Shifting markets, shifting languages: Changing language style of Fama, an independent band

Hsia Hui Alice CHIK, Wan Hoi Anthony PAK

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper aims at exploring the impact of marketing on language choice among alternative musicians. Alternative musicians are frequently self-financed musicians, not signed onto any major record label, who operate under less constraint in terms of linguistic creativity. In the last few years, there were also examples of independent musicians muscling their ways to mainstream commercial markets. In the process, it is usual that there are certain changes in style. We will use the works of Fama (農夫) as the window to explore the developmental process of linguistic choice. The band Fama, founded in 2000 as an independent band, was officially entering into the popular music’s mainstream as they won the “Most Popular Band Award” in 2007. The paper will conduct a comprehensive analysis on their lyrics before and after 2007. Generally speaking, the language style of “FAMA” before 2007 was more informal, casual, or even slangy. Foul language can easily be spotted in lyrics at that period. Whereas after 2007, songs by Fama are still mostly colloquial and edgy but became more formal, proper and idiomatic in their linguistic use. The paper will use a new analytical framework to analyze language styles used in lyrics ranging from formal written and oral Chinese, general Cantonese, to Hong Kong Cantonese and foul language. The framework will be useful for identifying the differences of lyrics between independent bands and mainstream music. We will also discuss the potential pedagogical application of this framework in Chinese language learning and teaching.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008



Chik, A., & Pak, A. W. H. (2008, December). Shifting markets, shifting languages: Changing language style of Fama, an independent band. Paper presented at the First International Conference: Popular Culture and Education in Asia, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.