Thursday, November 5, 2009

Whose Slave are You?

I always find it strange just how many Hebrew slave tattoos are out there. I could make tattoo a gallery, all slave themed. Slave, for god's sake. People, what is your deal?

All those slave tattoos are inked on Christians. The Jewish people sing at Passover, "We were slaves and now we're free", remembering a millennia old slavery. Christians, however, seem all too eager to label themselves as slaves.

But well, if you are going to label yourself a slave, at least do it right. Today's victim, she did it all wrong...


This girl wanted a Hebrew tattoo that says "Servant's Heart" inside a heart of thorns. Instead, her tattoo can barely be recognized as "Slave of the Heart".

Barely, because she managed to get her letters wrong.

We've been over it before. Hebrew letters often look similar to each other. This is the case with AYIN and TSADI. Can you tell which appears on the tattoo?


Slave, in Hebrew, is "Eved". It is written with the letter AYIN. However, you can see that the tattoo is featuring a TSADI instead, rendering the word as "Zeved", which is meaningless gibberish. Luckily, you can still guess that it was meant to be "Slave".

Aside from the letter mix-up, the expression's meaning got switched around because in Hebrew the word order should be reversed. That's how it turned into a "Slave of the Heart".

In Hebrew, first comes the "Heart" - Lev, then the "Slave" - Eved. You can't just take an English phrase, translate each word separately and hope it'll end up okay. It never does.


This is the correct way to write "Slave's Heart" in Hebrew:

I won't even attempt to do "Servant's Heart" as the tattoo owner intended. Servant (Msharet), in Hebrew, by itself isn't a word that has anything to do with God. You wouldn't want to pledge your heart to a Butler...

Anyway, today's victim is stuck with "Slave of the Heart". People who can read it will probably think she sleeps around a lot. Not the desired effect of your oh so Godly tattoo, yeah?

11 comments:

  1. This is my first time on this site and I must say you are doing a great job!

    It is important that those who are looking for Hebrew tattoos will understand how easy it is to make a mistake when you don't use a professional service like the one http://my-hebrew-tattoo.com is offering.

    Keep up the good work!

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  2. Thank you!

    You're definitely right, getting the translation from someone who knows their Hebrew is the best. Many disasters can be avoided that way.

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  3. This is really funny (the site). Love it, and feel slightly bad for the self inflicted victims.

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  4. Actually, Zeved DOES have a meaning. It is an obsolete (biblical) word for "Gift".
    Maybe this girl got it right after all...

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  5. Nope! Gift Zeved is written with a ZAYIN, the girl has a TSADI in her tattoo.

    Don't assume I actually knew this word... I googled it to find out the truth :)

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  6. MAN,
    I hope nobody will copy tattoo-paste your suggestion.
    LEV EVED is meaningless in Hebrew. Its like "Servant Heart" (two unrelated words)

    The correct way is LEV SHEL EVEN.

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  7. The SHEL is implied. It doesn't need to be explicitly written. The same way you'd write LEV ZAHAV (Heart of Gold).

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  8. I have a different meaning in mind for צבד.
    צב"ד is (in some circles) a common acronym for
    ציוד בדיקה.
    So I guess one could read this as "Heart Testing Equipment". :)

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  9. just wanted to point out that Jews also refer to themselves as slaves on occasion as in the phrase "eved hashem" - 'עבד ה - slave of god. (of course tattooing that on yourself would just be amusing in a slightly hypocritical way considering the biblical prohibition on tattoos)

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  10. Just found this blog! Love it. We have a cardboard 'template' for our Seder to measure out the required amount of matza (מצה). My brother made it in about first grade, and it says - you guessed it - מעה!

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  11. It IS great, what you're here doing. Thanks a lot. (Lech)

    ReplyDelete

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