In an article published yesterday, we translated former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's now-controversial remark about Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra as "stupid bitch". The original term in Thai was "อีโง่".
Two other English language media outlets have also reported the story – the Bangkok Post and The Nation. However, their choice of translation differs from ours. The Nation translates the word as "stupid woman", while the Bangkok Post gave it an even softer term: "stupid lady".
To prevent any doubt toward our journalistic integrity, the editorial team of Khaosod English has decided to clarify why the term "stupid bitch" is the more accurate translation of what Mr. Abhisit had said at the rally on 7 September.
First of all, neither "stupid woman" nor "stupid lady" is an accurate translation, precisely because Mr. Abhisit did not say such things. According to the transcript published by his own party, he said "อีโง่", not "หญิงโง่" or "สุภาพสตรีโง่", which would warrant the translation into "stupid woman" and "stupid lady", respectively.
It should be noted that when a cartoonist at Thai Rath newspapers referred to Ms. Yingluck as "หญิงชั่วขายชาติ", Khaosod translated it as "evil woman" selling her country.
While we accept that "stupid bitch" is not an 100% accurate translation of the term "อีโง่" (as it is the case with many other "very Thai" words), we have concluded that "stupid bitch" is the closest possible translation in the news' context.
อี is a gender-based insulting word, particularly in the modern usage, denoting female. Indeed, while there is a male counterpart – ไอ้ – the word is generally perceived as less insulting than อี.
อี is also used as a prefix to make any word very, very rude, in the feminine context. Place อี before ตอแหล (liar) and you get the Thai version of "lying bitch". Place อี before ตัว (body) and you get the word "prostitute".
To convey the shocking aspect of Mr. Abhisit's remark, we had to resort to an English word so rude that public figures in the West would not consider uttering it to the large crowd of people, let alone in presence of the watching media, which also has a feminine quality. Hence, the word "bitch".
Although we generally adhere to a universally practised principle of not printing vulgar words, we feel that softening Mr. Abhisit's remark, like other media agencies have done, would amount to distortion of his words.