Since no Filipino has come out to criticize the English translation of the Filipino phrase “putang ina,” made by the media, I am volunteering to do so.
The said phrase was uttered by Philippine President Duterte and was translated by the media to mean “son of a bitch” causing President Obama to cancel his official meeting with Duterte. Even Joseph Connoly, who probably does not know a thing about the Filipino language, blindly and ignorantly echoes the same translation in his poem published in this newspaper on Sept. 14.
The phrase “putang ina” is literally translated as “bitch of the mother,” which does not make any sense. But the genesis of the phrase used to be “puta na ina,” which translates as “the mother is a bitch” or “the bitch is the mother.”
The phrase is normally used as an interjection showing the speaker’s determination to do what he says he wants to do. In the case of Duterte, he was using the interjection to show that he was strongly determined to reject any discussion with Obama with respect to his policy of extra judicial killings in his country.
The phrase being correctly translated, Duterte is correct in saying that he did not say that Obama was “son of a bitch.”
Reynaldo O. Yana