Help with tattoo translation

August 24, 2011, 05:11 PM posted in General Discussion

I want to get a Chinese character tattoo, but I want to make sure my translation is good and sounds authentic. My surname is Chung in Cantonese. The character is 鍾 so I thought that 鍾愛 would be a good word to use. My understanding is that it means cherish. The phrase I want to use as a tattoo is 鍾愛生命. "Cherish life." I wanted to use 生命 instead of 生活 because of the subtle meaning of destiny in the word instead of just simply "living." Would a native speaker be so kind as to tell me if I'm completely off base with my translation? I don't want stilted, unnatural-sounding Chinese on me.


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August 25, 2011, 07:12 PM

I did a Google search on the phrase and found it used by native speakers, so I think it's a go. It is also part of a book title by a famous Chinese physician apparently. Maybe my Chinese isn't as bad as I thought. Who knew? :)

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August 26, 2011, 03:14 AM

The difference between 生命 and 生活 is that the former refers to one's life, as in life and death.  生活 refers to the life you live, almost like daily life. 鍾愛生命 is good. 

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August 27, 2011, 04:54 AM

When I see someone with a Chinese character tattoo, I am always curious to read what they had inscribed on their body.  For myself I lack confidence to that I would know all the subtleties of whatever phrase, and I lack confidence that I would remain happy with whatever choice I made for as long as my skin will last. So, I haven't been tempted to go with this fashion.  ...for what it is worth.

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Interesting comment Mark. Yeah, I'm always curious too. It's funny that you should say that about not feeling confident about the subtleties despite the fact your Chinese level is so high because in contrast in my experience the vast majority [actually I think to date it is probably 100%] that have characters tatooed on their bodies have basically no knowledge of Chinese or Japanese. When I comment about the Chinese character they usually correct me to see it's Japanese [which I find interesting]. They then typically either know what it's meant to say [and sometimes they're a bit out] or sometimes can't quite remember or don't seem sure!