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Don't Get Your Hindi Tattoo Wrong

Update 7/21/2015:
Due to shortage of time, I am unable to devote time to replying to comments on this blog post. Sorry, the comment box is now closed.


victoria tattoo on david beckham's armBritish soccer star David Beckham has his wife Victoria’s name tattooed on his forearm. But it is spelt wrongly. I am not sure if the error is intentional, but it looks like “vhiktoria”. So, if you have decided to get a Hindi tattoo, or are in the tattoo business, make sure you get a good translation or transliteration (as the case may be) for your planned tattoo.
If you have a Hindi tattoo question, ask it in the comment section of this blog post and I will answer your query for free in the same section as soon as possible. My answer will be in text form. You should copy the text to Wordpad, and increase font size to 20+ to see the image correctly. Make sure the font is “Mangal” or “Arial Unicode MS” or any other Unicode Devanagari font. It is your responsibility to have the correct font on your computer and to copy the text correctly. If possible, send me a picture of your tattoo and I will put it up here. For example, see the pictures of Hindi tattoos that readers of this blog got after asking for translation here.
freedom = स्वतन्त्रता, courtesy Mary ___ Scorpio = वृश्चक, courtesy Corey
Before you ask, please read the following:
1. Computer translations (Google, Bing, etc.) can sometimes be very good, but sometimes very bad. Therefore do not get yourself inked based on a computer translation.
2. Do not ask me to verify if a translation you got from the computer is correct. Just ask me what you want translated. You can check it against a computer, but don’t come back and ask me why it is different. I am a native speaker, and I will do my best to give you a good translation. However, I will be happy to verify another native speaker’s translation for you.
3. Caution about proper nouns like names: If it is a name you want transliterated to Hindi, let me know how you pronounce it, particularly if it is a name not common to English speakers. Hindi is written in a phonetic manner, so I must know how you pronounce it. After I give you the Hindi version, double check with somone who can read Hindi.
4. Please do not ask about translations in languages or scripts other than Hindi. I do not know Sanskrit, Gujarati, Marathi, etc.
5. Do not call Hindi Hindu. Hindi is a language, Hindu is a religion.
6. I do this free of cost as a service to the language I love. Don’t write me long paragraphs to translate. A word or two, even a line or two are fine. Be prepared to wait a day or two (sometimes more, if I am traveling) before you get your answer.
7. Here are some commonly asked tattoo words and phrases. These get asked so often that I decided to include them here. Check here before asking:
Peace = शांति or शान्ति (different spellings for the same word), pronounced Shanti
Freedom = आज़ादी or स्वतंत्रता
Be the change = परिवर्तन बनो
Be the change you want to see in the world = वह परिवर्तन बनो जो संसार में देखना चाहते हो
Never a failure, always a lesson = नाकामी कभी नहीं, सबक हमेशा
Power = शक्ति, pronounced Shakti
Strength = दृढता
family = परिवार
faith = आस्था
hope = आशा
Some phrases/sentences that are frequently asked, but don’t translate well into Hindi:
Be at peace, not in pieces.
Carpe Diem
Important Disclaimer: This service is provided with no warranties and no acceptance of liabilities. While I will do my best to answer your query correctly, do verify it from another source before getting a tattoo.