Tuesday, July 28

"How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads"

Language fascinates me. My guess is that language fascinates you as well. We share the Celtic love of language in all its forms, written or spoken. With that in mind, I suggest for your consideration an utterly delightful and informative book, entitled, “How the Irish Invented Slang/The Secret Language of the Crossroads”, written by the late Daniel Cassidy.

Cassidy’s research sought to disprove the notion that the Irish language had no influence at all on our modern English. What he discovered is that Irish Gaelic forms the origin of many of the common expressions, words, and phrases we use in everyday speech. Reading this book gives us information galore (go leor—plentiful) about Irish-American history, culture, and American vernacular.

The slang and the accents of the Irish immigrant working-class neighborhoods have continued for generations and it seems that we use words everyday without realizing we are speaking “Irish”. Just a few that readily come to mind include, jazzy (teasaí—exciting, spirited), gee whiz (Dia uas—good/great God), and so long (slán—farewell/good-bye). There are many more that will surprise and amuse you. To quote Cassidy, “The Irish had invented slang by remembering the Irish language without knowing it”!

So, for all of us who grew up only knowing póg mo thóin, and Erin go Bragh, this book is not only informative but tremendous fun to read. And…you’ll learn a bit of Irish along the way as well.


  1. Bear in mind that Cassidy (a) knew nothing of word origins or linguistics and (b) did not even speak Irish Gaelic. No reliance whatever should be placed on his work.

  2. Spoilsport. lol. And there I was about to buy the book.

  3. Well lads, would ye fancy a copy of 'For Focal Sake!' The All Ireland book of Slang to review?

    The entries in it were submitted by gowlbags from the 32 counties on http://www.slang.ie

    Givvus a shout if so.

    Sound out.


    Slang.ie - The All Ireland Slang Dictionary