While some tattoos aspire to works of art and some tattoos are meaningful, just as many, if not more, are stupid. There’s just something about making permanent marks on the body that begs for horrible and hilarious mistakes. Whether it’s a girlfriend’s name or an allegiance to a video game, the world of tattoo translation is full of bad choices.
But the worst tattoo decision of all is getting a tattoo in a language you don’t understand. Say you’ve dedicated your life to Buddhism five minutes ago and decide to get the word for “peace” tattooed in Sanskrit. You just might end up permanently sporting a word meaning “gullible dumbass.” And it isn’t just normal people who are afflicted by this–even celebrities, the greatest people to walk the face of this earth, can find their tats lost in translation. Let’s take a look at seven of them, because there’s one thing that laser surgery can never remove, and that’s shame.
To immortalise his relationship with wife Posh “Victoria” Spice, David Beckham had her name tattooed in Hindi script because it was a less “tacky” option than silly old English. However, spelling it “Vihctoria“ may have killed his dreams of class and sophistication.
When it comes to sophistication, few languages can compete with French; the language of romance. Of course, French works differently than English, and Rihanna would be laughed out of the Left Bank with her tattoo of “rebelle fleur,” which should be “fleur rebelle.”
BONUS: Rihanna’s other mistranslated tattoo has brought together a group of people urging tattoo artists to get Sanskrit training!
All Hayden Panettiere wanted to do was tell the world that she lived without regrets. (We’re going to assume that includes starring on “Guiding Light” and dating that dude from “Laguna Beach.”) She had this phrase tattooed in Italian, as “Vivere senza rimipianti,” not knowing that adding an extra “i” to “rimpianti” makes the whole “no regrets” phrase meaningless. You think she’s got a regret now?
The Asian languages are responsible for most mistranslated tats. One misplaced line and the whole thing means something else entirely. That’s why it makes absolute sense that Brit-Brit thought she was getting the character for “mysterious,” but actually got “strange.” Some wise-ass tattoo artist, no doubt. The poor girl has no luck with the foreign languages at all. The Hebrew tattoo on the back of her neck, for her brief devotion to Kabbalah, is also meaningless.
Christina Aguilera was, at least early on, accused of following in her former Mickey Mouse Club co-star Britney Spears’ footsteps. The Hebrew tattoo is one (of many) of the times she should have thought twice about that. Aguilera attempted to get her husband’s initials, JB, on her arm, but the combination of characters she got actually means “12.” Now she just tells people that the tattoo represents her favorite quarterback turned commentator Terry Bradshaw. Or, at least, that’s what she should say.
For the movie “Alpha Dog,” Justin Timberlake got some Chinese tattoos in order to look more like the tough drug dealer he was playing. Apparently, they just gave him random characters, which ended up spelling the words for “ice skating.” Luckily for Timbo, the tattoos were fake.
Jon Gosselin, who shouldn’t be famous for anything, celebrated his new non-Kate lady friend by getting a dragon holding her name, Ellen, on a scroll. As expected, it actually says “Erin.” Now that we think about it, this couldn’t have happened to a nicer fella.