Sunday, April 24, 2011

from: Redd G.
date: Fri, Apr 22, 2011 at 9:35 PM
subject: tat translation...

She is a moron... so I'm wondering if her tattoo really says "love is a slow form of suicide".

If it does, I will be nothing short of shocked...

I have consulted this with Alan, and this is what he had to say about the tattoo:

The tattoo is properly written in Japanese (except for the horizontal line in フォーム which should be vertical in vertical writing like this).


But this is rather puzzling and difficult to understand.

It literally means:

"Love is a late form of suicide."

"Late" is really supposed to be "slow" (遅い can mean either) so I guess this really was intended to be a translation of "Love is a slow form of suicide."

The word フォーム is borrowed from the English word "form," but in Japanese this word is usually used only for paper "forms" or such. It certainly would not appear in a poem in the intended sense of the word "form." A different Japanese word would be used for that. Since the "paper form" word is used, a Japanese person reading this would be very confused about what a "late form" is and what it has to do with love or suicide.

My guess is that someone just threw the sentence "Love is a slow form of suicide." into Google translate, translated into Japanese and tattooed the puzzling results onto the arm of the unsuspecting customer.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

from: Tanya A.
date: Thu, Apr 21, 2011 at 4:07 PM
subject: another stupid tattoo question

Dear Tian,

I just ran across your blog and love it!

Question: about ten years ago I took the character for "Courage" that I found in a Chinese Dictionary into a tattoo parlor. I really wanted the character for "courage" on my back, but the dictionary said that the character also stood for "gall bladder."

I wasn't sure that I actually wanted the character for "gall bladder" on my back, so when I saw a character that also supposedly meant "courage" on a sign full of symbols and pictures hanging on the tattoo parlor wall I said to myself, "tattoo parlors don't lie!" and asked for that one instead.

I was recently told by a Chinese friend that my tattoo actually says "Dog Passing."

(I've known for years that the second character says "passing," but only recently found out about the "dog" part. I was told that this particular symbol for dog is archaic, which is why many of the non-Asian students of Chinese and Japanese that I asked before didn't know it....)

I'm hoping you might verify.

Thank you!

It is not "dog passing" or 犬過.

大過 [たいか] serious error; gross mistake

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

from: Roxanne P.
date: Tue, Apr 19, 2011 at 9:11 PM
subject: please help me asap

so my boyfriend got this tattoo the other day and was told it ment loyalty in japanese kanji and just so happens my friend has loyalty also in jap kanji and they dont look anything alike please helppppp me asap

I sure hope Roxanne's boyfriend really enjoys eating noodles.

[めん] noodles

Monday, April 18, 2011

from: Kate D.
date: Sat, Apr 16, 2011 at 8:19 AM
subject Some Terrible Tattoos

I thought I'd send you some pictures I found from of truly terrible Chinese tattoos. There's so many awful mistakes, I don't even know where to begin!


First character of 性感 (sexy) has been split into two!

Why would anyone tattoo "golden pig" on his back, and why is the character for pig, , upside down?!