There is a highly entertaining site “Hanzismatter” which is dedicated to helping people figure out just what exactly that tattoo they got really says in Chinese or Japanese.
The authors of that site were somewhat puzzled by the number of people with stories of going into a tattoo parlour, asking for their initials, and getting a tattoo that looks like Chinese or Japanese to Western eyes, but which is gibberish in either Chinese or Japanese.Â Some of the characters are legitimate characters, but make no sense in combination with the other characters.
The authors finally figured it out.Â Somebody sells a design which has an array of characters.Â Some are legitimate characters, some are just pieces of legitimate characters (radicals), and some characters are just plain wrong.Â Each character in the design is next to a letter of the English alphabet, implying that there is a one-to-one correspondence between the two.
This is so very very wrong that I can’t even figure out how to make an analogy of how wrong it is.Â And, while I wish I were pulling your leg with an April Fool’s prank, sadly I am not.
Modern culturally-European people are not the only ones who have ever been too lazy to check the authenticity of their glyphs: apparently 15th century Europeans put gibberish Hebrew into their paintings!