Google Translate victim, or just a huge Emily Lau fan? Hong Kong legislator namechecked in bizarre tattoo

Online fitness video shows apparent homage to city’s first directly elected female legislator

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 August, 2017, 11:35am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 August, 2017, 11:36am

Emily Lau Wai-hing may have thought she had seen everything in her long political career. But even she was surprised to see an American fitness trainer with her name tattooed on his arm in Chinese, possibly the victim of some wayward online translation.

Social media was abuzz on Tuesday with amused reactions to the image of the man’s left biceps, inked with the Chinese characters for “Lau Wai-hing”.

The video was uploaded to YouTube by an American fitness trainer in 2013 and recently posted on the LIHKG internet forum.

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“Did he do a search on Google Translate and think that the Chinese translation of ‘Emily’ is ‘Lau Wai-hing’?” one user asked.

The man did not talk about the tattoo in the clip, so it remains unclear why he sported an apparent homage to one of Hong Kong’s best-known pro-democracy political veterans.

Lau, 64, stepped down from Hong Kong’s legislature last year after serving as a lawmaker for 25 years. She was the city’s first directly elected female legislator, and later chairwoman of the Democratic Party.

During her time as a politician, she advocated universal suffrage, human rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong.

On Tuesday, she saw the funny side of the tattoo confusion.

Asked by text message if she had seen the image, she replied: “Yes of course”, followed by four emoji showing her bewilderment, amusement and shock. “It is really quite amusing and it’s the first time I heard of such a thing.”

A search on Google Translate for “Emily”, English to Chinese, showed “Lau Wai-hing” really was the fourth suggested translation. The other ones were, more straightforwardly, phonetic versions of the name made with Chinese characters.

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But Lau was not the only city politician whose Chinese name was passed off as a direct translation of her English one.

Another search, for “Priscilla”, turned up “Leung Mei-fun” as the first suggested translation. Priscilla Leung Mei-fun is a pro-government Hong Kong legislator.

Maybe the man in the video really did have a soft spot for Lau, a former journalist who won fame in the 1980s for questioning then British prime minister Margaret Thatcher over the UK “delivering over five million people into the hands of a communist dictatorship”.

“It’s love,” one forum user wrote. Another wrote: “Perhaps he really is a fan of Emily Lau Wai-hing?”