You could also pass the content to the pseudo element with a data attribute and then use jQuery to manipulate that:

In HTML:

<span>foo</span>

In jQuery:

$('span').hover(function(){
    $(this).attr('data-content','bar');
});

In CSS:

span:after {
    content: attr(data-content) ' any other text you may want';
}

If you want to prevent the 'other text' from showing up, you could combine this with seucolega's solution like this:

In HTML:

<span>foo</span>

In jQuery:

$('span').hover(function(){
    $(this).addClass('change').attr('data-content','bar');
});

In CSS:

span.change:after {
    content: attr(data-content) ' any other text you may want';
}