Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Regardless what one's option about Dan Brown, he is a well known author for his thriller fiction books. However, it seems he did not do a very thorough research before publishing Digital Fortress.

Dan Brown / Digital Fortress / Page 11

Dan Brown / Digital Fortress / Page 12

Linguaphiles in Livejournal have already pegged Dan Brown as an idiot.

Alan and I are annoyed with Dan Brown, especially considering he is interested in cryptography.

The excerpt is so painful and moronic quoting about "Mandarin symbols" and "Kanji language", where there is no such thing as "Mandarin symbols" or "Kanji language". Mandarin is a spoken oral dialect, and Kanji is part of Japanese writing system.

Alan also had this to say:

Apparently Dan Brown is just as ignorant as those tattoo yahoos. He thinks you can just "translate symbols" and have it make sense. Any code based on the translation of single characters from Chinese or Japanese to English, and then subjecting this to subsequent processing is bound to fail because of multiple meanings. (Sorry, Dan, but just picking the "Kanji" rather than the "Mandarin" meanings does not solve the problem.) Simply sending a coded message that included plaintext Chinese or Japanese would be such a stupid code because any translator could intercept and read it. And the topper is the assumption that someone could possibly translate something written in Chinese or Japanese out of sequence. Try to read any English text scrambled out of order! If it is to be possibly deciphered, first the message has to be put into proper order.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

date: Tue, Mar 17, 2009 at 12:09 AM
subject: kanji paranoia

Hi! I got this tattoo a little over a year ago. It's supposed to mean "pure child", as I am a Christian. My tattoo artist is very careful and we even referenced a Japanese children's workbook to make sure that's what it meant.

I stumbled onto your site and now I am a little paranoid. Can you set my mind at ease?

I attached a pic :)it's my boobs, hope you don't mind. it's a little blue Kanji on my left boobie.


First of all, Alan and I welcome boobies!

I have always wanted Cornershop's Brimful of Asha as one of my party anthems, especially the chorus says "everybody needs a bosom for pillow, everybody needs a bosom."

Although are technically translated as "pure" & "child". A Japanese person would surely first assume that 清子 tattooed on a woman is supposed to be the common Japanese girl's name Kiyoko. But then the cognitive dissonance would set in.

Judging from certain, er, attributes of the tattooed subject, we would have to assume that she is not ethnically Japanese, so the question arises: why does she have a Japanese name?

Anyway, as a name, 清子 can be read several different ways including, in order from most to least common: Kiyoko, Seiko, Sugako, Sayako, Sukako.

Matter of fact, most Japanese would think this is a tattoo paying homage to their former princess 黒田清子, Sayako Kuroda.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The name Ed Hardy probably does not mean much to us, unless you have stepped into high end boutique shops.

Don Ed Hardy used to be a tattooist (or still is), but in these days, he has whored out his name and artistic integrity to hawk women hand bags and other fashion garbs.

The phrase printed on this Ed Hardy handbag was intended to represent "die before dishonor", however it is gibberish in Japanese. This phrase is not even close in Chinese. It is read as "die first, insult (later)".

The printed phrase sounded more familiar to the practice of 鞭尸, a punishment where buried body is unearthed and whipped in front of his/her surviving family members, than "die before dishonor". Plus, Chinese already have an idiom, 寧死不屈.

This gets better after I received this email:

from: Rachel S.

date: Sun, Mar 1, 2009 at 6:06 PM
subject: Tattoos, do they really mean this?

Hi, a guy I went to high school posted this picture of his new tattoo on Facebook and I was wondering if they really mean what he claims them to say.

The tattoo he says it reads, "Death before dishonor."

Someone actually copied the phrase from Ed Hardy's pseudo-Japanese handbag and tattooed on himself.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I have received many emails about some idiot posting this photo in BME's tattoo gallery (Feb. 24, 2009):

The caption says:

While spending some time in Japan, I was lucky enough to get the kanji for "Dragon soul" tattooed on my arm at a studio in Tokyo. The artist helped me translate the phrase into kanji.
(Tokyo, JP)

Hmm.... but does he really think it means "Samurai" or "Dragon soul"? The story is a bit inconsistent. Or does he really know his tattoo 外人 really means "foreigner" and is he just yanking our chains?

Anyway, it's funny either way.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

If you ever wanted to know when first misuse of Chinese character ever started in Western culture, I may just have the answer for you.

from: Nam See Kim
date: Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 2:24 AM
subject: the history of misuse of chinese characters

Hello Tian,

My name is Nam-See Kim, Korean, studying in Germany.

In Cultural studies of Humboldt University Berlin I wrote my doctoral thesis about the western reception of Chinese characters since 16th century. I find your blog very interesting.

I would like to send you some images which show how long is the history of "misuse of Chinese characters in western culture".

The first Image of "Chinese characters" comes from the Book by Martino Martini, "Sinicae historiae decas prima" in 1658, page 23.

The second from the book of Bernardino de Escalante in 1577, where the so called "Chinese characters" introduced for the first time to Western world.

The third image is the most famous from "China Illustrata" by Athanasius Kircher in 1667.


Nam-See Kim