As commitments go, tattoos are a pretty big one. People tend to choose things that have a deep connection to their identity. We asked six people what tattoo they have in a foreign language, and why they decided to get it. As you’ll see, people don’t always pick the languages you might expect.
I decided to get “oy vey” on my forearm for many reasons, one being the fact that I say this Yiddish phrase quite frequently, and also due to my Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. My mom’s mother is probably where I got most of my Yiddish from, and I hold those few words and phrases from my culture very dear to me. Also, just as a fun fact, I got this tattoo about a week before the 2016 presidential election. Whoops. 😂
I got it while I was living in Manchester, England. I chose the phrase because I have been through some experiences that seemed to want to break me, and each time I only ended up stronger. I chose the language as a nod to my 100 percent Irish heritage. Having these words in Gaelic on my arm feels like a permanent link to my ancestors.
My partner and I got these Nordic runes that would put the fear into one’s enemy because that was the most romantic thing we could think of 😭.
I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar and after my service ended I got the Malagasy word “sambatra,” meaning happy or blessed, on my forearm. It’s a daily reminder, not only of the life-changing experiences I had on the “red island,” but also of the fact that I am, in many ways, so very blessed.
It’s my birthday in binary (May 19, 1996) because I’m a big ol’ nerd.
So I got the tattoo this February, right out of the blue, but I was thinking about getting a tattoo for the past year. I chose this word, which is heart in French, because I’ve never really experienced romantic love. It’s kinda weird because with the past few guys I’ve dated, I always ended things after a bit because I just never felt that emotionally invested in them. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve broken a few hearts along the way. Weird thing is, I want to experience it so badly, I’ve just never felt the spark, but I want to so badly. This tattoo is not a reminder of lovey-dovey relationships that people would assume that I have experienced; it’s a reminder of what may or may not even come my way. Also I speak French so it’s not as obnoxious as you think.