Satire: “It’s dry, but you can drink it”
So, our language is littered with curious, interesting, comical and positively awkward words. Words that have so many different meanings depending on the context and even tonality, but few non-racist words exhibit the kind of anger, mirth and embarrassment like the common colloquialism, POES, in South Africa.
I can already sense your awkwardness, but I reason if we are finally ready to explore it’s linguistic idiosyncrasies, meanings, connotations and subtleties, we are well into exercising our inalienable, indivisible, axiomatic right to Freedom of Speech.
Our Calvinistic socialisation deliberately denied us the freedom to discuss what is weirdly viewed as sacrosanct and taboo. Two of the most common taboo subjects is the critique of religion and any discussions around sex. Both were deemed sacrilegious with one difference, religion so far as I can tell is viewed more as a duty, a chore even and perhaps a “moral” obligation you owe God and to a degree your family and perhaps even society, well, a Western society anyways.
Sex has no such lofty ambitions as man is probably the only mammal that pursues it purely for the sheer pleasure of it. So, men have idolised women throughout the ages, but more specifically their vaginas. So herein lay the conundrum, how can something so beautiful (Uhm, I’m referring to sex, not the vagina) be so off-limits in any conversation, much less polite conversation.
It seems that at some point, a daring, intrepid individual (definitely a man and probably a coloured man in the early nineteen century), in a single act of glorious liberation and anger at the authorities screamed into the heavens, a blood curdling, guttural cry, “jou POES, and thus the colloquialism for the vagina entered into our lexicon.
Since then, the POES has matured and grown-up to be a term accepted by all races in South Africa and even developed multiple connotations. Let’s dive deeply into the POES, (excuse the pun).
1. Jou POES – means fuck you, with just the right amount of aggressiveness, but not overly so.
2. Jou mase POES – go fuck yourself. Means that you are a few steps away from a fight because it dares to invoke your Mother’s genitalia.
3. Jou mase dubbelle POES – go fuck yourself x 10 and is a dire warning leading up to a fight.
4. Jou mase POES om jou nare te kry – go fuck yourself × 10 with the very real probability of a fight ensuing. Perhaps the most extreme incantation of the word.
5. Don’t be a POES – chides you not to be silly or act like a dufus.
6. Djy jou POES – is either an enquiry into what you may have done or a slightly harsh way of greeting you.
7. Djy is a POES – you such a fucker or fucknut and should be read disparagingly.
8. Hoor die POES – listen to this fucker. An expression of incredulity at what you just said.
9. Kyk die POES – observe this fucker. Probably something you’d did that may cost the other person money, especially to repair something that you broke.
10. Djy is rerig ñ POES – final confirmation that you are indeed the type of fucker the speaker suspected all along but wasn’t sure.
So, there you have it, my dear brothers and sisters, friends and comrades, hopefully, we have defanged the word enough and we now have a better understanding of context.
Warning: This post cannot transmit tonality and so it is advisable to note the tone the speaker is using before jumping to hasty conclusions or running away from a fight too early. According to the discipline of NLP, Neuro-linguistic Programming, tone accounts for 38% of the value of a transmitted message and oh, don’t try this at home folks…….