LINGUIST List 32.1403

Tue Apr 20 2021

Disc: Code-Switching in Context: English in Korean Hip Hop

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 29-Mar-2021
From: Valentina Saavedra <>
Subject: Code-Switching in Context: English in Korean Hip Hop
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Code-switching, the practice of alternating between two or more languages, has become a popular topic of study and discussion, focusing mostly on spontaneous and organic instances of code-switching. However, one sub-group in this massive topic that deserves more attention is the instances when switching from one language to another is planned and intentional. This is seen specifically in music, where artists often change languages in their lyrics for specific purposes.
Korean popular music, or K-POP, and Korean hip hop, or K-HIPHOP, commonly employs code-switching. Going from Korean to English is a premeditated act that is not done without purpose. I will explore the reasons for the movement from the Korean language to the English language, and vice-versa, as well as exploring Korean hip hop’s relationship with subculture and authenticity. I plan on analyzing the origins of Korean hip hop music and the evolution of the genre through the lyrics from the hip hop group DynamicDuo, which was both popular at the inception of Korean hip hop and continues to be popular present day (2020).
I will be doing this by studying the lyrics of songs from their first album “My World” and “Ring My Bell”, and songs from their most recent releases, “Blue” and “How You Doin?”. I also plan on analyzing one specific Korean Hip Hop artist named Sik-k, who code-switches frequently in his music. I will be doing this by studying lyrics to some of his most popular songs, including “Somebody Else” and “Ring Ring.”
Through this analysis, I would like to emphasize three facets of code-switching in Korean hip hop. First, code-switching in Korean hip hop is fundamentally different from how code-switching is used in KPOP. Second, the functions that code-switching serve are more complex and intertwined than previous scholars have alluded. Third, code-switching patterns in this genre has changed over time, which in turn has changed the meanings English lyrics carry in the music.

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics

Subject Language(s): Korean (kor)

Page Updated: 20-Apr-2021