Tag Archives: Terence Winch

The Motherfoclóir Podcast

Earlier this year, I wrote a post about the book called Motherfoclóir. In that post, I stated that while I generally approved of Darach Ó Séaghdha’s book about the Irish language, I felt it was marred by some extremely sloppy research.

Over the last week, I have listened to a couple of podcasts by Ó Séaghdha and the Motherfoclóir team. The first one was a Halloween-themed post called The Vampirish For. You can find it here: https://player.fm/series/motherfocloir/ep-62-62-the-vampirish-for

This podcast started well. It criticised the ludicrous claims made about the Irish origin of Dracula, which some fools have tried to link to an Irish phrase ‘Drochfhola’, supposedly meaning bad blood. He pours scorn on this claim and describes it as bullshit. Quite right too.

However, the podcast then shows the same lack of common sense and proper research which made the book so unsatisfactory. I have dealt here with the fake claims about Abhartach, supposedly a vampire chieftain who lived in a mountainous area of Derry. As I have stated here, the genuine story of Abhartach describes this evil chieftain returning from the dead. He is later killed with a yew-wood sword and buried upside-down with a huge rock over his body.

Starting about twenty years ago, a revisionist version of this story appeared, claiming that Abhartach demanded the blood of his subjects and that he was described as a neamh-mharbh and a dearg-diúlaí.

So, this piece about Abhartach on Ó Séaghdha’s podcast is basically a rerun of what was wrong with the etymological section of the book. There is one piece of bogus information denied, then a welter of ignorant nonsense lifted from untrustworthy sources without the least attempt to establish the truth. To be fair to Ó Séaghdha, it is a guest of his who recounts this story. They probably lifted much of this nonsense about Abhartach from Wikipedia, which has a longish article on the subject. It looks credible on first inspection but anyone with any common sense would quickly realise that it has huge holes in it.

For one thing, it claims that Bob Curran is a lecturer in Celtic History and Folklore at the University of Ulster. There is no department of Celtic History and Folklore at the UU. I believe Curran is a Child Psychologist by profession and I am told that he has never been a lecturer, though he may have taught evening classes. History Ireland is not a peer-reviewed journal. You only have to read Curran’s article in it to realise that.

Also, I’m willing to bet the PSNI never decided to dig up a listed ancient monument to solve a local murder, and according to Curran, a man got a cut hand when a chainsaw broke during an attempt to uproot the thorn bush. In this piece of fantasy, the man’s hand is cut clean off by the curse of Abhartach! Do me a favour!

Of course, I don’t believe that Abhartach was a real person. That’s not the point. The point is that folklore is interesting and is a legitimate field of study, with its own methodology. Embellishing and inventing to make the story ‘better’ is not part of that methodology. In Patrick Weston Joyce’s story, Abhartach died and came back and then had to be stopped by supernatural means. He wasn’t a vampire. About twenty years ago, Abhartach suddenly became a vampire because Peter Haining and Peter Tremayne and Bob Curran said so. But where did that claim come from? Where’s the reference, the evidence? Until I see something from a recorded folk-tale or a magazine or a book predating these authors, Abhartach is a revenant, not a vampire. That’s what the original story says.

And let’s face it, if he wasn’t a vampire, he really has fuck all to do with Dracula.

There were other bits that were even stupider. Apparently Stoker’s notes contained no books on Transylvania and no mention of Vlad Dracul. Nonsense! Stoker copied some information from William Wilkinson’s An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia about Vlad III. He also set the first part of the book in Transylvania and makes it quite clear that his Count isn’t Irish. And if it’s true that Stoker had a copy of PW Joyce’s History of Ireland in his library, that is completely irrelevant, because that book doesn’t contain any reference to Abhartach or to any supposed Irish vampires.

The second podcast was even worse. You can find it here: https://www.headstuff.org/motherfocloir/45-2-mailbag-2-furious/

The description said that it was a mailbag edition, in which Daniel Cassidy’s legacy would be discussed, so I was keen to hear it.

A few minutes into the podcast, an anonymous critic writes that he likes the book and the podcast of Motherfoclóir and has been trying to learn a little Irish over the last year. He says that he is a writer and musician from the Irish-American community and that he is from New York. His initials are TW. He says that he has a bone of contention, namely the way that Motherfoclóir dismissed Cassidy’s revolutionary theory about the Irish origins of slang. Plainly, from the details given, this is an Irish-American mediocrity called Terence Winch.

Winch is typical of the pompous dimwits who support Cassidy. “I am not sure all his examples would hold up to academic scrutiny but that does not mean to say that his overall theory is completely flawed.” In other words, Winch is insisting on ignoring all the evidence on this blog and elsewhere, because he believes that there are only a few bad apples in Cassidy’s barrel. The reality is that not only is there no baby in Cassidy’s bathwater, there isn’t even anything that looks like a rubber duck, floats like a rubber duck and might just vaguely, possibly be a rubber duck. I have examined most of Cassidy’s nonsense here and shown why his derivations are fake. Winch is welcome to take up the challenge I have issued to the rest of the tribe of Dan. Let’s see if you can offer ten words from Cassidy’s work where any reasonable person would regard Cassidy’s explanation as convincing (i.e. where the Irish origin really exists and there isn’t a better explanation from English or some other language). Good luck with that!

I was disappointed with Darach Ó Séaghdha’s response to Terence Winch, which was, to say the least, a bit weasel-wordy. In the original book, Ó Séaghdha had criticised Cassidy’s book (before going off into the realms of etymological fantasy himself). In his reply to Winch on the podcast, he states that Cassidy has been described as the Andrew Wakefield of linguistics. I don’t know who said that, but I agree with it 100%. (Except, perhaps, that Wakefield was a real doctor who was struck off. Cassidy never had any qualifications in the first place.)

Ó Séaghdha then goes on to say that Cassidy just got it a bit wrong but that’s fine and he finds the hostility against Cassidy hard to understand and it is false to say that Cassidy was a con-man or a trickster. I think it’s quite clear from this that Ó Séaghdha has never read much of this blog. I also suspect that Ó Séaghdha has never read Cassidy’s book either, because he insists that Cassidy thought the English word jazz came from Irish deas (nice). If he had read the book properly, he would know that Cassidy claimed it came from teas (heat) – though confusingly, Cassidy also thought teas was pronounced as deas in Ulster Irish, information supplied to him by his principal source of enlightenment, his own arse.

Ó Séaghdha couldn’t be more wrong about Cassidy’s dishonesty. Cassidy was obviously a criminal fake. He ‘worked’ for twelve years as a professor in a university on the strength of his ‘education’ at Cornell and Columbia. As his sister (and then the Cornell registrar) informed me, Cassidy failed his degree at Cornell and never went to Columbia. Even Cassidy’s friends and supporters have not tried to challenge these facts or offer any evidence to the contrary or excuses for his criminal behaviour.

However, the worst evidence of Cassidy’s dishonesty is in the book itself. ‘Irish’ definitions were imagined, rewritten, miscopied, and ‘figurative’ meanings invented. Hundreds of completely fake phrases were invented by Cassidy.

That is (one of the reasons) why Winch’s comment is so stupid. He seems to be implying that linguists are being obtuse and difficult (because, apparently, they are ‘threatened by’ Cassidy) because they refuse to accept Cassidy’s candidate Irish phrases on the grounds that there is no contemporary evidence of these phrases crossing between the Irish language and English slang. This is not the issue.

Linguists and etymologists reject the overwhelming majority of Cassidy’s ‘Irish’ phrases not because there’s no evidence of them crossing from Irish but because they never existed in Irish. Nobody ever said that béal ónna meant nonsense in Irish until Cassidy made it up, nobody ever used comhroghna to mean friend or companion, foluach doesn’t exist as a way of saying a rare reward, leathluí géag and liú lúith and gus óil and sách úr and píosa theas and hundreds of other pieces of nonsense in Cassidy’s book are simply fantasy. Cassidy never provided any evidence that any of this rubbish existed and linguists shouldn’t waste their time and energy on the fantasies of a dishonest lunatic. Terence Winch should have known this, because I wrote a blog post answering his post of 2007 and explaining that all the words he provided as examples from Cassidy’s work are fake. I suppose it’s possible he’s never Googled himself but … mneh … Plainly, he isn’t ready to stop this nonsense. You can read my post here: https://cassidyslangscam.wordpress.com/tag/terence-winch/

There is another thing which irritated me. In the same podcast where Winch’s nonsense was discussed, there was a discussion of people misspelling Irish names and leaving off the accents. This is something that irritates me too, but it seems a bit rich to complain about this as a matter of respect and identity, while simultaneously, on the same podcast, saying that it’s perfectly OK for some random Yank to invent hundreds of phrases in our language, a language he had never made any attempt to learn, and try to pass it off as fact. It isn’t. It’s an insult to our culture and language and identity, and fatheads like Terence Winch should be told in no uncertain terms that intellectual debate should be conducted on the basis of the evidence, not on the basis of how good a friend-of-a-friend Cassidy was or who happens to be on Winch’s Christmas-card list.

However, I hope my American friends (who are self-deprecating, intelligent and reasonable) will forgive me for saying that there is more to this. It seems to me that there is a poisonous strain of arrogance in modern American culture. I found an interesting article by Tom Nichols here which chimes with my theory: (https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-real-reason-americans-cant-agree-on-unemployment-or-just-about-anything-else-2017-03-29):

This isn’t just human nature, but the result of a narcissism that took root in American society after the 1960s and has been growing ever since. Surrounded by affluence, enabled by the internet, and empowered by an educational system that prizes self-esteem over achievement, Americans have become more opinionated even as they have become less informed, and are now utterly intolerant of ever being told they’re wrong about almost anything.”

This, I feel, is what’s happening here. Admitting you got it wrong simply isn’t a valued part of modern American culture, and people like Winch have no interest in learning the truth if the truth means admitting they were duped.

Whether that is the case or not, one thing that both of these podcasts show very clearly is that once fake memes are released into the wild, it’s almost impossible to stop them from eclipsing the truth. That’s why the Rubberbandits behaved like total dicks in relation to the list of fake Irish derivations they spread on social media. Once the genie is out of the bottle, or Abhartach out of his tomb drinking blood, it’s impossible to put them back again. Falsehoods with a good story behind them always outstrip the truth. Motherfoclóir is well-placed to try and restrain some of those falsehoods. Instead, because of poor research and intellectual laziness and a fear of strapping on a pair and offending arrogant American fans of Cassidy like Terence Winch, they are helping to spread this worthless fakery rather than challenging it properly.

Podchraoltaí Motherfoclóir

Níos luaithe sa bhliain, scríobh mé postáil faoin leabhar Motherfocloir. Sa phostáil sin, dúirt mé go raibh mé i bhfách le leabhar Dharaigh Uí Shéaghdha faoin Ghaeilge, ar an iomlán, ach mhothaigh mé go raibh an leabhar le cáineadh as taighde sleamchúiseach a bhí ann.

Ar na mallaibh, bhí mé ag éisteacht le roinnt podchraoltaí le Ó Séaghdha agus le foireann Motherfocloir. An chéad cheann ar éist mé leis, bhí sé bunaithe ar théama na Samhna, podchraoladh darbh ainm The Vampirish For. Is féidir leat é a aimsiú anseo: https://player.fm/series/motherfocloir/ep-62-62-the-vampirish-for

Thosaigh an podchraoladh seo go maith. Cháin sé cuid den amaidí a maíodh faoi bhunús an ainm Dracula, agus shéan sé an nasc leis an fhrása Gaeilge ‘Drochfhola’. Bréagnaíonn sé an teoiric seo agus deir sé nach bhfuil ann ach cacamas. Tá an méid sin ceart.

Agus sin ráite, léiríonn an podchraoladh an easpa céille agus taighde a d’fhág an leabhar chomh leamh sin. Phléigh mé na bréagtheoiricí faoi Abhartach, taoiseach agus vaimpír (mar dhea), a bhí ina chónaí i gceantar sléibhtiúil Dhoire fadó. Mar a scríobh mé roimhe seo, san fhíorscéal a scríobhadh faoi Abhartach, d’éirigh Abhartach ó na mairbh. Ina dhiaidh sin, maraítear le claíomh iúir é agus adhlacadh bun os cionn é agus carraig mhór os a chionn.

Tuairim is fiche bliain ó shin, cumadh leagan athbhreithnitheach den scéal seo. Sa leagan sin, d’éiligh Abhartach ar a phobal babhla fola a thabhairt dó agus dúradh gur neamh-mhairbh agus dearg-diúlaí é.

Mar sin de, tá an píosa seo faoi Abhartach ar phodchraoladh Uí Shéaghdha a bheag nó a mhór chomh holc leis an chuid den leabhar a bhaineann leis an tsanasaíocht. Bréagnaítear píosa amháin amaidí, agus ansin tugtar léar mór amaidí eile a tógadh ó fhoinsí neamhiontaofa gan an iarracht is lú an fhírinne a chinntiú. Lena cheart a thabhairt do Dharach Ó Séaghdha, ní eisean a insíonn an scéal seo ach aoi ar an phodchraoladh. Is dócha gur thóg an duine seo an chuid is mó den raiméis seo as Wikipedia, a bhfuil alt measartha fada ann faoi Abhartach. Tá sé inchreidte go leor ar an chéad dul síos, ach d’aithneodh duine ar bith a bhfuil ciall dá laghad aige gan mhoill go bhfuil sé chomh lán poll le píosa cáise ón Eilbhéis.

Rud amháin, maíonn sé gur léachtóir le Stair agus Béalóideas na gCeilteach é Bob Curran ag Ollscoil Uladh. Níl a leithéid de roinn ann in Ollscoil Uladh. Creidim gur síceolaí leanaí an ghairm atá aige agus deirtear liom nach léachtóir a bhí ann riamh, cé go bhfuil seans maith ann go raibh ranganna oíche á dteagasc aige. Ní irisleabhar piarmheasúnaithe é History Ireland. Is leor alt Curran ar vaimpírí a léamh leis an méid sin a thuiscint.

Ní hamháin sin, ach chuirfinn geall nach ndearna an PSNI cinneadh riamh séadchomhartha náisiúnta a thochailt le dúnmharú sa cheantar a réiteach, agus de réir Curran, gearradh lámh duine nuair a bhris sábh slabhrach agus daoine ag iarraidh an sceach a ghearradh. Sa phíosa fantaisíochta seo, gearrtar an lámh iomlán den duine de dheasca mhallacht Abhartaigh! Tchí Dia do chiall má chreideann tú sin!

Ar ndóigh, ní chreidim féin gur fíordhuine a bhí in Abhartach. Ach ní hé sin an fhadhb. Seo an fhadhb – is rud spéisiúil é an béaloideas, agus ábhar fiúntach staidéir, a bhfuil modhanna dá chuid féin aige. Níl scéalta a mhaisiú agus cumadóireacht a dhéanamh leis an scéal a ‘fheabhsú’ i measc na modhanna sin. I scéal Patrick Weston Joyce, fuair Abhartach bás agus d’éirigh sé ó na mairbh and bhí orthu cleasaíocht osnádúrtha a  úsáid lena chur chun báis arís. Ní vaimpír a bhí ann. Tuairim is fiche bliain ó shin, rinneadh vaimpír d’Abhartach go tobann cionn is gur scríobh Peter Haining agus Peter Tremayne agus Bob Curran gur vaimpír a bhí ann. (An Peter Haining céanna a scríobh leabhar faoi Sweeney Todd agus a mhaígh gur charachtar stairiúil a bhí ann!) Ach cad chuige a ndúirt siad gur vaimpír a bhí ann? Cá has ar tháinig sin? Cá bhfuil an tagairt, cá bhfuil an fhianaise? Go dtí go bhfeicim rud éigin ó scéal béaloidis nó ó irisleabhar nó ó leabhar a bhí ann sula raibh na húdair sin i mbun pinn, is taibhse é Abhartach, ní vaimpír. Sin an rud atá scríofa sa bhunscéal.

Agus lena rá go hionraic, más amhlaidh nach vaimpír a bhí ann, níl baint ná páirt aige le Dracula.

Bhí rudaí eile ann a bhí níos amaidí ná sin. De réir an duine a d’inis an scéal, ní raibh aon leabhair ar an Trasalváin ag Stoker agus ní raibh tagairt ar bith do Vlad Dracul ina chuid nótaí. Amaidí! Chóipeáil Stoker roinnt eolais ó An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia le William Wilkinson faoi Vlad III. Chomh maith leis sin, tá an chéad chuid den leabhar suite sa Trasalváin agus is ríléir sa leabhar nach Gael é Dracula ach comhthíreach le Vlad III. Agus más fíor go raibh cóip de Stair na hÉireann le PW Joyce ina leabharlann ag Stoker, ní bhaineann sin le hábhar, mar níl aon tagairt d’Abhartach ná do vaimpír Gaelach ar bith eile sa leabhar sin.

Má bhí an podchraoladh sin go holc, bhí an dara ceann níos measa. Thig leat é a aimsiú anseo: https://www.headstuff.org/motherfocloir/45-2-mailbag-2-furious/

Dúirt an cur síos gur clár speisialta le post agus ríomhphoist a fhreagairt, agus go bpléifi tionchar Daniel Cassidy ann. Bhí mise ar bís le héisteacht leis, ar ndóigh.

I ndiaidh cúpla nóiméad den phodchraoladh, luaitear duine anaithnid a scríobhann go bhfuil dúil aige sa leabhar agus sa phodchraoladh de Motherfocloir agus go bhfuil sé ag iarraidh giota beag Gaeilge a fhoghlaim le bliain anuas. Deir sé fosta gur scríbhneoir agus ceoltóir é ó Nua-Eabhrac agus is iad TW cinnlitreacha a ainm. Chomh maith leis sin, luann sé postáil a scríobh sé faoi Daniel Cassidy sa bhliain 2007. Deir sé go bhfuil cnámh spáirne amháin aige, is é sin, an dóigh a ndearna an leabhar beag is fiú de theoiric réabhlóideach Cassidy faoi bhunús Gaeilge an bhéarlagair. Ó na sonraí a tugadh, is léir gur éigsín leamh darb ainm Terence Winch atá ann.

Tá Winch cosúil leis na liúdramáin phoimpéiseacha eile a thugann tacaíocht do Cassidy. “I am not sure all his examples would hold up to academic scrutiny but that does not mean to say that his overall theory is completely flawed.” Lena rá ar dhóigh eile, tá Winch ag dul a chur neamhshuim san fhianaise uilig a tugadh ar an bhlag seo agus in áiteanna eile, mar go gcreideann seisean nach bhfuil ann ach go ndearna Cassidy corrmheancóg, go bhfuil na teangeolaithe gairmiúla ‘ag díol an asail leis an adhastar’. Is é fírinne an scéil nach bhfuil á dhíol i leabhar Cassidy ach carn de chac asail. Tá sanasaíochtaí Cassidy scrúdaithe go mion agam anseo agus thaispeáin mé cad chuige nach bhfuil iontu ach caimiléireacht. Tá fáilte roimh Winch an dúshlán a fhreagairt a chuir mé roimh dhaoine eile a shíleann go raibh an ceart ag Cassidy. An dtig leat deich bhfocal a aimsiú ó shaothar Cassidy a ndearna Cassidy cás éifeachtach ar a son (i. cinn ina bhfuil an leagan Gaeilge ann agus nach bhfuil míniú níos fearr ar fáil sa Bhéarla nó i dteanga éigin eile)? Ádh mór leis an cheann sin!

Chuir freagra Dharach Uí Shéaghdha ar Terence Winch díomá orm. Teanga-liom-leatachas neamhleithscéalach a bhí ann. Sa leabhar Motherfocloir, cháin Ó Séaghdha leabhar Cassidy (sular imigh sé féin go Tír na nÓg leanbaí na mbréagshanasaíochta.) Ina fhreagra ar Winch ar an phodchraoladh, deir sé gur baisteadh Andrew Wakefield na teangeolaíochta ar Cassidy. Níl a fhios agam cé a dúirt sin, ach aontaím leis go hiomlán. (Ach amháin, b’fhéidir, gur fíordhochtúir a bhí in Wakefield, go dtí gur baineadh de liosta na ndochtúirí é. Ní raibh cáilíochtaí ar bith ag Cassidy riamh.)

Leanann Ó Séaghdha leis ansin agus deir sé nach raibh ann ach go ndearna Cassidy meancóga agus tá sé sin go breá agus is deacair aige an nimh atá san fheoil ag daoine maidir le Cassidy a thuiscint agus gur bréag a rá gur caimiléir nó cleasaí a bhí in Cassidy. Sílim gur léir ón méid sin nár léigh Ó Séaghdha mórán den bhlag seo riamh. Tá amhras orm gur léigh sé leabhar Cassidy riamh ach oiread, mar go n-áitíonn sé gur dhóigh le Cassidy gur tháinig an focal jazz sa Bhéarla ón fhocal Gaeilge deas. Dá mbeadh an leabhar léite aige mar is ceart, bheadh a fhios aige gur mhaígh Cassidy gurbh ón fhocal teas a tháinig sé, ach leis an scéal a dhéanamh níos casta, chreid Cassidy gur fuaimníodh teas mar ‘deas’ i nGaeilge Chúige Uladh, faisnéis a fuair sé ón fhoinse ab ansa lena chroí, a thóin féin.

Is mór agus is rómhór an dul amú a bhí ar Ó Séaghdha maidir le mí-ionracas Cassidy. Chaith Cassidy dhá bhliain déag ag ‘obair’ mar ollamh ollscoile, a bhuíochas don ‘oideachas’ a fuair sé ag Cornell agus Columbia. Mar a d’inis a dheirfiúr dom (agus dhearbhaigh cláraitheoir Columbia an fhíric sin ina diaidh), theip ar Cassidy céim a fháil ó Cornell agus níor fhreastail sé riamh ar Columbia. Fiú cairde agus lucht leanúna Cassidy, ní dhearna siad iarracht ar bith na fíricí seo a bhréagnú agus níor thug siad aon fhíricí a bhréagnódh iad nó aon leithscéalta as mí-iompar coirpeach Cassidy.

Agus sin ráite, is é an leabhar féin an fhianaise is mó a dhamnaíonn Cassidy. Na sainmhínithe ‘Gaeilge’ a thug Cassidy, rinneadh iad a shamhlú, a athscríobh, a chóipeáil go mícheart agus cumadh bríonna ‘fáithchiallacha’. Chum Cassidy na céadta frása a bhí go huile abus go hiomlán bréagach.

Sin an fáth (nó ceann de na fáthanna) a bhfuil an méid atá le rá ag Winch chomh hamaideach sin. De réir cosúlachta, tá Winch ag cur i gcéill go bhfuil na teangeolaithe ag iarraidh bheith cadránta deacair (cionn is go mothaíonn siad ‘faoi bhagairt’ ag Cassidy), cionn is go ndiúltaíonn siad glacadh le sanasaíochtaí amaideacha Cassidy cionn is nach bhfuil aon fhianaise chomhaimseartha gur thrasnaigh na frásaí seo idir an Ghaeilge agus béarlagair an Bhéarla. Ní hé sin an cheist.

Is é seo an cheist. Diúltaíonn teangeolaithe agus lucht sanasaíochta glacadh le bunús na bhfrásaí ‘Gaeilge’ a mhol Cassidy, ní cionn is nach bhfuil fianaise ann gur thrasnaigh siad ón Ghaeilge go Béarla, ach cionn is nach bhfuil fianaise ar bith ann gur Gaeilge iad.

Níor mhaígh duine ar bith gurb ionann béal ónna agus amaidí sa Ghaeilge go dtí gur chum Cassidy é, níor úsáid duine ar bith comhroghna leis an chiall cara nó comrádaí, níl foluach ann mar dhóigh le hamhantar a rá, is fantaisíocht lom iad leathluí géag agus liú lúith agus gus óil agus sách úr agus píosa theas agus na céadta píosa raiméise i leabhar Cassidy. Níor thug Cassidy fianaise dá laghad go bhfuil cuid ar bith den raiméis seo fíor agus níor chóir do theangeolaithe a gcuid ama a chur amú ar an rámhaille mí-ionraic na geilte seo.

Ba chóir go dtuigfeadh Terence Winch an méid seo, mar scríobh mise postáil ar an bhlag seo mar fhreagra ar an phostáil a scríobh sé in 2007 agus ag míniú nach raibh ach caimiléireacht sna samplaí uilig a luaigh sé ó shaothar Cassidy. Ní hamháin sin, ach chuir mé ina leith nach raibh ann ach comhchoirí i mí-ionracas Cassidy. B’fhéidir nár ghúgláil sé a ainm féin riamh ach … ní chreidim sin! Is léir nach bhfuil sé réidh éirí as an raiméis seo. Thig leat an phostáil sin a léamh anseo: https://cassidyslangscam.wordpress.com/tag/terence-winch/

Tá rud amháin eile a chuir isteach orm anseo. Sa phodchraoladh chéanna inar pléadh raiméis Winch, pléadh daoine gan Ghaeilge a mhílitríonn ainmneacha Gaeilge agus a fhágann na sínte fada ar lár. Sin rud a chuireann isteach ormsa fosta, ach is dóigh liom gurb aisteach an mhaise dóibh gearán a dhéanamh faoi sin cionn is go léiríonn sé easpa measa ar na Gaeil agus ar ár bhféiniúlacht, ach, san am chéanna, ar an phodchraoladh chéanna, deirtear nach bhfuil rud ar bith cearr le Poncán randamach éigin nár fhoghlaim an teanga riamh, a chum na céadta frása bréige ‘Gaeilge’ agus a rinne iarracht a mhaíomh gur fíorGhaeilge a bhí ann.

Níl sé maith go leor. Is masla é don chultúr agus don teanga agus don fhéiniúlacht s’againne, agus ba chóir a rá go neamhbhalbh le liúdramáin ar nós Terence Winch gur chóir díospóireachtaí intleachtúla a dhéanamh bunaithe ar an fhianaise, agus ní ar an bhonn gur cara maith le cara de chuid Terence Winch a bhí in Cassidy nó go bhfuil cairde Cassidy ar liosta Chártaí Nollag Terence Winch.

Agus sin ráite, tá súil agam nach dtógfaidh mo chairde Meiriceánacha (daoine modhúla, éirimiúla, réasúnta) orm é má deirim go bhfuil a thuilleadh ag baint leis seo. Dar liomsa, tá féith nimhiúil díomais i gcultúr nua-aoiseach Mheiriceá. Tháinig mé ar alt spéisiúil le Tom Nichols atá ag teacht go maith leis an teoiric sin: (https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-real-reason-americans-cant-agree-on-unemployment-or-just-about-anything-else-2017-03-29):

“This isn’t just human nature, but the result of a narcissism that took root in American society after the 1960s and has been growing ever since. Surrounded by affluence, enabled by the internet, and empowered by an educational system that prizes self-esteem over achievement, Americans have become more opinionated even as they have become less informed, and are now utterly intolerant of ever being told they’re wrong about almost anything.”

Seo go díreach an rud atá ag tarlú anseo, dar liomsa. Níl mórán measa ag daoine i gcultúr na Stát Aontaithe na laethanta seo ar an chumas a admháil go ndearna tú meancóg, agus ní spéis le leithéidí Winch an fhírinne a chluinstin má chiallaíonn an fhírinne go gcaithfidh siad a admháil gur cuireadh dallamullóg orthu.

Bíodh seo fíor nó ná bíodh, rud amháin a léiríonn na podchraoltaí seo go ríshoiléir ná, a luaithe agus a scaoiltear méimeanna bréige mar seo amach sa tsaol mhór, tá sé beagnach dodhéanta iad a stopadh den ruaig a chur ar an fhírinne. Is é sin an fáth a raibh iompraíocht na Rubberbandits chomh míréasúnta ceanndána sin maidir leis an liosta sanasaíochtaí bréige a scaoil siad ar na meáin shóisialta. A luaithe agus a scaoiltear an ghinid as an bhuidéal, nó a ligtear d’Abhartach imeacht as a thuama le fuil a dhiúgadh, ní féidir iad a chur ar ais arís. Bréaga a bhfuil scéal maith ar a gcúl, sáróidh siad an fhírinne i gcónaí. Tá Motherfocloir in áit mhaith le hiarracht a dhéanamh cuid de na bréaga seo a stopadh. Ina áit sin, mar gheall ar dhrochthaighde agus falsacht intleachtúil agus an eagla atá orthu dul i ngleic leis an fhadhb go cróga agus olc a chur ar leantóirí díomasacha Cassidy mar Terence Winch, tá siad ag cuidiú leis an chaimiléireacht gan mhaith seo a leathadh in áit a dhúshlán a thabhairt mar is ceart.

The Illusion of Balance

Most of us when faced with a lying, psychopathic cretin like Cassidy would be keen to ensure that he is treated with the contempt he deserves. There are many people who do things differently, who follow a path of gentle cultural relativism where nothing is ever entirely wrong and every claim and belief is to be treated with equal kindness, however ridiculous. Yeah, it’s a wonderful world …

For example, when American poet Terence Winch reviewed Daniel Cassidy’s book, he put in a few negatives to make the thing look balanced, but in fact, the overall effect is to validate and promote Cassidy’s vile, lying book.

But cold shoulders awaited him among some linguists and etymologists who found him lacking in scholarly rigor and authority. Grant Barrett, in particular, presented the most convincing attacks on Cassidy’s work. The debate seems to continue, with some scholars clearly threatened by an amateur barging into their domain with an exciting new insight that none of the experts had ever noticed. It seems to me, however, that Cassidy has presented a wonderful opening for trained scholars to explore, if they could get over their anger at being scooped (from scuab, to snatch away).

Insights like Cassidy’s are creative breakthroughs whose logical structures are filled in later. Last year, in this space, I discussed “eureka moments” and “tacit knowledge” in my post on Elizabeth Sewell. Cassidy’s book is one of those eureka moments that leap beyond the ordinary to give us a new understanding of the subject at hand.

That’s fine, if the book is worthwhile and well researched and correct. If the book is a pile of crud, which How The Irish Invented Slang is, then Cassidy’s theory is not ‘an exciting new insight’ and this ‘balance’ is an illusion. What is really being done is a subtle whitewash, where a couple of token criticisms make the generally positive tone of the review seem reasoned and fair. Winch’s comments here are offensive bullshit. Another way of describing ‘creative breakthroughs whose logical structures are filled in later’ is the process of choosing your conclusions and then looking for confirmation of them after. Which is a pretty accurate description of how Cassidy rolled. I also dislike that ‘clearly’. It may be clear to Winch that the experts are failing to accept Cassidy’s work because of a fit of pique. To me, it is quite clear, based on the available facts, that Cassidy’s work is all nonsense and that Winch is supporting it out of a mixture of stupidity, ignorance and nepotism. (He is a friend of several of Cassidy’s friends.)

Of course, this fake balance is predicated on the notion that all theories are created equal, that nothing can be proven, and that the evidential basis for a claim is irrelevant. I don’t believe this and I really don’t think anyone else should believe it. Winch claims that scoop in journalism comes from Irish scuab. Yet the word scoop meaning something used to pick something up dates back to the Middle Ages in English, and scuab means a brush or broom and is therefore less appropriate than the long-established English word. Winch also mentions dude coming from Irish dúid, meaning 1. Stump. 2. (a) Stumpy object, protuberant part; (short) horn, (cropped) ear, tail. (b) Short-stemmed (clay) pipe. 3. (Craned) neck, throat. 4. (a) Stumpy person. (b) Mopish, shy person; numbskull, but ignores the other claims, that it comes from Dudenkopf in German meaning a dandified idiot, or from Yankee Doodle, who ‘stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni.’ (The original meaning of dood is basically a fashion-victim.) He also repeats the absurd Cassidy claim that do-thóigthe means ‘a sickly, hard-to-feed calf.’ A look at any Irish dictionary is enough to disprove that one. And then he finishes with béal ónna for baloney. Yet again, there’s no evidence. If you want to claim that, you should be able to provide evidence from a dictionary or a text in the Irish language which predates Cassidy and which clearly shows that béal ónna has been used to mean nonsense. It you can’t do that, there is no evidence, so the claim is invalid. It’s not rocket science.

When trying to establish the truth, you should give equal credence to claims of equal weight. Sticking your thumb on the scales to give weight to claims which have no substance is not being balanced or fair. In reality, it is giving an unfair advantage to liars and it’s making you an accomplice in their dishonesty.