Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Interview with NPR

This afternoon I was interviewed by Robert Siegel of NPR’s program - All Things Considered.

Audio from the interview can be downloaded via NPR’s website or below:


Related media exposure:

Associated Press - Lost in Translation

STUFF Magazine - Tattooed Twits

Sydney Morning Herald - What Your Tattoo Really Says

FHM Lithuania - Perduok Salengai

RTHK Radio 3 - Radio Interview

Voice of America (Chinese) - Fashionable Chinese Characters

Tattoo Revue Magazine - You Know Who You Are

Voice of America (English) - Americans Misuse Chinese Characters

Washington Post Express - Lost in Translation

News 10 Syracuse - Asian Symbols


  1. I wondered if Asian people had to put up with laugh out loud mistranslations of their languages tattooed on people. Now I know that they do! Silliness cuts both ways!

    I enjoyed your NPR segment. I needed a good laugh.

  2. I heard this story on the radio and was laughing so hard. I've been studying Chinese for three years now and when I first started I couldn't understand my teachers anal behavior about stroke order and stuff, but now I TOTALLY understand. I always see silly things that claim to be Chinese characters on cars and advertisements and tattoos. The best part is I just saved a friend from getting "horse" tattooed on his shoulder blade. I really enjoy your website!!

  3. The segment on NPR confirmed what I long suspected. I studied chinese long ago and know just enough to know that I don't know anything.

    Your website is terrific.
    Thank you,

    Mitchell Kramer

  4. It makes me laugh every time I see random badly written Chinese-character tattoos on clueless people. They obviously chose the character because it looks cool or has meaning that's significant to them, so you'd think they'd do a bit of research before getting something relatively permanent inked. It is rather commonly known that there is a stroke order to writing characters and that when those conventions are not followed, the resulting characters just look ugly. Beyond the blatant formal errors there's also the fact the Chinese take the aesthetics of writing pretty seriously (e.g. calligraphy), so obvious mistakes just make you even more foolish looking.

  5. I just found your blog... EXCELLENT. Oh, the hilarity. (btw, I'm Chinese.)

  6. I heard your segment on NPR as well. It made me really laugh so I came here to check out your site. It did not disappoint. Keep it up!

  7. Congrats Tian! As always, fabulous work!

  8. Congrats on the interview, Tian!

  9. I learned about your website through the NPR interview last week. Clever!

    A co-worker of mine had "Versus Semper Fidelis" prominently tattooed on her arm. Although I studied Latin, I couldn't figure it out. Finally I asked her what it meant, and she said she'd taken the Latin words for "Truth and Fidelity Always" off the internet. I'd have written that phrase as "Semper Veritas Fidesque". Her tattoo, on the other hand, means something more like "Against the U.S. Marines."

  10. I once knew a girl who had a chinese boyfriend...she wanted to surprise him with a japanese(why japanese?) tattoo..I thought that was stupid so I wrote down nonsense like "my dog is green and you smell" ... fortunately she decided not to get the tatto. :)