Arabic is a Semitic language – written right to left in rows going from top to bottom in a cursive writing. When translating a word or phrase into Arabic, be sure to remember that there are 2 types of Arabic that the vast majority of Arabic speakers use: the spoken Arabic, for conversing, and the literary Arabic, used for reading and writing.
So, if you’ve been going around looking for someone who “speaks Arabic” to translate your tattoo for you, make sure that he also knows the written Arabic language.
Many Arabic tattoos nowadays are simply Arabic letters that have no meaning what so ever. Why is that?
- The use of automatic online translators: today, machine translators cannot understand the context in which a word is used. In English the word “calling” is not the same when used in “My calling is to help others” and when you say “I am calling my sister”. For that reason, an online translator can be useful as an aid, but not as the sole means of translation.
- The use of word processors like MS Word in computers that do not have Arabic installed. This can cause the order of the letters to be reversed. Instead of “love” you will have “evol” etched on your skin.
- The Arabic script has a complex cursive system, where each letter has up to 4 shapes depending on its position in a word. Many Arabic tattoos contain disconnected letters where they should be connected, due to lack of awareness, and problems with computer word processors.
- Mirroring – writing can get mirrored when the tattoo artist comes to prepare the tattoo stencil. This can be avoided by adding placing instructions in a language that the tattoo artist understands. However, for lack of awareness this happens with many Arabic tattoos.
Tattoos are permanent, so making a mistake here means carrying it around with you for the rest of your life. Arabic is spoken by over 280 million people, so this is not the kind of mistake no one will ever notice.
If you are looking for an accurate translation with a unique design and don’t want to make a painful mistake – My-Arabic-Tattoo.