Translators: Psy Didn't Really Say 'Kill Those Yankees'

Bad translation fuels controversy

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 11, 2012 3:48 PM CST

(Newser) – If you've had trouble enjoying "Gangnam Style" ever since hearing that Psy once urged people to kill Americans, well, we've got some good news. It looks like the lyrics to "Dear American"—which was a cover from a band called NEXT—may have been grossly mistranslated. Initial reports indicated that Psy had sung:

Kill those—Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives
Kill those—Yankees who ordered them to torture
Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law, and fathers
Kill them all slowly and painfully

But the Washington Post asked a number of translators to take a crack at the song, and got very different results. One example:

All the—Yankees torturing Iraqis
All those—Yankees who ordered the torturing
Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers
Kill them very slowly and painfully


The others were much the same—none included the word "kill" in the first two lines. "There is a bit of ambiguity," one translator said, over whether the other two lines refer to Americans or Iraqis. Of course, the song is still clearly anti-American, even if it's not murderous. Indeed, translators say that the word translated as "Yankee" is a pretty ugly slur; one called it a racist "epithet" most closely meaning "foreign barbarian."

Psy gestures to the crowd following his performance on the second night of KIIS FM's Jingle Ball at Nokia Theatre LA Live on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
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