Extra! Korea

February 18, 2010

Oy vey! K-pop schmucks sing schlock called “Mazeltov”

Filed under: humor, languages, music — extrakorea @ 2:07 pm

After massacring the English language through Konglish, K-pop is evidently moving onto other languages, since a boy band named ZE:A (no, I don’t know how it’s pronounced either) sings a song called “Mazeltov.”

I just threw up my bagels and shmeer. Those schmucks have some chutzpah to sing schlock like that. Oy vey.

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4 Comments »

  1. Can someone explain to me the hang-up or obsession (whatever it is) that people have about using foreign language in media? I’m not trying to bash anyone, but Brian (who is a good guy; I’m not trying to bash him) is obsessed about this.

    At least these folks are trying. If they’re not perfect, should they just give up? Doing things in English makes things a little more “universal.”

    And I just got done watching some very badly rendered Korean both from Jim Carrey in “Yes Man” and from the Jacob character in “Lost” (not to mention some of the Korean-American actors in bit parts on the show, too) and, well, that forced me to cut them some slack.

    Please excuse the insomnia-generated 5 a.m. rant. Cheers!

    Comment by kushibo — February 18, 2010 @ 3:23 pm

    • First of all, the post was tongue-in-cheek. If the overdose of Yiddish didn’t make that clear, then maybe the final link that I’ve just added might help.

      Can someone explain to me the hang-up or obsession (whatever it is) that people have about using foreign language in media? I’m not trying to bash anyone, but Brian (who is a good guy; I’m not trying to bash him) is obsessed about this.

      I think it’s unfair to characterize it as an “obsession” or “hang-up.” Brian is an English language teacher, so he notices/is concerned about it. It’s sort of like how a dentist might be annoyed with the way that most people don’t brush and floss properly.

      At least these folks are trying.

      But they’re not trying. These large music companies have people who speak English well. Some even have expatriate employees (e.g. the dance trainers/choreographers for SM and YG Entertainment). It would be very easy to have someone look over their broken Konglish before they record it, but they don’t. They simply don’t care how they sound to non-Koreans because that’s not their intended audience.

      If they’re not perfect, should they just give up?

      We’re not talking about a missing article or using a singular instead of a plural. Look and listen to the lyrics of Rainbow’s “Gossip Girl.” Atrocious. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Look at Tae-yang’s “Wedding Dress.” and, especially, “Where U At”. The grammar and vocabulary are good, and the pronunciation is perfect. According to his wikipedia biography, he’s not a kyopo nor has he ever lived abroad. This is what they could accomplish if they were really trying.

      Doing things in English makes things a little more “universal.”

      No, they’re doing it strictly for the domestic audience. They do it to show off, a kind of linguistic bling-bling. It’s kind of like how Americans liked to show off what little French they could speak, before the French became traitorous cheese-eating surrender monkeys (“freedom fries” and “freedom toast”).

      So why would it bother people like him? English teachers in Korea are already swimming against the current in our efforts to show that English is a means of communication, not a bunch of math-like formulas and isolated vocabulary bits to be rote-memorized for the sole purpose of doing well on a test. The way Korean celebrities carelessly toss it around in an effort to impress other people, or treat it like a joke, make things more difficult for us.

      Brian expressed it very well here:

      Yes, I know it’s entertainment and not a test, and that pointing out their mistakes makes me look like a crotchety old English guy. But, if a singer—whether Hyori or the Wondergulls, or Jewelry, or whomever—wants to use English to market themselves and make themselves look sophisticated and hip, I don’t think it’s that out of line to point out that their efforts have the opposite effect on those who actually use the language. Language ownership is a heady issue, and one way over mine, but I don’t see anything wrong with showing a little pride and being a little protective. It’s wrong to shake your head and sigh at a student struggling with pronunciation, or to stubbornly insist there’s one “right” way to use English, but when a singer or marketing team decides to push it into popular culture and shamelessly profit off it, they become fair game.

      Kushibo wrote:

      And I just got done watching some very badly rendered Korean both from Jim Carrey in “Yes Man” and from the Jacob character in “Lost” (not to mention some of the Korean-American actors in bit parts on the show, too) and, well, that forced me to cut them some slack.

      By “very badly rendered” I think that you’re referring strictly to their pronunciation, which is very difficult for adult learners to master. I’m sure that they had a Korean speaker look over the dialogue for errors in grammar or vocabulary use.

      Comment by extrakorea — February 19, 2010 @ 2:27 am

  2. extra Korea wrote:
    No, they’re doing it strictly for the domestic audience. They do it to show off, a kind of linguistic bling-bling. It’s kind of like how Americans liked to show off what little French they could speak, before the French became traitorous cheese-eating surrender monkeys (“freedom fries” and “freedom toast”).

    I don’t have much of a quibble with anything you wrote, except for this. I know from directly discussing this with people in the music industry — which supports what I’d earlier read about the music industry in Asia — that it is not at all “strictly for the domestic audience.”

    K-pop and other Korean pop culture spreads out of the country to the rest of East Asia, from Japan to the east to the Sinophonic world, to Indonesia, Malaysia, and points beyond. In all those places, the elite and the young generally have exposure to English — much more than Korean — so sticking in English words, even if pronounced badly or grammatically awkward, does make their music more accessible to the rest of East Asia. That is very much on the minds of the producers of the music.

    It’s by no means mainly to show off to the Korean audience. In fact, many Korean performers quite dread having to do it because they know that the Korean netizens will scrutinize their “bad English.”

    Comment by kushibo — February 19, 2010 @ 2:42 am

    • And I don’t have much of quibble with what you wrote. I would only add that the music companies are not all the same. Tae-yang’s company, YG Entertainment, clearly takes it very seriously. Between the four of them, the members of 2NE1 can speak six languages: English, French, Tagalog, Japanese, Chinese, and of course Korean.

      However, for some other companies, it’s just perfunctory window dressing.

      Comment by extrakorea — February 19, 2010 @ 3:09 am


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