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Monday, December 14, 2009

Your Name is What? Xara

Today's victim wanted to tattoo the name of her daughter, Xara, in Hebrew on her back:


Unfortunately, the transcription of this name from English to Hebrew was poorly done. Add to that a bit of freehand styling, and you've got yourself something utterly unrecognizable.

Had I not actually known this tattoo was meant to say Xara, I never would have guessed. In fact, it reads something like "Ksaoch".

The first mistake is due to the letter X, which is absent from the Hebrew language. Whoever composed this tattoo, used the Hebrew letters Qof and Samekh to represent the X. This combination reads as "KS", but the kid is not named Ksara, is she?

When transcribing a name, phonetics are very important. We've seen this kind of phonetics fail already, in a "Michaela" tattoo. See, the name Xara can be pronounced as either Zara or Sara and the Hebrew should be written accordingly.

This is how you write Sara and all its variations (Sahra Sahrah Sarah Sarra Sarrah) in Hebrew:


This is how you write Zara and all its variations (Zahra Zahrah Zarah Zarra Zarrah) in Hebrew:


The second mistake in the original tattoo, is the sloppy styling. Do not attempt styling Hebrew letters unless you know Hebrew!

Many Hebrew letters are similar to each other, a tiny line or a single curve make all the difference. Two letters in this tattoo are mutants by styling:


Compare these letters to the tattoo, can you see what went wrong? Styling your Hebrew is dangerous. Kids, don't do it!

11 comments:

  1. Just as a change of pace, how about sometimes sharing some good Hebrew tattoos?

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  2. ^where's the fun it that? Just kidding. Seriously: using the koof-samech for a beginning 'X', when we use it only to (try to) transliterate 'X' as a mid- or final letter explains this one. That and the uber-florid script. My problem is in seeing the 'X' as a Russian letter, transforming the name into something resembling mud, only more organic, ha.

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  3. Maybe doing a weekly good tattoo is not a bad idea. It could encourage potential victims to send me more materials :)

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  4. As far as I know, it is possible to transcribe an X as קס (for example Xenophon = קסנופון).

    ReplyDelete
  5. i think this site is mean. so you know hebrow so what. so am i and 6 milion other israelies.

    if you want to do a hebrow tattow, DOND look at this web site, just find someone nice and check his facebook to see that he is from israel. and check with a few other peaple befor you get tattowed.

    ReplyDelete
  6. @Anonymous - Sure, X is transcribed as KS, but only when meant to be pronounced that way. This is not the case with Xara (or say, Xena: Warrior Princess)

    @libat - Mean, me? I just say it like it is. Your advice is sound, but people won't know what to look out for, unless they see just how wrong a Hebrew tattoo can go.

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  7. maybe he wanted to write קסאם as in the rocket (kassam), only with the last letter in English

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  8. אמנם לא יפה להיות רעים, אבל Xara בתעתיק, למי שלא נתקל בשם בעבר, באמת מעלה את המחשבה על "חרא".
    חוץ מזה שמעשע לקרוא תגובה של מישהי שיודעת עברית,אבל ממש לא יודעת אנגלית....

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  9. it's possible that the kuf at the beginning is a taf which would make a little more sense

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  10. Hi I was wondering if you could show a tattoo of the phrase "change is constant" in hebrew and also vertical?? I got my name Zara tattooed on my wrist with your help from this page! Thanks :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. דווקא רואים שהכוונה הייתה לכתוב- קסארה (דווקא כתוב נכון, זה לא שרה ולא זארה אלא קסארה!) , רק שה ר' נראית כמו ו' וה ה' נראית כמו ח'. גם הס' לא משהו...

    ReplyDelete

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