One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Coetzee's "Boyhood": Afrikaans Potty Lingo

Re reading material: I had to make a decision: With the clock ticking down (I have to report back to school on 8/12, the kids start 8/15), what do I read: more Coetzee or Stefan Zweig's Beware of Pity (my Kindle was lost/stolen in Europa)? I chose the easier read, Boyhood (I'm already on p. 65 of 166), and will begin Beware of Pity next. As those two books are my only "new" reads, I'll have to resort to "rereads" (don't worry I've lots of good stuff: perhaps I'll try to dig up Tolstoy's What Men Live By or some vintage Max Frisch) until I replace my Kindle (perhaps on my not-so-far-away birthday in September).


Re the naughty Afrikaans words Coetzee mentions in Boyhood (most of which are not explained: they are just given as examples of how filthy young boys can be): Just for fun I'll first see what Google Translate says, then, if that doesn't make sense, I'll Google around for a better answer:

1.) fok seems to speak for itself but Google Translate says "foresail." Googling for a list of naughty Afrikaans terms, I find (as expected) fok = fuck.  As a kid this word really mystified me too. Wasn't quite sure what it meant but I knew it was one of the worst.

2.) piel according to Google Translate is "dick," which sounds like a winner. The naughty list I pulled up prefers "cock."

3.) poes is pretty much explained by Coetzee at chapter's end (and, once he explains it, it makes sense). Google Translate says "puss," and the naughty list has "cunt."

4.) gat according to Google Translate is "hole." The list didn't have gat, except in combination: gat gabba = homosexual, but I'm sure the cruder meaning is simply "asshole."

5.) poep-hol looks partly familiar and sure enough Google Translate says "poo-hole." The list seems to have a variant, poepol, which it translates as "asshole."

6.) Google Translate doesn't recognize effies or FLs, and the list doesn't mention them either.  A bit more Googling and I've got effies = condom (apparently) and FLs = French Letters = condoms (so related to effie and somehow related to the prejudice of anything that's French is bad).
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