As a Korean group with a global fanbase, BTS‘s international ARMY often relies on lyric translations and explanations to completely understand the group’s message. Suga sat down with Rolling Stone to discuss this language barrier and what he does to try and minimize this gap.
Suga revealed he’s no stranger to dealing with language barriers himself, especially as a young fan of Western music who relied heavily on music translations to understand the context.
When I was growing up, of course, I listened to American hip-hop and pop, and my English is not very good. So I read the lyrics and the translations of the lyrics.
A language barrier will never deter fans from loving music, however, Suga admits there’s often a degree of wordplay that only native speakers will immediately catch and understand.
Obviously, what native speakers of English may consider the key lines, the key verses, the punchlines, I really couldn’t understand them because of the intricacies of the language. And, I think, that’s an unavoidable part of the language barrier.
His solution? As someone who’s been on both sides of the equation, he tries to write balanced lyrics that appeal to all people regardless of their native language.
I think, it’s important to try to find a happy medium where people from both languages and cultures or other languages understand it. So we try to write lyrics sort of in the happy middle, that can be understood by people speaking other languages.
Additionally, Suga does what he can to lessen the gap by studying English.
And also, I’m studying English more and more, trying to get more familiar with it. So if we can get both Korean speakers and English speakers to understand the lyrics, that would be great. But again, that’s something I experience as well.
Check out more from BTS’s Rolling Stone interview below.