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How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads (Counterpunch) [Paperback]

By Daniel Cassidy & Peter Quinn (Introduction by)
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Item description for How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads (Counterpunch) by Daniel Cassidy & Peter Quinn...

In a series of lively essays, 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. While demonstrating this, Daniel Cassidy simultaneously traces the hidden history of how Ireland fashioned America, not just linguistically, but through the Irish gambling underworld, urban street gangs, and the powerful political machines that grew out of them. Cassidy uncovers a secret national heritage, long discounted by our WASP-dominated culture.

Daniel Cassidy is the founder and co-director of the Irish Studies Program at New College in San Francisco.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   303
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   1.15 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Publisher   CounterPunch Books and AK Press
ISBN  1904859607  
ISBN13  9781904859604  

Availability  0 units.

More About Daniel Cassidy & Peter Quinn

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Daniel Cassidy is founder and co-director of An LA(c)ann Aireannach, the Irish Studies Program at New College of California in San Francisco. His research on the Irish language's influence on American vernacular and slang has been published in the New York Observer, Ireland's Hot Press magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, and LA, the Irish-language newspaper.

Daniel Cassidy was born in 1966.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Social Sciences > Linguistics
2Books > Subjects > History
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Education > Education Theory > Contemporary Methods > Multicultural
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Education > General
5Books > Subjects > Reference > Foreign Languages > General
6Books > Subjects > Reference > Words & Language > Linguistics

Reviews - What do customers think about How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads (Counterpunch)?

Interesting  Sep 24, 2008
This volume represents a labor of love. The book takes a hunch and a few documented loan/foreign language words from Irish common in American English slang and expands it to discovering the Irish roots of a great number of slang terms. This volume needs to be viewed as a historian's process of discovery. It presents information at mostly the hypothesis stage. The book cannot be evaluated from a linguistic perspective. Daniel Cassidy makes it very clear that he is neither a linguist nor an Irish language specialist.

Cassidy's volume makes an important contribution by documenting concerns and hypotheses of some Irish Studies researchers. However, his argument could have been much more convincing by having an Irish language specialist and linguist specializing in the field of etymology as co-authors.
Holy Moly (Holy Moladh)! Thanks to Daniel Cassidy for a great read!  Mar 16, 2008
I'm no expert here so I won't join the fray on whether or not every suggestion Daniel Cassidy makes is accurate, but there are many things that make this book a terrific read. From his moving story on how the idea of the book came to him in the first place, to the riveting historical information in the opening pages -- including Peter Quinn's fascinating introduction -- to the great list of slang-from-Irish possibilities and the stories behind Cassidy's thinking, this book is what my Irish mother would call the "bees knees" (see page 88!). And if you have the chance to attend a reading by Cassidy, don't miss it! His passion is infectious and he sings a great Irish "secret song."
Fascinating read.  Mar 12, 2008
Eye-opening research, although, in all fairness Mr. Cassidy over-reaches, as in his explanation of the term "86". Still, the writing is personal, lively and fascinating. It's a good read and I recommend it to anyone interested in linguistics. Put this next to your copy of David Maurer's The Big Con.
Great to learn, but...  Mar 10, 2008
Until I heard about this book in the New York Times I thought that the only Irish words to make it into the English language were galore and lug. It is truly amazing to see how many words came from the Irish. I also never realized how many Irish came to this country not speaking English.

I highly recommend this book, however it is so repetitious it feels like I'm reading the same page over and over again. The author definitely should have hired an editor.
The Irish finally get their due and may I say it's about time.  Dec 12, 2007
I'm a librarian, not a linguist. In fact I didn't even buy this book. My uncle did. But once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. I grew up in the Bronx, among a lot of Irish and Irish Americans (my own family among them--and believe me, they're not always the easiest people to live with!). What struck me about this book is what it says about how pieces of the Irish language found their way into American slang. It's funny but my best friend's grandmother, who worked for years as a waitress at Schrafft's, was a native Irish speaker who grew up in Donegal. Whenever she was with her three sisters, they would invariably resort at some point to Irish, which could be annoying because it was hard to avoid the feeling that they were talking about the rest of us! When I once brought this up, she said it was their "secret language." Another time I asked her if she read books in Irish. She laughed and said that Irish was a language that "LIVED ON THE TONGUE, NOT THE PAGE." I thought about her answer when I read this book. It seems to me that this book says pretty much the same thing, and I certainly recognized many slang words that were a part of growing up in New York City. Although I usually don't read books of this type (I prefer novels--especially Alice McDermott!), I really enjoyed this one.

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