NYT on Daniel Cassidy

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sat Nov 10 02:43:03 UTC 2007

FWIW, Irish "dearc" sounds a lot more like "jorrock" [djar at k] than
like "dick." The relationship between spelling and pronunciation can
be quite opaque in Irish, even for native speakers, depending upon
dialect. Does _duit_ sound more like "ditch" or more like "dutch"? Or
is the word actually _dhuit_ "ghutch" [GUt'], which is the
Munster-dialect form that I was taught? That's why I'm restricting
myself to words whose (Munster) pronunciation I know off the top of my
head and not touching forms whose pronunciations I don't know, such as
Cassidy's (supposed?) Irish source for "crony."


On 11/9/07, Grant Barrett <gbarrett at worldnewyork.org> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Grant Barrett <gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG>
> Subject:      Re: NYT on Daniel Cassidy
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Nov 9, 2007, at 11:11, Wilson Gray wrote:
> > FWIW, I agree with Cassidy that the source of "galore" is Irish _go
> > leor_ [g@ 'ljor], as does the OED On Line. "Even a stopped clock has
> > the correct time twice a day," to coin a phrase.
> He does indeed get a few things right, but there he does not cite his
> sources--which he could hardly do, seeing as how he derides and mocks
> works such as the OED and people such as non-Irish lexicographers.
> Not citing sources means that his few better entries are nearly as
> bad as the incorrect ones. He almost universally fails to take the
> headword back as far as it will go and fails to establish links to
> older and other forms.
> For example, his entry on "dick" 'detective' seems to prefer that the
> word comes from the "eye" logo used by Pinkerton detectives (I say
> "seems" because his logic is often impossible to follow):
> "The Pinkerton's world-famous logo was the giant 'All-Seeing Eye.'
> The Pinkerton private 'eye' and labor union spy was christened a
> *dick* (*dearc*, an eye) by the Irish-speaking subjects of its gaze:
> Molly Maguires, Fenians, Knights of Labor, and Wobblies."
> But he has only 1928 as his earliest source (1908 in OED and HDAS),
> doesn't address the Hiberno-English travelers' cant suggested by
> HDAS, fails to mention "keep dick" in the English Dialect Dictionary
> which (according to HDAS; I can't double-check because Archive.org
> doesn't have EDD Vol. II) cites it from Northern Ireland, and makes
> no connection to the "deek" 'to descry; to see' (1784 in the Scottish
> National Dictionary) which HDAS suggests is synonymous with the
> English Romani "dik."
> So, the reader comes away with a distinctly wrong impression about
> this word when if he had only tried harder he could have definitely
> held it up as a strong candidate for a Gaelic-derived word.
> There is no bibliography, by the way.
> Grant Barrett
> Double-Tongued Dictionary
> http://www.doubletongued.org/
> editor at doubletongued.org
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