Duolingo wants to fix your terrible foreign language tattoos


As spring and summer approach, you need to be prepared to start seeing them in public again…bad tattoos. There are many types of bad tattoos, of course, but perhaps one of the most consistent and clichéd genres is mistranslated foreign language ink. Whether it’s a saying translated into Sanskrit, Mandarin, Japanese, Thai, or any other language, the first thought that comes to mind is . . . I wonder what that really means.

Now, language-teaching app Duolingo is giving people the chance to fix their mistranslated tattoos with its new “DuoOver” campaign.


For two weeks, starting March 21, the brand is taking applications from those unfortunately inked in the UK and France. He will choose the worst tattoos, bring them to Paris for a “DuoOver” and have their tattoo repaired at the Abraxas tattoo parlour. Applicants simply need to post a photo of their tattoo on social media using the hashtag #TattooDuoOver, tagging Duolingo on Instagram or Twitter. Or, if the shame is too much, just email the brand at TatooDuoOver@duolingo.com.

Among the examples given in the new Duolingo ad: a tattoo that the recipient said meant “courage” actually means “toilet demon.” Created with advertising agency BETC, the campaign is a rather extreme example of brand utility, but a much-loved example of public service.


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