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 foreign language tattoos they have, 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.