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Thread: Thinking of getting a Russian Tattoo

  1. #1
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    Thinking of getting a Russian Tattoo

    Hello everyone, My name is Steven and I have been really really interested in Russian culture and language for the last 5 years. And this year I decided I wanted to get a Russian Tattoo.

    "Forgive me God, for I have sinned"

    Is this the correct translation for the phrase above? : Прости меня, Бог, ибо я согрешил

    Are the commas correct? should they be used?

  2. #2
    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure that the form Боже would be more correct here than Бог, because you're addressing God directly (as in Боже мой, "Oh my God!").

    Otherwise, the translation looks basically correct to me, at least as far as the grammar goes. I'm not 100% sure about the word choices -- but I'm neither a native speaker nor православный (Eastern Orthodox Christian).

    From Googling, however, I found several wording variations on this basic formula.

    For example, in place of "прости меня", you can say "помилуй меня".

    Помилуй is the imperative form of the verb помиловать -- which also means "forgive; pardon", but it often has the implication of a legal pardon or clemency for a convicted criminal. And помиловать is sometimes used proverbially in contrast to казнить ("to execute; to give the death penalty to"). So, using it in a prayer like this serves to emphasize that you DESERVE a harsh punishment -- perhaps even the death penalty (казнь) -- but you are throwing yourself at the mercy of the Supreme Judge.

    Alternatively, you could begin with the phrase "Благослови меня", which means "Bless me" rather than "Forgive me."

    Instead of Боже, you could use Господи ("Oh Lord!"). Also, sometimes Бог/Боже is replaced with отче -- an old-fashioned form of отец, "father." I would assume that if the word is capitalized as Отче, the understood meaning will be "God the Father", but if it's lower-case (отче) then it will be understood as a title of address for the священник (priest) who is hearing a confession.

    Finally, the last part ибо я согрешил does seem to be highly standardized -- the only variation is that a woman would, of course, use the feminine form согрешила.

    But anyway, you should definitely consult with the native speakers here about which variant sounds the most natural/traditional -- I'm just offering some alternatives that I found with Google.

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    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    BTW, "Казнить нельзя помиловать" is a famous expression that schoolchildren learn to remind them about the importance of correctly placing commas. If you put the comma between the first word and the second word:

    Казнить, нельзя помиловать!

    The meaning is "Put (this person) to death! Do not pardon!"


    But if the comma goes between the second word and the third word:

    Казнить нельзя, помиловать!

    Then the meaning is "Do NOT execute (this person)! Grant (him) clemency!"


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    Your reasons are your own, but some people take that **** real serious.

    I was thinking like that about a year ago, and as a bit of a test I wrote out what I wanted - only 1 character!! - on the crook of my hand between thumb and first finger.... in black pen-ink only... and by the end of the day I found I would have regretted it. Three people thought it meant something racist that it did not mean. And many people thought it was a jail tattoo, which isn't a helpful association, in most cases.

    Who am I to question your reasons? Nobody. But make sure. Someday someone may ask you to explain it.

    Luck and life in all things--
    luck/life/kidkboom
    Грязные башмаки располагают к осмотрительности в выборе дороги. /*/ Muddy boots choose their roads with wisdom. ;

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    I think you should use "Боже, прости меня, ибо я согрешил" or "Прости меня, Боже, ибо я согрешил". Both are good.

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    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kidkboom View Post
    Your reasons are your own, but some people take that **** real serious.
    This is a good point for Steven to consider -- you're using a phrase that some people consider part of their sacred life, so it could potentially offend someone if they think you're being flippant about their faith just to get a "cool" tattoo.

    If you're not totally sincere about your own belief in God, you could always omit that word and just get a tattoo that says Прости меня, ибо я согрешил -- without specifying whom you're asking forgiveness from.

    Personally, I would go with:

    Помилуй меня, Бегемот, ибо я согрешил!

    In a circle around an image of this guy:



    ...but that's just my own religious preference, and anyway I can't get tattoos because my skin has a tendency to form keloid scars.
    kidkboom and DrZero like this.
    Говорит Бегемот: "Dear citizens of MR -- please correct my Russian mistakes!"

  7. #7
    Старший оракул Seraph's Avatar
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    You could say it from an opposite point of view, like from Joel: Иоиль 2 12 Но и ныне еще говорит Господь: обратитесь ко Мне всем сердцем своим в посте, плаче и рыдании.

    =>
    Господу я обращусь всем сердцем моим.
    Господу я обратился всем сердцем моим. ??

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    Ок. better:
    =>
    К Господу обращаюсь всем сердцем моим.
    Without I (я). this like a pray.

  9. #9
    Старший оракул Seraph's Avatar
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    And engrave on heart, not on hide.

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    I like this
    Splendid idea: what made you decide to go for a Russian tattoo?

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    Завсегдатай BappaBa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Throbert McGee View Post
    But anyway, you should definitely consult with the native speakers here about which variant sounds the most natural/traditional -- I'm just offering some alternatives that I found with Google.
    "Помилуй меня, Господи, ибо я грешен"
    "Прости меня, Боже, ибо я грешен"
    "Прости мне, Боже, ибо я грешен" (archaic)

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