Thursday, July 14, 2005

Hotdogs Tattoo in Big Brother Australia

Reader Amy points me to an article posted on Big Brother Australia's website about one of their housemates' tattoo:

Hotdogs took some inspiration from the East when it came time to choose his tattoos. On his right arm is a series of Chinese characters, during his first day in the house Dean and Glenn joked that these might represent Hotdogs favourite meal at the local Chinese takeaway. Hotdogs explained that he understands the characters to mean: "strong, fierce, the heaven is eternal, the earth everlasting, King."

Alma Yuan a translator from Australian/Chinese company Uni-Pacific Services confirms that the four smaller characters in combination do mean 'everlasting'. However, rather perversely, one of the larger characters is a posthumous title for Zhu Youjian, the last emperor of Ming Dynasty, who notoriously hung himself as the rebels approached to conquer Beijing. (more)


  1. I pity the person who wrote that article, as they were apparently under pressure to find something interesting to say about a tattoo which really isn't very interesting. There are lots of quibbles that we could make, like why you would stick two characters and a chengyu (all without any direct connection with each other) in a line, and whether they are the most suitable choices for what Hotdogs wanted (eg. 王 is a more general term for king -- I don't think I've ever seen 皇 used for any rulers outside of China). And Ms Yuan's translation of the chengyu as "everlasting" is probably more accurate than Hotdogs' understanding of it, since it is generally used as a metaphor: "as eternal as heaven and as everlasting as the earth".

    But none of these details would interest the average reader of the Big Brother site. So Ms Yuan digs into her reference books (or scrapes the bottom of the barrel, shall we say), and comes up with this bit of trivia about Zhu Youjian. Which of the two larger characters this concerns I'm not sure, but both are quite common characters and I'm sure there are very few people who would look at this tattoo and think of an emperor who died more than 350 years ago.

    The article goes on to make comments about the dragon tattoo on his other shoulder, and these comments are not very interesting either. Poor Hotdogs, they really are trying everything they can think of to poke fun at his tatts. (Unfortunately I couldn't find an image of this tattoo, even after going through the online quiz).

    And in the end, the biggest error was made by whoever published this image -- you have to turn your head to the right to read the characters.

  2. I like your site a lot (it has a high 'schadenfreude' factor.) As a calligraphy student I'm always horrified by how bad the writing is. It's like paying your neighbor's 4 year old to scrawl English on your body with a crayon!

    People are always writing me for advice on their Chinese tattoos, and as a non-native Mandarin speaker I always refuse to help. Suppose I got something wrong and their tattoo said 'chicken' instead of 'penis'?

  3. One thing is for sure--- I wouldn't hire that translator!