Saturday, November 12, 2005

Shawn Marion - The Matrix

(thanks to Brandon for the photo)

According to a news report on NBA’s website:

Sept. 24, 2003: Shawn Marion will be sporting a new look beyond the added pounds he piled on in the weight room this summer. A tattoo down his right leg in Chinese lettering which translates to ‘The Matrix’ was added to his body art early in the off-season.”

The three “Chinese lettering” Mr. Marion sporting does not really translate as “The Matrix” in Chinese.

= demon, evil spirits; magic power
= bird
= camphor (a plant where its chemical exact is used for making moth balls)

The movie “The Matrix” is translated as 黑客帝国 (“Hackers’ Empire”). “Matrix”, as in mathematical and logical condition, is translated as 矩陣.

Although, this tattoo could be a Japanese phonetic translation of “The Matrix” (マトリックス), many Chinese-speaking fans would probably snicker at Shawn “Demon Bird Moth Balls” Marion.

PS. Even his action figure has this tattoo on it.

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  1. If there's any consolation, it's done well.

  2. On a side note, the title for the Matrix movie in Hong Kong is "二十二世紀殺人網路" (22nd Century Killer Network/Internet), and "駭客任務" (Hacker Mission) in Taiwan.

    A Google search reveals that this info used to be on the Wikipedia page you linked, but is now inexplicably missing.

    There's been mention of Mr. Marion's tattoo in Chinese media, and people have even taken it to use as their web forum names!

  3. My guess is he just took the readings of three Japanese kanji - ma/tori/kusu (マトリクス).

    What a goondu. -_-

  4. What's additionally weird is that "tori" is the native "kun" reading of 鳥 in Japanese while the other two characters are Chinese "on" readings. It's pretty unusual to mix them like this in a compound.

    By the way, how is 樟 different from 楠? I use the latter as "kusu" in Kanjifying my name (真楠), and both seem to mean "camphor [tree]," which for Miyazaki fans is the big tree in Tonari no Totoro. Don't worry -- I'm not getting it tattooed on me.

  5. Right; however, it's associated with a specific tree, at least in Japan:

    My NTC新漢字典 gives "Camphor tree" as the definition of 楠. It doesn't seem to list 樟 at all, making me wonder if some simplification occurred in Japanese.

  6. There are some characters are Japanese-specific. This might be one of those.

  7. Max: くす is the "kun," not "on" reading for 樟. 漢字源 lists
    only くすのき for 楠, and
    only くす for 樟
    for "kun" readings.

    広辞苑 defines
    くす(樟) as short for クスノキ
    くすのき(樟・楠) as the tree people are talking about.

    This clearly is a direct kanjification of まとりくす. All I can say is, what an idiot.

    Tian: My 中日辞典 lists 樟 as zhāng, meaning クス or クスノキ, so apparently it exists in Chinese too.

    Some trivia: The chemical compound camphor is 樟脳(しょうのう) in Japanese and 樟脑(zhāngnăo) in Mandarin.

  8. It all boils down to:

    a) He was getting a Chinese tattoo. In which case it doesn't 'translate' to Matrix. It translates to the aforementioned Demon Bird Mothballs.

    b) He was trying to get a Japanese tattoo of the word Matrix and screwed up, as it must be マトリックス and not マトリクス. You can't make 魔鳥樟 out of マトリックス. In any case it's dumb ...

  9. No they do actually use
    マトリクス for the Matrix, but as everyone above has said its trying too hard and not quite right at the very best.

  10. I'm always gratified when misused characters translate to something surreal. It's one thing to get the equivalent of "zbmaxtu" tattooed on your person because it looks like a pretty design, but there's a certain poetry in "demon bird mothball." Nouns deprived of context become pure meaning, and thus meaningless. Yes, I know I sound like I've been smoking something funny, but I just wanted to thank Tian for showing us this hidden poetry.

    Also, the fact that the wearers think they're showing how tough or deep they are by getting random things permanently etched in their skin is hilarious.

  11. "Demon Bird Moth Balls" LOL

    That's funny!

  12. I know, it's an old posting now, but I'm perusing the blog archives.

    I think Demon Bird Mothball is a VERY COOL NAME. Demon Bird might describe Marion as a player better than The Matrix anyway. He's much more of a Demon Bird on the court than a Matrix, if you ask me.

    And when people are done thinking The Matrix is at all cool, well, when is a Demon Bird old hat? People will still respect the Demon Bird.

    The Mothball part? he smells strongly? He repels insects? He tastes really bad? He protects his own garments?

  13. The word "matrix", of course, derives from a Latin word meaning "womb", and/or "mother".

    Which has nothing to do with the actual tattoo, but it would have been amusing if the the Chinese characters were a translation of the originating concept(s).

  14. Hi,

    I guess it might be the result of "族文字変換" script. One of the example is:
    (Input words only with kanji or hiragana)

    It's meant to be a parody on the 暴走族(motorcycle gang), since they like to use odd set of kanji just for the pronunciation. The most famous one might be 夜露死苦(よろしく), means "How do you do?".

  15. Yangon seems to have it right. Rather than smugly laughing at this as someone's botched attempt at writing Chinese, why not take it for what it is - 族文字変換, a pure example of Japanese popular culture, not a fevered product of ignorant Western minds.