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Nowadays, every country all over the world always develops in many
fields: economy, politics, society, culture, education. All these fields are very
important, and so is the culture. Entertainment is one of indispensable fields
of culture. And music plays an important role in our life.
In fact, music becomes more and more important and exciting in
society. It makes us feel better when we are in stress, makes us feel relax and
comfortable when we get troubles. It makes us love it whenever and
wherever, no matter who you are and no matter how old you are. It attracts us
to its beautiful rhythms. Besides, the lyrics are also attractive. The lyrics also
make an influence on our conceptions of life, on our life-styles, especially on
the youth. Music attributes to make the quality of life. And lyric translation
has become more and more be fond of. Because people not only enjoy the
rhythms of the songs, but also have a tendency to search the lyrics to
understand the meanings of the songs which they like. Moreover, we will
understand the messages of each song whose musician wanted to express.

de_tai_a_study_on_difficulties_in_translating_lyrics_of_some

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BỘ GIÁO DỤC VÀ ĐÀO TẠO
TRƯỜNG ĐẠI HỌC DÂN LẬP HẢI PHÒNG
——————————-
ISO 9001 : 2008
KHÓA LUẬN TỐT NGHIỆP
NGÀNH: NGOẠI NGỮ
HẢI PHÒNG – 2010
2
HAIPHONG PRIVATE UNIVESITY
FOREIGN LANGUAGES DEPARTMENT
———————————–
GRADUATION PAPER
A STUDY ON DIFFICULTIES IN TRANSLATING
LYRICS OF SOME ENGLISH SONGS
By:
Ngô Bích Thùy
Class:
Na1001
Supervisor:
Hoàng Thị Bảy, M.A
HAI PHONG – 2010
3
BỘ GIÁO DỤC VÀ ĐÀO TẠO
TRƯỜNG ĐẠI HỌC DÂN LẬP HẢI PHÒNG
————————————–
Nhiệm vụ đề tài tốt nghiệp
Sinh viên:……………………………………………………Mãsố:……………………….
Lớp:………………………..Ngành:…………………………………………………………
Tên đề tài: …………………………………………………………………………………….
………………………………………………………………………………….
………………………………………………………………………………….
………………………………………………………………………………….
4
Nhiệm vụ đề tài
1. Nội dung và các yêu cầu cần giải quyết trong nhiệm vụ đề tài tốt
nghiệp
( về lý luận, thực tiễn, các số liệu cần tính toán và các bản vẽ).
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
2. Các số liệu cần thiết để thiết kế, tính toán.
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
3. Địa điểm thực tập tốt nghiệp.
..
..
..
5
CÁN BỘ HƯỚNG DẪN ĐỀ TÀI
Người hướng dẫn thứ nhất:
Họ và tên:…………………………………………………………………………………
Học hàm, học vị:………………………………………………………………………..
Cơ quan công tác:………………………………………………………………………
Nội dung hướng dẫn:………………………………………………………………….
Người hướng dẫn thứ hai:
Họ và tên:…………………………………………………………………………………
Học hàm, học vị:………………………………………………………………………..
Cơ quan công tác:………………………………………………………………………
Nội dung hướng dẫn:………………………………………………………………….
Đề tài tốt nghiệp được giao ngày 12 tháng 04 năm 2010
Yêu cầu phải hoàn thành xong trước ngày 10 tháng 07 năm 2010
Đã nhận nhiệm vụ ĐTTN Đã giao nhiệm vụ ĐTTN
Sinh viên Người hướng dẫn
Hải Phòng, ngày tháng năm 2010
HIỆU TRƯỞNG
GS.TS.NGƯT Trần Hữu Nghị
6
PHẦN NHẬN XÉT TÓM TẮT CỦA CÁN BỘ HƯỚNG DẪN
1. Tinh thần thái độ của sinh viên trong quá trình làm đề tài tốt
nghiệp:
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
2. Đánh giá chất lượng của khóa luận (so với nội dung yêu cầu đã đề ra
trong nhiệm vụ Đ.T. T.N trên các mặt lý luận, thực tiễn, tính toán số
liệu):
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
3. Cho điểm của cán bộ hướng dẫn (ghi bằng cả số và chữ):
..
..
..
Hải Phòng, ngày .. tháng .. năm 2010
Cán bộ hướng dẫn
(họ tên và chữ ký)
7
NHẬN XÉT ĐÁNH GIÁ
CỦA NGƯỜI CHẤM PHẢN BIỆN ĐỀ TÀI TỐT NGHIỆP
1. Đánh giá chất lượng đề tài tốt nghiệp về các mặt thu thập và phân tích tài
liệu, số liệu ban đầu, giá trị lí luận và thực tiễn của đề tài.
2. Cho điểm của người chấm phản biện :
(Điểm ghi bằng số và chữ)
Ngày………. tháng……… năm 2010
Người chấm phản biện
8
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
First of all, I would like to express my deep gratitude to all teachers at
Foreign Languages Department of Hai Phong Private University for creating
good condition for me to conduct this study.
To be a final student of Hai Phong Private University, I am trying my
best as well as improving the knowledge to write this graduation paper and
help to bring fame to my University that I am learning and studying.
I would like to extend my special gratitude to Ms Hoang Thi Bay, M.A
– my supervisor who has generously given me valuable assistance and
guidance during the studying period and preparation of this graduation paper.
Student
Ngo Bich Thuy
9
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART I: INTRODUCTION ……………….. 1
1. Rationale of the study………………….. 1
2. Scope of the study.. ………………. 2
3. Methods of the study. ………………. 2
4. Aim of the study ……………….. 3
5. Design of the study ………………. 4
PART II: DEVELOPMENT. …………………. 5
Chapter I: Theoretical background. …………………. 5
I.1: Lyrics. ………… 5
I.1.1: What is lyrics. ……… 5
I.1.2: The meaning of lyrics ……… 6
I.1.3: Languages in the lyrics. ……… 7
I.2: Translation. ……….. 7
I.2.1: What is translation. ………… 9
I.2.2: Kinds of translation.. ………… 12
I.2.3: Strategies for translators. …………. 15
Chapter II: Types of lyrics and their popular words and expressions ………. 19
II.1: Types of lyrics. …………………… 19
II.1.1: Emotional, Romantic and Hopeful ……………… 19
II.1.2: Practical and critical… ……………… 20
II.1.3: Unhealthy and sexual stimulated …………….. 23
II.2: Some popular words and phrases in English songs.. ………………. 24
10
II.2.1: Words……………… 24
II.2.2: Phrases.. ……………… 24
Chapter III: Difficulties for translators in understanding and feeling the
original / source lyrics ………………………………… 26
III.1: LIMITED VOCABULARY.. ……………….. 26
III.2: CULTURAL DIFFERENCES. ………………… 30
III.2.1: Difficulty with set expressions… ……………… 30
III.2.2: Difficulty at collective noun… ……………… 33
III.3: DIFFICULTY IN TRANSLATING SLANGS AND IDIOMS .. 35
III.3.1: Difficulty in translating slang ……………………………….. 35
III.3.2: Difficulty in translating idioms…………………. …………….. 38
PART III: CONCLUSION ……………….. 43
III.1. Summary of the study. ……… 43
III.2. Suggestions for further research… ………. 44
PART I: INTRODUCTION
1. Rationale of the study
Nowadays, every country all over the world always develops in many
fields: economy, politics, society, culture, education. All these fields are very
important, and so is the culture. Entertainment is one of indispensable fields
of culture. And music plays an important role in our life.
In fact, music becomes more and more important and exciting in
society. It makes us feel better when we are in stress, makes us feel relax and
comfortable when we get troubles. It makes us love it whenever and
wherever, no matter who you are and no matter how old you are. It attracts us
to its beautiful rhythms. Besides, the lyrics are also attractive. The lyrics also
make an influence on our conceptions of life, on our life-styles, especially on
the youth. Music attributes to make the quality of life. And lyric translation
has become more and more be fond of. Because people not only enjoy the
rhythms of the songs, but also have a tendency to search the lyrics to
understand the meanings of the songs which they like. Moreover, we will
understand the messages of each song whose musician wanted to express.
When you want to translate lyrics, it is necessary for you to translate it
correctly and understand it in the right way. So that is why I choose this title for
my study. However, this topic is worth researching because of its modern and
fashion in lyrics in some hot kinds of music recently. The Pop songs have been
one of the most wanted kinds of music as all of contents are almost about love.
The Hip-hop songs have been risen in almost countries in the world with
especially rhythms and exciting contents and linguistics and so forth.
My study is unavoidably not adequate to; however, I hope it can be a
useful material and interest readers somehow and they would find it helpful.
2. Scope of the study
There are many kinds of music: Pop, Hip-hop, Rⁿ B, Rock, Jazz, etc.
It is likely that each kind of music is suitable for each kind of different
2
listeners.
And in English songs, their linguistics features which are expressed in
that are abundant for study. Due to limitation of time, sources and knowledge
experience, my study only focus on some hot kinds of music which are
popular with almost people, especially the youth. It is Pop, Hip-hop and Rⁿ B
music.
As far as we know, the youth are very important class in society. That
is the future of country. Therefore, what the youth are doing, listening, seeing,
learning is very important. Moreover, the influence of some hot kinds music
such like Pop, Hip-hop and Rⁿ B music is very large.
There will be many Pop, Hip-hop and Rⁿ B songs which are mentioned
to be examples for studying, and these are almost songs in vogue. And
because of those favorite songs, we will see the trend of the youth in listening
music.
3. Methods of the study
To study successfully and effectively in my studying process, the
methods of this study are information collection and analysis, personal
observation and assessment.
Reference from methodology documents and websites are studied to
establish the theoretical background.
Based on my experience of learning English as a student and help from
my teachers and friends, the objectives of this paper have been successfully
achieved.
The study will show some favorite Pop, Hip-hop and Rⁿ B songs and
find out some words, or phrases which are used popular in almost those songs
and all of them have many different meanings. So, to translate those words,
phrases, we have to put them in the right text in the song. The method which
is used in this research is regarded to be the correctly, fast, convenient and
3
effectively in research. We can pick up only a word, some words, a phrase or
even a sentence to analyze. Then we classify them to determine what kind of
each. So we find out its meanings including all its literal meanings and
metaphor meanings. Besides, we can see that there is no better way than
looking straight to the words which are written in lyrics because each word
has own expression and meaning.
4. Aim of the study
For the above-mentioned reasons, this paper mainly focuses on
linguistics in some songs lyrics, especially its ways of being expressed and
felt in lyrics. Following this trend, the study will serve some purposes.
Firstly, it will provide readers with the concept of lyrics, the meaning
of it and the languages in the lyrics.
Secondly, it will provide readers with some parts of some lyrics which
contain the common trends of writing lyrics.
Lastly, it will raise some difficulties in understanding the lyrics and
suggested solutions.
As far as we know, a song is firstly fond of because of its rhythms, so
what about its meaning?
The youth are important class in society. They are growing and
developing and they easily except and are influenced on something which
attract them. So that, a song which has good or bad meanings easily makes an
influence on them. Therefore, to translate lyrics correctly and exactly is very
important and necessary. Due to from then, the youth will have right
conception about the meanings of their favorite songs, and they will know
how to except the lyrics which have good and healthy meanings, and direct to
a peaceful life and developed society.
Besides, the study will show some difficulties in translating correctly
and exactly some words or phrases which have many different meanings in
4
other different texts. From then, it helps translators as well as the youth can do
the translation the lyrics well.
5. Design of the study
This research is divided into three parts.
Part I: Introduction, include rationale of the study, scopes of the study,
methods of the study, aims of the study and design of the study.
Part II: Development with three chapters:
Chapter I: Theoretical background dealing with theory of lyrics and
translation.
Chapter II: Types of lyrics and their popular words and expressions.
Chapter III: Difficulties for translators in understanding and feeling the
original / source lyrics.
Part III: Conclusion which summarizes the study, experiences acquired and
states the orientation for further study.
5
PART II: DEVELOPMENT
Chapter I: Theoretical background
I.1: Lyrics
I.1.1: What is a lyric
Lyrics (in singular form Lyric) are a set of words that make up a song.
The writer of lyrics is a lyricist or lyrist. Lyrics are the words that are sung by
characters in a musical.
The word lyric came to be used for the “words of a song”; this meaning
was recorded in 1876. The common plural (perhaps because of the association
between the plurals lyrics and words), predominates contemporary usage. Use
of the singular form lyric remains grammatically acceptable, yet remains
considered erroneous in referring to a singular song word as a lyric.
Lyric derives from the Greek word lyrikos, meaning “singing to the
lyre”. A lyric poem is one that expresses a subjective, personal point of view.
Beside that, there are also many other definitions of Lyric.
Expressing deep emotion; “the dancer’s lyrical performance”
Used of a singer or singing voice that is light in volume and modest in
range; “a lyric soprano”
The text of a popular song or musical-comedy number; “his
compositions always started with the lyrics”; “he wrote both words and
music”; “the song uses colloquial language”
Relating to or being musical drama; “the lyric stage”
Write lyrics for (a song)
A short poem of songlike quality
Of or relating to a category of poetry that expresses emotion (often in a
songlike way); “lyric poetry”
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Lyrically – in a lyrical manner; “she danced the part of the Black Swan
very lyrically”
Lyrics (in singular form Lyric) are a set of words that make up a song.
The writer of lyrics is a lyricist or lyrist.
Lyrics – The words to a song
Lyrically – In a manner that is pleasing to hear, as singing
A poem, such as a sonnet or an ode that expresses the thoughts and
feelings of the poet. A lyric poem may resemble a song in form or
style.
Lyrics – Mild references to profanity, sexuality, violence, alcohol or
drug use in music
1. n. a song accompanied by a lyre in ancient Greece; 2. n. any short
poem such as an elegy, an ode or a sonnet, expressing a state of mind
involving thought and feeling; 3. lyrics, pl. the words of a song.
I.1.2: The meaning of Lyrics
The meaning of lyrics can either be explicit or implicit. Some lyrics are
abstract, almost unintelligible, and, in such cases, their explication
emphasizes form, articulation, meter, and symmetry of expression. The
lyricist of traditional musical forms such as Opera is as a librettist .
Lyrics can be studied from an academic perspective. For example,
some lyrics can be considered a form of social commentary. Lyrics often
contain political, social and economic themes as well as aesthetic elements,
and so can connote messages which are culturally significant. Lyrics can also
be analyzed with respect to the sense of unity (or lack of unity) it has with its
supporting music. Analysis which based on tonality and contrast are particular
examples.
Lyric is also a type of brief poem that expresses the personal emotions
and thoughts of a single speaker. It is important to realize, however, that
7
although the lyric is uttered in the first person, the speaker is not necessarily
the poet. There are many varieties of lyric poetry, including the dramatic
monologue, elegy, haiku, ode, and sonnet forms. Lyrics can be studied from
an academic perspective. For example, some lyrics can be considered a form
of social commentary. Lyrics often contain political, social and economic
themes as well as aesthetic elements, and so can connote messages which are
culturally significant. These messages can either be explicit or implied
through metaphor or symbolism. Lyrics can also be analyzed with respect to
the sense of unity (or lack of unity) it has with its supporting music. Analysis
based on tonality and contrast is a particular example.
I.1.3: Languages in the Lyrics
The word lyric came to be used for the “words of a song”; this meaning
was recorded in 1876. The common plural (perhaps because of the association
between the plurals lyrics and words), predominates contemporary usage. Use
of the singular form lyric remains grammatically acceptable, yet remains
considered erroneous in referring to a singular song word as a lyric.
Lyric derives from the Greek word lyrikos, meaning “singing to the
lyre”. A lyric poem is one that expresses a subjective, personal point of view.
I.2: Translation
Every translation activity has one or more specific purposes and
whichever they may be, translation is mainly to serve as a cross-cultural
bilingual communication vehicle among people. This activity, in the past few
decades, has developed because of rising international trade, increasing
migration, globalization, the recognition of linguistics minorities, and the
expansion of the mass media and technology. For this reason, the translator
plays an important role as a bilingual cross-cultural transmitter of facts and
culture by attempting to interpret concepts and speech in a variety of texts as
faithfully and accurately as possible.
Commonly, translation is understood as a transfer process from a
8
foreign language to mother tongue. However, market requirements are
increasingly demanding that translators transfer texts to a target language that
is not their mother tongue, but a foreign language.
Since translation is, above all, an activity that aims at conveying
meaning or meanings of a given-linguistic discourse from one language to
another, rather than the words or grammatical structures of the original, we
should look briefly at the most significant and recent developments in the
field of study of “meaning”, or semantics. The interest here lies in the
shift/change of emphasis from referential or dictionary meaning to contextual
and pragmatic meaning. Such a shift represents a significant development,
particularly relevant to translation, and to communicative approach to
translation. However, with the aim at being conducted in synchronization and
harmony with the language learning in the curriculum as well as with the
objectives of the course of the term, at this early stage of translation theory a
look at the “Meaning of Words in Translation” is supposed to be of an
appropriateness.
The meaning of a given word or set of words is best understood as the
contribution that word or phrase can make to the meaning or function of the
whole sentence or linguistic utterance where that word or phrase occurs. The
meaning of a given word is governed not only by the external object or idea
that particular word is supposed to refer to, but also by the use of that
particular word or phrase in a particular way, in a particular context, and to a
particular effect.
Through experience we have learnt that the penalty of wrong
translations can be ruinous. Just think of what could happen in cases of
serious in adequacy in knowledge areas such as science, medicine, legal
matters, or technology. There must be thousands of examples. It is quite
clearly that a poor translation can not only lead to laughter or to confusion,
but it can also be a matter of life and de

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