BTS Speaking English and Chinese: A Polyglot's Reaction
Hi there, Steve Kaufmann here. Today I'm going to talk about BTS the Korean K-pop group and how well they speak Chinese and English.
If you enjoy these videos, please subscribe, click on the bell to get notifications and by all means, join me at LingQ which is where I learn languages. So a friend said to me, do you know the Korean K-pop group BTS? And I said, no, never heard of them. So let's begin by giving you a brief, uh, you know, excerpt from one of their songs.
Which you can find all over the, the, uh, you know, YouTube, internet. They're apparently the number one selling a pop music group in the world it's just, uh, me being an old fogy, I'd never heard of them. Um, but so the friend said, can you sort of critique their Chinese in English? So I looked at this interview where they're speaking in Chinese and in English.
Oh, watch my face. Wow. Handsome every time, every morning. You know, my first reaction is that, that these guys are just great. You know, I've listened to some of their songs. Their music obviously is great. Their dance routines are great. I mean, they're very professional. They're very good at what they do, but their message is so positive. And their message is one of inclusiveness.
We're living in a world that is it's global, increasingly global. Whatever we may think about that. We may regret the fact that we're more global, but we're going to be increasingly global. There's more and more mutual influence affecting food and music. I mean, even this K-pop group, I mean, their music reflects influences from, from, uh, however many, however many continents from Africa, from Latin America, from North America, from, uh, Asia.
Uh, and, and so they are international. So, uh, and, and, um, so now getting to the subject of, of their use of language, uh, they, of course, haven't gone at the study of Chinese or English in terms of, uh, accumulating a lots of words. You know, my focus at LingQ always is to acquire many, many words so that I can read so that I can understand movies.
Uh their's is a more a lighthearted touch at these languages. But, by the same token, their music is an opportunity to learn Korean or even other languages. Uh, I looked at one of their videos on YouTube and, uh, they offer subtitles in a variety of languages. I, uh, for whatever reason, maybe YouTube knew that I'm learning Arabic.
The subtitles were there in Arabic. So I imported that into LingQ. So now I can go through their lyrics. Which are of course originally in Korean and English. And I can go through them in Arabic, uh, Eric of our, of LingQ he has on his blog, on the LingQ blog, gone into some detail on how to impart, uh, you know, these Korean songs with the lyrics into LingQ and then learn Korean from their music.
So these are the ways in which we can connect with. Um, You know, BTS, but their use of the languages that they spoke in this interview. Uh, and again, I'll have a link to that discussion, is quite different in approach. Their's is an expression of joy of happiness in using languages. And so they imitate a Chinese person or an English speaking person, uh, and they do so very well.
They pull it off. Uh it's it's meant... it's not meant to make fun of say Chinese speakers. But to me as a non-native speaker of Chinese, I thought they did it very well. The sort of intonation, the, the gestures and stuff. Uh, they capture that sort of essence by only speaking of very few words, the pronunciation was good.
And as I say, they were using real words. Um, sometimes people might imitate an Italian or a French man or a Chinese person, and just use non-words, nonsensical words. Or sometimes you'll hear people going, you know, imitating Chinese ..., which is just silly. Uh, whereas there, they were using a small number of words to sort of participate
in a, in a positive way in Chinese culture. And then they did the same with English. So a lot of, uh, you know, "how's it going?" type of, you know, casual. Now, obviously as a native speaker of English, I can hear their accent. I can hear where the words they used were not quite correct. It doesn't matter. It's done in a lighthearted way and therefore they pulled it off.
And, uh, I think that they represent something that's very positive. Uh, the message of inclusiveness that we're all connected. The, just the fact that they offer their videos with subtitles in so many different languages. And obviously the music is, is very popular. Uh, I don't have all the statistics at hand and by that I gather they won an award.
Uh, they have fans all over the world. Their videos are, you know, millions and millions of people viewing them. So, um, I just am glad that someone asked me to, um, you know, listened to their use of Chinese in English, uh, because you know, I then became aware of this phenomenon that I had not been aware of.
And, uh, you know, it's, it's sort of inline, I'm an older generation. I have a. Uh, call it a more serious approach to language learning. I struggle. I work hard to acquire more and more words. Uh, but these people are just enjoying. They obviously had fun being with Chinese people, being with American people, with Japanese people, they spoke some Japanese, they spoke some Thai and, uh, they just enjoy that sense of, of, of being together with people of different cultures, where to some extent we mix
these cultural influences. And at the same time we maintain what is valuable to us in our own culture. So everything about them having discovered them through this, you know, request from a friend to critique their, uh, their use of Chinese and English has, has introduced me to this phenomenon, which I think is extremely positive.
By the way my videos are also available on podcasts. So for those of you who are learning English, and don't want to spend the time watching a video, you should look into getting the podcast, uh, where, you know, transcripts are also available. Uh, and I think they're on Spotify and iTunes and so forth and so on.
So that's just a bit of a hint for those who, who use these, uh, to learn or to improve their English. Because anything that you can find that's interesting is going to help you in your language learning. Same with me with Korean. I have to admit that I've struggled with Korean. I've done Korean off and on at different times for six months here, six months there, I never really achieved the level that I would like to achieve.
Part of it is that when I started, we didn't have the many stories for Korean at LingQ, which we now do. And second of all, we weren't able to import material like the, uh, BTS songs into LingQ. Um, now it's a lot easier to do that. I can even impart, you know, podcasts that I can automatically transcribe. So if I were to go back to Korean, I would do better, but my Korean being as it is, uh, whatever I've been able to do in it, I enjoy.
And I'm going to end up here with the two videos that I would suggest you might want to have a look at. One is, uh, Eric on his blog posts. It's not my son, by the way, I have a son named Eric, but this is not Eric. He does a, um, a description of how to import K-pop or specifically BTS songs into link in order to improve your Korean.
And the other one is just for reference a conversation that I had with Hannah, who is Korean, uh, four years ago. And that was the last time I sort of had an online conversation in Korean and you'll see that I do struggle, but it's something that I'll go back to. So thank you for listening. Bye for now.