Saturday, October 23, 2010

from: Kfir F.
date: Sun, Oct 17, 2010 at 11:36 PM
subject: Tattoo translation

Hi Tian,

I have a friend from work who has a tattoo on his arm. Since I knew about your blog I tried taking a pic of it & check with you if he really knows the meaning of what he has or not. He said it's written in Chinese and it says something like - there's nothing like mom.

Thanks a lot & love your blog.



The first character does not exist in written Chinese. However, there is one character only exists in written Cantonese, which means "not have". Of course, that is not what has been tattooed here.

Tattoo does not mean "there is nothing like mom", rather "not have the likeness of my mother".

Friday, October 15, 2010

from: Rok P.
date: Fri, Oct 15, 2010 at 2:07 AM
subject: tattoo translation


any chance you could translate what my sister just got tattooed on her neck?

It's supposed to be something in the lines of "as long as I breathe, I hope"

Thank you,



The five characters do not have same poetic meaning as she hoped. Rather, they are "living", "air", & "love". recently had an article titled "5 Examples of Americans Thinking Foreign People Are Magic", and its intro to #2 was:

You know how it's been trendy for a while for white Americans to get Chinese or Japanese characters -- sorry, "Hanzi" or "Kanji" -- as tattoos? The idea seems to be that if you get the English words "STRONG" or "BEAUTIFUL" tattooed on your arm, you look like a bragging retard, but if you get it in Japanese, it is suddenly meaningful.
from: Matthew L.
date: Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 4:03 PM
subject: This Tattoo...

Hey Tian,

One of my coworkers has this tattoo on her wrist which she had done in Bali. She thinks it says the following:

1. live your dreams (Tailand)
2. just fucking dance (China)
3. let nature take it's course (Burma)
4. actions/protest (Bali)

Your thoughts?


for hanzismatter

顺其自然, without that extra piece in the middle, would mean "to let nature take its course."

Besides the terrible calligraphy, what a group of hodgepodge text.