A book of words of Irish origin
Posted: 16 August 2007 04:51 AM   [ Ignore ]
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How the Irish Invented Slang

I have already placed the title on my wishlist. Anyone who would like may acquire for me the book.

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Posted: 16 August 2007 05:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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this pioneering book proves that US slang has its strongest wellsprings in nineteenth-century Irish America. “Jazz” and “poker,” “sucker” and “scam” all derive from Irish.

Sounds like nonsense to me.

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Posted: 16 August 2007 05:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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’Tis.  Grant Barrett in his blog is not kind.  Junk etymology he calls it. Language Log tears apart the assumption that bunkum is an Irish word just because it sounds like an Irish word (that Cassidy evidently made up!).

When etymology is connected with any sort of nationalism (a vast Imperial conspiracy by HL Mencken, the OED and others to deny the Irish their rightful place in American slang etymology), there can only be bad scholarship.

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Posted: 16 August 2007 06:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I don’t know how to explain this, but there exist people who read only to enjoy a book. I include myself among them. Nevertheless, thank you for your kind words of kindness.

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Posted: 16 August 2007 06:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I haven’t seen the book, but if it is anything like Cassidy’s other writings on the subject, it’s complete junk. To refer to it as “bad scholarship” is an insult to bad scholars.

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Posted: 16 August 2007 08:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The words and phrases of Ireland are ... woven into the clamour (glam mor, great howl, shout and roar) ... of American life

--from the Irish News review of the book at the Amazon site

Oh, brother.  Apparently the Spanish, Portuguese, Italians and even the ancient Romans (clamorem, a shout or cry, clamare to shout or cry out) have been borrowing from Irish too.

Is “Daniel Cassidy” Irish for “Gus Portokalos”?

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Posted: 16 August 2007 09:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Dr. Techie - 16 August 2007 08:16 AM

clamorem, a shout or cry

Even better - clamorem is the accusitive case - in the nominative case, it is clamor.

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Posted: 16 August 2007 10:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Thanks.  The Perseus site wasn’t working and for some reason the OED’s etymology gave the -em form.

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Posted: 16 August 2007 10:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Those of us who remember the fifties and sixties know, of course, that the Russians invented slang first.

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Posted: 16 August 2007 10:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Thews McHeftigan - 16 August 2007 06:11 AM

I don’t know how to explain this, but there exist people who read only to enjoy a book. I include myself among them. Nevertheless, thank you for your kind words of kindness.

So do I, Thews.  I once made a positive comment some years ago about Bill Bryson’s history of the English Language.  I had to run and duck for cover.  But that experience taught me how to read with suspicion breezy and fun-to-read stuff (not that good scholarship needs to be dry and stuffy—Dave Wilton’s book isn’t so)

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Posted: 16 August 2007 01:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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for some reason the OED’s etymology gave the -em form.

That’s because it’s the accusative (-em form in this case) that was the basis for later developments; cf. French rien from Latin rem (rather than nominative res).

I don’t know how to explain this, but there exist people who read only to enjoy a book.

I think everyone except masochists reads books to enjoy them.  This may not be the right site to come to for fellow enjoyers of the idea of a book full of nationalistic hokum and bad etymology.

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Posted: 16 August 2007 06:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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languagehat - 16 August 2007 01:50 PM

I think everyone except masochists reads books to enjoy them. 

Well sometimes you have friends who recommend things that you would not find particularly of your taste.

A friend of mine recommended “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kenneth Toole.  If she had not recommended it, I wouldn’t have finished it.  Ignatius J. Reilly just so pissed me off.

Sometimes trusted friends can recommend things that push the envelope of our tolerance.

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Posted: 17 August 2007 04:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Well sometimes you have friends who recommend things that you would not find particularly of your taste.

I once had a friend recommend me Greek Grammar. I read 15 words then punched my friend in the face. Agrippa is superior to Oecolampadius any day of the week.

Agrippa spares no man!
He knows, he doesn’t know;
He weeps, he laughs, he waxes wroth;
He reviles, he cavils at everything!
He is himself all things--
Philosopher,
Demon,
Man,
Demigod,
And everything.

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Posted: 17 August 2007 06:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I don’t know how to explain this, but there exist people who read only to enjoy a book. I include myself among them. Nevertheless, thank you for your kind words of kindness.

But no one enjoys being made ignorant. If a book is labeled as nonfiction, one expects it to be true. Part of the enjoyment of nonfiction is learning and if the facts one is learning are wrong, then the enjoyment is marred. If the nonfiction work is bad enough, then one can read it for amusement, but for this one must know that it is bad in the first place.

There are lots of factually correct books on slang and word origins that are absolute joys to read. You can check the Popular Press section of the Resources section of the Wordorigins site for some of them.

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Posted: 17 August 2007 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Has anybody here read the book in question, or a significant part of it?

I am familiar with several of Cassidy’s etymological assertions. Some seem superficially plausible, others utterly implausible, others I can’t judge at all because of ignorance of Gaelic. Even the more plausible of the ones I’ve seen are only unsubstantiated stories, and presumably heavily biased.

But maybe the book is entertaining. And maybe some of the etymology stories have some merit. If I can find a copy at the library or bookstore I’ll take a look. If anybody here has read the book, I would appreciate an overall impression, in terms of whether there is any substance there at all and in terms of whether the book is an entertaining read.

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Posted: 17 August 2007 03:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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There is a question about the lack of Celtic roots in English words. One would expect that Celtic languages would be one of the major sources for English words, but there are amazingly few in the OED and other etymological sources. Did the Anglo-Saxons really resist borrowing from Celtic sources when they overran Britain, or does the lack reflect an anti-Celtic bias among 19th century etymologists (carried unwittingly forward through to today)?

I’d like to read a good discussion on this topic. I don’t, however, hold out hope that Cassidy will contribute anything of worth to the discussion.

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