Chinese Tattoos

Chinese Tattoos are all the craze for some “exotic” reason. Pity those getting them are clueless, or the “artists” are sadistic pranksters, or both.

Pictured to the right is a Chinese idiom (in a lovely font) that might be transliterated as “spilled water difficult collect” (Pronunciation: fu shui nan shou) that would be better translated as No use crying over spilled milk, meaning what’s done is done and cannot be undone, an appropriate sentiment for a tattoo. If you saw a Chinese tough in Hong Kong with “spilled water difficult collect” (in English) on his arm, you might understand the meaning, but it would definitely seem odd. Countless examples of mangled English can be found on products and in advertising in the Far East. (e.g. All your base are belong to us.) Sometimes this is the result of non-native speakers transliterating phrases into English. More often, the English is created by non-native English speakers for non-native English speakers. In this case, the actual meaning of the English to an English speaker is not at all important. Instead, English is used by marketing departments to sell products to a population that probably speaks a little English, but not much. Simple words that convey broad concepts, like “friend” or “love,” are more important than proper English. And English is chosen because it is hip, cool and foreign. Sound familiar?