According to the Urban Dictonary “buffalaxing” is a term which comes from a YouTube user named Buffalax who is famous for writing fake English lyrics to foreign songs which (to an English speaker who doesn’t understand the original language) sound like they could be the actual lyrics to the song. You can find this kind of thing by searching YouTube for “buffalax” or for “misheard lyrics.” Some of these are funnier than others, and many are simply offensive. The reason I bring it up is that buffalaxing is very popular in Taiwan, and I wanted to share a new music video which has some fun with this meme. But first some context…
Let’s start with two of the more famous songs which have been given misheard Chinese lyrics. The first is “Golimar” from the Telugu movie “Donga“:
To give you a sense of how this goes, the word “golimar” is translated as “幹你媽“ which is pronounced “gan ni ma” and literally means “fuck your mother.” The rest isn’t much more sophisticated than that.
Just to show how popular this song is in Taiwan, remember our guest post by Futuru Tsai about traditional Amis song and dance? Well, here’s footage I took of Futuru and his adopted Amis age set performing Golimar during last year’s Amis Harvest Festival:
(I highly recommend Futuru’s film “Amis Hip Hop” about the role of contemporary song and dance in the festival.)
OK. Enough context. Here’s the music video I wanted to talk about. I’ll let you watch it first:
What I like about this video is that it is buffalaxing in reverse. The song was written, in part, with the kind of fake lyrics one would come to expect from a buffalaxed movie, except those are actually the original lyrics of the song. Although, as a mainstream song the lyrics are not dirty, they are often just nonsensical (represented in the subtitles with the use of simplified and gibberish characters). Even better, the video comes with Hindi subtitles which I’ve been told look as if the original song lyrics were run through Google Translate.
Finally, a word about Bollywood movies in Taiwan. Unlike Indonesians or Russians, Taiwanese don’t watch Bollywood. Most of my students here would only have seen Bollywood movie songs as buffalaxed YouTube videos. However, there is one notable exception. Everyone I know in Taiwan and, as far as I can tell, the rest of East Asia as well, seems to have seen the comedy “3 Idiots.” I think the criticism of the education system in that film is felt even more strongly in East Asia than it is in India.
UPDATE 4/1/2014: Punjabi Songs in English – Beware of the Peacock shows that the actual lyrics can be just as funny if you know what is being said.