I need my tattoo verified please!!

Want to know what your Chinese or Japanese tattoo says? Need info about Chinese Character / Japanese Kanji tattoos? See also: Asian Tattoo Template Service
Post Reply
User avatar
Gary
The Boss
Posts: 6091
Joined: Oct 30, 2007 11:30 pm
Location: San Diego / Beijing
Contact:

Re: I need my tattoo verified please!!

Post by Gary » Aug 2, 2016 12:11 pm

Here are the dictionary definitions of 恐怖...
Chinese: terrible; frightful; frightening; terror; terrorist.
Japanese: fear; dread; dismay; terror; horror; scare; panic.

This is the suffix of these words...
恐怖症 means phobia in Chinese and Japanese.
恐怖片 means horror movie in Chinese.
恐怖主義 means terrorism in Chinese.

Here are the dictionary definitions of 神...
Chinese: deity; soul; spirit; unusual; mysterious; lively; expressive; expression; awesome; amazing.
Japanese: soul; spirit; divine spirit; psyche; god; deity; divinity; incredible; fantastic; (honorific or respectful language) emperor of Japan; thunder.
Occasionally this will be used to mean God (uppercase), but most of the time, it's more about a hard-to-define spirit. Used as God more often in Japan than China.

What you probably wanted (presuming you are Christian) is 上帝, which is the title for God (uppercase) as used in Judaism and Christianity. Specifically the God of Abraham. More on this:
http://www.orientaloutpost.com/shufa.ph ... A%E5%B8%9D
Oddly, even though Muslims worship the same God of Abraham, Chinese Muslims use a different title for God.

The phrase you would have wanted in Chinese would have been 敬畏上帝. See the first entry on this page: http://www.orientaloutpost.com/shufa.php?q=fear+god
I actually just added that title as I spent the last couple of hours talking to Chinese Christians, a Japanese Shito, and doing research.

The phrase you have on your arm can be translated many different ways. Some will read this as, terrorist spirit, horror god, terrifying god, frightful spirit, dread of god, etc.
The god character of 神 is not really the problem, as you can make a reasonable argument that it was intended to mean God. The only thing unclear is to which god you are referring.
The fear part with 恐怖 is the real problem. This in no way can mean reverence in the way the original English phrase was supposed to convey. This is a terrified trembling or paralyzing fear.
I did a Google search in Japanese for "恐怖神" (with quotation marks to make it an exact search for this phrase) and just came up with references to evil spirits, and entities in horror movies. No religious references save one that seemed to be about an exorcism by a priest.

We also tried to come up with a repair plan, but you can't fix this by adding a stroke to a character or two. The only thing you could do is add a first character meaning "don't."
However, that just makes a cheesy phrase of, "Don't [be] terrified [by] spirits."

Sorry for the bad news,

-Gary.

User avatar
Gary
The Boss
Posts: 6091
Joined: Oct 30, 2007 11:30 pm
Location: San Diego / Beijing
Contact:

Re: I need my tattoo verified please!!

Post by Gary » Aug 2, 2016 2:26 pm

I presume what you meant this to say is a suggestion of reverence to God. This was one of the older English definitions of "fear". The problem is, the antiquated definition of fear and the common modern definition are quite different.

So, you can say that your tattoo means, "fear god" or even "fear God". However, it's more like you are terrified by God. Here is the original dictionary entry:
http://www.orientaloutpost.com/dictiona ... 0%E6%80%96
While I maintain this dictionary interface and contribute to the dictionary source, I did not write any of the definitions on this particular page. However, a native Chinese translator and a native Japanese person confirmed it to me earlier today. I do not believe that God wants you to live in a state of terror. As far as I can tell, only Republicans and terrorists want us to live in fear. God wants respect and bestows grace and love.

When we go to the Webster's Dictionary, we get this:
1 : an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger; (1) an instance of this emotion; (2) a state marked by this emotion
2 : anxious concern; solicitude
3 : profound reverence and awe especially toward God; a feeling of respect and wonder for something very powerful
4 : reason for alarm; danger

While the English definition does include #3 in regards to reverence and awe, yours is just a primal fear, horror, terror, etc. This is why it's almost always a bad idea to direct translate anything. It must be done by a human (preferably a professional translator whose native tongue is the target language).

Can I ask what the source of the original translation for your tattoo was?

I always worry about tattoo parlor flashers. They look official and people expect them to be accurate, but most of the time, I find at least one horrible error in each set.

User avatar
Gary
The Boss
Posts: 6091
Joined: Oct 30, 2007 11:30 pm
Location: San Diego / Beijing
Contact:

Re: I need my tattoo verified please!!

Post by Gary » Aug 2, 2016 4:41 pm

There are about 30 times more Chinese people than Japanese people in the world. You will encounter far more native Chinese people in the USA (except in Hawaii).
You'll need to be ready to explain it to both. This reads very similarly in both languages.

The uphill battle is that we have this unusual use of fear to mean reverence in English. They only have words for fear that mean, well, fear. Be ready to explain why you are so afraid of God or spirits, since this is the way it will initially be read.

Japanese people are very polite about things like this, and will not tell you how bad it really is. Chinese people are a bit more direct and honest, so expect that in any responses you get to your tattoos. These are not absolute rules, but just cultural norms. Japanese are polite to a fault. Chinese can be too honest. In Japan, I hear how healthy I look. In China, it's about how fat I am.

User avatar
Gary
The Boss
Posts: 6091
Joined: Oct 30, 2007 11:30 pm
Location: San Diego / Beijing
Contact:

Re: I need my tattoo verified please!!

Post by Gary » Aug 3, 2016 12:42 am

Yours is not the worst. Here is my collection of memorable tattoos that did not mean what these inked folks thought their tattoos represented...

"Terrible Mistake" http://www.orientaloutpost.com/forum/vi ... .php?t=438
"Terrible Mistake" (part 2 and 3) http://www.orientaloutpost.com/forum/vi ... php?t=4418

"Stench of a Rotting Corpse" or just plain "Evil" http://www.orientaloutpost.com/forum/vi ... php?t=2278

"Whore" http://www.orientaloutpost.com/forum/vi ... php?t=2137

"Coffin Maker" http://www.orientaloutpost.com/forum/vi ... php?t=2027

If you ever have a friend who needs an accurate Asian-character tattoo stencil before they get inked, please refer them here:
http://www.orientaloutpost.com/chinese- ... ervice.php

Good luck!

Post Reply