How The Irish Didn’t Invent Slang

Grant Barrett over at The Lexicographer’s Rules has an excellent and devastating review of Daniel Cassidy’s book How the Irish Invented Slang. I haven’t read the book (nor do I intend to), but I have encountered Cassidy’s work in the past. He is the epitome of bad scholarship and gives valuable lessons in exactly how not to conduct an intellectual inquiry.

The proximate cause for Grant’s review is a credulous article published in The New York Times that failed to ask anyone else in the field whether there was any merit to Cassidy’s work. Had the reporter done, or the editor insisted on, some basic research, then it would have become readily apparent that Cassidy is a crank. We expect better from the “paper of record.” If there is a reason that old, mainline media will be killed by bloggers and the internet, it’s articles like these. The advantage that newspapers have is their editorial staff and systems of review and fact checking. But if newspapers fail to take advantage of their strengths, then they will certainly die a swift and well-deserved death.

If you’re thinking about buying the book, read Grant’s review first.

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