Let’s face it, having a tattoo in a foreign language has often been seen as a tacky fad. Something about the alien looking characters, whether in English/French (for the Chinese) or seemingly elegant Chinese/Japanese (for Westerners), give them a distinct veneer of ‘cool’, no matter what the words actually say. Often a lack of language proficiency on the part of the tattooists and a lack of research by the customer results in disastrous (and hilarious) tattoos.
In news initially reported by Germany’s Bild newspaper, a Vietnamese tattooist in Brazil has been arrested in Sao Paulo for giving customers Chinese tattoos with meanings far from what they asked for. One of the victims got seriously “punk’d”, as Want China Times explained:
“A female customer from Germany asked the artist for a tattoo on her shoulder of the Chinese translation for ‘You are responsible forever for that which you tame,’ a quote from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. This would have been a lengthy and probably il-advised translation in any case, but the woman got far worse — the three Chinese characters that mean ‘chicken noodle soup.'”
Left image: “Ralph is a bitch” 拉夫势贱人
Right image: 生死有命富贵在天 (Life and death rests in the hands of fate. Rich and noble arranged by God)
In addition, another female customer asked for “Fire, Strength, and Faith”, which should have been 火、力量和信仰, actually got 泰国教堂树 Thailand Church Tree. A male customer believing he had “God Is Love” tattooed on his arm actually got “Ralph is a bitch” 拉夫势贱人. Oddly enough, a man who wanted his mother’s name tattooed in Chinese ended up with 生死命富贵, a sentence that doesn’t make much sense, but was perhaps intended to be the same as what David Beckham had tattooed on his body: 生死有命富贵在天 (Life and death rests in the hands of fate. Rich and noble arranged by God). While better than “Chicken Noodle Soup”, it still isn’t his mother’s name.
This is not the first time Chinese tattoos have gone wrong, and even the famous have got disastrous ones too. Here are a few:
Tattoo of the Greek football player, Fanis Gekas: 寒冷 杀人魔 (cold killing monster) Actually, was this even a mistake? Torsten Silz/AP
German football player Torsten Frings has 龙蛇吉勇羊 (dragon snake fortune brave sheep) tattooed on his arm. He also says that he has 酸甜鸭子7.99欧元 (sweet and sour duck 7.99 euro) tattooed on his back.