The Names Puzzle

8:35 AM Anis Widayanti 0 Comments

Today's victim decided to tattoo all the names of his family members, in Hebrew, on his leg:

Now, we've been over this one before. You should never attempt to transcribe a name into Hebrew, unless you know Hebrew really well.

The names, for some reason, are written top-to-bottom. Bad idea! Hebrew is not a top-to-bottom language, it's a right-to-left language. You can write words top-to-bottom for decorative purposes, but then putting them next to each other is very stupid.

Let's sum up the damage (starting at the right corner):
  • Geanat - Very misspelled. Was it supposed to be Ganneth, maybe Janet? It's impossible to tell.
  • Alan - Misspelled, since the last letter in that name is a Nun, which should appear in its final form, and doesn't. I'm not at all sure the author was going for Alan, either. It might well have been intended to be Ellen.
  • Raina - It's readable, but not at all how you'd write it according to conventions.
  • Mikhaal - I guess it was supposed to be Michael (My-Kel), but it doesn't read that way. Michael is a biblical name, it's very easy to look up the correct spelling.
  • Raines - If it was meant to read Raines, that's not how you'd write it. If it was meant to be something else, then I don't know what that is.

Why did this disaster of a tattoo happen to out poor victim?

Well, just knowing the alphabet isn't enough. Many sounds have several Hebrew letters that can represent them (such as V,K,A,KH), Other sounds don't have any representation in the old Hebrew alphabet, and have special accommodations in Modern Hebrew (like: ZH, CH, TH). There are the final-form letter that shouldn't be neglected.

And, of course, there are the conventions. Most foreign names actually have conventions for the way you would write them in Hebrew. Writing them differently looks very bad.