"Strong Willed Woman"

3:23 PM Anis Widayanti 0 Comments

from: Jaime S.
to: tiangotlost@gmail.com
date: Sat, Apr 24, 2010 at 2:21 PM
subject: So I got a tattoo...

Hey guys, my name's Mari. I've always been a fan of the blog, and I was wondering if you could verify my tattoo's meaning.

I'm a foreign language major, and I've studied both Mandarin and Japanese in the past. I decided to translate the meaning of "strong willed woman" into 英気女 (eiki onna). So... is this correct? I sure hope so!

I sent you a pic, too. Thanks a lot.

eiki onna

At the very least the characters are written correctly as if it was supposed to be Japanese.

Unfortunately, 英気女 does not mean "strong-willed woman" in Japanese.

It is more like "brilliant woman" or "woman of excellent ability" if they were to translate it literally. But even this is not a proper translation because 英気女 is not grammatically correct in Japanese.

It lacks the proper grammatical bits and such, so it sounds very brusque and looks sort of "faux Chinese" to a Japanese person. To be proper, they would need to be written 英気に富んだ女性 [eiki ni tonda josei] if "brilliant woman" was intended.

But it cannot be proper Chinese because the simplified character form is used only in Japanese. In Chinese, only the character forms (traditional) or (simplified) are used.

Another problem is that it seems quite inappropriately boastful and prideful for someone to tattoo themselves with "brilliant woman" in a Japanese context. One would only say this sort of thing about someone else, or as a goal to strive for, and not as a label on your own body. The most common usage of 英気 in Japanese is in the phrase 英気を養う [eiki wo yashinau] which means roughly to "rest up to be able to demonstrate one's full ability."

Certainly there are other, much better, ways of saying "strong-willed woman" in Japanese. One might be 意志の強い女性 [ishi no tsuyoi josei].

Better luck next time,

Alan & Tian

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