We Need To Talk About Chinese Tattoos

Language Faux Pas15 April 20144.6k

With more than one billion native speakers, it's fair to say that Mandarin Chinese is a pretty popular language. 

This doesn't mean it is easy to learn though, as every word can be pronounced in four ways (or tones) and a beginner will struggle when it comes to distinguishing between these tones from the outset. 

However, you do not need to speak the language in order to have it tattooed on your body (unfortunately!) and plenty of people have been caught out by this particular fad as they try to look cool. 

A misaligned dot, using characters with entirely different meanings and splitting characters vertically are among the pitfalls people typically fall into.

Part of the problem is that grammatically correct Chinese tattoos are almost non-existent, which means there are a lot of people walking around foolishly thinking they have triumphant sayings such as hope, spirit and happiness on their bodies.

For example, Britney Spears thought she was getting the Mandarin symbol for mysterious tattooed onto her hip, but it actually means weird or odd. Oops I did it again!

According to the Hutong School, the problem is two-pronged, as people usually don't carry out enough research before deciding on a tattoo, while those inking the designs are rarely knowledgeable about the intricacies of the language.

Of course, there is a salutary lesson to be learned, as individuals – and for that matter businesses – should never bite off more than they can chew when it comes to a foreign language. Instead, finding the right translation experts is the easiest way to avoid looking stupid. 

So, if you want to make sure you don't end up with 'rice fried by pork fat' on your shoulder when you're trying to declare your undying love for your partner, and you don't have time to learn Chinese, speak to a linguist! 

Posted by Translation blunders regarding tattoos will leave people looking stupid for a very long time.


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