Poll: Do you have a hard time fully understanding the meaning of song lyrics in your source language(s)?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 16:19
SITE STAFF
Jan 23, 2016

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you have a hard time fully understanding the meaning of song lyrics in your source language(s)?".

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 00:19
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes, sometimes! Jan 23, 2016

Mostly English songs full of innuendos, double entendres or words that I can't grasp the meaning and intention, but the same doesn't happen with French, Spanish or Italian songs. Are they more literal? I wonder...

 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:19
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Not only the words in my source languages ... Jan 23, 2016

In some cases, I have a hard time understanding the "lyrics" of songs in my native language too. Do today's songs even have "lyrics"? Bring back Cole Porter, I say.

 

EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:19
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
I don't listen Jan 23, 2016

to any music, in any language.

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes, sometimes Jan 23, 2016

I don't listen to so much music in other languages, but even in my own native English lyrics can be hard to get. Mondegreens abound.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondegreen


 

Roni_S  Identity Verified
Slovakia
Local time: 01:19
Slovak to English
Mondegreen Jan 23, 2016

'Flies in the vaseline' by the Eagles, and pretty much any rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody sung by my friends when we were teenagers.

 

Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:19
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Sometimes... Jan 23, 2016

neilmac wrote:

I don't listen to so much music in other languages, but even in my own native English lyrics can be hard to get. Mondegreens abound.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondegreen


... and since English is my second language, even more so. Too many accents, regionalisms, slang, etc.

EvaVer wrote:

to any music, in any language.


My sincere condolences. Do you like cats?


 

M. Anna Kańduła  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:19
English to Polish
Sometimes Jan 23, 2016

The same applies to my target language. They mumble in some songs, so it's hard to recognise words.

 

Marcus Malabad  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:19
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
challenge Jan 23, 2016

French and German rap anyone? Oh wait, is that music?icon_smile.gif

 

Kristina Cosumano  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:19
Member (2015)
German to English
Not always in my native language either, Jan 23, 2016

but I'm not going to blame rock music. Classical song and opera, for example, gets harder to understand as the pitch goes up. So you may understand the tenor fine but the high high soprano isn't going to be much understood once she starts approaching high C. It's not her fault.

Oh, you meant songs on the radio.icon_wink.gif

There are lists of phrases from rock songs that are often "heard wrong" ("'Scuse me while I kiss this guy" comes to mind, but many of you may not know that particular song...)


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 01:19
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Yes, in all languages Jan 23, 2016

Sometimes I discover that they were gibberish anyway. One of my earliest aversions was:

Deck the halls with boughs of holly
Fa la la la la la la la la la...

and there was a harum scarum diddlum darum, whipsey diddley dandy dee
which I hated from my earliest childhood.

In all languages I know there are plenty of so-called lyrics where I can pick out the words, but still have trouble with understanding the meaning, or it sounds like baby language... There doesn't seem to be any meaning apart from an inarticulate feeling.
The rhyme takes precedence, apparently, and then fitting it into the tune. I suppose for some people the rhythm and music say it all, or practically all, and the words don't matter. Being somewhat unmusical, I am left with the words...

I try to avoid listening to that kind of thing. There is plenty of music without words, which I prefer, or GOOD poetry with or without music. Call me a snob if you like, but that is my personal opinion.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:19
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
don't know Jan 23, 2016

I do understand some but obviously not enough, I was recently berated at a party for doing my own thing on the dance floor instead of following the instructions in the song.

This particular song is a French party staple but really not to my taste (I caught the reference to Jimi, thanks Kristina, and that's "my" era even though I wasn't old enough to appreciate it at the time) and I have never paid any attention to the lyrics in over 30 years in France. So then I did, and was quite amazed to understand them. I probably didn't understand first time I heard the song and have just tuned the lyrics out ever since. Can't say I was missing much actually.


 


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