An inspiring Arabic tattoo has apparently been doing the rounds lately. Written "انا معفن" and pronounced “Ana Ma’afn”, it’s been permanently inked onto several instagrammable bodies. It means “appreciate life”, and it’s struck a chord for its elegant communication of the profound truth.
Except it doesn’t. The Arabic phrase actually means “I’m rotten”.
This might come as a shock to several irrevocably marked carpe diem enthusiasts. But for Arabic speakers everywhere it’s a delight, and one that’s been shared widely over the past few days.
Amusing mistranslations, too, do tend to have the power to travel. The “Ana Ma’afn” tattoo reportedly began to get imprinted on the bodies of people unable to use Google Translate after it was published with the wrong translation on a blog. And it was last spotted in a pretty high profile spot – no less than Alicia Keys latest video, "In Common".
This isn’t the first time Arabic phrases have been mistranslated for the sake of white people inspiration. Last year, Lindsey Lohan instagrammed a shot of what she apparently thought read “you’re beautiful”, but in fact translated as “you’re an ass”.
Lesson: Google Translate exists, and it's probably a good idea to use it.
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