Thursday, December 30, 2004

"Abusive Husband Pimps Me Out"

Shannon Larratt from emails me this photo submitted by one of his readers. It is a tattoo on the wrist of someone's wife.

I am very confused about why would anyone tattoo "my abusive husband pimps me out". Is this some sort of advertisement? If so, where is the price list? Perhaps on her lower back?

The Chinese word for "pimp" is 拉皮條者.

= pull, drag; seize, hold; lengthen

= man, male adult, husband

= power, force; tendency

= low; cheap, worthless

= man; people; mankind


  1. Maybe it's "abusive husband fights untermensch". Or maybe 夫人 is supposed to be together and the whole thing is "Madam Pull-Force-Inferior".

    I got nothing.

  2. My Chinese-speaking co-workers' comments: "Huh?"

  3. After consulting a few dictionaries, I've found a couple definitions: "拉夫" means "to shanghai" (i.e. to force people into military service) and "賤人" means "slut" or "sleazebag". I'm not sure how "勢" is supposed to fit into this, though one of the definitions of this word is "testicles", according to my dictionary.

    A colleague suggested that "拉夫" (lit. "pull husband") could mean "to seduce [other women's] husbands".

    Perhaps this woman is trying to express her enjoyment of seducing other women's husbands. Or maybe, looking at it word-for-word, she's a "sleazy" "person" who "pulls" her "husband's" "testicles".

  4. Folks,

    Here's a slightly odd request: I'd want a tattoo with the Chinese characters for "lo fan." Kind of an inside joke...

    Could the good folks at hanzismatter show me the characters? And no mistranslations please (;)

  5. "Lo Fan" in what context? Have you checked the pronounciation table at


  6. "Lo fan" in the context of, "who's that Anglo lo fan who's wearing a tattoo that says `lo fan`? Wonder if he knows what it says?"

    Kinda circular :) doesn't have it listed, but I'm sure I don't know the correct pinyin.

  7. "lo fan" is a Cantonese-specific term. I'm unsure whether it would be understood by Mandarin speakers. The characters are 老番 and pronounced /lou5 faan1/ in Cantonese.


  9. Assuming that 勢 really means 是 since they sound alike, I think this thing can potentially mean:

    1) 老番是贱人: White people (老番)
    are (是) sleazebag (贱人)
    2) 拉夫是贱人: Seduce someone's husband (拉夫), then you are (是) a sleazebag (贱人)


  10. my mommy from hong kong says it says this:

    rickshaw driver forces worthless person.

  11. I have a new theory: "Ralph is a bitch" (拉夫是賤人)

  12. I enjoy the highly ambiguous and possibly meaningless examples that show up here and the thoughtful comments they provoke! What I think this teaches is that the term "abuse/misuse" is not as clearcut as some may believe. Our attempts just underscore how humans go about trying to construct meaning out of the unfamiliar. We are meaning-making animals. See:
    Documents/short/texts.html We assume that everything SHOULD mean sth - even though the original just looked cool to the person wearing it! Notice how many ppl automatically replace 势 with 是 because the latter fits better. So, is this tattoo hanzi abuse/misuse? How can we decide? (rhetorical question)

    Here's another great sense-making attempt from Taiwan.
    Hagar thinks that 拉夫势 represents
    Eng. "love's" phonetically,+ 賤人=bitch - giving "Love's a bitch". I like it!
    ("拉夫勢賤人"? 啥密? 原來是英文不好的刺青師把"Love's a bitch" (愛情是母狗) 直接給它音譯)Sounds good! Is it "correct"? How do we decide? It fits, doesn't it? Abuse/misuse? Why? Why not?

    A note on Hagar's written Taiwanese. Can folks who read Mandarin but have never been to Taiwan (or Fujian?) figure out 啥密 and 阿凸仔? (讓我們中國人娛樂娛樂一下,順便也教育這些無知的阿凸仔).Well, from context maybe, but from experience? Google if you can't get it :-)

    If your Mandarin is standard from the mainland and you can't immediately understand 啥密 and 阿凸仔, how is this situation different from some of the tattoos discussed here? What if a (所谓)無知的阿凸仔 (like me) had the above tattoos? Am I guilty of hanzi abuse/misuse - just because the stereotype of "foreigners" with hanzi tattoos is that they are clueless about the meaning? Would I merit a place on Mr Tian's website? :-)