In the West people just love to get Chinese character tattoos, and one can only assume the Chinese find it a bit, well, weird. Invariably these tattoos are imbued with deep, profound, mystical, philosophical, and inspirational meaning. That is what is supposed to happen anyway. More often than not they turn into horror shows of epic proportions with things getting a bit lost in translation.
This one says “strong and brave color”. Color in some contexts can allude to sex
Once the tattoos are finished, they are all set to give us a good laugh. A common mistake is Chinese character tattoos being used in the wrong context, with the tattoo artist and the person unaware of the mistake. Anyone who has studied Chinese understands that you must be meticulous when writing characters. A misplaced dot or line on a tattoo creates a meaning for a tattoo that is entirely wrong and might just make you look like a damn fool.
A simple internet search shows thousands of butchered Chinese character tattoos on Westerners. Various celebrities have fallen victim to Chinese character tattoos . Justin Timberlake, in the movie Alpha Dog, was given a fake Chinese Character tattoo to make him look tougher, but unfortunately the characters on his arm “溜冰” meant ice skating; I do not think is that was Timberlake and the producers were looking for.
“Sesame Chicken”, anyone?
Justin Timberlake is not the only celebrity to make such mistakes, pop star Britney Spears tattooed the character “奇” on her hip, believing the character meant mysterious–it actually means “odd” or “weird”. Many other celebrities, such as David Beckham, Kenyon Martin, and Nicki Minaj (among others) have inked their bodies with Chinese tattoos.
Uh oh, wrong way around
Chinese tattoo mistakes can happen to just about anyone. Instead of using an online translator or a Chinese dictionary, find a friend who knows Chinese to help you get the tattoo you really want. You do not want to make the same mistakes that some people do.
He does look a bit porky, doesn’t he?
Well, we have all met a few…