Philippine Words for Noobs (PWN): Putang Ina
Over on Twitter, I was contemplating creating a Philippine Word of the Week thing for this, my games and geekery blog. Longasc replied with a semi-brilliant, completely ludicrous, but rather funny idea to make some of the words I introduce per week swear words or words describing human anatomy.
Hence the creation of PWN: Philippine Words for Noobs.
Now, my actual language of mastery is English, but I’m proficient enough in the lingo of my native tongue to have enough of an idea of how to best translate the ideas used by the word or phrase in its different contexts.
In any event, let’s take a trip into the amusing side of Philippine Culture and Ideas as we explore one commonly used swear phrase: Putang Ina.
And yes… swearing en masse in multiple languages follows.
“Putang Ina,” (the non-dictionary pronunciation would be pooh-tahng-ee-nah) to be known as “P.I.” in this entry henceforth, is derived from both Spanish and Philippine terms. The word “puta” is spanish for “Whore” while “Ina” is a Philippine word for “Mother.” P.I. is commonly used as shorthand for its longer variant, “Putang Ina Mo,” which in turn is also shorthand for the sentence, “Puta Ang Ina Mo.”
Directly translated, “Puta ang ina mo” means, “Your mother is a whore.”
While direct translation may suffice as a cuss word, it is interesting to note that P.I. as a term has around a third as many uses as the english term “fuck.” While you could literally make a verb out of the term by saying, “Pinuta mo ang ina mo (You turned your mother into a whore),” such a term is often too unwieldy and as such is rarely, if ever, used for cussing someone out.
Instead, this versatile statement prides itself on being the Matryoshka doll of swear words, allowing it to be shortened to great degrees whilst retaining the efficacy of its meaning.
From “Puta ang ina mo,” for example, we can shorten it to, “Putang ina mo,” or “Tangina mo,” which mean exactly the same thing but are widely accepted shorthand terminologies for the particular sentence in question.
Let us go back to the other meanings of the term. In normal usage, the term “Putang Ina” or its shorthand, “Tangina,” are the “Damn!” of the Philippine language. For proof of this, one can wait till classes end and watch students make their way to local PC gaming shops, where they will no doubt use this word often while playing the Warcraft III mod Defense of the Ancients or engaging in heated firefights through FPS games.
As it so happens, P.I. is the swear word du jour of the Filipino people. It’s not pretty, it’s not elegant, but there’s a certain crispness to it that, when said properly, gets people to pay attention, much like a loud well-placed “Fuck” or “Shit” would do at a dining establishment. To all the bloggers and readers out there who are now armed with this knowledge. Use it well, and use it wisely, for while you could say it in passing, if a fellow Filipino hears you and thinks it meant for him, you’re liable to either be hugged and welcomed in open arms as a brother or, more likely, be beaten up, Manny Pacquiao-style. Cheers.