Tantingco: Cuss and curse
by: Robby Tantingco
Monday, January 19, 2009
WE KAPAMPANGANS swear a lot, don't we?
We use, for example, the expletive "takneydamo!" (or its variations "taneydamo,"
"takneydo," "neydumo" and "neydo") to punctuate every expression, whether of
anger ("Takneydamo animal ka!") or surprise ("Takneydo karagul na, ne?") or joy
("Neydumo, obat memye ka pang regalu?") or fear ("Taneydamo e ka kakanyan!") or
even grief ("Neydo obat rugu mipakanyan ing bie?").
But if we knew the origin of this word, we'd probably use it less often.
"Takneydamo" is the abbreviation of "antak nang inda (or indu) mo" (Your
mother's vagina) and I apologize if you're offended by it, but that's actually
the point -- our ancestors coined the phrase to offend people. They had to refer
to the most private part of the dearest person on earth for maximum effect.
It was recorded by a Spanish missionary priest, Fray Diego Bergaño, in his 1729
Kapampangan dictionary, which was translated by another priest, Fr. Venancio
Samson. If these two priests did not blush writing these unspeakable,
unprintable terms, why should we be embarrassed reading them?
To the squeamish, you can turn the page now. Here are more profane phrases
encountered by the Augustinian missionary during his stint in Pampanga, first in
Mexico (1725-1731) then in Bacolor (1731 and 1747). Ready?
"Taksyapumo!" which is a variation of "takneydumo;" it's the abbreviation of
"antak ng apu mo" (your grandmother's vagina).
"Tumbung ning ibpa mo!" (abbreviated as "tumbungnibpamo"), which means "your
father's anus." Fortunately, it is no longer used today.
"Bugal ning indu mo!" (abbreviation: "bugalnindumo"), which is a more vulgar
cuss than "takneydumo" because it means "your mother's vaginal tumor."
"Bugoc!" which is literally "rotten egg" but our ancestors used it as a swear
word to mean sterile or impotent -- an extreme insult.
"Sapatan a yantac!" which is so obscene that even Bergaño wouldn't say what it
meant. Here's a clue: Bergaño translated "sapat" as "filthiness, like that of
dirt gathered on the folds or wrinkles of the neck or armpit."
The common Tagalog cuss, "Putang ina mo!" and its Kapampangan equivalent, "Anak
puta ka!" are probably of recent coinage. My theory is that they are mere
translations of the American expletive "Son of a bitch!" that we borrowed during
the American regime.
It probably never crossed the minds of both the ancient Tagalogs and the ancient
Kapampangans to call another person's mother a prostitute, for the simple reason
that it was very unlikely to happen (maybe even impossible) in their respective
According to Amada Bas Balazuela, a Kapampangan who has taken residence in
Madrid, Spain, she was surprised to discover that a number of supposedly
harmless local words have dirty Spanish provenance.
We say, for example, "kesehoda" when we mean we couldn't care less, but it's
actually the Spanish phrase "que se hoda" that means "Go fuck yourself!"
Another is "lamiyerda," which we call a walk with friends, but which is really
borrowed from the Spanish "la mierda," which means "the shit."
And then there's the word "coño," the derogatory term for spoiled brats here in
the Philippines, but in Spain it refers to the vagina.
The vulgarity of our ancestors' dirty language was matched only by the nastiness
of their curses.
Both swear words and curses are intended to inflict harm on another person, the
former to hurt feelings and sensibilities, the latter to harm the physical body.
Ancient cultures everywhere had their respective curses. The Egyptians inscribed
theirs on the entrances of the pyramids; Haitians pricked voodoo dolls. Even
Jesus cursed a poor fig tree, which promptly withered and died.
Our ancestors resorted to cursing when the recipient was so inaccessible that
they had to invoke the supernatural to do the harming for them.
In his 1729 Kapampangan dictionary, Bergaño documented an entire catalogue of
ancient Kapampangan curses and maledictions:
"Maburug ca sa!" which was intended for ingrates. It means "May your body be
covered with mange, which is a skin disease characterized by severe itching,
sores and loss of hair. The severity of this misfortune indicates the intensity
of our ancestors' disdain for ingratitude.
"Mapapa ca sa!" which is still in use today. Its original meaning was "May you
be disgraced" or "May you suffer great failures and illnesses." It was a curse
especially for children who struck or hit their parents.
"Mabitas na ca sa dungos!" which is a curse for gluttons: "May your stomach
"Sacdapul!" Translation: "May you be consumed by fire!" or "May you turn into
ash" or "May you disappear completely!"
"Dipan na ca ning alti!" or its variations, "Mayalti na ca canyan!" and "Mayalti
na ca balat!" They all mean "May lightning strike you!" Many Kapampangans still
use the word "alti" but I doubt if they know that it is the ancient word for
lightning. They prefer to use the synonym "quildap" which is more akin to the
Tagalog "kidlat" (thunder is "duldul").
"Pisubasuba na ca ning malasulingsaba!" A truly ancient curse, back to the days
when crocodiles infested Pampanga's rivers and swamps. This curse means "May you
be seized by the crocodile!" "Malasulingsaba" was a species of crocodile known
for its agility.
Also, I would like to add motherfucker in Kapampangan: "Putanaidana" or "Putanaindana."
Note: This article is not originally from me but my purpose is to just share it.