Saturday, February 10, 2007


Professional English-Japanese translator Alan Siegrist writes:
Hi Tian,

OK, so I was looking over the kanji tattoos at again (yes, it is getting addictive), and I found this picture:

The first thing I thought of when I saw all of these guys with the character on their shoulders was the combination , but I couldn’t for the life of me think of why they would want to tattoo themselves with the word for bug or insect.

Then I thought it might be a Chinese thing, so I looked it up in a Chinese dictionary. I think that or can mean “brothers.” Is that the first association a Chinese person would make upon seeing the character ? Or would you think of also? Even if the meaning of “brother” is right, why would they use only which means only “elder brother”?

If they really wanted to do a guy thing and tattoo themselves with the Chinese or Japanese for “brothers” wouldn’t be a better choice?

Anyway, I know you must be busy, but I still appreciate the work you put into



may have once meant 'brother.' However, just like any other language, its meaning has changed with time. Similar to the word 'gay' no longer exclusively meaning 'happy' in modern day English.


  1. Never underestimate the stupidity of people acting in large groups. The groupIQ of a group decreases as the size of a group increases. The approximate groupIQ can be found by the formula avg(IQ)/n-1 for values of n greater then 3. This only works however for sober people for every member of the group that is drunk you must first divide their IQ by 2 before finding the avg(IQ).

  2. Yeah, BME kanji gallery is kinda addictive!
    Personally I'm chuckling over the guy who thought he got the letter 'L', but now has his foot labelled as being his hand:

  3. Wow... Incoherent Kanji/Hanzi and the "tribal" band. Two of the worst, most cliché frat-tats out there. Way to go...

  4. You know, I initially misread that as 混. As in 蛋.

  5. I'm thinking could they have meant to use 混?

    kind of like, hanging out withe wrong crowd

  6. Maybe the all thought it meant "I am the father of Anna Nicole's baby." Claiming paternity seems to be all the rage.

  7. Wow, that tattoo gallery is loaded with gems, like the guy who wanted man/woman on his feet (presumably meaning male/female), but instead got woman and man (as in person or humankind). This of course reads as woman, and alone is usually interpreted as female gender. So the guy looks like he's just labelled himself as female on his 2 feet.

  8. Reminds me of 昆仑(Kunlun), 昆仑派 and 昆仑山, perhaps they're mountain or wuxia lovers? :P

  9. I hate to come to the defense of people who get random characters tatooed on them, but my kanji dictionary gives 仲間(close friends), 兄弟(siblings, brothers) and 群れ(group, gathering) as the original meanings of 昆. So actually it's not a completely awful choice of tatoo for a group like that...

  10. "昆"是"众多","庞大"的意思,

  11. I wouldn't get 兄弟 either; it can have gang connotations if used in a tattoo. Walk into Chinatown with that, run into some real 兄弟...