How the Irish Invented Slang
The Secret Language of the Crossroads
Daniel Cassidy 2007 303p 6 x 9
“In a series of lively essays, this pioneering book proves that U.S. slang has its strongest wellsprings in nineteenth-century Irish America. “Jazz” and “poker”, “sucker” and “scam” all derive from Irish. While Demostrating 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.”
While I’m skeptical of the claim that “U.S. slang has its strongest wellsprings in nineteenth-century Irish America”, the English language is forever in debt to the contributions of the Irish. In addition to a number of essays about particular words and expressions, How the Irish Invented Slang also contains an over 200 page dictionary of Irish-American words, tracing the influence of Irish on the English language. I wish a book like this existed for every language ever spoken on the continent! There must be countless forgotten and buried contributions from all cultures.