Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bad English in Kpop ... by artists who speak English

Bad Engrish in Asian music is not uncommon. In fact, bad English and Asian people generally go hand-in-hand.

But what bothers me most is when a Korean idol group promotes a song which has atrocious grammar and syntax (or just uses plain wrong English words) .... with an English speaker within the group.

This member is usually fluent as well as they have studied or grew up in an English (as the first language) speaking country (ie. America, Canada, etc...). To me, this does not make sense. Sometimes, Korean is their second language. So how can one royally fuck up in their first language?

For example (the name in brackets is the name of the person in the group who allegedly speaks English. Which is now put in question):

After School (Bekah) - "BANG"
 There is a lot wrong here.

"우리는!! Oh~ After!! School Up!!"
What does 'school up' mean? Is that the nerdy version of 'man up' ?

"T.R.Y. Do it now! ... T.R.Y. Pick it up!"
'Try do it now! Try pick it up!'. Did you mean: 'Try to do it now. Try to pick it up' ?
Looks like you girls just got school'd. (ohhhhh snap!)

 "So cool, So right, just so tasty. We bring it fast forward, the fellows go crazy"
Bekah. I love you so hard. You were one of my favourites before you were forced to graduate. But no. Even you know it in your heart that this was wrong. But I will give you the benefit of the doubt. You probably stood up for yourself and said, "Wtf is this shitty ass rap? How are we tasty? What does that last sentence even mean?!" and then got kicked the fuck out.

"To be raised for my life"
I actually cannot even fathom where they were trying to go with this one.



2NE1 (CL & Bom) - "Can't Nobody (ENGLISH VERSION)"
So this one is extra embarrassing because it is not even the Korean version I am critiquing. It is their ENGLISH version. From a group who has 2 members that speak English. In a 4 member group.

"Many style from A to Z"
Does this mean they are dressed in many styles ranging from A to Z?

"Dripped in shits you never heard"
lol. *insert 'dripped in shit' jokes*

"Haters can't never see me"
Okay so my street lingo isn't very good but, wouldn't this sound better if it were something like 'Haters can never see me' ? This is a prime example of double negatives making the situation more confusing.

"Asians we rise with the sun
Invasion, no mercy
Takeover"

This one is okay. I am just saying that this sounds like a threat.

"we thirsty"
lol. Way to point out the obvious.

(generally speaking though, 2NE1 is pretty good when using English)



San E - "Big Boy"
Look at San E. Trying to stay relevant after leaving JYP. Good for you. You deserved better treatment anyways, Eminine lol Eminem-sounding Korean man.

"I'm a big boy, make a big change. I'm a, I'm a big boy NEVER DON'T CRY. I'm a, I'm a big boy NEVER DON'T STOP" 
Wait a minute. Now, correct me if I am wrong. If one 'never doesn't cry', doesn't that double negative imply that he never stops crying? As with the second sentence, it would mean that he always stops whatever he is trying to accomplish. Sounds like a quitter to me!



f(x) (Krystal & Amber) - "Ice Cream"
 One commenter pointed out that "ice cream" sounds like "ass cream" here.

"You melt up my body and all my heart"
You might want to get that checked out.
Unless this is some dirty euphemism.

(to be fair, I had a hard time finding f(x) English flaws)
 
~*~*~

Take a lesson from people like G.NA and Ailee who can integrate their English proficiency effectively in their Korean songs without fucking it up.

(now, don't get me wrong. I understand that sometimes the producers and songwriters are the ones making the lyrics; so the artists have no real say in the writing. I am just saying that maybe someone [who knows that the lyrics in English are blatantly wrong] could heavily suggest a re-write in the lyrics so that it makes sense [and so that the group does not look so foolish to English speakers]. But maybe I am asking too much from slave-driven idols) 

List other offenders in the comment section below! Or send them to me however else you want to reach me. You know all the methods. I take payment in cash or cheque.

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37 comments:

  1. well the other extreme of this is people like henry

    'just confused as to why i can't be meeting you'

    his rap is so grammatically correct that it's comical. i couldn't even give the english version of 'trap' a listen because everyone told me it was hillarious

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    1. umm and also shinbi i think you're missing 'i really wanna touch myself' because that is kpop hall of fame stuff u know

      and the engrish at the beginning of MAMA

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    2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYH9SwLnf-o

      also, when I first heard MAMA I didn't know what they were saying, thought it was some Latin and thought "hey that's cool, a big of Gregorian chanting, fits in well with the symbolism they're going for", then I saw the actual lyrics and was astonished. it was like they raped the English language and forced it to have an abortion

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    3. "i couldn't even give the english version of 'trap' a listen because everyone told me it was hillarious"

      It sounds like a sixth grader who trying to be overtly figurative. I love Henry to death and think he's the bee's knees, but oh my Lord, the English version of Trap is so cheesy it's sad XD

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  2. I think the use of "bad English" is deliberate. It's because konglish probably "sounds cool", or rather that has something to do with identity and nationalism... I'm not too sure, but Professor Carolyn Stevens wrote extensively on this subject while discussing Japanese pop music, and I think that could apply to kpop as well: http://books.google.it/books/about/Japanese_Popular_Music.html?id=OHMkdcL9DAMC&redir_esc=y

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    1. but konglish is more of english integrated words with corean conversation or "twist'.. i wouldnt rlly call it out as using english with sh*te grammar in some song..

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  3. Some of the things you quote were not quote-worthy at all and can easily be understood.
    E.g. "How are we tasty?" - How are they not ?

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  4. Don't forget Nicole and "Really wanna pretty"

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    Replies
    1. That was the first line that came to mind haha.

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    2. "yeah so.... the songs are all written out... we're running out of time... and we can't postpone set productions sooo...just sing the damn awkward engrish already."

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  5. With a hierarchical society like Korea has, I'm assuming that these idols can't speak up and point out the terribad English in the lyrics.

    "What do I care? It's not like 99% of the target market will notice anyway."

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    Replies
    1. ^This. Implying idols have any influence on the creative processes of their group at all.

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  6. I always assumed it was a sly marketing gimmick - cute Engrish sticks in your head and is another excuse to virally share the video. Especially when it's coming from labels that have entire English speaking staff divisions (i.e Cube).

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    Replies
    1. It definitely adds to the terribleness/excellentness of kpop, lol.

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    2. "Especially when it's coming from labels that have entire English speaking staff divisions (i.e Cube)."

      Um... Wut?

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    3. Yep. Think I'm kidding? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54VwOzOsCt4 (relevant part - from 4:00)

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    4. So, um... Who do I flog for the Engrishy mess that is Yoseob's Caffeine and B2ST's Shadow? Like seriously, both are great song that are ruined by some HORRID engrish >_<

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    5. Go into CUBE office with your whips, start with the guy who changes the coffee machine and work your way up.

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  7. NEVER FORGET THE ATROCITY THAT IS TIFFANY'S RAP IN THE BOYS ENGLISH VERSION

    SHE WROTE THAT SHIT HERSELF

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    Replies
    1. She also wrote the stuff in the Oh! album booklet herself... and it was full of religious shit.

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  8. I've always noticed this with Jessica. Whenever she sings in english she always has (or puts on) a korean accent. I'm like BITCH U ENGLISH.

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    Replies
    1. (SNSD's) Jessica actually isn't that good with English, since she barely talks English anymore. It's quite apparent in shows and stuff, Tiffany is much more secure when she talks English.

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    2. I've never noticed her have a difficult time with english, she barely has an accent when she talks either. Tiffany might be more comfortable but they're both fluent.

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    3. Jessica moved to SK when she was 11. Tiffany didn't move until she was 14, I think this also impacts it.
      I've heard other people have the same impression, that Jessica seems a bit uncomfortable and "slower" when it comes to talking English.

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    4. Jessica seems like kind of a slow talker anyways, Tiffany is more energetic and etc.
      Anyways.

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  10. As someone from New York City who has grown up around black and hispanic kids speaking slang/ebonics, I think "Haters can't never see me" is passable, your grammar isn't going to be correct.

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  11. Is anyone else here embarassed at times when singing kpop? I mean when I'm going karaoke w my friends, and then I want to sing t-ara songs, I always think about the engrish coming up (day by day, yayaya). I know I shouldn't give a fuck, but still :/

    Korea pls

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    Replies
    1. I try my best to not sing english lyrics in Kpop songs because whoever hears me would think I'm retarded. I sometimes wonder if the singers/rappers forced to sing/rap these horrendous god awful lyrics ever thought to themselves "What am I doing with my life?"

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  12. San E sounds NOTHING like Eminem. Please.

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