Which non-English singer is your favorite

3. Q. English or German?

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English or German ?
An interesting topic - and one that is discussed more controversially than almost any other when it comes to song lyrics. We assume here that your mother tongue is German - so English is a foreign language for you.

From our point of view, there is no definitive answer or solution that is right or equally satisfactory for everyone. It is therefore not a question of presenting a single decision that makes everyone happy, but of listing some typical statements and arguments as examples. Then you have to decide.

English is the only and true language for rock and popular music
Most of the texts that surround you today are in English. Whether pop, rock, hiphop or metal, not only the English bands, many German bands also sing in English.
English is simply the language of modern music.
Now it is certain that the international language is more English than German. But: is that an argument in favor of a punk band that at most plays in front of 300 German-speaking viewers? How many German bands have realistic prospects of a deal with an international label? And if you have that, there is also money to get yourself a decent translator for your own German texts.
And if you haven't noticed the new German wave, not the international successes of Kraftwerk, whom Udo Lindenberg, Ton Steine ​​Scherben, Nina Hagen and Spliff, Grönemeyer, the many good German groups that are successful and sing in German - starting with the doctors to Julimond or Rammstein or the many good German hip-hop and rappers - all of them mean nothing, he should take a look around and do a little smarter, to be honest. Of course the Scorpions sing in English as a German band - and that's their decision.
It's all about the argument that popular modern music can only exist in English. And that's definitely not true.
It is similar with the view that the German language is not suitable for rock, metal or generally popular, modern music. One thing is true: the English language is shorter. If you translate a German text into English, the English text is about a third shorter. This has its advantages, of course - but it also assumes that you really have a good command of the English language. Otherwise it may even be that the English text is just as long or longer - and even more boring and less accurate.
Otherwise, the above examples show that all modern music also works with German.
Finally, an argument that comes up again and again: When I sing "I love you" it just sounds "stupid" than when I sing "I love you" in English.
Yes and no. Yes - but only for German listeners. For everyone else, the sentence sounds just as banal in English. So this argument quickly turns into its opposite. Whoever does not stand by the content of his text should never use it as an argument to sing in English what is uninteresting and what he is not behind. It just doesn't get any better. Point. No - because the line “I love you” is also banal. It's about creating interesting texts that get to the point, convey a feeling and express what you want to express. No more and no less. Using another language to disguise the fact that you actually have nothing to say and that you are largely unable to express it might think you are on the safe side. In reality, he's only actually making it worse.
So if the reasons given are the only ones that move you to write in English instead of German, you should reconsider your decision.
German is the only and true language for German speakers
Well - for many prejudices it is true that your simple reversal does not lead to the truth either - as is the case here.
What speaks against doing it like the Scorpions or like groups that first landed a hit in Germany with a German text and then launched a version with an English text?
The only decisive factor is the quality of the music and the text - and not the language in which it is written and sung.
The argument of trueness

The next hole to fall into. Good: Rap and hip-hop, for example, originated in America, blues as well, rock and funk and soul too.
So it is only normal that the lyrics are initially in English. This is often linked to the feeling: real - i.e. true - texts for these musical genres have to be in English. That is just part of the attitude towards life.
Yes and no. The blues is an attitude towards life, perfectly clear. But a twenty-year-old German is also not a black man whose ancestors were enslaved, who is discriminated against because of his skin color and who has to get through life without a job, without money and without a wife - because he is black. Of course, even a twenty-year-old German can feel the blues within himself, live it and express it. But exactly this attitude towards life does not depend on the language. Either he has the blues or he doesn't. And when he has it, he can also sing it in German - if he wants. It should be clear that the blues are only used as an example here.
Trueness is not related to the language in which one sings. Either you share this attitude towards life - then you can adequately express it in any language. Or you don't share the attitude towards life - then even the English language doesn't help a bit.
Reasons that speak against writing in English
The reasons for writing texts in English have already been given and highlighted. But there are a number of reasons that speak against texting in English.
1. Anyone who is not absolutely confident in the English language will never be able to say and communicate that in English as he could in German.
2. Writing a good text in English if you are not familiar with the English language is more work than writing a good German text. If you can write an English text faster, you either have an excellent command of the English language - or it is not really a good text.
3. Anyone who does not know the English language really well or very well has the following disadvantages: a) the vocabulary is more limited than in German, b) grammatically you are dealing with a difficult field, c) everything that has style, metrics, Rhythm and, last but not least, the resonant meaning of words (connotation) can lead to quite a mined area.
That means: the possibilities to make mistakes and to elicit unwanted laughs are greater with a foreign language than with the mother tongue.
4. There are significant differences between British, American, and Australian English. There are also various slangs, proverbs and the like. Putting different types of English into one text is perceived by native English speakers as either annoying or amusing. It's like mixing High German expressions with Bavarian, Swabian and Saxon expressions in a German text.
5. Not only the text is in English. It is sung in English too. And if the singer has deficits here, not much is gained. In addition to a mediocre text, there is also a mediocre chant. Here, too, there are a number of faux pas that you can step into.

Interim conclusion
A) There are no fundamental arguments for or against German or English with regard to writing lyrics for songs.
B) Anyone who is not very familiar with English is naturally on more difficult terrain than if he or she writes in their mother tongue.
C) It is a question of taste and of your own decision which music in which language is better for your own ear, and whether a German or English text is better suited to your own music.

Be that as it may, if you have decided to write in English, we also have tips for you in the following:

As a German speaker, how do I write an English text

I. The start
Unfortunately, it does not work at all or very rarely to translate an existing German text into English.
English is just a different language, the grammar and many of the expressions cannot be translated word for word.

The collection of ideas can still be done in German, but the text must then be done in English.
So you need a certain level of English, which includes grammar, a basic set of vocabulary and some special English expressions.
Fluent English is not even necessary, but you have to adapt your text presentation to your level. After a few years of teaching English, you just can't write a lyrically sophisticated and perfect text. But in any case, write correct English.

It is also very easy to work at your own level of English, reading an English book or watching a DVD in English always brings you a little further.

II. Texts
The creative process of writing in English is of course no different from the German one, so you just have to go back to some creativity in the workshop.

This part of the workshop is only, well - almost only for the correctness of the English language and is intended to ensure that the English text does not sound like German with English words.

III. Choice of words.
A German / English dictionary is really suitable for the first phase of writing, the search for ideas. It's not about the exact implementation yet, just the rough framework. I can recommend three online dictionaries here.

is a very precise page with many entries that can handle both search directions. The advantage of this site is that for many of the same German words you get the different English words with a short explanation. You look for leak and get "leak out (liquid)", "coast down (departing ship)" and "level off (terrain)". Some of the other pages are a bit more imprecise, but this way you use the wrong word .

I also always recommend "cross-checking", ie looking for the English word in one dictionary and then using the result in another dictionary for the English word "opposing". Sometimes really wild things come out of it ...

the site is certainly known to everyone, but the tu-chemnitz site is my favorite because it has a little more entries and is a bit more precise than Leo.

If you are beyond the part of the collection of ideas, dictionaries are of little help. You are usually looking for an English expression that reproduces a certain word and just doesn't want to fit into the existing rhyme or beat.

An English rhyming dictionary helps you here,
probably the best and well-known online rhyming dictionary there.

Of course, rhyming lexicons only help to a certain extent. If you already have an idea but cannot find the right word in terms of rhyme and structure, I recommend a thesaurus, a book with synonyms and related words. the best online thesaurus is this one:

Words are one part, the other is grammar. Especially the times.
What happens in which order, do I only use a formulation because it sounds good or is it actually the right time? As in writing a German text, you have to decide beforehand what happens when.

I have a page for all questions about tenses, grammar in general, sentence structure but also vocabulary and expressions:
I like this site, don't be scared of the trendy young presentation, the site is really good.
The best is the forum, whoever reads this should appreciate the advantages of forums. There are English teachers and native speakers who can answer questions that you only know as an "Englishman". There is also a separate sub-forum for lyrics and jokes.

Making the text sound correct in English is surely the hardest part. This includes English proverbs or simple "synonyms" that you simply cannot translate into English / German. official name is "idiomatic phrases".
When I talk about my "Karre" in German, I mean my "ride" in English. Same slang meaning, completely different word when I translate it literally. the dictionaries above know most of the slang expressions, but language is so alive that it changes faster than the staff on these pages can type.
Then there is the fact that English differs from American, Irish from Australian and the whole thing then again differs depending on the area or region.

Based on British English, I can recommend this site again:

Of course, this list is not exhaustive and absolutely not representative. At this point, asking essentially helps, but unfortunately I can't think of anything else. Just check out the forum.

Of course there is a lot of swearing in all "underground" music styles. Even after an intensive search on the Internet, I have not found anything where the "rules" of English swearwords are discussed. To be honest - no wonder. I don't know for sure whether that should be part of this workshop. A lot is done wrong and the remaining F-word is placed in places where it does not fit. I would say do it like your role models ...

IV Learn from others
especially when you write in pictures or want to use certain lyrical expressions, just look at the others. Read a few English poems beforehand, read English texts at all, newspapers, magazins, books, listen to the songs of your role models. Many of the formulations are common images that are safe to use. You don't steal anything, they didn't make it up.

If you translate a well-known German linguistic image into English word for word, it can be an understandable comparison.