What's new

Welcome to Japan Reference (JREF) - the community for all Things Japanese.

Join Today! It is fast, simple, and FREE!

Need help with a tattoo

dockev

Kouhai
Joined
11 Jan 2020
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
i am trying to come up with a tattoo “chaos before wisdom” but using Japanese Hiragana (at least i think i am). Not trusting google. I have come up with

こんとん まえ ちえ

“chaos - konton” “before - mae” “wisdom - chie”


but i notice katakana is


ケーオス・ベフォー・ウィズドム

which is more accurate? that is if i even got them correct to begin with

thank you very much in advance

cheers
 

joadbres

八方凡人
Joined
19 Sep 2016
Messages
733
Reaction score
264
The reason for the difference between the hiragana and katakana versions you showed us is that the second one is not Japanese. Rather, it is English words transliterated one-by-one into the katakana writing system.

However, your hiragana version is not ideal, either. With the hiragana version, it seems that you have simply translated each word, one at a time, and assembled them together in the same order as they are in the English version. However, languages don't work that way. Each language has its own grammatical rules that must be followed for something to make any sense.

Properly translating the expression "chaos before wisdom" into Japanese will likely result in a comparatively long text, as it is hard to generate something as pithy as the three-word English version in this case.

Do you have any special reason for wanting to use Japanese for your tattoo?
 

dockev

Kouhai
Joined
11 Jan 2020
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
i have several tattoos, and several different languages. Long ago when i studied Uechi ryu, one of my sensei's used to say chaos before wisdom alot. I have recently sustained a bad injury on my mountain bike. And at age 48, i should be getting wiser lol. Already have Chinese symbols, and the Japanese Kanji looked too similar so I thought the hiragana looked different. I really liked the style of it. And it goes well with a Sumerian Cuneiform tattoo i am working on for the other arm. But i am stuck, because if i try to use google translate for english to japanese it uses Kanji. Trying to stay away from that but cannot find proper way to say it with correct hiragana
 

dockev

Kouhai
Joined
11 Jan 2020
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
but this is why i have joined a few forums so that if i do the tattoo i do not dishonour that language by putting incorrect ink on my body. I am very happy to know that all i did above is incorrect. I want to do the language justice by making it as authentic as possible. I have contacted a man from British museum to help with the Sumerian tattoo as I had it slightly wrong. Again it was more a literal translation word for word english to other. Same mistake I have apparently made here. Any help or guidance would be very much appreciated. Just trying to stay away from Kanji. Don't know if there is an easy way to say it it hiragana.
 

joadbres

八方凡人
Joined
19 Sep 2016
Messages
733
Reaction score
264
Thanks for the clarification.

Staying away from kanji is a simple matter, because in Japanese anything that can be written in kanji can also be written in hiragana. Hiragana is a phonetic writing system which is capable of representing any sound that can be spoken in Japanese.

Three points to keep in mind:

- Japanese usually does not use spaces. There are a few specific cases where you will see spaces, including text aimed at beginning-level foreign students studying the language, and text written for young children. Other than those cases, though, it is more natural (and less "childish") to see Japanese text written without spaces. Even if you get an all-hiragana tattoo, I would recommend not using spaces, unless the text is so long that it becomes unwieldy to try to read.

- To optimally translate a message into a second language, it is important to first make sure that the precise meaning of the message is clearly conveyed. While I can guess what you mean by "chaos before wisdom", it is somewhat unclear, and could lead to an inaccurate translation if misunderstood by a person translating it. For that reason, I recommend that in addition to providing your desired message ("chaos before wisdom"), along with that you also provide a more detailed description of precisely what you consider the meaning of that text to be.

- Two different languages do not always express the same thought in the same way. When translating, there are two fundamentally different ways to translate: (1) a literal (essentially, word-for-word) translation, in which words of equivalent meaning are used in the target language, and (2) a meaning-based translation, in which the same message is expressed naturally in the target language, but perhaps using different words. Because English and Japanese often express ideas in different ways from each other, a literal translation might sound quite unnatural to a native speaker of Japanese. If it is important that your message sound natural in Japanese, then it is better to use a translation of type (2) above, even if it does not contain the exact same words as the English version.

There are numerous ways to translate your message into Japanese. One example is the following:

ちえはカオスからうまれる。

Back-translated literally into English, this message reads "knowledge is born out of chaos". This message as written here mostly uses hiragana, but also uses three katakana characters, to represent the word "chaos". This word is most commonly written using katakana, so keeping it in katakana is more natural than converting it into hiragana. And doing so also helps make the sentence easier to read. The period at the end is optional. Having it or not is a stylistic choice you can make.
 

dockev

Kouhai
Joined
11 Jan 2020
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
Yes i see your point. I agree that type 2 is what i am looking for.

Background ... well as i mentioned above, i injured my arm quite badly at the end of October 2019. I am a chiropractor doctor and use my hands/arms to make a living. I detached two muscles in my left elbow. I ride a little crazy on my bike. After this injury my dad suggested i take out my driver's licence and read my birthdate out loud. Should be wiser at my age he said. lol.

As i was riding home from that injury, as i still had 13km to get home, i was thinking my next tattoo should be a balance scale with "intensity" on one side and "intelligence" on the other side. I live on the edge a bit and get a few injuries. I joke with my patients " i only have to be doctor smart". My intensity sometimes gets in the way of my brain. I guess it is my ying and yang. So then i remembered chaos before wisdom and went with that thought.

As i was looking at languages to do this one in, the hiragana seemed to balance the cuneiform nicely. I was not happy with the kanji as was too similar to the "self discipline" tattoo i have in chinese symbols. And i tripled checked with different people to make sure that was correct for sure.

I do like your example of "knowledge is born out of chaos". I don't know if there is a Japanese way to represent the initial idea of the internal balance of intensity vs intelligence. The walking of the fine line of doing the slightly bad choice for the fun it provides with knowing you should probably not be doing this action so recklessly.

past 2 am here, need to sleep,
thanks for your help, will reply to any of your replies and suggestions tomorrow
cheers
 

dockev

Kouhai
Joined
11 Jan 2020
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
Hello and good day,

ちえはカオスからうまれる is what i think i am going to move forward with. Just to triple check, the way you wrote it is exact? Not to doubt you but it is permanent LOL

Thanks
kevin
 

joadbres

八方凡人
Joined
19 Sep 2016
Messages
733
Reaction score
264
ちえはカオスからうまれる is what i think i am going to move forward with. Just to triple check, the way you wrote it is exact? Not to doubt you but it is permanent LOL

I was given that exact phrasing from a native speaker after I provided your original English phrasing, as well as a general explanation of its meaning, so it should be fine. (Actually, what I was given had several kanji in it, which I converted to hiragana per your wishes.)

There are several native speakers of Japanese who regularly participate on this forum, so I recommend waiting for at least one of them to also give their opinion on this expression (including grammatical correctness, impression, etc.). If nobody comments soon, you can "bump" the post (to the top of the 'recent posts' list) by adding a new comment to this thread, to keep it noticeable.

One more thing: as with the alphabet used in English, there are many fonts which can be used to write Japanese. I recommend you spend some time viewing various fonts available on the web (e.g., on font websites) to find something you like. The default, standard Japanese fonts are fairly plain looking, and don't make for great tattoos, I think.

The attached image below shows the variety of looks you can achieve by using different fonts. Note that if this expression is written using kanji, only three kanji are used: in the first, second, and ninth positions, with the remaining hiragana and katakana characters unchanged. The last two entries in the picture below use kanji. In the first of these, the three kanji are written in a very stylized way, so they resemble hiragana characters.

chie.png
 

Toritoribe

松葉解禁
Moderator
Joined
22 Feb 2008
Messages
17,017
Reaction score
3,263
You can also use 混沌 こんとん for chaos instead of カオス. I prefer the kanji included version 知恵は混沌から生まれる, or more classical version 知恵は混沌より生ず.
 

dockev

Kouhai
Joined
11 Jan 2020
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
You can also use 混沌 こんとん for chaos instead of カオス. I prefer the kanji included version 知恵は混沌から生まれる, or more classical version 知恵は混沌より生ず.

Yes, thank you,

I was trying to stay away from kanji as looks similar to my "self discipline" tattoo in Chinese symbols. So wanted pure hiragana.

What is the meaning of ... 知恵は混沌より生ず ? ... same as in above discussion? I do like the shortness of it. My version is a little long with 12 characters (9 is little better for where i want to put the tattoo). What is a more authentic way to say it (ちえはカオスからうまれる or 知恵は混沌より生ず ?

I have about 18 different tattoos with 9 different languages (2 more to come). I try to be true to the native language. If the more classical way is more authentic/common I may have to rethink what version I move forward with. I do like the pureness of the hiragana-only one. But I do like the elegance/shortness of your classical version

Thank you for your help
cheers
 
Last edited:

bentenmusume

やれやれ
Contributor
Joined
12 Oct 2004
Messages
1,008
Reaction score
732
What is the meaning of ... 知恵は混沌より生ず ? ... same as in above discussion?
Like Toritoribe-san says, it's a more classical/literary/archaic version of 知恵は混沌から生まれる. The meaning is identical.

I was trying to stay away from kanji as looks similar to my "self discipline" tattoo in Chinese symbols. So wanted pure hiragana.
Well, this is your prerogative (it's your tattoo, after all), but you should be aware that words like 混沌 and 知恵 are typically written in kanji, not hiragana.

Writing it all in hiragana doesn't affect the meaning, but it can give the impression that it was written by an uneducated person who doesn't know the kanji. (Young children often write in hiragana when they haven't learned a particular kanji yet.)

Personally speaking, I would feel that 知恵は混沌より生ず written in the sort of stylized font at the bottom of joadbres-san's example would be the best compromise.
 

dockev

Kouhai
Joined
11 Jan 2020
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
Great advice. Don't want to appear uneducated at all. Love the advice.

知恵は混沌より生ず


知恵は混沌より生ず

Do the difference here between the fonts change the meaning at all? My tatttoo in Hindi I chose a different font that added bit more flare (calligraphy like) but it changed it enough that it was a different word now. Thankfully had many people at work to help with the language.

Want to double check lol
 

bentenmusume

やれやれ
Contributor
Joined
12 Oct 2004
Messages
1,008
Reaction score
732
Those just look like larger fonts, with the top one in boldface.

If you're trying to use fonts installed locally on your PC, they're not necessarily going to display properly to everyone who views it on this forum (unless they happen to have the same font installed). I'd suggest attaching a screenshot to be sure if that's the case.

If you're using an authentic Japanese font (like the examples joadbres-san posted) designed by native Japanese speakers, it's not going to stylize characters in a way that fundamentally changes their meaning.
 

joadbres

八方凡人
Joined
19 Sep 2016
Messages
733
Reaction score
264
My version is a little long with 12 characters (9 is little better for where i want to put the tattoo).

If you convert the 知恵は混沌より生ず version into all hiragana characters, it will be 13 characters long. So if you want to use that version, it is better to keep it as-is, with kanji.

Do the difference here between the fonts change the meaning at all?

In Japanese, font differences do not result in a change in meaning, unless there is an error in a font. Some fonts that are highly stylized may be difficult to read, though.

Is there a good site to obtain those fonts?

Some of the fonts I used are available here: 無料フォント | フォント・外字ソフトのことなら武蔵システム
 

Toritoribe

松葉解禁
Moderator
Joined
22 Feb 2008
Messages
17,017
Reaction score
3,263
If it's possible, vertical writing is more traditional.

chie.jpg
 

dockev

Kouhai
Joined
11 Jan 2020
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
many thanks, i went to the site and used one of the calligraphy fonts

i know vertical is more traditional. However, it is supposed to go arcoss top of chest into front of shoulder/upper arm. To match one that is going on opposite side. That one unfortunately is written horizontally. Decision of which to do. I will bring in the vertical examples you provided and the horizontal ones, and allow my tattoo artist make the final decision based on location and such.

so appreciative of everyone's help
 
Top Bottom