why your leg say “no parking”, roundeye?

You know about Engrish, of course—the bastardized English used by Japanese advertising and marketing folks not actually in sufficient command of the language.

Well, not to be outdone, the West finally has an equivalent: Hanzi Smatter—the misuse of Chinese/Japanese characters in the western world, especially on tattoos.

You know, at least the Japanese tend to only run around with t-shirts proclaiming “FOR BEAUTIFUL HUMAN LIFE”,  instead of getting that funky-looking foreign slogan tattooed onto their hides for eternity.  Can you ever live down the embarrassment of the server in the Chinese restaurant telling your girlfriend and pals that the characters permanently inked onto your biceps mean “Prepaid Phone Card” instead of “Perseverance”?

(Via CrankyProf.)


31 thoughts on “why your leg say “no parking”, roundeye?

  1. MarkHB says:

    Aside from the outright hilarity of that, I keep screeching to a halt on tattoos on this very simple hang-up:

    Every time I think of something I did a few years ago, I know I’d’ve done it differently at the age I am now, almost without exception. Either from knowing how to do things better, or simply having my attitudes change over the years, as far as I’m concerned I go from “Kinda Tolerable” one year in my past to “Gh0d-Damned Idiot” five years ago to “What the Fuck Were You Thinking, Hennessy?” ten years back.

    So if I ever got a tattoo, that’s just gonna piss me off with myself a few years down the line, guaranteed.

  2. scotaku says:

    The trend I want to start: Having actual Engrish phrases as tattoos. The one I’d start with, if I ever was going to be inked, would be from a Shiseido ad (from years gone by): “For Subcutaneous Tightening of Membranes”.

  3. thebastidge says:

    I see this all the time. As a person who is actually semi-literate in Chinese characters, it’s kinda hilarious, sometimes.

    “I do not think this word means what you think it means…”

  4. John Gall says:

    The elapsed time mentioned in the old line “There’s a sucker born every minute.” is obviously no longer valid. Looks to me like the suckers have found a way to spontaneously generate.

  5. Kaerius(SWE) says:

    I’ve recently been toying with the idea of getting this tattoo’d: 天神人

    It’s a rough translation of the meaning of my first name into japanese(rather than a phonetic translation). It would be pronounced Takato. The kanjis are Ten(heaven), Kami(god), Hito(person), more specifically Kamihito means godlike, which is what my name means, but I would feel I would be failing to translate the full meaning if I also did not use at least part of the word for angel (Tenshi).

    So, who can figure out my first name now? 😉

  6. Shootin' Buddy says:

    Very good friend of mine was in a governmental building this week. As he was waiting, he noted a young lady (a probable shoe model) with the Chinese character for male tattooed on her foot.


    He, able to read Chinese and able to speak Cantonese (with a Vietnamese accent he is told), asked her if she knew what the character meant. She replied “Rachel”. He then explained to her what it really meant.

    I wonder if she went back to the tattoo parlor that day or later?

    People who get livestock markings in languages they do not speak want to make themselves seem mysterious or powerful. Sort of like the guys that carry funky handguns or bring wierd crap to the range (“everyone was looking at me!”).

    It’s all basic science really.

  7. Or that Chinese symbol tramp-stamped on their lower back actually means nothing more profound than “broccoli with beef.”

  8. MarkHB says:

    “Warranty Void When Opened”

  9. Kristopher says:

    Post no bills.

  10. MarkHB says:

    Contents May Settle In Transit

  11. Joe says:

    No warranty express or implied

  12. og says:

    That’s ludicrous. Everyone knows its “why your reg say “no parking”, roundeye?”

  13. “…the guys that carry funky handguns or bring weird crap to the range…”

    Whot? Not all of them have weird tats, just strange hardware. But hey, isn’t it all about diversity, man?
    //libtard off//

  14. Stories Aside says:

    No shirt. No shoes. No service.

  15. Borepatch says:

    The Journal of the Max Plank Institut shipped with a cover saying “Hot young housewives” because nobody did an actual, you know, proofread in Chinese.

    Sexy science, indeed.

  16. MarkHB says:

    Borepatch, sexy science is the best science. For a mate’s stag night, I had a fantastic plan for a hot chick wearing a lab coat and goggles to dismantle a PC to Big Spender.

    It was a good night. 🙂

  17. hsoi says:

    I have 4 words spelled in Korean tattooed on me. Yes I knew what I was up against in doing such a thing (as Marko attests), but that’s why I chose the best source for my translating. My Mom, who is Korean. 🙂 Mom isn’t going to steer me wrong!

    • perlhaqr says:

      I suppose that might be dependent on how Mom feels about you getting a tattoo in the first place… 😉

      • hsoi says:

        True. I told her “I’m working on an art project…”

        Yeah she was miffed at me afterwards, but came around to liking it. 🙂

  18. Weer'd Beard says:

    Had a girl in college come to me one morning. She knew I was taking Japanese at the time, so she thought I’d be impressed with her tattoo.

    Her name started with an A, and so she had a “Japanese A” tattooed on her shoulder.

    I opened my textbook and showed her the Hirigana, and the Katakana, both looked nothing like the odd symbol on her body.

    I still have no earthly idea what that scrawl is, but she didn’t seem very pleased.

  19. Too funny. My little cousins are part Japanese and have several tatoos. Each one has their name in Kanji as tramp stamps (they aren’t tramps and it upsets me to this day that they did it) … I hope they DO actually say their names.

    Dear Lord teenagers are stupid.

  20. Kaerius(SWE) says:

    Here’s one that would actually be a sort of nifty tat:

    Spoiler: It’s japanese for “There is no spoon”, the grammar is simple enough so I doubt I messed it up.

    literally: Spoon | subjective marker | to be / exist | none / nothing /nothingness / not. Taken together it would be the spoon is not, the spoon does not exist, or there is no spoon.

    The negation of to be (iru) with not (nai) (together, inai) is often used when something is not there, or has run out. So if a japanese asked if there was any spoons, and you checked or knew there wasn’t any, this might be the answer you would get.

    • Kaerius(SWE) says:

      Oh and if you can’t see the characters or understand them, but want to see a romanized version:
      Saji wa inai.

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