Short Answer

I don't respond to requests for translations for tattoos. Tattoo requests get deleted. Sorry.

Long Answer

It seems that starting with a few rock stars and sports stars getting Chinese tattoos, there has been a fad of getting tattoos using Chinese characters, including names and phrases. Many people have asked me for help in getting the Chinese for the tattoos they want.

For many reasons I don't respond to these requests. First of all, since the people making the requests don't have Chinese software, they request a picture of the characters. This is a time consuming process and would consume several hours of each week if I responded to each request. And most of the time, there are no good Chinese translations of the phrases people ask for.

Secondly, straight translations do not exist between English and Chinese names. Whatever people tell you is likely not what you want and would probably be quite comical to a native speaker. Many people have gotten what they thought were Chinese tattoos only to find later that the characters were drawn wrong, or in one case, the mirror image of the character was tattooed. In another instance, a woman once showed me a tattoo on her ankle which she was told meant princess. It can mean princess, but the more common meaning is concubine.

Last of all is an aesthetic concern. I think tattoos are a defacement of the beautiful human body. Since they are very difficult to remove later, the bearer is stuck with them as they get older, change jobs, and have kids. Also, from what I've read, tattoos are not popular among actual Chinese people, except for gangs.

My advice is to wait out the fad of getting Chinese tattoos. Get a T-shirt with Chinese on it from Chinatown if you need something with characters. If you're interested in Chinese culture and language, take a Chinese course from a local community college. And don't trust a stranger to give you a picture that you will have permanently drawn into your skin.

Please also see this article on the dangers of Chinese tattoos. also has some good advice about tattoos. Britney Spears has also has some unfortunate experiences with tattoos. HanziSmatter ("Dedicated to the misuse of Chinese characters (Hanzi or Kanji) in Western culture") has many examples of Chinese tattoos gone wrong.

E-mails from people who ignore the above get a brief chuckle and are deleted.

I'm happy to respond to other questions about Chinese and Chinese computing.