Beware the Frustrated Tattoo Artist When You Translate Your Special Words

We’ve translated our fair share of tattoo wording – usually something that means a lot to the client and often very difficult to make meaningful in the other language.  We often get asked to translate a name for one’s beloved with comments like:  “I’ve been trying to translate my boyfriend’s name, Fred Bloggs, to Chinese, but I keep getting different opinions! I want to get a tattoo.”  Duh – first comment, don’t do it; but if you really want to, second piece of advice: there isn’t any set translation of names – especially a name like Fred Bloggs – Fred Flintstone maybe, or some other well known first names like John, Mary, Elizabeth, Jesus – you get the idea.

One of the best ones is “Strength and Honour” proudly emblazoned on a bloke’s chest (in Japanese). As he jogged along the Japanese streets, the local kids in Japan laughed and he later found that the wording actually read “small penis”.

We welcome your contributions of questions about Chinese tattoos.


Got a question? We’d love to hear from you


Level 4, 221 Queen Street, Melbourne 3000
GPO Box 2231, Melbourne 3001

P. 1300 792 446
F. 03 9670 0766

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