Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"Rock On, Girl!"

Reader Allison sent me this photo of her fellow classmate’s tattoo.

The young lady has been bragging about it and claims her “Asian characters” tattoo means “rock on, girl!”


http://myspace-828.vo.llnwd.net/00312/82/86/312136828_l.jpg

Well, it is complete gibberish.

Ironically, the three characters do to some extent resemble , “decaying stone/rock”. (Perhaps a little jab at the Rolling Stones?)

Since the term “rock on” is American/English slang, there is no accurate translation for it in Chinese or Japanese.

If you know a good equivalent of “rock on” in Chinese or Japanese, please feel free to comment or email me.

Update: March 22, 2006 - Rene Mykel Miniatt, owner of "rock on, girl", has emailed me with her side of the story.

Gmail - Rock On
(transcript)


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41 comments:

  1. Having an incorrectly translated tattoo on your body is bad enough, but shit, I'd probably be more ashamed of the sloppy scribble (calligraphy).

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  2. What "calligraphy"?

    Her tattoo makes that downloadable gibberish Asian font look good.

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  3. Most immediate ideas for "rock on" in Chinese would be either 加油﹗ or in Taiwanese Mandarin specifically something like 讚ㄟ

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  4. Plus I think that last character is supposed to be 威

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  5. What was she thinking?

    If I translate literally some american phrase to Finnish it will sound bit weird, corny or just plain stupid. Same works the other way around!

    Some rare ones will work, but bostly it's rather funny..

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  6. well, i think 加油 (or +oil) is more an encouraging phrase.. like when you scream it at your school's athletes when they're competing. still, i can't think of any other. i mean, it's slang! one can't even translate cantonese slang into english without making it sound thoroughly stupid.

    Brag On, Girl!

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  7. I can think of a few phrases in Japanese that might catch the general positive, go-for-it, awesome! "feel" of the phrase "rock on", but none of them are exactly the same. Such interjections aren't really common in Japanese to begin with. If anything, you'd probably hear or see ロックオン! / ROKKU ON! as a widely accepted phrase before you found a reasonable equivalent...

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  8. um, the last character also kinda look like 安, so I guess that sounds like "on", so it's like, "rock" "on"? otherwise, I have no clue where the resemblance to "rock on" is.

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  9. oops, I forgot the "or" between "rock" and "on".

    this makes my head hurt O.o

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  10. I think the last character might be 安. It doesn't fit with the rock on scheme, but that's what I'd guess for the last one.

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  11. I think the last character is an:

    安...which kind of makes sense if you think 'an' = 'on'

    It's still dumb, and ugly, too.

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  12. If you squint, the last one looks kind of like an ultra sloppy 安...

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  13. Here's a suggestion for "Rock on girl" in Chinese:
    石頭在女孩上面
    That would make a great tattoo, she should get that!

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  14. My guess at the same kind of idea would be がんばって (ganbatte). It's like, "try your best" or something to that extent. Not exactly "rock on" but you hear it a lot.

    I like how completely illegible it is. Adds to the mystique, don't you think?

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  15. I think "雄起” would probably be the most precise slang to represent "rock on."

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  16. Nice! Touche. It's sort of funny that people tattoo something on their bodies without really knowing for sure what it means.

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  17. Re: "石頭在女孩上面" (a stone on a woman)

    Heh, I wonder if that's what she meant?

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  18. Isn't, "Rock on," the same as, "Party hard"? If so, I think とことん騒ごう (tokoton sawagou) works for Japanese. SpaceALC (only the best dictionary for Japanese in the world) even lists it as an equivalent. But to be honest, I think I've seen "ROCK ON!" on websites and advertisements before, so it might be acceptable to just write that.

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  19. Tian's right when he says that "rock on" is English slang that doesn't have a good translation. Julie's also 100% right when she says those kind of interjections aren't common in Japanese to begin with, and if you were forced to translate it, the best would probably be some OTHER English phrase.

    とことん騒ごう...although it might work for "partying", is something you'd basically never hear a Japanese person say. But "rock on" seems to me more along the lines of - 'that's right', or 'keep going', which makes it even less translateable as an interjection.

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  20. Frankly, I most of them do not even care what their tattoo means.They just want it to look 'cool'.By the way this 'rock on' tattoo is horrifying, both the mandarin equivalent (if there is a translation for 'rock on')and the calligraphy.However,I think 'jia you' would be the closest translation.

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  21. This is "jia you" in the sense of "add oil", right? (Translates literally as "Step on the gas" in American English, but in context it's similar to "rock on".)

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  22. may be you could also try 妹妹你大胆地往前走. it is the name of the theme song of Zhang Yimou's critically acclaimed 1987 movie Red Sorghum (红高粱), and it's literal translation into english is "sister, be brave, and march on". other comments left before my post have good ones, too, such as 加油, which literally means "rock on", but without the "girl" part. 石頭在女孩上面 and 安 are not so good, while 雄起 is what Sichuan soccer fans chant in soccer matches, and some say it means "erection", or "get a hard on", which is quite vulgar to be tatooed on a girl.

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  23. I think that bottom mark is actually two characters:


    You know, "rock on girl." And the top two things are just blobs put there because the tattoo parlor person was stoned beyond belief.

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  24. I thought the last character might be an incredibly sloppy 安. :D Depending on which part of America you're from and how bad your pronunciation is, that might be the "on" part... *grins*

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  25. >石頭在女孩上面 and 安 are not so good

    You know, I would really have expected a guy named "momlovebone" to be able to get the joke...

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  26. those emails!! i think she's trying to save face - though i'd probably do the same... IF i were the type of person who'd tattoo something even a "good friend" did her best to translate, because i just thought it was ~*~*~pretty~*~*~.

    like, totally.

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  27. "For all I care I think it's pretty"?????

    she must be on drugs

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  28. I could see it being kind of pretty... if you completely abandon the idea of it being Chinese characters. Fortunately the artist made this very easy to do...

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  29. If you ask me, we should be emailing her with all these comments. Maybe she'll see some sense...

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  30. Oh, so it turns out she ignorant too. What a surprise. Twat. I get the impression people like her are the main target of this place - or rather, trying to prevent more of them.

    And I love the way she goes out of her way to point out how some of her best friends are Asian.

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  31. My interpretation is that it says 老枯安, which in Mandarin is "laoku an", a direct transliteration of "rock on".

    If I were to translate the phrase, I'd say "繼續努力". Some people just don't understand that idioms are untranslatable. Just last winter, the president of my university asked around for translations of "surf's up" in different languages, just so she could show off in her Christmas cards. Naturally, all the languages departments ignored her.

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  32. What a brat that girl is. She's exhibit A in the museum of people who shouldn't get tattoos. If the language means nothing to her, why not just get the phrase tattooed in English? Oh, right, that wouldn't be "pretty" enough. Her patronizing attitude towards Tian is just precious.

    I especially love her argument: "Alison is too afraid to insult me to my face!" Maybe, but at least she isn't displaying her ugly tattoo and her willful ignorance on the internets. I'd right now the score is Alison - 1, Rene - 0.

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  33. Insert eyerolling gesture here.

    First of all, Allison has two L's. Rene should bear this in mind as she's trying to tell people she's going to file stalking charges against me. How can you file a police report if you can't even spell my name?

    Secondly, I submitted the photograph to confirm what I, and many others, have suspected for quite some time: That the tattoo of her self-procalimed life's motto is entirely nonsensical. The fact that it is utter gibberish is made more hilarious by the highly defensive attitude she's taking.

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  34. Did anyone see the name of her Myspace profile? "I [heart] Hookers." Then she goes on to tell us to "Kiss [her] Indian ass."

    Oh man, we shouldn't mess with her. It would probably be easier for the Chinese to change their language to fit her tattoo, because this badass rawker ain't going down without a fight. HARDCORE!!

    Oh, and her profile lists her age as 14. Make of that what you will.

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  35. I like seagull's interpretation, but maybe I'm just trying to be nice and giving the girl (or whoever did her tattoo) some sort of credit.

    I think 勁! wouldn't be a bad translation for "rock on!" (in Cantonese anyway... but who knows, my language skills suck.)

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  36. No, no, no.

    It's good that it's gibberish, and crap "calligraphy". It tells you something about this person, and allows you to identify yet another moron as soon as you see it.

    I loved her comment to Tian, "but why are you asking me, you speak Chinese"...Exactly!

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  37. Maybe Rene should have thought about the possibility of people covertly insulting her BEFORE getting a bunch of gibberish permanently tattoed onto her flesh! The good thing is that if she's only 14, she has time to come to her senses (and learn ENGLISH grammar before attempting any more Chinese. ;)

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  38. Why on Earth would you get such a colossal tattoo on your chest, anyway?

    Detracts from the face, I suppose...

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