Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 24 May 2019

How Ariana Grande's tattoo became an accidental ode to camping equipment

Grande - like plenty of celebrities before her – has fallen victim to a very permanent mistranslation

US singer/songwriter Ariana Grande attempted to tattoo herself with the title of her latest single '7 Rings'. AFP
US singer/songwriter Ariana Grande attempted to tattoo herself with the title of her latest single '7 Rings'. AFP

In a much-publicised fail that has befallen many a celebrity before her, Ariana Grande has become the latest victim of a faux pas of the very permanent tattooed variety.

Grande took to Instagram on Wednesday to announce her new tattoo – an ode to her newest single 7 Rings, inked on her palm.

But translated tattoos are a tricky business – just ask Britney Spears (we'll get to that in a minute).

Shortly after the post went live, social commentators from Japan, and Japanese speakers from around the world, were quick to point out the previously unnoticed flaw: the tattoo didn't say "7 rings" at all. In fact, she'd inadvertently had an ode to a piece of camping equipment permanently branded into her skin.

As it turns out, the word actually translates directly into English as "portable cooking stove".

Considering she's also a vegan, we're going to go out on a limb here and assume that was not the intended meaning.

To give her the benefit of the doubt, Grande got the message behind the tattoo right. The two separate kanji (the adopted Chinese characters that serve as one of three writing systems in Japanese) do, in fact, mean what they say on the tin. The first is the kanji for seven (七), and the second literally means "ring, circle, loop, hoop or wheel" (輪). However, when placed together as a compound, as is often the way in Japanese, the two kanji take on an entirely different meaning. The word Grande has on her hand, when used in isolation, reads as "shichirin" in Japanese, and means "portable stove".

Grande, after being notified of the mistake, swiftly deleted the public announcement of her new inking. But she couldn't resist replying to her helpful internet translators.

"Indeed, I left out つの指, which could have gone in between," she wrote, before saying that getting the tattoo was so painful that she couldn't have "lasted one more symbol". She went on to say the tattooist had told her the ink probably won't last anyway, as the palm peels and will fade.

"That's how you end up with tiny grill/ circle/ tambourine on your hand. It's my favourite one now tho so please leave me and my tambourine grill alone. thank u."

To be fair, it was probably unlikely the true meaning of her tattoo was ever going to be easily understood, especially by a person who can actually read Japanese. The other possible translations were the far less inspired "seven wheels", "seven hoops" or "seven circles". At least a "portable stove" has a purpose.

She's also not alone. Here's eight other times celebrities have inked grammatical errors onto their bodies:

Ashley Greene

The Twilight actress learnt the full value of missing punctuation when she got her foot tattooed in 2013. Also announcing her new ink with a social media post, Greene's fans were quick to swoop on her "Lifes a Dance" tattoo - pointing out that it's missing one little thing: an apostrophe.

Britney Spears

As the story goes, the singer had reportedly asked for the Chinese symbol for "mysterious" to be drawn onto her hip. However, she ended up with the symbol for "bizarre" or "strange". And simply because Spears doesn't learn to run tattoos by a translator, she went on to commit another tattooing faux pas, but this time in Hebrew. The tattoo at the nape of Spears' neck was supposed to say "God" in Hebrew, but was apparently misspelled and lasered off.

David Beckham

The English soccer player is known for the scrawlings up and down his body – but his largest and perhaps most poignant is also the one sporting a rather important error. Beckham had his wife's name, Victoria, tattooed on his left forearm in Sanskrit. But somehow, he was left with a misspelling of the mother of his children, and has "Vhictoria" branded into his arm forever instead.

Luckily, he seems to have learnt the error of his ways and has had another go, with the word "Victoria" also branded on the back of his hand – in English this time.

Emma Watson

Paying homage to the movement that had taken over social media, and subsequently, the 2018 award show dialogue and red carpets – Emma Watson arrived to the Oscars last year dressed in black (correct) with a giant tattoo on her forearm that read: "Times Up" (not correct). However, in the same vein as actresses before her (Ashley Greene), she'd missed out the apostrophe and was wearing a glaring typo all night instead. Luckily, it was a temporary tattoo - so the grammatical inaccuracy could be washed away. What would Hermione think?

epa06583204 Emma Watson poses at the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party following the 90th annual Academy Awards ceremony in Beverly Hills, California, USA, 04 March 2018. The Oscars are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in 24 categories in filmmaking. EPA/NINA PROMMER
Emma Watson poses at the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party following the 90th annual Academy Awards ceremony with a grammatically incorrect temporary tattoo. EPA

Jennifer Lawrence

Clearly Katniss Everdeen was not one for secondary school chemistry. The Hunger Games actress got all her hydrogen atoms out of whack when she got a tattoo on her hand in red ink of the chemical compound for water. The only problem was, the number 2 was in the wrong place. I'm not a chemistry scholar myself, but I'm assuming that she now has "H squared O" tattooed on her fist.

Rihanna

Another repeat offender, Rihanna apparently attempted to get the phrase "rebellious flower" tattooed in French on her neck, but didn't realise the sentence structure was different and she'd needed to swap the two words order for it to translate. So instead, she got the words "rebelle fleur", which translated into the rather nonsensical phrase "flower rebel". Not one to let a faux pas bring her down, Rihanna turned the entire incident on its head when she named her 2011 fragrance "Reb'l Fleur" and had punters scratching their heads over whether this was simply a really elaborate PR stunt all along.

Disclaimer: Rihanna made a similar mistake when she got "forgiveness" inked down her side, but mispelled in Sanskrit.

Justin Timberlake

No word on whether this was done on purpose or not, but JT's hardcore character in 2006 film Alpha Dogs apparently had the Chinese characters for "ice skating" tattooed on his arm.

Updated: January 31, 2019 03:14 PM

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