Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Pishogue



~~~~~~~~Sunset #1009 from my deck.~~~~~~~~

One of those great words that warped and changed a little as it travelled the many thousands of miles across the stormy ocean from Ireland to Newfoundland.

Here is the standard definition:

pi·shogue also pi·shoge (p-shg)
n. Irish
1. Black magic; sorcery.
2. An evil spell; an incantation.


And that is what I remember from my granny. Who was both a giver and receiver of the pishogue. She would tell me about pishogues being cast by dicey characters in her village and you'd have to ward them off with holy water and a crucifix. I remember one time that the pishogue that was cast on one of her brothers and his family was so awful, she couldn't begin to tell me. All she would say was that it involved black things coming out of the body. My granny. Creator of nightmares of stark, raving terror in the four year old entrusted to her care and protection.

Here is the Dictionary of Newfoundland English definition, a few spelling twirls (I love the fishogues, particularly!) along the way but the basic meaning survived intact apart from the spells.


pishogue n, usu pl also pisherogue, fizoge*, etc. [phonetics unavailable]. EDD ~ Ir; JOYCE 302; DINNEEN piseog 'witchcraft, sorcery,' pl, 'superstitious acts.' Incredible story, foolish talk; complaint.
1931 BYRNES 121 How many years have passed my friends, since you heard these once familiar localisms?. . . 'Sure it's all pisherogues.' 1937 DEVINE 37 ~s Superstitions. Gossipy yarns and incredible stories. 1968 DILLON 138 Fishogues, pisharogues—superstitions about ghosts, fairies, etc, matters a person complains about. 'Them are only some of your old fishogues.'


Today's post brought to you by the letter P from The Dictionary of Newfoundland English in partnership with the rest of the alphabet beginning here.

14 comments:

  1. Casting spells that need to be exorcised with holy water and other spells. Lovely.

    I have no idea how the word could be pronounced.


    PS: The dog goes in the boot, but it's a hatchback boot, he has plenty of room, windows on three sides and can poke his head over the backseats on the fourth. I can't think of another word for it but boot. Nice of you to worry.

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  2. Yhat is one of those words of a practice that should be lost to time. It's those kinds of superstitions that kept people backward and ignorant. The church made use of them too with their holy water and prayers to ward off evil. It's best all forgot.

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  3. I don't believe in black magic and sorcery as I've never seen any evidence of it, but it seems many people do believe in it. Though who needs black magic when then are plenty of wicked things going on without it?

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  4. Are we related? Our grannies must have been at the same school, mine was fond of splashing the holy water and waving the rosary beads casting spells and talk of pishogues.

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  5. Friko:
    Pish-og (hard g).

    and so so happy about the dog, boots and trunks have different meanings to me: enclosed space.

    XO
    WWW

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  6. Irene:
    A form of Irish voodooism, and there were many forms of it.
    XO
    WWW

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  7. Nick:
    I think a lot of it was psychological brain washing. Much like religion itself.
    XO
    WWW

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  8. GM:
    They must have been separated at birth!!!

    What imprinting for small children!!

    XO
    WWW

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  9. Hmmm - that's another new one to me, WWW.

    Is it my memory playing tricks, or did some young ladies in those very English novels of the 19th century sometimes exclaim "Pish!" about something they thought was rubbish? If so it might have been derived from your word - if superstitions were considered rubbish by some.

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  10. T:
    Hard to say T, I found very little on it on line apart from the meanings mentioned. A derivative website would be interesting, wouldn't it?
    XO
    WWW

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  11. WWW,the granny above was paternal and from the wilds of Clare. The one I mentioned in reply to your comment on my blog today was from Dublin and she played in the first ever Camogie Game in 1904.

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  12. GM:
    Ah, far more civilized and ladylike!
    XO
    WWW
    PS and for the benefit of non-Irish, camogie is the Irish national game of hurling for girls and it is BRUTAL.

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  13. The Irish and the Indians have a lot in common. Even today, a vast majority of Indians believe in black magic, sorcery, casting of evil spells and incantations and a flourishing business of remedies by so called magicians exists in all parts of the country.

    Personally, I think that it is a whole lot of hog wash, but it is something like a placebo I suppose.

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  14. Yes, Ramana often desperate times will have this faith healing, etc. around.
    I classify it all (including religions) under the category of "woo".
    XO
    WWW

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