Language Barrier

I was driving through Alhambra yesterday to get to Costco, and I saw a huge banner for Mid-Autumn Festival (aka Moon Cake Day). It makes perfect sense to me that there would be a Mid-Autumn festival in Alhambra considering how many Chinese people live there (that Costco is a microcosm of traffic in Asia), but I started thinking Yellow Fever again but in a different format: tattoos.

I did understand the heavy fascination with other cultures. As a kid, I was obsessed with Japanese culture. I loved (and mostly still do) Gundam Wing, Doraemon, Final Fantasy, and Sushi. Japan was awesome based on the things I saw. Then I grew up and realized that everything is kind of the same all around. I don’t understand how people can get tattoos on their back based on a single word or concept written in another language. It’s the other language thing that’s just odd. Is it a language barrier? I don’t know, but it seems like a weird attempt to either co-opt another language or show just how cultured you are.

Language Barrier Does Not Mean Cool

In either case, I think people who get tattoos in any foreign language, not just Asian languages, are odd. Forbidden is a great word, but stamping “Verboten” on your back doesn’t make it any more cool than if “forbidden” were tramp stamped. If it wouldn’t be good in one language, it won’t be any better in another language.

In looking up some photos of Asian tattoos, I’m just amazed at what exists out there. Would you really tattoo the word “cat” or “dog” on you?