Wednesday, August 4, 2010

from: Carla M.
date: Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 1:20 PM
subject: Could u help me with my tattoo?


I have a chinese tattoo and I'm probably the 200000th person who claims your help to know if I'm as stupid as all people who trust their tattoo artist... I had believed during 10 years that my tattoo means an "C" a "K" and an "S"...I'm right?


junio'10 (17)

Carla is another person with gibberish faux Chinese tattooed on her back.


  1. I'm totally baffled and fascinated by the though processes behind this tattoo; how can anything "mean" a letter? Letters don't "mean" anything, letters are characters associated with sounds.
    Heck "C" doesn't even have a sound, per se - depending on context it could be indistinguishable from either a "K" or an "S" in English. Even "transliterating" (writing the same sounds in languages with different character sets) is fairly meaningless, as initials represent words, not sounds (which is why initials used in acronyms may have different pronunciations than they did in the original word). Supposing the letters did simply stand for sounds, and one was transliterating to languages with phonetic alphabets (of which hanji are not a part) the sounds of characters aren't going to match up with the sounds of English letters (as different languages have different basic sounds), and even if they did, the first two characters should transliterate the same in that case. The only way this tattoo works is if Chinese is the same as English, and all the characters are just cyphers for English letters. I'm guessing that no one who gets a tattoo like this speaks any language other than their native tongue, as understanding that different languages are not the same as one's own would clue people in that this sort of tat' doesn't make any sense.

    Not to be rude, but I just don't understand how someone puts such blind faith in a tattoo artist (did they even claim to know Chinese?) and never actually give it moment's thought, not even in the ten subsequent years. I really do want to understand the thinking behind this decision.

  2. I was going to say it, but bob_d beat me to it. "C" "K" and "S" are totally subjective to the Roman alphabet...meaningless to anyone who doesn't speak the language (I'm assuming English). If you thought for a second that Chinese characters merely represent the Alphabet in a more "exotic" form...I really do feel sorry for you and your ugly tattoo. If all you wanted were initials, why not get nice cursive letters in a language you and your friends can understand?

  3. Only the last character is gibberish.
    The first character is 安 (an, meaning peace), the second is 空 (kong, meaning air, space, empty), the third could be 充 (chong, to fill), or maybe an incomplete 流 (liu, to flow).

    Together, however they are pretty much meaningless other than their independent meanings.

    They look like the scrawling of a 2yr old to boot.

  4. I really thank you for your comments. I got this tattoo when I was 18. Now I'm 28. And it now when I realised what I did to my back.
    My relief is that I chose that characters only for aesthetic, not for their meaning (like a person who chooses a certain design and not another).
    Anyway, you could have saved phrases like "They look like the scrawling of a 2yr old to boot" and "I really do feel sorry for you and your ugly tattoo"...I'm sure you have you never made mistakes...


  5. We've all made mistakes just not ones tattooed in blind faith.

    I'll never understand how hmm... non-Asians, I'll use... simply assume that everything must be interrelated, especially when it comes to Asian languages. I really do feel sorry for you and I understand you may regret doing this now, but what's done is done... and it unfortunately does make you out to be the naive person you once were.

  6. 安 means 'cheap' in Japanese. :/
    空 means 'air' or 'empty'
    流 means 'to flow' (like with water)

    So... cheap/empty/flow through

    It could sorta kinda maybe mean 'peaceful' in another world or if Japanese didn't have like... RULES and stuff.

    This actually seems a little insulting to the person with it on their back. :/

  7. In Japanese it looks like that could be ateji for "Akiru". Of course unless Carla there wants to change her name to Akill or something there's no meaning to that.

  8. Kanji/Hanzi is a difficult concept for many English speakers (who have never learned a second language/have limited exposure to foreign cultures) to understand. The idea that someone would con them into spending money on useless/meaningless things is also apparently a foreign idea.

    After reading things like "" things like this surprise me less and less.