Celebrity Tattoos Lost in Translation | Blog

Celebrity Tattoos Lost in Translation

Celebrity Tattoos Lost in Translation

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

If you get a bad tattoo, you might be able to hide it well, and perhaps only your friends and family will know. However, when a celebrity gets a bad tattoo, one that is misspelled or poorly translated (if in a language other than English), the whole world hears about it. Often the celebrity is portrayed as unintelligent and, lacking basic spelling skills. Get your tatto translation right and have a human translator review it.


Here are nine examples of celebrity tattoos that were misspelled, translated incorrectly or the intended meaning was not conveyed properly. These tattoos have now become famous in their own right.

Soccer star David Beckham wanted to immortalize his love for his wife Victoria, aka Posh Spice. Beckham had her name tattooed in Hindi script because in his opinion it was a less ‘tacky’ option than silly old English. However, spelling it Victoria may have killed his dreams of class and sophistication.

Pop singer Rihanna has the words rebelle fleur tattooed on her neck, which translates literally to flower rebel. However, when written correctly written in French it should read fleur rebelle, meaning rebellious flower. Rihanna claims she intended the tattoo to be written as fleur rebelle and perhaps this is true. Nonetheless, it seems quite a convenient explanation to a potentially embarrassing situation.

American actress and model, Hayden Panettiere has a phrase tattooed in Italian: Vivere senza rimipianti which means live without regrets. The tattoo artist misspelled the word rimipianti adding an extra ‘i’. The word should be spelled rimpianti. Do you think Ms. Panettiere has some regrets about this tattoo?

Several years ago, pop diva Britney Spears had a Japanese character tattooed on her hipbone. She believed it translated to mysterious but it turns out the actual translation is strange. This is the second time this has happened to Britney! We recommend Britney rings us next time she contemplates getting a tattoo using words other than English. We can also help her out with her English spelling as well!

Singer, Christina Aguilera tattooed on her inner elbow, in Hebrew, what she thought were her then-husband's initials. It turns out that the letters actually mean 12 rather than J.B. considering the couple is no longer together, we don’t see an urgent need for a tattoo removalist!

Boy band sensation, solo artist and actor, Justin Timberlake had Chinese letters inked prior to starting his role in the movie Alpha Dog. In the movie, he portrayed a tough drug dealer. The tattoo artist inked random characters and the translation ended up spelling ice skating. Tough luck, Justin!

Former reality TV star and father of eight, Jon Gosselin, wanted to turn over a new leaf when he and his wife Kate split up. So, what could be better at the start of a new relationship than getting the name of his significant other forever inked in skin? He had his new girlfriend’s name, Erin, tattooed. The trouble is his new girlfriend’s name was Ellen.

Chris Anderson, basketball player with the Denver Nuggets, inked the Chinese character for good on one shoulder and bad on the other shoulder. However, it seems something got lost in translation because the character for bad also means nausea in Chinese. Yuk!

Another high-profile basketball player, Shawn Marion of the Toronto Raptors, who refers to himself as The Matrix, had Chinese characters inscribed on his leg. He wanted The Matrix inscribed; however what he received instead, when translated back to English, was demon bird camphor.

These are just a few examples that demonstrate the importance of accurate translation. Whether it is a translation of a website, business contract, technical manual, or a tattoo that often lasts a lifetime – it is important to have the translation completed accurately to avoid the world relishing in an avoidable blunder.

Karen CEO 70

Written by:
Karen Hodgson, CEO of Translationz

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