The self-expression that tattoos symbolize can take on a literal meaning through the use of words or phrases. There are numerous ways to express yourself through the use of tattooed words, including using a different language, even the dead ones.
The Various Forms of Words
According to researches, 3,000-6,000 languages are found all over the world. All of these languages take different forms, from symbols to words that are very similar to the English language. While not every language can be covered, there are a few common languages that English speakers might find interesting
With millions of speakers and deep cultural background, Spanish is a Romance language that originated several thousand years ago. Spanish word tattoos are found all over the globe, and a few common ones include:
- Vivir – To live
- Confía en tu corazón – Trust your heart
- Inmarcesible – Unfading
- Serendípia – Serendipity
- Que sera, sera – Whatever will be, will be
- Familia – Family
- Vive Rie Ama – Live, laugh, love
Commonly known as the language of love, it is no surprise that French-language tattoos are trending. This graceful and fun language offers numerous tattoos that illustrate your sensual side, along with your love of culture.
- Toujours – Always
- La vie est belle – Life is Beautiful
- Espoir – Hope
- Soif de vivre – Lust for life
- Sagesse – Wisdom
- N’aie pas peur – Don’t be scared
- Confiance – Confidence
- C’est la vie – Such is life
- Ce n’est pas la fin du monde – It’s not the end of the world
You can’t talk about foreign language word tattoos without delving into Asian languages like Chinese and Japanese. These are very trendy symbols and can span both Ganzi and Kanji characters together with several others. These cool tattoos allow you to express meaning through symbols and, at the same time, look beautifully exotic on the skin. Additionally, they let you include a personalized hidden touch to your tattoo if you are a non-native. The characters below, which can be translated to mean ‘Love, Friendship, and Health,’ can be symbolic and special to anyone.
An additional set of languages that possesses deep cultural roots is that of Gaelic and Irish. There are several forms of Gaelic and various word meanings. Some of the most popular tattoo ideas in this language are:
- Deirfiúr – Sister
- Análaigh – Breathe
- Neart – Strength
- Thiocfaidh chun bheith pian neart – Pain becomes strength
- Laoch – Warrior
- Buaidh No Bas – Victory or death
Latin is considered a dead language that is no longer used in the spoken language. However, Latin represents the backbone for many current languages, among them English, and a popular word form in tattoo parlors. A few of the more prevalent Latin phrases include:
- Carpe Noctem – Seize the night
- Carpe Diem – Seize the day
- Nil Desperandum – Never despair
- Semper ad Meliora – Always toward better things
- Temet Nosce – Know thyself
- Veni, Vidi, Vici – I came, I saw, I conquered
No matter whether you consider its shapes exotic or think that it is cool or edgy, Arabic word tattoos can offer a fun way to decorate your body with words. Very diverse from the English language, this language can appeal to many since it provides great hidden meaning. It can also be a great way to connect with your family or legacy.
An inflected language, the German language has a rich history that dates back to the 1st century BC. With over 90 million speakers, it is not a surprise that this language appeals to word tattoo enthusiasts. German also provides the fun idea of words that don’t translate in English to a particular word, but instead a feeling. A few more common German words found on people include:
- Fernweh – Wanderlust
- Glauben – Believe
- Gesegnet – Blessed
- Schwester – Sister
- Liebe – Love
- Augenblick – Moment
- Löwin – Lioness
Rounding out the Romance languages is Italian. Native to Italy, Italian has more than 60 million speakers throughout the world. Italian is considered as a passionate language with a deep, rich background. Common phrases for Italian word tattoos are:
- L’amore e cieco – Love is blind
- Smuovere mare e Monti – To move heaven and earth
- Tutt oil padre, tale il Figlio – Like father, like son
- Vivi e Lascia Vivere – Live and let live
- L’amore domina senza regole – Love rules without rules
Using Different Languages for Tattoos
Tattoos represent a unique form of self-expression. This is the reason why people often choose tattoos that have a personal meaning, but the design and ultimate placement of the tattoo are determined by what they want others to see.
There are some people whose ancestry is from a culture or country with both its language and way of writing, such as Arabic, and for them getting a word or phrase in a particular language can be a way to express pride in your roots. If this is the case, the word itself is kept private for you, but you announce to the world your heritage, family lines, or connections to another place and culture.
Tattoos can be a manner of inviting others in. Having a tattoo written in another language or character, not in the English alphabet is considered as a way to invite others to ask, “What does your tattoo mean?” If you wish for people to comment or chat about your tattoo, adding a word or phrase in another language is a great way to achieve this.
Some Chinese and Japanese characters have similar strokes but different meanings. The Chinese character for “strong” in Mandarin also meanings “passion” in Japanese, for instance. Having a tattoo of a character with a double meaning is one way to preserve a tattoo personal while still displaying it for all to see.