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What language is this?

asked 2015-03-19 15:11:16 -0500

anonymous user


What language is this and what does this phrase mean? If you don't know, how would I go about finding the answer to my questions?


Divya Kumar

(Transferred from old LINGUIST List Ask-a-Linguist site)

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The link appears to be broken...

usagi5886 gravatar imageusagi5886 ( 2015-03-21 20:32:22 -0500 )edit

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answered 2015-03-20 13:43:01 -0500

Ogress gravatar image

Is it this one? if so, it's dbumed (pronounced roughly wu me) - sadly, I can't read it, my Tibetan is terrible.

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answered 2015-03-19 15:12:48 -0500

anonymous gravatar image

updated 2015-03-19 15:53:45 -0500

I believe it's Tibetan, written in a particular cursive (dbu med "headless") style, and says "om mani padme hum". Compare the second Tibetan line here:

-- Norvin Richards

I'm hoping one of my colleagues will have an answer. I am stumped. My best guess is that It could be a Middle Eastern script or an Indic one (i.e. South Asian or Southeast Asian). I have a suspicion that it is using vowel marks... but it's not a guarantee.

One place to look at different scripts is Omniglot - However, this tattoo may be a very calligraphic style.

I do have to add that non-Western script tattoos are notorious for being inaccurate. There are blogs devoted to mistranslated tattoos.

If this is an interest in getting a tattoo, I would recommend looking at information about non-Western calligraphic styles and seeing what designs are available. The translations are likely to be more accurate.

Ideally, you would want to check with a native speaker also, or at least Wikipedia.

Sincerely hope this helps.

Elizabeth J Pyatt

Hi, Divya,

Well, I tried various ways of clicking on the URL, and they all came back with 'Page not found'. Either Dr. Pyatt had better luck than I did, or the site does not accept such consultations from 'furriners'.


James L. Fidelholtz Graduate Program in Language Sciences Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades Benem'erita Universidad Aut'onoma de Puebla, M'EXICO

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Asked: 2015-03-19 15:11:16 -0500

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Last updated: Mar 20 '15