Lexicographic Smackdown

Having spend a number of years in/around Boston, I can testify that it becomes increasingly believable that the Irish may have invented the world. Perhaps this tendency isn't only a Beantown phenomenon, as illustrated by this NYTimes article about tracing a large portion of the modern slang dictionary to the Irish Gaelic tongue. The book, for which the article is basically an advertisement, is actually called How the Irish Invented Slang.

Like I said, though, it's kind of easy to fall for these types of hypotheses (for whatever reason). Luckily, the intarwebs are full of differing opinions on just about any subject you could imagine. In this case, the counterpoint is solid:

In January 2005, I challenged Cassidy to present all of his evidence. I told him that I’m the descendant of three strains of Irish, four strains of empiricist, and the son of a bluster-catcher, and I said he was going to have to do better than trot out the same-old “they’re all against me!� argument of every perpetual motion inventor.

To date, what he’s provided as evidence is flimsy and fouled by scholarly incompetence.

Just fair warning, if you're at all like me and tend to fall for the various romantic myths of the various Celtic peoples. Besides, everyone knows the Scots invented everything! ;^)

Here's tae us Wha's like us Damn few, And they're a' deid Mair's the pity!


Track o' the Post: Erin Go Bragh from Dick Gaughan's Handful of Earth. (Dick Gaughan, it's worth noting, is a Scot and something of an internet geek. Nice!)