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
Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Comments

2

  1. Great article, since this we have been inundated with requests and found loads of errors out there and people left with rather red faces! Send us a photo of your tattoo and we can check it for you! http://www.veritaslangaugesolutions.com We are looking forward to giving you peace of mind!