I forget where it was I read about it, but apparently when kanji first started flowing into Japan, it was on stuff like pottery. And potters in Japan would copy these strange, cool-looking symbols. They didn’t always get the characters right, but they appreciated the visual beauty.
That’s where kanji stand right now outside of the kanjisphere. People love them, people appreciate the beauty, but they kind of get them wrong here and there.
When we make fun of people who have kanji errors in their tattoos, we are totally missing the point. Why?
- It’s like making fun of a baby for having bad posture…The simple fact that the baby is walking is cause for celebration. Forget their friggin posture!
- It’s their skin, not ours
- Plus they’re going to die anyway and their bodies will be eaten away by fungi and maggots, so what does it matter whether or not what was written on it was syntactically correct or not?
- It makes people unnecessarily nervous and fearful about kanji. This is what we don’t want. This is premature optimization.
- Remember this kid? The toddler who was recorded commenting on the moment he learned to ride a bike? Are we seriously going to get on this kid’s case because he sometimes slurs and gets so excited he doesn’t fully make sense? Because that’s what we’re doing when we rag on people who have typos in their kanji tattoos.
- What rule said that these people had to follow the norms of Chinese/Japanese kanji form and usage in the first place? It’s a tattoo, not a freaking essay; these aren’t documents they’re writing, they’re just trying to have fun.
- Speaking of documents, when a book has a typo in it, do you blame the person reading it? Do you blame the person who bought it? No, you blame the author/publisher. If anyone is at fault at all, it’s the tattoo artists, not the tattooees. Educate them, not their customers.
- Do we honestly have nothing better to do than mock the Chinese/Japanese writing of people who can’t read or speak Chinese/Japanese anyhow? Have we fallen so low that we have to make fun of illiterates? It’s like mocking the fashion choices of people in a refugee camp: it’s just wrong. It’s rohng!
Heck, I don’t even like tattoos. Never had them. Never wanted them. I’m too prissy and bourgeois for that. But the idea that a person would fall in love with kanji, would appreciate them so much that they would want to permanently etch them into their skin…that’s just beautiful. That’s really…almost moving. And for us to then go and be like, “your usage is wrong”. I mean, WTF?
The only bad kanji tattoo is a tattoo that has no kanji in it 🙂 .
The main function that making fun of people’s kanji tattoo typos serves is to make us feel better about how freaking well-educated we are because we know proper Sino-Japanese. Well whoop-dee-frikkin-doo for us. And now the main purpose of our knowledge is to mock the ignorance of those who don’t have it? Wouldn’t we be better off reading — or writing — a Chinese or Japanese book, since we’re so ossome at kanji? Isn’t that where we should be? Isn’t that our league?
Michael Jordan doesn’t walk onto kindergarten playgrounds and make fun of people’s basketball form. You don’t see Stephen King writing blogs about: “lulz omg!!! Look at all this noobz on the internets with their gay-a$$ EPIC FAIL amacheur fan-fiction, you call that a NOVEL, beeches?!!!” Bill Gates doesn’t have the words “I ham considerably a-richur than YOW” anywhere on his Twitter profile. Anywhere. I checked.
I’m not gonna lie. I’m a kanji baller. A shot-caller. So are you if you’ve been through RTK. So let’s play in the NCAA/NBA together. No need to go make fun of minor leaguers, toddlers and first-graders. Encourage them; smile at them; chuckle quietly to yourself at their awkwardly cute, childlike antics. But don’t shame them publicly. Don’t mock them. Don’t humiliate them. That’s wrong. It’s rohng!