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

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.

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!