Saturday, February 14, 2009

from: Richard K.
date: Fri, Feb 13, 2009 at 9:21 PM
subject: hanzismatter submission

I am writing this with my hands over my eyes, peeking through my fingers to see if I get the answer ... I got this tattooed on my back in retaliation (yes, a permanent mark in a fit of spite) for an ex-girlfriend's own tattoo of some trampy "angel" that spanned from shoulder blade to shoulder blade. Even if this tattoo means "homosexual lover" it's not as bad as the cracked out Tinkerbell on her back (at least that's what I keep telling myself)! Help me out, because I'm eager to know if this is what it says it is. If not, I have to get it covered up with a giant penis or a hamburger or something else somewhat less ridiculous.

Should add that I expected it meant "to give love".


Richard K.

Since has almost no meaning in Chinese, I asked Alan to see if he can dig up something in Japanese. He replied they have no meaning in Japanese either.

Happy Valentine's Day Singles Awareness Day!


  1. I think it's worth noting that those are the kanji for 'give' and 'love', but it doesn't actually mean 'give love'... It's just 2 kanji next to each other.

  2. I wouldn't say that first one is "give" as much as it is "bestow" or "grant." It's not an everyday-use kind of "give" because it implies that the recipient is below their benefactor. So as a tattoo I'd say that's either arrogant or extremely humble.

  3. It's not an actual word in Japanese, but I suppose it's not terrible. I think anyone would understand what he was getting at.

  4. I think this is a case of reverse Chinglish/Engrish. Someone had a list of Chinese characters and looked up "give" and "love." Of course, the first one is a crappy translation of "give" but a) give is hard to translate anyway and b) anyone who tries to translate things on the basis of one-to-one correspondences between languages can't be known for their thorough researching skills.

    Anyhow, I don't see a strong need to cover this tatoo with another one. It's just a crappy translation, not offensive or whatever.

  5. I used to get "与" confused with "写." I bet that "写爱" wouldn't make a whole lot more sense, though. Maybe with a little creative editing he could turn it into a “马"? "妈"? "玛"? "杩爱" sounds kind of kinky to me . . .

  6. 与爱 is valid to mean give love, although it looks like ancient Chinese.

    In ancient Chinese you can use 与 anywhere you want to express the meaning of 'give'.

  7. I'm of an opinion that this phrase doesn't quite give the "Give Love" meaning in old Chinese, either. "与" is not an universal word for "to give", although it is one of many that's more commonly used.

    I have to agree with carlsensei that is is most likely a case of reverse translation (Babel-fish style). However, aaron also has a point that most people can inference the English meaning if they are willing to jump out of the box of literal translations. Covering it up may not be entirely necessary.

  8. Wrong meaning it might be, but artistically that's a decent enough calligraphy in my opinion.

  9. Isn't this also a case of mixed simplified and traditional Chinese characters? Shouldn't it be either 與愛 or 与爱?

  10. Harmen Mesker makes an excellent point. This particular mix of traditional and simplified character forms (与愛) is exactly the combination used in modern Japanese. So presumably whoever came up with it intended it to be read in Japanese, not Chinese.

    A Japanese person would interpret 与愛 to be a mock-Chinese rendition of the Japanese phrase 愛を与える [ai wo ataeru] which would mean something like "to bestow or grant love." These sorts of mock-Chinese phrases often appear in legal or bureaucratic writing.

    I can imagine a legal contract where 与愛条件 would be the "conditions for bestowing (granting) love" but a person that would write such a contract and include such a condition would be almost unimaginably and absurdly haughty and arrogant.

    I am oddly reminded of the Led Zeppelin song Whole Lotta Love where Robert Plant wails out the lyric "I'm gonna give you my love." Plant did sound pretty damn arrogant. ;-)


  11. Eric ( 25, 2009 at 8:13 AM

    well, it definitely equals to "to give love".

    "与” in ancient Chinese has the meaning of "to give". However, in modern Chinese, the usage for this meaning is not that common. Usually, it means "and".

  12. If you are a well educated native Chinese speaker, you immediately think of "give love". However, I have to admit the combination is not commonly used in modern Chinese. 与 does mean "give" even in modern Chinese sometimes, for example "与人为善“

  13. Despite mixing traditional and simplified, this is a decent one, at least the wording is esthetically right.

    It will be kinda wrong esthetically if 給(the "give" in most modern usage) is used instead.