Wednesday, 6 February 2013

SNSD - "Oh!" Japanese vs Korean lyrics comparison


Ever since SNSD/So Nyeo Shi Dae/Shoujo Jidai/Girls' Generation started releasing songs in Japanese, I've been kind of wondering how they were translated. Did the writers try to keep it literal, or were they more concerned with retaining the general feeling? Did they adjust for audience expectations? So, just for fun, let's have a little comparison. I picked “Oh!” because its Japanese is the least atrocious.

First of all, check out this video:

(If the link breaks, just YouTube search “snsd oh korean japanese.” There's a few of them.)

It's a video of the two songs synced, with each version separately relegated to one speaker. Pretty cool, eh? Although a little distracting. If you read both Korean and Japanese, maybe listen to it while reading the following chart. Let me know how that goes for you if you decide to try. Input overload. The Korean lyrics and translation come from here, the Japanese lyrics come from this video, and the Japanese translation is my own.

전에 알던 내가 아냐 Brand New Sound
I’m not the girl you used to know, Brand New Sound
少女の笑顔で Brand New Sound
A young girl's smiling face, Brand New Sound
새로워진 나와 함께 One More Round
Do Something with the new me for One More Round
世界が回って One More Round
The world turns, One More Round
Dance dance dance 'til we run this town
Dance dance dance 'til we run this town
오빠 오빠 I’ll be I’ll be Down Down Down Down
Oppa oppa I'll be I'll be Down Down Down Down
オッパオッパ I'll be I'll be down down down down
Oppa oppa I'll be I'll be down down down down




오빠 나좀 봐 나를 좀 바라봐
Oppa, look at me; just look at me!
大人には割りとなれない
I can't quite become like an adult
처음 이야 이런 내 말투 Ha!
This is the first time I’m talking like this, Ha.
それがいいよね、マイブーム Ha!
That's just fine with me, Ha.
머리도 하고 화장도 했는데
I did my hair and even my makeup too.
メイクして心弾む
I did my makeup and enlivened my heart.
왜 너만 나를 모르니
Why is it that you, you’re the only who doesn’t know?!
罠を掛けてダーリン
Catch me in your trap, darling.
두근 두근 가슴이 떨려와요
Thump, Thump; My heart is trembling.
次々ハードル有っても
Even if there are hurdles coming up
자꾸 자꾸 상상만 하는 걸요
Again and again, I keep imagining things.
ちょくちょくサクセス有るのよ
Now and then I'll have some success.
어떻게 하나 콧대 높던 내가
What should I do?
乙女だわ、胸の鐘が
I'm an innocent girl, the bell in my chest
말하고 싶어
With my head held high I want to say to you…
マッハァルゴッポ
malhago sipeo




Oh Oh Oh Oh 오빠를 사랑해
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oppa, I love you.
Oh Oh Oh Oh オッパルサランゲイ
Oh Oh Oh Oh oppareul saranghae
ah ah ah ah 많이 많이해
Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! A lot, A lot!
ah ah ah ah マニマニエイ
ah ah ah ah manhi manhihae
수줍으니 제발 웃지 마요
Please don’t laugh at me, I’m embarrassed.
すぐにどこか行っちゃうよ
I'm going to go somewhere right away.
진심 이니 놀리지도 말아요
It’s my real feelings, so please don’t make fun of me.
縮まらない距離やだよ
I can't deal with a distance that won't close
또 바보같은 말 뿐야
Again, I keep saying those silly words.
どうかどうか繋いで
Somehow, somehow, make a connection




전에 알던 내가 아냐 Brand New Sound
I’m not the girl you used to know, Brand New Sound
少女の笑顔で Brand New Sound
A young girl's smiling face, Brand New Sound
새로워진 나와 함께 One More Round
Do Something with the new me for One More Round
世界が回って One More Round
The world turns, One More Round
Dance Dance Dance 'til we run this town
Dance Dance Dance 'til we run this town
오빠 오빠 I’ll be I’ll be Down Down Down Down
Oppa oppa I'll be I'll be Down Down Down Down
オッパオッパ I'll be I'll be Down Down Down Down
Oppa Oppa I'll be I'll be Down Down Down Down




오빠 잠깐만 잠깐만 들어봐
Oppa, hold on. Hold on and listen to me.
お邪魔かな、ショックな現場
Am I intruding, this is where I'm shocked
자꾸한 얘기는 말고
Stop saying the words you keep saying.
彼女いるの? Oh my God!
You have a girlfriend? Oh my God!
동생으로만 생각하지는 말아
Don’t think of me as a younger sister.
どうせ今は恋人以下よ
At best, right now I'm less than a lover
일년뒤면 후회 할걸
In a year you’ll probably regret it.
いつもの事 to face
I want to face the way things are
몰라 몰라 내 맘은 전혀 몰라
You don’t know, really don’t know my heart.
無駄無駄電話をかけても
Even if I uselessly phone you
눈치없게 장난만 치는걸요
You have no sense and joke around too much.
打ち明けちゃダメ、散るわよ!
I can't speak honestly, I'll be scattered!
어떻게 하나 이 철없는 사람아
What should I do? You immature person,
乙女なら一度決めたら
Once an innocent girl makes up her mind,
들어봐 정말
Just listen to me!
ずっと待つの!
She'll wait forever.




Oh Oh Oh Oh 오빠를 사랑해
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oppa, I love you.
Oh Oh Oh Oh オッパルサランゲイ
Oh! Oh! Oh! oppareul saranghae
ah ah ah ah 많이 많이해
Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! A lot, A lot!
Ah ah ah ah マジマジで!
Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! A lot, A lot!
수줍으니 제발 웃지 마요
Please don’t laugh at me, I’m embarrassed.
すぐに好きって言っちゃいそう
I think I can't help but confess right now
진심 이니 놀리지도 말아요
It’s my real feelings, please don’t make fun of me.
縮まらない恋やだよ
I can't deal with a love that doesn't get closer.
또 그러면 난 울지도 몰라
If you do that again, I might cry.
ショックなハート打ち抜いて
Pierce my shocked heart




전에 알던 내가 아냐 Brand New Sound
I’m not the girl you used to know.
少女の寝顔を Brand New Sound
A young girl's sleeping face, Brand New Sound
뭔가 다른 오늘만은 뜨거운 난
Something’s different today, warm hearts.
見つめてお願い One More Night
Please look at me, One More Night
Down Down Mirage The Find Now
Down Down, don’t push, I’ll get angry.
Down Down 意地悪魔法は
Down Down, malicious magic
오빠 오빠 이대로는 NoNoNoNo
Oppa, oppa this right here, no no no no!
もたもたいらない NoNoNoNo
I don't want this slow stuff, no no no no!




Tell me boy boy love it it it it it it it ah!
Tell me boy boy love it it it it it it it ah!




Oh Oh Oh Oh 오빠를 사랑해
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oppa, I love you.
Oh Oh Oh Oh オッパルサランゲイ
Oh Oh Oh Oh oppareul saranghae
ah ah ah ah 많이 많이해
Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! A lot, A lot!
ah ah ah ah マニマニエイ
ah ah ah ah manhi manhihae
Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh 오빠를 사랑해
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oppa, I love you!
Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh オッパルサランゲイ
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! oppareul saranghae
ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah 많이 많이해
Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! A lot, a lot!
ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah マジマジで!
Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! A lot, a lot!




또 바보 같은 말뿐야 , oh~!
Again I keep saying those silly words, oh~!
どうか、どうか繋いで , oh~!
Somehow, somehow, make a connection, oh~!




Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah!
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah!
Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh 오빠를 사랑해
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oppa, I love you!
Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh オッパルサランゲイ
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! oppareul saranghae
ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah 많이 많이해
Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! A lot, a lot.
ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah マジマジで!
Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! A lot, a lot.
Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh 오빠를 사랑해
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oppa, I love you!
Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh オッパルサランゲイ
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! oppareul saranghae
ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah 많이 많이 Oh
Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! A lot, a lot, Oh!
ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah マジマジ Oh
Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! A lot, a lot, Oh!

It pretty much speaks for itself, so I'm not going to offer much commentary, but the main thing you'll immediately notice is that not only has the general flavour of the song seem to have survived, but some lines are nearly identical or work at similar angles. That's no surprise, since a) the everything apart from the lyrics is identical between the two versions, b) it's the same group and thus they require a consistency in branding, and c) at least a quarter of the lyrics are completely meaningless in any language, so this exercise was geared less towards the bigger picture and more towards the exact manner in which the song was brought over. And of course we're examining it in a third language, which just brings it to a whole other level. Like I said at the beginning: just for fun. What's weird to me is that, just by putting the English lyrics side by side, the Korean version actually seems far more direct and less cutesy and innocent than the Japanese, which is the exact opposite of what I would expect.

Incidentally, why do recording companies think that pop songs must be in the native language of the target audience to be successful, and are they right? (Raise your hands everybody who's heard of Nelly Furtado's Spanish-language work.) Why did “The Boys” disappear overnight but “Gangnam Style” is the most-watched YouTube video ever? Are Japan and Korea going to keep exchanging soft culture, or is this just a passing thing, and if it persists, is that going to start affecting public perception of the opposing countries in question?

I don't have any answers, I just find it really interesting to see the same song wearing different clothes.





Translation notes

If I've messed something up, by all means let me know in the comments. I don't do this a lot. Please be kind.

大人には割りとなれない – this 「割となる」 business is something I've never encountered before and I couldn't find a satisfactory answer. Anybody care to explain it to me?
罠を掛けてダーリン – I feel like this is a dead-simple headscratcher here but I actually can't figure out who's being caught and who's doing the catching. Is she putting on her makeup and such as a trap to catch the guy, or to entice him to catch her?
いつもの事 to face – Wtf is this?
打ち明けちゃダメ、散るわよ! - The first half is easy: she can't speak her feelings honestly (because the guy has a girlfriend.) But the 散る complicates it. Who are what is being scattered? I take it to indicate her frustration with the whole situation.
乙女なら一度決めたら/ずっと待つの - I believe “maiden” is the go-to translation on this one, implying all the chastity and feminine beauty that implies, but it's a bit too literary here, so I went with “innocent girl.” I wasn't sure how to translate ずっと、since it really means something like “the whole period of time,” meaning she'll wait for as long as it takes, until he breaks up with his current girlfriend or acknowledges SNSD as his one true love or whatever, but I figured that the colloquialism “forever” would get the job done. Incidentally, I really like this line for some reason.
すぐに好きって言っちゃいそう – More literally, “I'm somewhat embarrassed or regretful to say that it seems as though I will very soon tell you 'I like you.'” But that didn't fit on one line.


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