Translation of Tattoos and Body Art – Make Sure You're Not Free of Charge!

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Foreign language tattoos that include authentic and exotic characters can form a beautiful design with a substantial, individual and personal meaning. But unless you get your tattoo professionally translated, you may end up with a permanent embarrassment on your skin. To help you avoid a tattoo disaster, here are some tips you should consider when choosing a tattoo in Hindi, Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese, or any other language you're not familiar with:

Whatever you do, do not use an on-line machine translator to get your tattoo translated. The results can be extremely embarrassing, like having "sanitation" tattooed instead of "purity"!

Explain fully to your translator what you want your tattoo to say and provide them with a description and context to work within. Remember that there is no such thing as word for word translation. A professional translator will ensure the meaning of your word is translated accurately and approbably. Do not rely on friends who claim to be fully conversant with another language. Even someone who is bilingual may not be able to translate accurately.

If you see your tattoo as a form of self-expression, make sure you understand what it means, otherwise the whole exercise becomes rather pointless.

Ensure that your design is not misaligned, mirrored or applied upside down – a mistake often made by tattooists who do not understand the characters they are working with. Make sure with images you understand what meaning lies within. For example animals represent different emotions and histories whereas numbers represent luck – 88 for example is a lucky number in Vietnam while it also represents an elite squadron of Hitler's army.

Still not convinced? Here is an example of what can and did go wrong:

A woman wanted a Chinese tattoo so she went to her local take away shop and asked one of the staff to translate the word "free" into Chinese. He wrote it out for her and she took the design to a tattoo artist. Unfortunately, just like in English and many other languages, the word "free" has a double meaning in Chinese. It can mean freedom, or it can mean free of charge. You can guess which version the waiter translated into Chinese!

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Source by Eva Hussain