Multi.Colored

for tattooed people, and those who want to be

tattoo libre (your ink might not say what you think it does)

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Chinese The other night, one of the local TV stations was doing a story on free English lessons being offered by a local community. The reporter, who obviously did not speak Spanish, was asking Spanish speaking people if they spoke English.

And she mentioned the free lessons, using the word “libre” for “free.”

Yes, “libre” means “free,” but in the sense of “freedom.” The word she wanted was “gratis,” which means “free” in the sense of “no cost.”

How does this enter into the world of tattoos? Because Asian symbols (Kanji) are very popular as tattoo designs. They are beautiful in and of themselves, and of course they mean something as well. However, the handy-dandy translations provided by various web sites might not be entirely accurate.

A Chinese friend once told me that she’d been walking through the mall one day and had seen a woman with a Chinese character tattooed on her shoulder. “I wonder if she knew that the word was bitch,” said my friend.

Could go either way! The woman could very well have chosen that symbol herself, or someone else might have given it to her and told her it meant something else entirely, as a joke. And how would someone who can’t read Chinese know for sure, in the latter case?

If you want a lovely Asian character adorning your body, be very, very sure that what you get is what you mean to get. There are subtle differences (as in the example of “libre” and “gratis” above) and it’s all too easy to pick the wrong character. Not only will you be permanently adorned with something you didn’t mean to say, but you might well be walking around with a design that would be offensive to people who really know what the character means.

OK, that might not matter to some people. But why take chances? If you can’t check your character with someone you trust who speaks the language, be sure you can find the same identical translation of it in multiple sources before you put it on your body till the end of time (or till you can afford laser treatment, whichever comes first).

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Author: infmom

I got my first tattoo when I was 46. I hope the people who read this blog don't have to wait that long. I love talking about body art.

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