Sex & the single Dogan

One is nailed in modern journalism by the staccato of fact, fact, fact. Many of these facts are untrue, of course, and others have the same effect as hollow dumdum bullets — expanding on contact with flesh. It is a war out there, between adversaries named Fact and Truth. I am reminded of this every time I look in the news, and see that “studies have shown,” when they have shown nothing more than a valiant attempt on the part of the devil to undermine the obvious.

I mentioned journalism, but the phenomenon has spread to lexicography, if not farther afield. While explaining the Canadianism, Dogan (for “a Roman Catholic,” ideally of the Irish persuasion), I was recently shot down by a pert young tyro. She had taken the trouble to look it up in some supposed authority, such as the COD (Canadian Oxford Dictionary). The etymology there was in conflict with what I habitually supply. I’d have been more impressed had she cited, for instance, the more venerable Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles (ed. Avis et al., 1967) where she would have found the same answer: that it originates in some Irishman’s surname.

My mother had a much better account. It is a Cape Bretonism, she gently insisted, from the days when Presbyterian missionaries were sent into West Africa. They came to the tribe of Dogans, and sent home eager anthropological reports. From these it emerged that the Dogans worshipped some female idol, which the missionaries mischievously conflated with Mariolatry. Cackling with glee, as would be their wont, the people back home in Glace Bay, or wherever, began calling their Catholic neighbours “Dogans.” The Catholics themselves rather enjoyed the slight, and so the term quickly spread through the island, up the fishing coasts of Newfoundland, down to Antigonish (a Catholic citadel), then west at least to Pictou. On reaching Halifax it jumped to Montreal, &c, while quietly penetrating the Boston States.

I refuse to stand corrected. Nor will my Gaelic mama be corrected, now that she has doyed. My corrector cannot be corrected, either, for nothing is as irrefutable as the testimony of an exceptionally attractive young blonde. Notwithstanding, all facts being equal, I prefer the better story.

People keep asking me, “What is the High Doganate?” I trust that, when combined with the information that my quarters float one hundred feet above the streets of beautiful downtown Parkdale (or, Vallis Hortensis, as I’ve come to prefer), all is now clear. Or may be for a few Idleposts. (Gentle reader might try his search engine next time.)

Which leaves me with the embarrassment of explaining my headline. It seemed to promise more than I have delivered, today. True, I selected it to get attention. But as a gentleman I feel compelled to acquit myself of any charge of evasion. So let me add that the Dogans come in two sexes, male and female. And that, in the more colloquial sense of the term, those who are single “must not.”