Interpreter seeks to correct mistakes in foreign-language tattoos

David Beckham tattoo
British football player David Beckham shows his tattoo to fans during his visit to Peking University.
Credit: Getty Images

Whether declaring love for the wrong person, or announcing a medical condition rather than a profound philosophy, an epidemic of tattoo mistakes are horrifying the body art community. The worst type is foreign-language messages, for which over 60 percent carry errors, according to interpreter Sharon Stephens of Veritas Language Solutions, who has set up Think Before You Ink, a consultancy designed to avoid such awkwardness.

Metro: Was it an especially disgusting tattoo that encouraged you to launch the company?

Stephens: Numerous really, there is huge demand for foreign language tattoos and I have seen some nightmares. I thought there needed to be a service that allowed people to check and make cancellations, as there was nothing before.

What are the most common or worst mistakes?

Chinese seems to be the main one. There was one man who thought he had ‘prosperity’ but it was ‘diarrhea’, another wanted ‘love and charity’ but got ‘sweet and sour chicken’. Since the campaign began people have approached us with more errors, David Beckham got his wife’s name wrong in Sanskrit, and one man annoyed a Chinese tattooist who wrote ‘cheapskate’ on his arm.

Interesting – so are the artists to blame?

They know what they are putting on, but people need to be aware that literal translations are often totally wrong so they need to be clear on the meaning. One artist told me he would always get a local Chinese restaurant to do translations.

Is the problem also that people get tattoos when they’re trashed and not thinking straight?

Western people seem to consider languages like Chinese to just be pictures rather than words, so they don’t really consider the meaning. More than six out of 10 are wrong. The smart ones check first.

Besides language, many tattoos are offensive for aesthetic reasons – will you support a campaign against these?

I agree, but we can’t do much about that. People need to take responsibility, as a mistake can be devastating.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.

National

Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.

Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

Movies

Review: 'Sin City: A Dame to Kill For'…

The belated sequel "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" makes one question whether the first one may have been not so hot. Still, Eva Green vamping!

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

And then there were six. It was a big night on stage as the Top 6 got to dance with each other, All-star partners and perform a solo routine.

Going Out

5 things to do in NYC this weekend…

FILM Lebowski Fest Aug. 22-23, 8 p.m. Various locations, Manhattan $20-$30, www.lebowskifest.com The Dude abides — for 48 hours to celebrate the 1998 Coen brothers classic.…

Television

'Doctor Who' personality profile: the 4 Doctors

When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be? The series owes its longevity…

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

NFL

Jalen Saunders still unsure what caused car accident…

Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since his car accident, but he didn't say a whole lot.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…

Comments

2