Saturday, February 14, 2009

Tattoos Ideas : The Italian Words

Italian tattoos come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The Italian cross, the Italian horn, the green, white and red Italian flag (including a number of variations of it, like the flag condensed in an outline of Italy or in an outline of stars). I've even seen a partially completed sleeve dedicated solely to Italian food; it features a plate of macaroni and meatballs, a jug of wine and a cannoli. Luckily, unlike Latin (which is an extinct language), Hebrew and Arabic (which are very complex languages that use specific character sets in lieu of letters, requiring an exact knowledge of calligraphy) or Gaelic (which has numerous different dialects), Italian is a fairly easy language to translate.

Most words that exist in English can be translated into Italian without much difficulty. As with the English language, however, be extra careful to make sure you get the Italian spelling correct. Reverse two letters and your beautiful, inspirational tat becomes nonsensical. I once saw an episode of "Miami Ink" on the TLC channel where the customer wanted "per sempre" tattooed on his arm, which is Italian for "forever". It wasn't the tattoo artists fault, because the customer had designed the lettering for the tat himself, but when it was finished it read "pre sempre" instead. It's only one letter off but this unfortunately means nothing in Italian.

Exercise caution when it comes to the popular Italian phrase "life is beautiful" which many people, including Lindsay Lohan, have been getting recently. "La vita e bella" is the correct translation, and even though it uses the same words, some people have been getting "la bella vita" which actually translates to "the beautiful life", and is used in Italy to describe someone who is living a life of wealth, throwing parties and spending extravagant amounts of money.

As with any tattoo that is done in a foreign language not your own, make sure you do your homework. Double check your translation with several sources. A native speaker is your best bet, someone who speaks Italian as their first language, English as their second, or vice versa. If a native speaker is not available to you, your next best bet is a Italian scholar who has studied the language extensively. Last but not least, there are several online translators who offer their services for free. Although they can be very useful, keep in mind that it is important to ensure your translation is correct by either using several different online translators or confirming it's accuracy with native speakers on an Italian forum or message board.

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