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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hebrew Inked Celebs: David Beckham

David Beckham, the celebrity football player and bearer of several multi-language tattoos, got a Hebrew tattoo to display his love of his wife Victoria. Or did he?


This tattoo is a correct rendition of a bible verse Song of Solomon 6:3, it says "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine. He browses among the lilies".

Does something seems amiss? You bet. This tattoo speaks of a girl's love to her male beloved. It unmistakeably refers to a man. The bad Hebrew tattoo strikes again.

Guys (the straight ones), do keep away from this verse!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Abstract Art of Hebrew Tattoo

Today we have something... different:


Where is the bad Hebrew tattoo, you ask? What's the deal with this piece of abstract expressionism, you say?

This is our Hebrew tattoo. Yes really!

In fact, this tattoo that was supposed to say "Love" in Hebrew. It seems that the artist got somewhat carried away with tweaking the script, rendering the letters totally irrecognizable. Ugly, too.

Unless you really know what you're looking for, this tattoo is for all intents and purposes just a random collection of lines.

Now, this is how a sane person writes "Love" (pronounced "Ahava" in Hebrew):


Do you see the resemblance now? No? Here's a visual aid.

Take a few minutes, squint, turn your head this way and that way, it'll come to you eventually. Maybe.


By the way, in Hebrew, you're not supposed to cut a word in half either!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This is why Unique is Overrated

Today we have a true feat of originality.

This girl wanted the expression "We are all born unique, but most die a copy", written in Hebrew across her back. Those of you who regularly visit Bad Hebrew Tattoos can probably tell, this kind of thing never ends well.

I must admit that I was delighted to find a tattoo disaster that isn't of religious nature! And boy, does this one deliver...



Basically, her tattoo says:
"We are allborn only but many stamping tool as to copying"

This Hebrew tattoo has many mistakes, but the worst one, by far, is the translation of the word "die".

In English die means: To cease to live; undergo the complete and permanent cessation of all vital functions; become dead.

Unfortunately, it isn't the only meaning of "die". There are quite a few others. Such as: An engraved stamp for impressing a design upon some softer material, as in coining money.

Our miserable victim somehow picked the wrong meaning of die. What actually got translated to Hebrew is the stamping tool.

Other errors include:
  1. Conjoined words. There should be a space between "We are all" and "born".
  2. "Unique" translated as "Only". These two words are of close meaning in English, in Hebrew you can't use one instead of the other.
  3. "Copying" - The tattoo says "Maatik", which is the act of copying, taking place right now.

This is how you do it right:


The summary of today's lesson: Unless you speak fluent Hebrew, never attempt translating a complex expression all by yourself. Automatic translation services don't count as qualified help either.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Your Name is What? Brian and Angie

Tattooing your loved one's name in Hebrew is a very romantic gesture. Getting it wrong - not so much.


Today's victim wanted a Hebrew tattoo of his own name (Brian, on the right) and the name of his girl (Angie - on the left), unfortunately, he managed to misspell them both.

Brian - There's only one mistake, but a crucial one. He used the regular Nun insead of the final form (Nun Sofit). For letters which have a final form, the final form should always be used at the end of a word.

Angie - Some creative spelling here. 3 mistakes in one small word, phenomenal.
  1. In English, G can be read two ways, as in "game" or as in "gentle". In old Hebrew, the sound G as in "gentle" or "Angie", didn't exist. In modern Hebrew it was artificially added by putting an apostrophe right after the letter Gimel. Do you see an apostrophe in that tattoo?
  2. The author had a hard time figuring out the "ie" part of "Angie", and decided to use the Nikkud (vowels - look for dots in the tattoo) as if they were letters. Bad idea. In Hebrew you only apply vowels to letters, you never use them as a standalone, never apply them to an empty space. Overall, don't attempt Nikkud unless you know exactly what you're doing. Most native Hebrew speakers don't dare mess with it, so you shouldn't either!
  3. Instead of that Nikkud disaster, the letter Yod should be used for the "ie" in "Angie".

This is how Brian is supposed to be written in proper Hebrew:

And this is Hebrew for Angie:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Washed Sin; Permanent Tattoo

When getting a Hebrew tattoo, why bother with grammar? Just take some verbs and nouns, ink them on. What can possibly go wrong?

Well, this might:


The tattoo says "Loved, Washed Sin", in Hebrew. I think it's Catholic code for "Slept around, went to confession, now forgiven!"

It's a shame he put nikkud (vowels) on some of the words, fixing them to a single meaning, otherwise it could also be read as "Love! Wash! Sin!" or "Loved, Washed, Sinned".

I suppose he wanted something along the lines of "Love Washes Away Sin", but it doesn't sound quite right to me in English, not to mention Hebrew, so I won't translate it for now.

If you believe you know what he meant, or have a nice sounding expression about love, sin and the act of washing, do tell!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Trinity, Redefined

Some people really like to reinvent and personalize their religion.

Take this mighty rebel for example. He doesn't have much use for Jesus, so he removed him from the trinity, replacing him with something far more useful.



His Hebrew tattoo reads "Father, Spirit, Pillow". Since I'm writing this at 3:00 AM, I'm seriously considering to convert.


How did Mr Rebel mess up like that? He managed to get both letters of Son wrong, turning "Ben" into "Kar". Yes, really.

Here's a diagram:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Guy Who Wanted to Get Pregnant

For all intents and purposes, we have here some kind of pagan male pregnancy totem.

First, there is the writing, a declaration, "He Shall be Pregnant!", in Hebrew, permanently tattooed on our subject's limb.

You can also see a bush, obviously representing an invitation to the spot at the local gay cruising park, where this guy conducts his baby making attempts.



Now that we've all had our laugh, here is what went wrong:

The Mpreg Dude wanted to tattoo the most sacred name of God, YHWH, but unfortunately, didn't pay very close attention to his spelling, getting a Resh instead of the Vav, thus changing the meaning entirely.

The letters Vav and Resh might look similar, but they are very much not the same.

Now, observe the difference between "YHWH", God's most sacred name, and "Yhare" which translates in Hebrew to "He Shall be Pregnant":


A word of caution. YHWH is one of the most potentially offensive Hebrew tattoos. It's God's most sacred name and mustn't be used in vain. Jewish people don't pronounce it as is, not even in prayer, so think good and hard before you decide to tattoo YHWH on yourself.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Hapless Warrior Girl

What do they say? Those who can, do; those who can't, tattoo it on their skin?

This surely appears to be the case, as shown by today's Hebrew tattoo. It was supposed to designate its bearer as a "Warrior", but in actuality it is one big fail.



The tattoo says "Saach", which in Hebrew doesn't mean anything. There is no such word.


For the sake of all future Xena wannabees, I enclose here the correct translation of "Warrior" in Hebrew.

"Warrior" is a gender specific word in Hebrew. The male form reads "Lochem", while the female is "Lochemet". Make sure you've got the right one!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Your Name is What? Patrick

Today's victim thinks he has the name "Patrick" tattooed in Hebrew on his arm. He is quite wrong.


This Hebrew tattoo says "Nadav", which is a common enough biblical guy name.

The name Nadav means Generous, Noble.
The name Patrick means Patrician, Nobleman.

But you can see the overlap, you say?

That apparent overlap is false, because the noble in "Nadav" is that of "noble deeds" rather than "an aristocrat" as in "Patrick".

This transformation of Patrick into Nadav is so loose, it can be barely traced. So you see, this guy is walking around with someone else's name permanently etched into his arm.

This is how you write "Patrick" in Hebrew, not translated, but as is:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Purely Mistranslated

"Worship" is not an easy word to translate, there is a certain gap in meaning between English and Hebrew that pretty much guarantees that you'll end up with something wonky. Your translation could end up as "Job" or "Ritual" or many other things that are not quite right.

Still, try as I might, I can't understand how this one came to be:


See, it's supposed to say "Worship" in Hebrew, but in reality it says "Pure" .

Not a very manly tattoo, but not such a bad thing either. It's more of an oddity. I've no idea how anyone managed to connect this word with "Worship".


Now, this is my translation of "Worship", it literally means "God's Worship". When it comes to Hebrew, you want to spell out exactly who it is that you're worshiping.

Friday, October 2, 2009

No Respect for the Royalty

Some people have really high opinions of themselves. Like this guy, he wanted to get a Hebrew tattoo in which he titles himself a "Prince". It didn't quite work out that way, though.



Prince's tattooist obviously has no respect for royalty, he just randomly placed around some Hebrew letters and even made up some of his own. The front part looks a lot like "Nad" which in Hebrew means "Fart". Total fail.

Prince here looks like a tough guy to me. My advice to him would be to pay a little visit to whomever graced him with that tattoo, and kick some ass.


For today's Hebrew lesson we''ll learn to write "Prince" (Nasikh) correctly in Hebrew:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Is it Gender Bender or Just Human Sacrifice?

The next case is remarkable. You can see that much thought and intent went into this tattoo. It's not just a random uneven scribble, but a beautiful, professionally done portrait of his boys.

Too bad that kind of professionalism wasn't applied to the translation job.


The Hebrew in this tattoo has three words. Each word is a real word by itself and each word is wrong for the context. Quite an accomplishment really, to get them all wrong.

In Hebrew words can have several meanings, therefore, the tattoo can be read two ways:
- Admittedly, you girls are Idol
- To thank, I'll give Idol

Since his kids are actually boys, and human sacrifice to random deities is uncommon nowadays, you can safely assume that something went very very wrong.

I will hold you in suspense no longer, what this guy meant to ink was actually, "Thank you God".

When you know the original intention, it is easy to see where he went wrong. Every word is rather close to the correct form, but wrong enough to give the sentence completely different meaning.

Anyway, the correct way to write "Thank you God" in Hebrew is this:


One thing keeps bugging me. How in the world had this guy managed to end up with "Idol" instead of "God"? The words have similarity, true, but even translator programs know better.

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