Tattoos featuring words, saying and quotes are popular. Insanely popular and no sign of the trend slowing. The amount of people quoting not just phrases but entire paragraphs and yes…even pages from favorite books is astounding.
And then there are the foreign language tattoos.
Why not add a bit of mystique and spice to your tattoo collection with a foreign word that will lead to the inevitable question “Your tattoo says what?” Ahhhh – a golden opportunity to expound on the meaning of your ink! Worth the price of the tattoo any day.
Now a misspelled word or mis-worded quote are easy (and funny-tragic) to spot in English but what if you are branching out into Sanskrit, Chinese or Hebrew? If you don’t speak these languages find someone who does to double-check your idea before you commit to it for life otherwise you might find your inky mistake featured on one of these websites!
So let’s travel around the world to see some interesting interpretations
Don’t speak, read or write Hebrew? Well then by all means use Google translate to pick your next tattoo! The folks over at www.badhebrew.com do a stellar job of picking apart poorly translated Hebrew tattoos. Maybe reach out to these guys before you book your next tattoo session.
“This little gem was sent in by Amit, and is just too good to pass.”
Well, if you read this site, you know where this is leading…
What does this Hebrew Tattoo read?
“Babylon is the world’s leading dictionary and translation software”
Oh yeah, THAT bad.
Remember boys and girls, never use an automatic/online translator, and especially if you’re translating a name. Sadly, this effort was doomed from the start. ” (Thank you www.badhebrew.com)
This is the foreign language tattoo style that gets most abused and mis-quoted. Those characters look so cool but make sure you KNOW what you are committing to before you ink. One quarter of the world’s population (and growing) is laughing their ass off at your misquoted tattoo.
Here is an example Hanzismatter.blogspot’s amazing translation abilities (and brutal honesty) – I strongly suggest you go there first BEFORE you commit those Chinese characters to ink!
” My husband has a tattoo that is SUPPOSE to mean “God’s Love” – please translate!”
Hanzismatter’s Reply: “It is gibberish.”
“I came across your site and my girlfriend would like to know what her tattoo exactly means.”
“Sucker of the gibberish font” OR “I married a moron”
Ouch and double ouch. Also my new favorite site. Thanks hanzimatter.blogspot!
First and most common mistake? People think they are getting a Sanskrit saying but it is written in Hindi. Think that doesn’t matter? Well don’t try busting out your “Sanskrit” tattoo to a native speaker to get their honest opinion.
I get the letters look pretty – it is a beautiful looking language. But please – get that translated accurately. This is the best website I have found that carefully picks apart the sometimes subtle difference between Hindi and Sanskrit phrases and letters.
“Sanskrit fonts don’t work like normal English fonts. Letters combine like nobody’s business. A vowel when written by itself is different from a vowel that appears inside a word. There, only its mark, sign, maatraa appears!”
“When multiple consonants occur in sequence a new symbol emerges, called a ligature. Without proper ligatures the language loses all its charm. ”
and that is just the tip of the linguistic iceberg. Go visit Authentic Sanskrit Tattoos before you ink to make sure you get it right. Seriously.
Sanskrit or Hindi? You say potato…come to think of it these might say potato – better check it!
Think you have this classic covered? Think again…
“Latin tattoos are difficult to create successfully: in fact, attempts to produce them can very easily – and very often – go wrong. Many people have taken into their own hands the translation of English into Latin for a bespoke tattoo rather than having contacted a professional. Just a few examples of the potential chaos and indelible errors that can ensue from using the automatic translators available via Google‘s perversely incorrect Latin translator are given below.”
Classicalturns.com offers translation services so you can avoid looking like a monk twat. What happens if you don’t check with them first? Oh nothing except they use your crap translated tattoo as a stinging example of what not to do!
“Here is the august shoulder of Danielle Lloyd, a ‘celebrity’ who has sought to bring the prestige of a Latin tattoo to her body…”
“To diminish me will only make me stronger”.
“Alas and alack, only one of these words is correct, namely ‘only’: tantum. The ‘meaning’ of what she has actually had inked in is: “As who am I wearing away for myself, I only set (it) down for/on myself, strong man (that I am)?”. Interesting and enlightening; at least Ms Lloyd will take strength away from this episode.”
Leave it to Latin Scholars to decimate you – but with class and excellent vocab words. Ouch! Another new favorite site of mine.
And there is more of course…so much more. Russian? Konechno! But I refuse to piss off Russians (although I am fairly certain Russian people would not spell their own tattoos incorrectly – I’m just being extra cautious.) German? Sicher. Spanish? Si. Japanese – what do you think?
No language is spared the misquote or the misspelled word. Even English-speaking people get their English language tattoos wrong (you know what is coming)
Final Thoughts? Always ALWAYS do your homework on tattoo translations and if at all possible get a native speaker to check your image before you commit it to ink. Your tattoo artist is not the one responsible for getting it right – YOU are. And if you are in a foreign country getting a foreign language tattoo? Be extra nice and polite – because you never know what you could end up with!