Tuesday, May 16, 2006

"Mandarin Lettering"

Every time Shannon Larratt updates his BMEzine.com gallery with user submitted tattoos, I would get some great laughs and then followed by shaking my head.

Today Cory Ward of Sinful Skin Tattoo in McMinnville,TN, has submitted this work of his with title, "Mandarin Lettering".

By the way, there is no such thing as "Mandarin Lettering". Two main groups of spoken Chinese, not written Chinese, are Mandarin and Cantonese. While Mainland China uses a Simplified system, Traditional Chinese is more accepted worldwide (more).

Since I could not identify the last character after and , I decide to turn the photo upside down, and guess what:

It is a crappy .


  1. 我唔知. there are definitely well-established ways to write chinese in cantonese and taiwanese too. i kno most characters are the same between the dialects, but people have invented new characters as well for words that don't have obvious cognates in mandarin. in that case, i think it's plausible that it could be differentiated using terms like 粵. of course, i doubt the tattooee knos about any of that and is writing in ignorance. altho, i would be pickier about the use of the word lettering. usually letters are associated with alphabets, and of course, chinese doesn't really have one. those tattoos are hideous.

  2. This is a fantastic blog! I've seen many of these tattoos and cringe at the thought of some poor moron getting something they don't understand permenantly etched into their skin. b

  3. So what, if anything, does this tattoo mean? "Extremely safe way?" Perhaps a transliteration of someone's name?

  4. my intepretation is pretty wimpy... as I'm a newbie learner, but I want to take a crack at this.

    I would think the author found a bunch of words and tried to formulate his own phrase from the meanings.

    I think it should be

    極安道 (P:ji an dao) to mean the "farther peaceful road"

    but perhaps the author tried to say something like "the road farthest from peace" and came up with 道安極 (P:dao an ji)

    I can't think of a name that would sound like "dao an ji".. at least in English I can't.

  5. As a beginner, my guess would be "reach the end of the road of peace" er upside down.

  6. Upside-down and badly-drawn extremely safe way, huh? Poetic.

  7. well,this tat may mean nothing but only three "Chinese alphabets".
    it looks like that "downloadable Asian font" to me.

  8. I can't think of a name that would sound like "dao an ji".. at least in English I can't.

    Well, "an ji" could be "Angie."

  9. it looks like that "downloadable Asian font" to me.

    Aha! It must have been someone's attempt to write the initials NCU.

    See here