There's a Banner, but where's the God?

Sometimes it seems that those who tattoo God's name in vain get punished for it, and very quickly too. No waiting for the afterlife for this one:

The girl was going for a Hebrew tattoo saying "The Lord is my Banner". It all went downhill from there.

See, the tattoo ended up backwards. But not only that, God's most sacred name, YHWH, is also misspelled. It somehow acquired an extra letter. Bad karma? I think so!

Anyway, the correct way to write "The Lord is my Banner" (YHWH Nissi) in Hebrew is:

Tattoo it at your own risk!

The Names Puzzle

Today's victim decided to tattoo all the names of his family members, in Hebrew, on his leg:

Now, we've been over this one before. You should never attempt to transcribe a name into Hebrew, unless you know Hebrew really well.

The names, for some reason, are written top-to-bottom. Bad idea! Hebrew is not a top-to-bottom language, it's a right-to-left language. You can write words top-to-bottom for decorative purposes, but then putting them next to each other is very stupid.

Let's sum up the damage (starting at the right corner):
  • Geanat - Very misspelled. Was it supposed to be Ganneth, maybe Janet? It's impossible to tell.
  • Alan - Misspelled, since the last letter in that name is a Nun, which should appear in its final form, and doesn't. I'm not at all sure the author was going for Alan, either. It might well have been intended to be Ellen.
  • Raina - It's readable, but not at all how you'd write it according to conventions.
  • Mikhaal - I guess it was supposed to be Michael (My-Kel), but it doesn't read that way. Michael is a biblical name, it's very easy to look up the correct spelling.
  • Raines - If it was meant to read Raines, that's not how you'd write it. If it was meant to be something else, then I don't know what that is.

Why did this disaster of a tattoo happen to out poor victim?

Well, just knowing the alphabet isn't enough. Many sounds have several Hebrew letters that can represent them (such as V,K,A,KH), Other sounds don't have any representation in the old Hebrew alphabet, and have special accommodations in Modern Hebrew (like: ZH, CH, TH). There are the final-form letter that shouldn't be neglected.

And, of course, there are the conventions. Most foreign names actually have conventions for the way you would write them in Hebrew. Writing them differently looks very bad.

Squeezed From The Eye

Today's victim wanted a proverb, "Out of Sight, Out of Mind", tattooed in Hebrew on his arm. This alone is strange enough, the arm is not that far from the eye, after all.

But don't worry, it gets worse...

This lovely Hebrew tattoo, which was sent to us by Michelle, encountered several transcribing misfortunes. Eventually it mutated into a slightly misspelled "Squeezed from the eye - Squeezed from Helen". One of the funniest misspellings seen so far!

How could it happen? Well, the Hebrew equivalent of the proverb "Out of Sight, Out of Mind", literally means "far from the eye, far from the heart" and is correctly written like this:

You'd say that it looks just the same? It is not. Hebrew is all about the subtleties.

In Hebrew, the word for "far" is "Rachok", it is written with a Resh. Exchange the Resh for a Dalet and you get "Dachuk" which means squeezed or pushed away.

Now, "from the heart" in Hebrew is "mehalev". Switch the Bet (here pronounced as V) for a Nun, and you get "mehelen" - from Helen. It's a misspelled Helen, since Nun should be used in its final form when it closes a word, not the regular form we have here.

Luckily for our victim, the tattoo is quite fixable, just add a bit of ink here and there...

A Sinner's Tattoo

This guy probably wanted to make a tribute to his lifestyle by choosing to tattoo "Keep Living in Sin" in Hebrew on his chest...

Unusual? Yes. Successful? Not so much.

In reality, this is a combination of Hebrew letters that has no meaning whatsoever. It's just gibberish.

How can this atrocity be explained? Well, it looks like one of the worst attempts ever to write the ever popular "Forgiven". If the victim was going for the traditional Salach, but wrote it backwards, got the last letter wrong, doubled it and added a Sofit for good measure, that is.

Only God (and maybe a greedy translator with no scruples) can tell what this mangled Hebrew word has anything to do with "Keep Living in Sin". It could even be God's special way to inform our victim that he doesn't approve of his lifestyle, but that he can find forgiveness despite everything.

Love with Extras

Today's victim wanted a Hebrew tattoo saying "Love":

Well, she sure got it... and then she got some free extras on top!

It's a bit strange. The word "Love" (Ahava in Hebrew), is written perfectly well, and in a nice font too. Unfortunately, there are two extra Yod letters above it - that simply don't belong!

Not only that those Yods shouldn't be there, but they are also placed horizontally, while the rest of the tattoo is done vertically.

Maybe they're supposed to be initials? If the girl wanted to write initials, this is absolutely not the way to go about it, since even if we ignore the vertical/horizontal mismatch, the Hebrew language still has this concept called spacing, and it should be applied between any two words.

To compare, this is how you'd write "Love" in Hebrew, vertically. See what was left out?

EDIT: This Hebrew tattoo was confirmed by the owner herself to say "Rak Ahava" - Only Love. Now that it has been pointed out, I can totally see it. 

Still, I wouldn't have guessed myself that was what it said, so this post continues to be archived under "Sloppy Styling" category.

Shabbat Special: Bad Hebrew T-Shirts

When looking to get a Hebrew tattoo you'll often be advised to get a shirt instead. It's good, solid advice.

Hebrew mishaps don't stop at tattoos, however. And so today we'll explore the wonderland of amateurishly composed Hebrew T-Shirts!

God Answers... Vivoo vi vi vo - I very much doubt God ever said anythiung like that! Well, he could, if he were imitating bad French, maybe.

Supposedly it says Hashem, "The Name", in Hebrew. Hashem is used by Jews to refer to God while not saying his name explicitly (in vain).

What does it really say? YHWH - God's most sacred name on top, and Yehoshua, a random name, on the bottom. Bad research!

Now this one is supposed to say Jesus (Yeshua), but due to a wrong letter, it ends up as a totally meaningless "Isra".

And this is supposedly "Long Island", which very unfortunately reads more like "Leng Ishlend" in Hebrew.

This one has the English translation of "tolerance", on the bottom, but the Hebrew word is written in the wrong direction. Therefore "Sovlanut" (tolerance) turns into "Tunnelbus" which sounds kind of funny.

This Hebrew shirt is a special favorite of mine. It was supposed to say "Red Sox" in Hebrew letters, but instead spells out "Rad Sex".

And the shirt above? It's simply annoying. "I love Christmas", written using a "Hebrewlike Font" or whatever it might be called. An English font fashioned to look like Hebrew letters. Very uncomfortable to read. Not pretty either. Don't use it kids!

All shirts were found in shops on Cafepress and Zazzle. Wear them at your own risk!

Want a properly spelled Hebrew t-shirt? These Zazzle stores were checked and confirmed to have correct Hebrew spellings: Hebrew Store, The WORD in Hebrew, Rotem Gear, Makor Hebrew.