South West London ink lovers urged to check their tattoos mean the right thing


The ‘think before you ink’ campaign hopes to help stop embarassing mistakes


By Molly Kersey

Tattooists in South West London have shared their views on the new ‘think before you ink’ translation campaign which is hoping to save people from embarrassing tattoo mistakes.  

Veritas Language Solutions created the service so that people who plan on getting foreign words or symbols tattooed on their bodies can save themselves from inaccurate or misspelt body art.

Silly tattoo mistakes are extremely common and many people have a story to tell about a tattoo which doesn’t mean what it’s supposed to. 

The ‘think before you ink’ campaign encourages people to get a proper translation before committing to a tattoo.

Sharon Stephens, managing director of the award winning translation service, said: “We have been inundated with requests from people wanting to get their tattoos checked.”

 “So many people can relate to this story. The outcry has been incredible.”

Mistakes can arise due to using literal translations rather than finding out what the equivalent word or phrase in the foreign language is or a bad use of grammar and spelling.

Ms Stephens cited a particularly embarrassing example of someone who believed they had a tattoo saying ‘prosperity’ being informed it actually meant ‘diarrhoea’ whilst they were in a Chinese herbal medicine shop. 

Famous victims of body art errors include David Beckham, whose wife’s name in Sanskrit on his forearm is wrongly spelt ‘Vihctoria’ and Britney Spears, who requested a symbol meaning ‘mysterious’ and instead ended up with one that meant ‘strange’.

The ‘think before you ink’ translation service involves users either sending in a photo of their tattoos to check their meaning or sending in the phrases that they wish to have tattooed, so they can be translated by professionals all over the world who speak that language in their mother tongue.   

Brad Sims, from Sims Tattoos in Croydon, said: “I think it sounds like a good idea, if it delivers what it promises and is not too expensive. We have all heard of the disastrous results of online web translation services”

“Having said that, I think people should do more research for themselves. If you want some Chinese or Sanskrit writing on your body forever, why not take the time to look into it yourself?”  

However, one tattooist does not believe the service to be completely necessary to avoiding mistakes.

Matt Hugill, from Tattoo UK Twickenham, said: “They aren’t offering anything new they are simply jumping on the bandwagon and trying to cash in.”

“There are enough search engines around and I would never trust just one source. There are enough sources out there. I would rather suggest them.” 

Ms Stephens has a 1st class Honours degree in Translation and has previously lived overseas. Her huge passion for languages has spurred her on to try and prevent these mistakes being made and she is considering future plans of contacting tattoo parlours about giving them a certificate of assurance that all of the tattoos of foreign words and symbols they’re showcasing are correct once checks have been made.  

Emphasising the importance of the campaign, she said: “The main crux of it is just to get it checked and think before you ink.”   

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