In my usual searches across the Internet for Aramaic tattoo oddities, I came across the following tattoo that illustrates an very important point about how different some dialects can be. Here is a transliteration of the text:
In some dialects of Modern Aramaic, Arabic loan sounds and loan words have creeped into the language. To represent these, some dialects use diatrics to represent Arabic phonemes by marking similar consonants.
The letter in question is the gâmal “G” at the beginning.
When tattooing, sometimes these diatric squiggles can end up looking like standard vowel markers. Because of this gbrt’ can first be read as a loan-word from the Arabic “jabbar” which means “almighty.” Jbârthâ’, however, should be masculine, not feminine as it would be an adjective (i.e. Jesus -is- mighty). This would make the entire translation read:
“(She is) Almighty: Jesus Christ”
…which doesn’t seem to be what the owner is after.
On the other side of interpretation lies gebârthâ’ which is a word found in several dialects of Aramaic (most notedly Syriac) where it is the feminine form of gabrâ’ which means “man” (i.e. “woman”). This would make the translation read:
“The Woman: Jesus Christ”
…also not quite what they were after.
I won’t repeat myself again as to how important it is to double-check your translations. 🙂 Aramaic Designs will do it for free so there is no excuse!
One thought on “An Ambiguous Tattoo: Modern vs. Classical”
Hi Steve, I currently made a quote with you on the Aramaic designs website, and I was just wondering, I’m still thinking about whether I should tatoo Yeshua Hamashiach in regular english, or if I should do it in aramaic, but if I do so in english, I was wondering if the way I spelled it is right, or wrong, cause I’ve seen it “Yeshua Ha’mashiach” or “Yeshua Hammashich”, and I was wondering which one is right, and also if there’s any way I could see the one in aramaic, before I buy it, you know. I will be waiting for your reply, thanks.