Monday, November 22, 2004

"Exile Husband Retrievable Arrow with a String Attached to It"

Reader "Elton Joe" has emailed me a link to BMEZine (Body Modification Extreme Magazine) along with the following comment:

"I wonder why you never see native Chinese or Japanese with character tattoos? Maybe these misguided Westerners should ask themselves this first. But many of them obviously don't have a strong enough interest in the cultures to learn about them before putting a permanent mark of something they don't understand on their bodies."

The closest translation of the tattoo above (considering the first character is only a partial of ) is "exile husband retrievable arrow with a string attached to it", aka "manleash".

= flow, circulate, drift; class

= man; people; mankind; someone else

= man, male adult, husband; those

= catch, arrest; shoot with bow

Personally I don't have any tattoos. I do enjoy looking at some tattoos, even though majority of them are poorly done. Tattoos in Chinese (or Asian) culture have negative meanings attached to them.

Tattoo started in China thousands of years ago as punishment for criminals. Instead of modern day's local police to notify residents that a sex offender is moving into their neighborhood, the Chinese have tattooed their criminals on their faces with information such as name, crime committed, etc...

Asian organized crime groups such as Japanese Yakusa and Chinese Triad, require their members to have large tattoo done to prove their loyalty. Some Japanese businesses have signs posted to refuse service to anyone with such tattoos.

I can categorize the people who gets Hanzi or Kanji tattoos in following groups:

1. "To Be Cool"

These are mostly people that have very little knowledge of outside world, especially about the Far East. They got the tattoo because it was something new to them, and they liked how Hanzi or Kanji looked, without fully understand what they meant.

2. "Other Cultural is Greener"

People in this group are very intimated by their own culture (or the lack of). Therefore, they would borrow something for another culture and identify themselves with the new one.

3. "Show Off"

This group of people purely got the tattoo as show off piece. They could careless what it said, but it makes them stand out from a crowd. Any attention is better than no-attention, regardless if it is positive or negative.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Extra Love

From reader "Eddie L.":

"I have one for you. I did some research on the web but I could not identify its true meaning [of this character]..."

It suppose to be the character which means "love". I have seen some companies that print tattoo templates with a horizontal bar on top of the character to indicate "this way up". Obviously the tattooist thought the horizontal bar suppose to be there.

Friday, November 12, 2004

"Pervert" and "Testicle" T-shirts

Reader "Wayne C." has emailed me the following photos:

Even though does mean "metamorpheous" or "transform", but in Chinese and Japanese, it is also used to describe someone has abnormal fetishes or a pervert.

(Traditional version ) = to change; to become different; to transform; to vary; rebellion

= manner, bearing, attitude

This guy in the black leather jacket is wearing a t-shirt that says "testicle".

= testicle

= small round object; pellet, pill

Sunday, November 7, 2004

Nike's "Extinguish Fire But With Base"

Nike Basketball's latest ad campaign to promote their basketball shoes featuring Lebron James has made some interesting mistakes.

I am sure Nike has plenty of well paid language experts working on this "trans-cultural" promotion, but some details have slipped away under their eyes.

When I first read the slogan in the image above, it said "extinguish fire but with base". After I read it over several times more, then I realized it was meant to say "extinguish fire from the base", not "with the base".

Frankly, it sounded like an ad for antifungal medication. Watch out, Tinactin, you have got competition!

= go away, leave, depart

= fire, flame; burn; anger, rage

= only; but, however, yet, still

= indeed, yes, right; to be; demonstrative pronoun, this, that

= and; together with; with; peace; harmony; union

= foundation, base

This character circled in the poster is missing a dot on top. The correct character is and means "real, true, solid, honest".

= exaggration without any truth

Update: Nike has responded to my email (pdf file).

Thursday, November 4, 2004

"Large Domesticated Live Stock"

Genetic modification gone awry or simply tattoo negligence?

The second character is missing a dot.

= big, great, vast, large, high

= livestock, domestic animals

Monday, November 1, 2004

Anime Freak

This photo is taken from an article in November 2004 issue of Details magazine titled "The Lost Boys". The article was about the Mormonism (The Church of Latter Day Saints) polygamist compound of Colorado City, Arizona, men have a sacred duty to take three wives or more. But there aren't enough women to go around. That is why hundreds of younger men recently found themselves excommmunicated - thrown kicking and screaming into the real world.

= odd, fractional, remainder, odds

= pattern, model, type; law; mold

A more fitting phrase for "freak" would be ; which does translate to "deformity or abnormality".