I once knew a young girl whom I came home to from a business trip, finding her at the dining room table struggling to dress a Barbie doll.
“You bloody poephol!” she says to the doll, before I could hug and greet her.
“Bo”, I say, rather surprised, “We don’t speak like that!”.
“Oh yes we do”, says she.
“Oh no we don’t!” I counter.
After two more rounds of that we get to …
“Well, where did you hear that?” I ask.
“Mommy says it to the other drivers!”
Case closed — after explaining that it’s not a nice thing to say and we really shouldn’t speak like that.
Fast forward a few years, we’re sitting in a restaurant, reviewing Bo’s growing Afrikaans vocabulary. As we run out of words to add to that list, she remembers poephol. Ah, yes! So I asked her what it means. As innocently as when she first dropped the word on me, she answered now: A mad driver. Huh?
All this time she understood the word poephol, which she learned from her mother’s impatience with Johannesburg drivers, to mean a mad driver. Cute.