Awful Arabic Tattoos
Today I have collected a few pictures of absolute disasters of tattoos. I guess the thought process goes something like: “Ooh, Arabic writing is so pretty, I want something deep and meaningful tattooed on me. I’m going to send an email asking for a translation, and then tattoo whatever comes back on my body. Should I check with an actual Arabic speaker before getting the tattoo? Nah, why bother.”
These gems are the result. If you are the owner of one of these atrocities, I am so, so sorry for you. I really am. But you’re a moron for not checking.
Most Arabic tattoos use the equivalent of Ariel font, which in my opinion looks incredibly stale and boring, as opposed to an actual calligraphic work, which was done by a human being. I know I’m biased, but still. You want to do your entire forearm with your first name, like you might forget it or something, fine. But at least make it look nice. Unlike this guy, who I assume is called Michael:
The reason it comes out like that is because this is the (only) font that most computers use for Arabic, unless they’re told otherwise, and since most Americans don’t have Arabic fonts on their computers, there isn’t an option.
As far as I can tell, these train wrecks come in two types: the kinds that look like a four-year old wrote them, but are technically correct, just hideous, and then the absolutely unforgivable mistakes that were ruined by computers.
See, when computers that don’t have Arabic language support get an Arabic word they break the letters into their individual forms. Most Arabic letters have up to four forms: alone, in the beginning of a word, in the middle of the word, and at the end. Here’s an example, with the letter Ha. The following reads, “ha hahaha”
But on a computer that didn’t recognize Arabic fonts, it would all show up like the first, unconnected letter, the one that looks like an O. On top of this, for some bizarre reason these computers also take the word and reverse the letter order. So “order” becomes “redro,” with all the letters written as their unconnected forms. In other words, total gibberish.
Lets have a look at the first group, the ones that are written correctly, just butt-ugly:
This says “without hardship there is no ease,” and looks like Stevie Wonder wrote it, on a dune buggy.
Ok. I’m going to ignore the butterflies in a trail of fairy-dust and focus on the Arabic, which I imagine this chick wanted to say “Big Mamma,” but since idiomatic expressions don’t really translate (huge surprise there, homeslice), it now says “The Large Mother” across her foot. Nice.
The thing about this one is, the geometric pattern in the background is pretty cool, and would have been a nice tattoo if he’d just have let well enough alone. The Arabic (usraty, my family) just runs through it like the fat kid streaking at prom.
Now on to the computer-addled fuckups.
Here is an example I’ve drawn up to illustrate what I mentioned earlier. The top word here says al-salaam (peace) and the bottom says mim, alif, lam, sin, lam, alif. It isn’t a word, its a few letters in a row. This is what happens if I tried to send al-salaam to a computer that doesn’t have Arabic language support. Incidentally, I saw a picture of some moron with that tattooed on him, in huge letters across his forearm. Poor guy.
Most tattoo disasters fall into this category, and that is a mistake that is 100% preventable. Go find an Arab, show him the printout you’re taking to the tattoo parlor and ask what it means. When he says ‘Nothing at all,’ you know you have a problem.
I’m going to try and decipher this. Beloved wife, princess protects, this is me soft (transliterated from English) I will protect. Pure poetry, even once you put the letters back together and reorder them.
Princess, backwards and unconnected.
The person claimed this meant “unashamed.” I cant figure that out. Either way, its wrong.
This one is so screwed up it’s not even funny. I don’t know where to start with this, so I won’t. Ecchh.
More backwards gibberish, I don’t even have the energy to try and decipher it at this point. All I know is that in addition to having to look at your awful tattoo, I don’t want to have to look at your ass crack to boot.
Wow! Backwards, unconnected, and ugly! You’re so deep and inspiring…
“This says Michael in Arabic.” No it doesnt. F-
And now! The pièce de résistance, this monstrosity. According to the website I found it on, it says “Serenity, Strength, Courage.” All I can say is, no, not even close. You poor, poor hipster. I feel no pity for you at all. HA! Every time I see this atrocity I have to laugh!
Basically what I’m saying here is this: tattoos are forever, so don’t be impulsive with your decision. If you really want a tattoo in Arabic, go through a native-speaking translator if it’s more than a few words, and through a calligrapher for the art work itself. If you are serious about wanting an Arabic tattoo, please visit my site Arabic Calligraphy Design, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the phrase you want written, and I will write you back.
For an example of the difference between computer written Arabic fonts and hand-written calligraphy, have a look at the two pictures below. Both say al-quwa al-dakhilia, one written by a computer, one by me.