Code-Switching Habits of BTS

Sylvia Le, Lien Joy Campbell, Jose Orozco, Noah SS

Do you know BTS? – If you answered no, where have you been? In the past five years Korean pop music (K-pop) has undergone a global explosion. Built into the successful business model of K-pop is the central idea of English as a Lingua Franca. While several studies throughout the years have focused on code combinations in lyrics, our study addresses specifically code-switching in a less structured environment: interviews. We elected to focus on the “biggest boy band in the world” and, arguably, the most well-known and culturally recognizable act in the international K-pop industry, BTS. The central question driving us was: does code-switching correlate to the success of BTS? In this study, we focused on interviews from three parts of BTS’s career and analyzed them for the structure, type, and cause of code-switching, while also comparing the frequency to their album sales and streams. We found that while language as a tool for international growth may be tangible, it is perhaps not as productively used as we assumed.

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