Stop Writing Songs in English

During the 5 years I was learning Japanese, I listened to a good number of Japanese music. Through the songs, I picked up a lot of vocabulary outside what was taught in class and learnt the readings of many kanji characters in karaoke. While lyrics are a tad different from normal speech and writing (in fact, they are a higher level of literary form of art), they taught me a lot on Japanese grammar and phrases. That played a big part in my learning given that I loved music as much, if not more than languages.

While I was teaching in Aichi, I’ve seen my share of students copying song lyrics in English and looking up dictionaries on what they mean. Many of those songs were unfortunately written in poor grammar and some were so meaningless, they put a post-modernist text generator to shame.

I always wondered from where the lyricists got the confidence to include English phrases in the songs. Dig up any Chinese or English songs with foreign use of language, you can be guaranteed it’s simple enough to be grammatically sound. Phrases that are as simple as “I love you.” But that is unfortunately not the case for Japanese songs, which I think is a problem for fans trying to learn the language from their lyrics.

絢香’s 三日月 has “no more cry” in its lyrics, Luna Sea’s Storm has “kiss me in the stormy,” Sexy Zone’s Real Sexy has “listen to my behind story.” If the nation really wants to do better in English, they should hire professionals to proofread the English. If not, the poor English will just proliferate as sound use of the language.


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