Nope, this isn’t a post about bad tattoos of baby names. (Though that’s a tempting post to write!) This post is about a bad tattoo that belongs to a specific person, and what that tat can teach us about baby names.
The tattoo in question belongs to starlet Hayden Panettiere. I’m not quite sure who she is, but I spotted a picture of her tattoo while randomly looking through photos of celebrity tattoos yesterday. This was the caption for hers:
Hayden Panettiere’s tattoo reads “Vivere senza rimipianti,” which means “Live without regrets” in Italian. Unfortunately, the word “rimipianti” is incorrect; it’s spelled “rimpianti.”
Yup, a tattoo typo. She took a phrase, tried to translate it into a language she obviously does not know, and wound up with a mess. A permanent mess.
And she’s not the only one with a tattoo like this. Many people waltz into tattoo parlors, see pretty characters up on the walls, and decide to get those characters written into their skin. They don’t know Chinese, or Japanese, or Khmer, or Tamil, or Hebrew, or Greek, or whatever other language the characters happen to represent. They don’t know if the characters are written properly. They don’t know if the characters mean what the tattoo artist says they mean. They just know that the characters are cool and exotic, so they go for it.
Some parents choose baby names the same way. They gravitate toward names from other cultures because these names are so different from the names they encounter every day.
It’s fine to be attracted to unfamiliar things, but it’s really not smart to take these things at face value and make them a permanent part of your life without learning more about them first.
If Hayden had bothered to double-check her translation in an Italian dictionary or with an Italian speaker, she could have caught that spelling mistake before it was etched into her skin. But she didn’t do any double-checking, her tattoo backfired in a big way, and now she looks foolish because of it.
Likewise, if a parent-to-be who likes a certain exotic baby name bothers to do some research, she might be surprised to find out that she’s been spelling or pronouncing it incorrectly all along. She could catch her mistake before making that name her child’s name and making her child look foolish because of it.
Or, better still, she could conclude that a name so unusual that it requires special research is probably too unusual to give to a baby.