Frequent commenter Paul T. sent me a link to this Irish Times column by Frank McNally, which focuses on Irish as an allegedly underacknowledged source of English words. He cites an e-mail from a reader asking about whether the slang verb “to dig,” meaning ‘to understand or appreciate,’ could be related to the Irish verb tuig, which also means ‘to understand.’ Unfortunately, he spends much of the essay pretending that the crackpot ideas of Daniel Cassidy (see this LH post) have any relation to reality, but I’m linking it here for this admirable paragraph:
Many languages have influenced English. Irish is definitely one of them. It’s just that, in every vernacular, you could find phonetic coincidences with words spoken elsewhere. Unless you can also cite examples of where, when, and (ideally) why they jumped the species barrier, you can’t assume the coincidences are more than that.
I wish more newspaper columnists could get that idea through their heads.