Shaun de Waal
Shaun de Waal

Taking the measure of ‘4-5’

I was amused to see the February 22 front page of the Daily Sun, peppered with its usual plethora of exclamation marks.

“Ex-lover slashed my 4-5!”

That was the headline, and the story went on to explain:

“He was sitting happily with his new sweetheart when the door to his house crashed open.

“It was his former lover, carrying a knife and screaming for his new girl’s blood!

“… Thlalefang Shuping (35) acted quickly and wrestled the girl to the ground, but her knife flashed and he felt a searing pain in his balls!

“Blood soaked his pants — she had slashed his penis!”

Thlalefang, we are told, was later “given 10 stitches on his penis” at a clinic. Poor man. Apart from the interesting confusion between penis and testicles in the article, what’s fascinating is the terminology. I’ve never seen the term “4-5” used for a penis. Is this indigenous South African slang? Does it refer to the average length of the average penis?

I feel some research should be done. The field of slang terms for sexual acts and body parts is enormous, as demonstrated by Sex Slang, a new book from Routledge. For penis, to stick to that area alone, we have everything from “skin flute” to “whanger” to “yoghurt cannon”. I feel “4-5” should be added to this list, as well as a South-Africanism I’m trying to propagate — “wilbur”.

I can’t recall where I heard this first, but it fits in with the tendency of Gayle, the gay slang that works on the basis of giving names, usually alliterative female names, to such terms. Thus they sound like characters in a particularly mad pantomime, and hence we have Ada for Aids, Kathy (Bates) for cocaine, and so on. The letter P is already taken with Priscilla (police), and there are already two terms for the dangly or not-so-dangly bits — Lana (lunch; itself a slang term for such things) and Erica (erection).

But I’d like to get Wilbur (willy/whanger) out there, and spread it around, as one does. Any takers?