There was an image being passed around on the internet earlier today, in which someone had tattooed in very large letters on his arm, “Nothing last’s forever.”
There was some debate about whether the image–or the tattoo itself–was real. It could be; it looks real enough. But whether this one is or isn’t real, we’ve all seen these pics–the darn fools who have typos permanently inked onto their skin. My old favorite was the Notre Dame fan who got a leprechaun tattoo, accompanied by the words, “Fighing Irish.”
The person passing around the above picture also had links to other tattoo mistakes, including one that a lady who was a torch bearer in the London Olympics had gotten to remember that special honor. It was a nice tat but her friend had to go & spoil things for her by pointing out several hours later, “You know that ‘Oylimpics’ is spelled wrong.”
I was laughing about these sad folks and said to my husband, “Didn’t they proof the design before the artist got going with the needle?”
He said, “What, are you blaming the victim?”
I never thought about it that way, but, yes, I guess I was (and am) blaming the victim, at least partly. I believe tattoo artists, or signmakers or printers–people who aren’t necessarily editors but work with words–need to know spelling & grammar. If for some bizarre reason the artist never gave the customer the chance to check the spelling before he or she started the tattoo, then I suppose it is the tattoo artist’s fault.
But in most cases, the customer gets to review the work first. in printing, mistakes introduced after proofing are of course the printer’s fault. I just think at least half the blame lies with the customer. Remember the picture of that sign that got passed around the internet last week, where the signmaker had left the “l” out of “public” in “public school”? I’m sure someone at the school saw a proof of that sign and approved it.
It may be someone else’s job to do something correctly, but if is going to represent me, I’m the one who ends up looking bad. I need to look at the spelling several times, get a third party to look at it if necessary. It’s MY body, it’s my duty to take responsibility for what I get inscribed on it.
But, I’m sure there are many who don’t care that there’s an apostrophe where it shouldn’t be. And who knows? Grammar rules are changing. Maybe in 20 or 30 years that guy’s tattoo will be correct. Nothing lasts forever.
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