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Lettering Tattoos

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Scripts, fonts and translations...

Perhaps one of the most personal and most popular types of tattoos, Lettering, or font tattoos, can be as great as they can crap.

They seem today to have reached that degree where everybody has a name down the inside of the forearm, back of the neck or old english script adorning their shoulders but it has to be said that done well, it can look really good. Of course, how it looks to others is not the main reason for having any tattoo although obviously the wearer doesn't want to look idiotic or demented.

Choices choices choices...

Religious Messages, Prayers, Loved ones, Psalms, Latin, Russian, Hebrew, Arabic and of course good old Kanji. All can be seen as tattoos somewhere along the way. I personally have Robbie Williams lyrics tattooed on my inner right upper arm. Just to stay away from the obvious and because i like it, mine is in Latin (also because currently my life is in "learning mode" through the open university) and reads;

"Domine, omnia facio quo melior fiam." Translation; - "Lord, I'm doing all i can to be a better man".

Before you scratch your head and give it "Huh?", this is a personal tattoo undertaken as A) I love the song "Better man" and it's meaning to me, B) It's a statement about a time in my life (stopped smoking and subsequently stopped drinking also) and C) It's a mission statement - to stay a better man for the benefit of being a Dad to my Daughter. See, it all makes beautiful perfect sense now - albeit a bit over dramatic and sensitive.

As i said earlier, all very personal and lets face it, if you're prepared to have it tattooed into your skin, it must mean something to you - if nobody else. And lets face it, we all love being asked about our tattoos even if it's just "how much was that?" or "Corr, how long did that take?"

Translations....

There has to be some good advice to be dispensed here. We have no particular experts to recommend and there are lots of supposed 'expert translators' out there for all manner of languages - be careful - get a translation checked by more than one person and take heed!!

Chinese character tattoos are tattoos consisting of Chinese characters (hanzi or kanji) otherwise known as kanji tattoos. Despite allegedly being based on the Chinese or Japanese writing system, these tattoos are almost unheard of in China and Japan, instead being a relatively recent phenomenon originating in Western countries which do not use Chinese characters.Many kanji tattoos are unreadable or nonsense in the original language, and the forms of the Chinese characters are also often mistaken. The online blog Hanzi Smatter gives many examples of the mistaken use of Chinese characters in tattoos. I've read of the girl who wanted "Princess" on her shoulder and walked out with "Prostitute" after annoying the tattooist. Hanzi smatter has some great examples of why you SHOULD consult experts, get second opinions and not just go with what the waiter at the local takeaway has scrawled on a napkin for you.

If you are struggling, look in the yellow pages (Yell.com) for translators or language schools, look for universities that cover the language you need translating, and be prepared to pay for the translation. Get it checked elsewhere afterwards. Everyone has bad days, genuine mistakes are made, but it is not something that you need reminding of every day after you've had it inked onto you.

Don't "just use" FREE Online Translators...

They're free for a reason - they're not exact, correction, they're crap!

"This text was translated once, and then back again"
English to Spanish gives;
"Este texto una vez y después fue traducido detrás otra vez"
Then translating that back into English gives;
"This text once and later was translated behind again"

Okay, you could argue that it's vaguely right, but would you want that degree of accuracy being tattooed onto you forever - i think not. Whether you are going for Latin, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Old English, Welsh, French, German, Kanji, Chinese or Japanese, please use your common sense and either do it properly, or don't do it at all.

For my Latin translation, I used Quintus Latin Translation Service, and checked it with the Open University.

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