuíosach, which he claims means:

Béas núíosach (pron. bæs núísǝċ, bæs núísǝh), fresh new style, novel manner; fig. the new thing.

Of course, this is not a real Irish phrase and invented phrases do not have figurative meanings. Try putting it in inverted commas and searching for it in any Irish dictionary, corpus, database, or indeed on Google itself. The only references you will find to it are in connection with Cassidy and his book. Note also the peculiar ‘system’ of transcription invented by Cassidy, using bits of outmoded Irish orthography (ċ), current Irish orthography (í), and the IPA (æ, ǝ).

Incidentally, go to the online Irish dictionary here to find out how you say ‘the bee’s knees’ in REAL Irish: https://www.focloir.ie/en/dictionary/ei/the+bee’s+knees

 

 

Cassidese Glossary – Bard

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.

It is hard to understand why Cassidy included this word, except as padding. All the English dictionaries are in agreement that this word derives from the Old Celtic bardos. There is no certainty as to how it came into English from Celtic, as it could have been from Scottish Gaelic, Irish or Welsh and it may have been influenced by Classical writers like Strabo, who wrote that the three branches of the Celtic priesthood were the vates, the bards and the druids. The word bard certainly has nothing to do with slang.

The usual theory now is that the word came into Scots from Scots Gaelic in the 15th century and spread into English.

 

 

Cassidese Glossary – A Nail

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 Daniel Cassidy is his book How The Irish Invented Slang, the slang expression ‘a nail’ means a dose of venereal disease. If this is the case, it seems likely to me that it refers to the inflammation and swelling that someone would experience when they catch themselves on a nail, though this is only a guess.

Cassidy claimed that it comes from ainfheoil, an Irish and Scottish Gaelic word deriving from the elements feoil (meat, flesh) and ain-, a prefix that means unnatural or bad. It is worth quoting Cassidy’s definition:

Ainfheoil [pron. An’ól, an⁓ĭӱ-il] n., corrupt flesh, gross flesh, granulations; fig. STD. (Dineen, 19; Dwelly, 15.)

This is very inaccurate. Dinneen defines this word as meaning ‘proud flesh, gross flesh’. Dwelly, which is a dictionary of Scottish Gaelic, also defines it as ‘proud flesh, gross flesh’. Proud flesh is the primary meaning of this word. Proud flesh is a specific phenomenon, a kind of tissue that grows around a wound when it is not fully healed. Cassidy’s ‘figurative’ meaning of sexually transmitted disease is imaginary.

The ‘phonetics’ given by Cassidy are also imaginary. The n’ is a convention in Irish phonology to show a palatal consonant, but the rest is false. A correct phonetic transcription would be something like /an̠ʲɔːlʲ/.

Holy Mackerel

Of all the stupid things invented by Daniel Cassidy and presented to the world as truth in his idiotic work of fake etymology How The Irish Invented Slang, none is more ludicrous than his claims about the English exclamation ‘Holy Mackerel’, which dates back to 1803. 

Holy Mackerel, as we’ve said before, belongs to a class of exclamations called minced oaths, where a similar word is said in order to avoid a vulgar or blasphemous term. Thus, the French say Sacré Bleu (Holy Blue) to avoid saying Sacré Dieu (Holy God), and the Irish say Dar Fia (by the deer) instead of Dar Dia (by God). Holy Mackerel is probably a minced oath for ‘Holy Mary’. Mackerel is particularly appropriate because the mackerel is associated with Roman Catholics – people of the Catholic tradition tend to eat fish on a Friday instead of meat, and mackerel was a common choice.  Mackerelism was used as a pejorative slang term for Catholicism in the 19th century.

Cassidy claimed that this was wrong and that it derives from an Irish phrase mac ríúil – ‘kingly son’. In other words, it was supposedly something to do with Jesus. The problem is that while mac rí (son of a king) is a common phrase for a prince in Irish, mac ríúil is not. By definition, a prince is a mac rí. But princes are princely, not kingly and ríúil means kingly, not royal. That’s another word, ríoga.

As with the other minced oaths dealt with by this pompous dilettante (Holy Cow, Holy Gee), there is no evidence for mac ríúil (or the older spelling mac righiúil) existing in the Irish language as a term for a prince, or for Jesus.

 

As na rudaí amaideacha uile a chum Daniel Cassidy agus a chuir sé i láthair don tsaol ina leabhar bómánta bréagshanasaíochta How The Irish Invented Slang, is beag ceann acu atá chomh bómánta lena chuid tuairimí faoin uaillbhreas Béarla ‘Holy Mackerel’, atá le fáil chomh fada siar leis an bhliain 1803.

Mar a mhínigh mé roimhe seo, baineann Holy Mackerel le haicme uaillbhreas ar a dtugtar mionnaí mionaithe. Sa mhionn mhionaithe, baintear úsáid as focal atá cosúil leis an bhunfhocal le focal gáirsiúil nó blaisféimeach a sheachaint.  Mar sin de, deir na Francaigh Sacré Bleu (Gorm Naofa) le Sacré Dieu (Dia Naofa) a sheachaint, agus deir muidne  Dar Fia in áit Dar Dia. Is dócha gur mionn mionaithe é Holy Mackerel bunaithe ar ‘Holy Mary’. Tá maicréal (nó ronnach nó murlas más iad sin na focail atá agat air) thar a bheith fóirsteanach cionn is go raibh baint idir an t-iasc sin agus Caitlicigh – ar ndóigh, bíonn Caitlicigh ag ithe éisc ar an Aoine in áit feola, agus bhí maicréal saor agus flúirseach. Baineadh úsáid as Mackerelism mar théarma maslach ar an Chaitliceachas sa 19ú haois.

Deir Cassidy nach bhfuil an tsanasaíocht seo ceart agus go dtagann sé ó fhrása ‘Gaeilge’, mar atá mac ríúil, ainm ar Íosa. Ar ndóigh, ní raibh mac ríúil riamh ann sa Ghaeilge. Níl ann ach cumadóireacht.

Go díreach mar an gcéanna leis na mionnaí mionaithe eile a phléigh an t-amadán poimpéiseach seo (Holy Cow, Holy Gee), tá ciall leis na bunúis Bhéarla agus níl ciall ar bith leis an ‘Ghaeilge’ a chum Cassidy. 

Clabber

It’s a terrible disgrace that there are a lot of people in the world of the Irish language who supported the con-artist Daniel Cassidy, author of the idiotic book How The Irish Invented Slang. For example, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir was prepared to support him and described him as ‘our friend’. Joe Lee speaks Irish too. It seems that he supported this weak-minded book because of his friendship with friends of Cassidy’s. In the case of Liam Ó Cuinneagáin, it seems that he was responsible for providing teachers for the Gaeltacht Weekends in San Francisco. If he had criticised Cassidy, he would probably have lost whatever money and status is associated with that, because Cassidy’s supporters have the upper hand in the world of ‘Irish Studies’ in California.

Pól Ó Muirí is a journalist with the Irish Times. In an article which is still available here  (www.beo.ie/alt-leabharmheas-7.aspx), he praises Cassidy’s dim-witted efforts, though, apparently, he didn’t know Cassidy, unlike the people mentioned above. It is hard to understand why he would be prepared to praise rubbish like this. He says, for example, that there is sense to the theory proposed by Cassidy that buckaroo comes from the Irish phrase ‘bocaí rua’. Of course, bocaí rua makes no sense in Irish. Were the cowboys all ginger? And as everybody knows, buckaroo comes from the word vaquero, which means ‘cowboy’ in Spanish!  

He also says that John Wayne speaks the word clábar (Irish for mud or curdled milk) when referring to women being thick in the film True Grit. That much is true and the word clabber is a word of Gaelic origin, without doubt. What he doesn’t say (he probably hadn’t done any fact-checking at all) is that bonny-clabber and clabber came into the English language from Irish bainne clábair and clábar early in the 17th century. They were in common use in the English of England, America and the West Indies for hundreds of years when John Wayne used the term in True Grit. 

There is an interesting article on Wikipedia about the word Clabber:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clabber_(food)

 

Twits of the Month – The Organisers and Sponsors of the Irish-American Crossroads Festival

In a couple of days time, the Irish American Crossroads Festival will begin in San Francisco. This festival was founded by Daniel Cassidy and a number of his friends and enablers. That is why the festival’s organisers continue to lie about Cassidy.

The facts about Cassidy are well-known. Cassidy had no degrees, having flunked out of Cornell in a narcotic haze in 1965. He had no degree from Cornell and he never even attended Columbia. He had a life full of failures and then managed to bluff his way into a job as a professor at a diploma-mill called New College of California by lying about his lack of qualifications. After drawing a lecturer’s salary which he was not entitled to for twelve years, he published an absurd book called How The Irish Invented Slang, in which Cassidy, who didn’t speak any Irish at all, invented hundreds of fake Irish expressions such as béal ónna and gíog gheal and gearról úr and pá lae sámh so that he could pretend they were the origins of American slang expressions.

Cassidy was a pathological liar who invented all kinds of nonsense about his life and work – not just his fake degrees – and anyone who reads this blog carefully will quickly realise what a humungous liar the man was.

Unfortunately, the organisers of The Irish-American Crossroads have decided that the truth isn’t what they are about and that Cassidy should continue to be promoted as a role model and that his malicious hoax at the expense of the Irish language and Irish culture should continue to be treated as a valid piece of scholarship. This nonsense is still in the In Memoriam section of the festival’s website.

This is why I am happy to bestow the title of Twits of the Month on the organisers and sponsors of this festival. Anybody with any common sense or decency would avoid Cassidy and all his works like the plague.