On expletives: an idiot’s guide to “putang ina”

Warning: The following entry contains lewd remarks and phrases:

A portrait of Senator Mar Roxas taken from his Facebook account
A portrait of Senator Mar Roxas taken from his Facebook account

Putang ina, roughly translates to son of a bitch, although I still believe that the Filipino original has stronger meaning, was uttered during an outburst of emotion by none other than a senator in the Philippines referring to the proposed Charter Change. Although college students can be heard saying such expletives in a non-malicious manner, hearing such words coming from the mouth of a senator wanting to be the next president of the Philippines can euphemistically be called a gaffe, or if you’re enamored with anything French then a faux pas will be your choice, or a gaucherie if you’re into highfalutin; or in straight-forward news reporting, a slip will do.

Putang ina has two interpretations. The first is putang ina without the apostrophe denotes the relationship between a noun and an adjective – the mother being a whore, simple. But the more common interpretation but also the more complex of the two is puta’ng ina. Note the presence of an apostrophe. In this interpretation, we have contraction and a hidden subject. Written completely, revealing the missing part it would stand as “puta ang ina mo”  which means the subject’s mother is a whore. Obviously an insult for it means that the subject was born of a father whose identity is uncertain for that subject’s mother slept with so many men. In the Philippines, being a bastard is the worst identity one can have.

However, because of misuse and overuse, putang ina evolved into a totally versatile expletive. Anything can be a putang ina: a flat tire, a spilled bouillabaisse on a black Armani suit, a virus infected laptop; or a proposal to change the Constitution at a time when it is least necessary and when the people who are proposing the change are untrustworthy, corrupt, and think of nothing but their interest.

On the other hand, hearing the phrase from a senator of the land, although nothing really ordinary for I can assure that Senator Roxas uses it once in a while to express anger, exasperation, or plain disgust – in private. But saying such in front of a fifteen thousand strong crowd rallying in Ayala Avenue is not a gaffe, a faux pas, a slip (no way), not even a gaucherie. It’s only the phrase he used that can best describe the supposed statesman.


5 thoughts on “On expletives: an idiot’s guide to “putang ina””

  1. Very nice blog you have. I like the research and effort you put into writing your posts. This post however really caught my attention, so I thought I would drop you a line and let you know you are doing a great job and to keep up the awesome posts!

  2. I, for one, will not place my trust on a politician who shouts expletives in a public function. Not matter how he justifies it he should be able to hold reign on his emotion. Or if it was his attempt on grandstanding and to get media attention, it was, for me a failed attempt.

    Have a great day.

  3. Whatever, still sound bad, much more for a state man. If parent are advice not to speak bad words to their children much more in an international media.
    For us Cebuano “Putang Ina” which originally from cebuano dialect refers to “Prostitute Mother”.
    Mar Roxas directly refers to the mother of President Gloria M. Arroyo.
    Mar Roxas needs to reeducate himself about good manners and right conduct the most difficult elementary subject.

  4. I think being a bastard is the worst identity one can have anywhere.

    In Singapore the leaders set good examples, most are high-achieving stellar people and the leading party does not tolerate nonsense. Of course these people are passionate with their involvement, why join the dirty world of politics if you could join a less hassle corporal engagement? But these words will never be heard from a mouth of a respectable statesman.

  5. I believe that if we’re in charge, we need to set a good example. Most of the time, it’s hard simply because we’re human too and we flip out sometimes and we lose our temper and we say things that should not be said (at least by us).

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