Póg mo thóin
Recently I had an email conversation with a lady who was deeply offended by the use of Póg mo thóin phrase on www.irish-sayings.com. She found it deeply offensive to Irish culture. At the time I thought the problem was the Irish phrase, but the more I read the emails, the more I think it was the English translation of “mo thóin” that was the problem – the fact that “my ass” was written where anybody could see it. At the moment I am not sure what was offensive to her – was it the expression itself and the meaning of it, or the rudeness of the English translation (ass rather than bottom) and the accessibility of it to young and susceptible individuals, or maybe even the mixture of both. The fact is that Póg mo thóin is the most popular phrase on irish-sayings.com, listened to more than 1 million times! Therefore it’s located on the top of the page where everybody entering the page can see it.
I find neither Irish phrase nor English translation offensive at all. Tóin is not a derogatory expression and there are much harsher words in English than ass. It must have been the negative connotation of the word ass in relation to the clean image of tóin that upset the lady.
I find the phrase Póg mo thóin a tourist attraction, created for the amusement of millions of tourists who come visit Ireland every year. Would it be better for sensitive individuals if it was translated Kiss my bottom or buttocks, backside, rear or seat? Or would it be better, in their opinion, if it didn’t exist at all?
For me, Póg mo thóin was the first phrase I learned. From it I learned that póg means a kiss or to kiss, I also learned that mo means my, that thóin is actually tóin and means butt and that the letter h in thóin was there to express the case of the word.
Pretty much information in 3 words, don’t you think? And this is why I don’t find it offensive.