Saturday, August 13, 2005

More Fat Please

Photo has been removed on behalf of Ms. Kerry Fitzmaurice's (aka. SpeedyTomato) request. The original can be seen here.

This photo of a spinal tattoo belongs to user "SpeedyTomato" on Several readers have emailed it to me and want to know what the characters meant.

Other than the randomness of the phrases, the only mistake I found was (fat, plump, obese; fertile) with its incomplete right partial.

= beauty
= upright; upstanding; honest
= allow, permit; promise; betroth
= luck(ily), favor, fortunately
= love, be fond of, like
= fertile
[まいご] = lost (stray) child

I could not stop laughing after I re-read the entire tattoo as one phrase:

"Upstanding beauty [hottie] would allow [one] lucky lost-child [run-away] [to make] love [to my] fertile [body]."

UPDATE: Ms. Kerry Fitzmaurice (aka. SpeedyTomato) has emailed me requesting to have her tattoo photo removed, and here is the reply I sent her:

Dear Kerry,

Thank you for your email. The reason your photo was posted on my site is because several visitors to both your site and mine have emailed it to me. Also to note that the photo you have on your site is mirrored. I sure hope that is not what actually appearing on your back.

I don't know if you knew this or not, but everything and anything people put on the web will be archived one way or another. Therefore even if I remove the photo from my site, it can be easily found via Google and other search engines.

I do understand the tattooed phrases are meant to be independent from each other, but the placement of them has made the phrases to mean something else. Which you may have already known does not sound very flattering (unless it was your original intention). That is what happens when people trying to piece phrases together from another language without fully understand them. Check out my buddy Steve's site

This is not the first time that someone had their photo made onto my site and then request me to have it removed. There was one young lady Naomi Chaney that had "crazy diarrhea" tattooed on her body, and I did agree to remove the photo after she sent photo to prove that she was indeed the original owner.

From the way my attorney advised me as well as information provided via Electronic Frontier Foundation about similar situation is that:

I am obligated to remove photograph from my site when the original owner objects in a written format (even though email is not really legit in some court, but I would accept it), but if the photograph exists else where on the internet, I have the freedom to link to it.

My advice to you is that if you don’t want people to see your tattoo mistakes, don’t publish it on a website. Better yet, don’t get a tattoo in a language that you do not fully understand.



tiangotlost at gmail dot com


  1. This tattoo looks more like Japanese than Chinese -- given that,

    許 is probably better defined as forgiveness (cf 許す、許して下さい)

    幸 is also probably better defined as happiness (cf 幸せ, 幸せに成ろう)

    It looks like a laundry list of things the girl is wishing for or wants to be, but why want to be a lost child?

  2. mmmm, meiren to me means 'beautiful woman'.

  3. Oh, I see, I'm dense - never mind!

  4. Typing too fast should read Lost Child

  5. If anyone had bothered to actually ask me I would have told them.

    They are stand alone words not a complete phrase and it is not a complete work. The complete design is still being worked on. The lower word should be happiness but I cannot control the way the tatto gun is handeled. Also the last child is for a baby that I lost and had anyone bothered to actually ask me I could have explained.

    Now I would request that you remove my picture and remove my link to MySpace.

    Thank you

  6. There is no explaining necessary - you wrote something in a perfectly good language. The problem is that it winds up sounding odd.

    It's like a sign that says "No credit cards allowed" or a sentence that reads "Don't use serrated knives when chopping onions". They are self-explainitory, as they are written in a common language. You chose words and strung them together... they now mean something when read in that language.

    People don't need to ask, you don't need to tell them. You've already tattooed the phrase, and it means something in the language you picked. It sounds like you didn't quite mean what it actually says, but that's what happens when you string words together - they say something.

  7. SpeedyTomato,

    When you mentioned "lost child", did you mean it in term of "miscarriage", "death of a child", or a "run-away"?

    The reason I am asking is that what you had on your back 迷子 means "run-away" not "miscarriage".

  8. I found SpeedyTomato's comment laughable:

    "The lower word should be happiness but I cannot control the way the tatto gun is handeled."

  9. Tian, I think your interpretation of the tattoo as a sentence is far too creative. Maybe the first half fits if you add a comma ("The beautiful woman is upstanding, and allows..."), but after that your interpretation doesn't really reflect the original characters and grammar at all. Although a line of characters like this will invite people to try to read it as a sentence, they will soon realise that it is just a meaningless list of words.

  10. on a totally unrelated topic whatsoever....i would like to take this oppoturnity to thank you sincerely for taking time to do this because it is SO relevant to my post today. THANK YOU for opening the eyes of many 'blind' people. :D

    keep up the good work.

  11. Todd,

    Sometimes I see these tattoos with random Chinese characters as 謎語。

  12. I love your reply, Tian. :) Very well worded.

  13. Yea agreeing with the other comment I've also seen 美人 as "(beautiful) women".

    But anyway, Tian, why did you switch back to Unicode for linking the characters?, in my opinion, is so much nicer even if unicode provides Japanese readings too. Just a thought

  14. A,

    The reason I switched back to unicode is because many people who are too lazy to click through the links provided in would either email back or leave comments complain about " is only for Chinese, not Japanese..."

  15. Tian, for someone that likes to make fun of people's bad Chinese, your English grammar is horrendous. Why don't you study a bit more English before you try to judge people who are interested in Chinese but aren't necessarily experts?

  16. anonymous,

    I agree with you completely about my poor English grammar. Any positive and constructive comments are always welcome. It would be much more beneficial to me if you would point out precisely where the error has occurred rather making a general statement.

    I do not agree with you one hundred percent about people getting incorrect tattoos on themselves just because they have interest in Chinese or Japanese culture. From my correspondence with many clients and tattooists, it appears that people get tattoos with Chinese and Japanese characters simply because either they look “cool” or they believe the characters process certain significance that can’t be expressed by alphabets.



  17. Fair enough, I guess (about vs unicode) - would help problems that arise for non-japanese speakers when 私 is translated only 'private.'

  18. On the contrary, I think tian's English is quite good! Better than many native English speakers whom I have encountered on the web. Plus, he is not having awkward, or totally incorrect English phrases permanetly marked on his body for the world to see and scorn.

  19. Tian's English isn't "horrendous." Every once in a while I notice something a little off, but for the most part I agree with Nancy. His writing is a lot more fluid and well-composed than most people on the internet.

  20. ...than most people's on the internet. Yikes, see? I can't even write in English.

  21. anonymous said "Why don't you study a bit more English before you try to judge people who are interested in Chinese but aren't necessarily experts?"

    It's all fine and good to be interested in the Chinese language and Chinese culture, but ragging on Tian for his english doesn't negate the fact that it's silly to permanently mark yourself with either nonsense or poorly drawn characters simply because they're "cool". Tian's english is fine.

  22. Anonymous said, "Tian, for someone that likes to make fun of people's bad Chinese, your English grammar is horrendous. Why don't you study a bit more English before you try to judge people who are interested in Chinese but aren't necessarily experts?"

    Before criticizing Tian, perhaps Anonymous should learn to use "who" instead of "that" when referring to people.

  23. It's important to note that Tian's English can be fixed with a few taps on his computer's keyboard. Try doing that with a hundred dollars worth of permanent idiocy inked on your skin. ;-)

  24. i think tian's english is perfectly fine as compared to some of the english i've read online - those were SERIOUSLY horrendous!! really...*shudders*

  25. I think the reason people think they can get away with using actual words for decoration without understanding the language they're in is that the US is far less multicultural than its citizens would like to think. English being in nearly universal use here, to some people it's almost as if other languages don't exist, so when they're encountered, they can be used as ornamentation. (Think of English-only speakers unnecessarily using French phrases to sound sophisticated or Latin to sound smart.) -- my two 'sen' as a Malaysian in Wisconsin.

  26. I find mis-appropriations of languages to be beautiful and endearing. I think the people featured on this site should be proud of their public displays of their own fallability.

    I certainly love (and actively seek out) Chinese-made tee shirts with "strange English" on them. I don't do so in an attempt to humiliate or otherwise denegrate the designers of these shirts. To me they're like a kind of accidental poetry.

    Keep up the great work.

  27. lol google cache (image) still have that picture..

  28. As a tattoo artist routinely roped into such things, i caution all those who pursue foreign language tattoos to check and double check what they want. I put them on as cleanly and correctly as they are given to me, but there is no cautioning fools.
    Many people get their translations from local chinese restaurants written in ballpoint pen that I turn away. God only knows what they are writing and the calligraphy is terrible. (i can't do it myself so i require clean neat images)
    Some people resort to them because what they want to say is too big to be written in english, Some get them because it's cool. Some people get them as a "secret" to add mysticism.
    That said, for the amount of space speedy tomato took up on her flesh with her big black ugly mis-shapen foreign text she could have easily expressed herself with an image. There are alot of images that carry many layers of meaning and can be just as mysterious as chinese, japanese, sanskrit, hebrew, arabic, korean, runes, elvish, and so on.(yes i've tattooed them all)