Pish posh

los-libros--la-biblioteca--monton_19-126841When I was teaching some lovely Korean exchange students, one of the major pronunciation issues we had to work on was the difference between /p/ and /f/.  It was very difficult for them to differentiate the two, as they don’t have a /f/ sound in Korean.

We had a lesson about food, and I asked what they normally ate for dinner in Korea.  Rice and pish, I was told.  Fish? Yes, pish.  Do you like fish?  Yes, I like pish.

Some dedicated pronunciation drills followed.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if ‘pish’ wasn’t a common slang word in the UK and Ireland.  It is a somewhat polite version of ‘piss’, which, as well as meaning ‘urine’, is often used to talk about alcohol (usually beer).  In Australia, it’s quite common to ‘sink some piss’ (drink some beer), and to be ‘pissed’ is to be drunk (but to be ‘pissed’ in the USA means to be ‘pissed off’ or ‘annoyed’).

So, in some places you can buy pish, drink pish, and get downright pished.   It does quite a good job of imitating a drunken (pished) slur, too.

‘Pish’ or ‘pish posh’ can also be a statement, meaning ‘rubbish!’ or ‘nonsense!’.