DOI: 10.21070/icecrs2020471

Metaphorical Entailment in BTS Song Lyrics: A Semantic Perspective

Penarikan Metaforis dalam Lirik Lagu BTS: Perspektif Semantik

Universitas Muhammadiyah Sidoarjo
Universitas Muhammadiyah Sidoarjo
Metaphorical entailment semantic BTS’s Song Lyric


Language is a means or tool of communication. People have used language as the most common way to communicate with each other. Language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which a social group cooperates. When people used language, they bound between one and another, called meaning. The meaning itself sometimes can be interpreted by other people easily, while some of them are not. Metaphorical meaning is the hidden meaning in some literary works, such as song, poem, poetry, and drama, that be able to give a new perspective to the readers or listeners. This research analyse the metaphorical meaning in some of BTS’s song, and its relation to the people who listen to their songs. The objective of this research is to analyze metaphorical entailment in BTS‘s song lyrics through a semantic perspective, and how the metaphorical meaning in BTS’s song in giving new hope to the listener. This research is a Qualitative, specifically descriptive qualitative method. There were two kinds of data in this research to support in analyzing process; the BTS’s song lyrics and interview session. The BTS’s song lyric was from the website, and an interview session was done by two correspondents that passed the criteria.

Background of Study

Semantic is the branch of language that relates to the meaning. As states [1], “Semantics is the study of linguistic meaning. It is concerned with what sentence and other linguistics object express, not with the arrangement with their syntactic parts or with their pronunciation.” Semantic enable academic to recognize some part of it, one of them is entailment.

Entailment is a concept that refers to a specific kind of relationship between two sentences. More specifically, entailment means that if one sentence is true, then another sentence would also have to be true: the second sentence would be entailed by the first sentence. In order to convey the sense or message on the sentences, entailment has a role in showing the truth of the sentences.

A metaphorical entailment is the imparting of a characteristic of the source domain (the metaphorical image) to the target domain (the concept receiving metaphorical treatment) by logical means [2]. Metaphorical entailment can be found in many linguistic works, such as a poem, poetry, and song lyrics.

At its most basic, a song is a short piece of music, usually with words. It combines melody and vocals with the lyrics [3]. The words of a song are called lyrics. Many of songwriters are using metaphorical entailment in their lyrics to create an aesthetic and affect the song itself while matching it with the rhythm. All of the elements combined into one are called the song, which has power itself. The power is the part of the song writer’s mind or feeling that he or she wants to express and deliver to the listener. The song has its power during the meaningful lyrics, and sometimes it is able to change the people's perspective.

Nowadays, there are lots of song playlist that people made for cheering them during a sad time, entertain them during their break until prevent them from committing suicide. One of the most played songs is from BTS, a boy group from South Korea that joining in UNICEF program to end the violence and loving-myself as the slogan.

The fact that several of BTS’s song lyrics give ‘hope’ to the people who listen to it. The influence of BTS song was felt by people around the world who has listened to it. There are positive responses for the BTS song, which help the people change their bad habits, such as lack of motivation, bullying, and suicide. Hopefully, they become more enthusiastic to reach their dream and love their-self more. Many people wrote on their social media about how extremely BTS’s song influences their life.

This research analyzes about two songs of BTS that have positive and metaphor entailment, which give a new ‘hope’ for many of people around the world. The title of the song’s lyrics that will be analyzed in this little research was Not Today[4] and Sea [5]. The researcher chooses to analyze metaphor entailment in BTS song because there is no previous research about the BTS song. BTS itself is the group from South Korea that had been joined UNICEF with the ‘love-yourself’ mission in reducing the suicide rates all around the world. They ever took the speech in generation unlimited along with all the UNICEF representatives in PBB. Many people were inspired by BTS music because of the deep meaning in it. This research, hopefully, can be a source of analyzing the metaphorical entailment through the BTS songs and how the metaphorical entailment in giving ‘new hope’ in the listeners.

1.2 Research Subject

1.2.1 What is metaphorical entailment that found in BTS’s song lyrics?

1.2.2 How the metaphorical entailment in BTS song lyrics gives new hope to the listeners?

1.2 The objective of the Study

1.3.1 To know about metaphorical entailment that found in BTS’s song lyrics

1.3.2 To find out the correlation between BTS’s song lyrics in giving hope to listeners

Literary Review


[6] defines semantics as one of the two main branches of linguistics, and it is basically the study of meaning. Griffiths also states that semantics is a study of word meaning and sentence meaning. This definition makes clear that semantics is different from pragmatics, which relates language and its contexts. [7] strengthens Griffiths‟ theory by stating that a semantic theory is focused on sentence meaning, but not in speakers’ meaning. Moreover, semantics as the study of meaning in a systematic way, is stated by [8]. He also adds that when semantics is linked with language, it will concern with how language organizes and expresses meanings.


Whenever people utter statements, they often convey entailment, whether intentionally or unintentionally because the basis of semantic description is the notion of entailment. According to [8] entailment is two statements that may be related in such a way that if one is true, the other must be true. In other words, entailment is a relationship in which the truth of one sentence necessarily implies the truth of the other one. In accordance, [9] states that entailment is something that follows from what is mentioned before.

[10] define entailment as a term delivered from logic, and has been used as a part of the study of semantics; which is called as entailingness. Entailment refers to a relation between a pair of preposition where the truth of second preposition necessarily follows the truth of the first. For example: ‘I can see a dog’ entails I can see an animal. One cannot assert the first sentence and deny the second one. [11] explain that entailment can be used to establish whether two sentences are semantically independent, semantically related, or semantically identical. Technically, Nouwen portrays entailment as Sentence S entails sentence S’ if and only if S is true, S’ is true too.

Metaphorical Entailment

According to some scholars, entailment can be divided into several types. However, every scholar has their own opinion about the types of entailment. Yet, sometimes there are several similarities from each scholar. (Griffiths, 2006) divides entailment as one-way entailment and two-way entailment. [12] state about one more type of entailment, which is metaphorical entailment. They define metaphorical entailment as the imparting of a characteristic of the source domain to the target domain. The source domain is the metaphorical image, while the target domain is the concept receiving metaphorical treatment. Therefore, the relationship between the source and the target domain is regarded as entailment or specifically called as metaphorical entailment. When the source domain is interpreted to be the target domain, metaphorical entailment happens [13]. Kovesces gives an example of a rare metaphorical entailment happens. On an entire conversation as follow:

Teacher: You look like a healthy apple.

Kovesces : I hope it’s not rotten inside.

Teacher: I hope, too, that it will last a long time ( Kovesces , 2003: 123)

Based on the example, people are portrayed as fruit (apple). An apple could be rotten inside although it is healthy-looking outside. Both healthy apple and rotten inside are the target domain metaphors which are associated with the source domain metaphor or a good person and an evil person. Shortly, healthy apple and rotten inside apple are associated with human. In this context, apple is the illustration of a person, and healthy apple means a good people, while rotten inside apple means a bad people or a person who has evil heart. Moreover, the first speaker added it will last a long time which is still associated with the idea of a rotten inside. The first speaker hopes that Kovesces will keep being a good person for a long time, and will not change into a person with evil heart.


In this study, the researchers used a descriptive qualitative method. Referring to the objective of this study, the design is considered appropriate since the data that will be analyzed are song lyrics, interpretation, semantic, and metaphorical entailment that required to describes by using words rather than quantity.

“Qualitative research focuses on words rather than numbers, although occasionally numbers are used to indicate the frequency that a theme is found in transcripts or the extent to which a form of the action occurs” [14]. It showed that qualitative research is focused in describing the data by using words, rather in statistical numbers.

There are types of qualitative research as stated by [15], there are descriptive, experimental, and causal comparative. The fundamental research is descriptive research that examines situation and identify based on observational basis, or the relationship between two or more phenomena. The using of descriptive research type in this research is to explain clearly by writing down the sense of analysing process.

Based on the statement above, this research is analysing the BTS’s song lyrics, to find out metaphorical entailment in it, and the correlation in giving the hope to the listeners. The interpretation of song lyrics is being able to describe in words rather than compare it.

In collecting the data, the researcher collects the data from the song lyrics, and analyse it to get the metaphorical entailment, then interpret it. The researcher chooses the BTS’s song that becomes the main data in this research purposely, the researcher chooses the song based on the most popularity k-pop group, BTS and their most listened songs during 2017-2019. The researcher also chooses BTS’s song that most of people had been talked about in giving the new ‘hope’ for their listener. After that, the researcher chooses the songs that have the metaphorical entailment in their lyrics. Based on those criteria, the researcher found two songs lyrics in BTS titled no today and sea as the data in this research.

In collecting the data to answer the research subject number 2, the researcher using interview as the method to gathering the data. The researcher chooses the correspondent based on those criteria:

1) female,

2) in range 18-22,

3) understand English well, and

4) like to listen songs.

Based on those criteria, the researcher found two correspondents that will be interviewing to answer the research subject number 2.

Finding and Discussion

Based on the song lyrics that was analysed before, the researcher found many of metaphorical entailment through of it. In the not today and Sea lyrics, such as showed in the table below:

Lyrics Meaning
“We won’t ever die todayLight shines through the darkness” Here, the word ‘die’ is be able to interprets as ‘give up’, ‘to stop’, or ‘to sacrifice’It means to quilt whatever you do. ‘we won’t ever die’ it means ‘we never give up’‘Light shines through the darkness’ can be interprets as the strength that covered with weakness, or something good that happen after bad situation. There is a hope for who have struggled in reaching dream.
“if you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, even if you have to crawl, gear up” ‘if you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk,’ can be interprets as ‘looking for another way, keep survive however the way are’.‘even if you have to crawl, gear up’ it can be interpreting as ‘Even you have no strength, you can keep forward slowly, be ready’.
“Don’t die, don’t ask, scream, Don’t kneel, don’t cry, raise your hands” Die means ‘give up’, ‘to stop’.Don’t die, don’t ask, scream means it’s too early to give up, don’t complaint, no one should be blamed, with your strength you can do it.Don’t kneel, don’t cry, raise your hands means don’t let the world fall you down, be stronger, fight them all.
“ Too high we on trampoline , too high someone stop us” ‘Too high we on trampoline’ it can be means the ‘increase of your success’, ‘happier’, or ‘luckier’ ‘too high someone stop us’ it can be means ‘people defeat you’, ‘people are jealous’, or ‘you will have more enemy’ This lyric can be interpreting as ‘the more you success, the more people will get jealous and trying to defeat you’
“ Break the glass ceiling that cages you” ‘Break the glass ceiling that cages you’ ‘break’ can be means ‘crack’, ‘destroy’, or ‘to separate’ ‘glass ceiling’ here as the ‘mindset’, ‘your overthinking’, or ‘your negative thinking’ ‘cages you’ here can be interprets as ‘lock’, or ‘something that haunt you’, This lyric can be interpreting as ‘stop your negative mindset. Get out from your comfortable zone’
“ Don’t kneel, don’t collapse” ‘kneel’ can be mean ‘bend’, or ‘loose’.This lyric told us to ‘don’t give up’
Table 1.
Lyrics Meaning
There’s endless sand and the rough wind ‘endless sand’ and ‘rough wind’ here have a meaning as ‘many sadness’, ‘big effort’, or ‘hard work’This lyric can be interpreting as ‘There are many kinds of obstacle that you will face but many chances along with it.’
Is this the sea or the desert? ‘sea’ can be ‘something beautiful’, ‘hope’, ‘something that you looking for’ ‘desert’ can be ‘something unwanted’, ‘anxiety’, or ‘without hope’This lyric told us about the difference between hope and despair. This lyric can be interpreting as ‘Don’t be blinded, the good and bad thing can fool you.’
Think positive, I’m swallowing my dry spit ‘dry spit’ can be mean as ‘bad thing’, ‘something disappointing’, ‘something unexpected’, or ‘something unwanted’This lyric can be interpreting as ‘Trying to believe what I am facing with while always think positive., even what you’ve been facing is disappointing you’
I thought this was the ocean but it’s a desert ‘ocean’ can be mean as ‘goal’, ‘dream’, or ‘your expectation’. ‘desert’ can be ‘something unwanted’, ‘anxiety’, or ‘without hope’This lyric can be interpreting as ‘It’s okay to be expecting something that you really want, but you should keep in mind that there is something still unwanted, but it’s needed.’
The scary desert became the ocean with our blood, sweat and tears ‘scary desert’ can be means ‘your fear’ or ‘your risks’‘ocean’ can be mean as ‘goal’, ‘dream’, ‘victory’ or ‘your expectation’. ‘blood, sweet, and tears’ can be means as ‘big effort’, ‘hard work’, This lyric means ‘All your efforts in addressing your fear will prove that you deserve a victory’
Where there is hope, there is always despair ‘hope’ here means ‘goal’, ‘purpose’, or ‘dream’ way to get it‘despair’ here means ‘effort’, ‘way’, ‘sacrifice’ and ‘work’ This lyric means ‘If there is a will and effort, there will be something that you should be sacrificed.’
Table 2.

From all the metaphor entailment on the BTS’ song lyrics that explained above, it really relevant with problems that most of people afraid of. Many people, especially teenager whom afraid to face their life, how to reach their dream, to face that the reality betrays them, and many more. In those lyrics, will become the strength for them to continue their life, their hope, and their dreams. BTS’ song lyrics told to their listeners to face their problem, and never give up even in the worst situation. In the sea’s

lyrics, many of it told about the effort in reaching the dream. The bigger dream is, the bigger effort for it. The effort, hard work, and struggle will pay with happiness and pride when the dreams and goal comes true.

From the interview that the researcher had done before, the respondent answered that listening to BTS’ song lyrics was make her realize that she needs to wake up from her dream. She needs to face her problem and reach her dream. Previously she felt that she can’t to solve her problem, since many of problem that comes to her life. She aware that she needs to work harder and never give up. BTS’s song lyrics had been realizing her that many of people are facing the problems too, and many people are trying to make their dreams come true. That fact makes the respondent become more energetic to face her live, and start the new journey in her life with new mindset, and new spirit.

Another respondent said that listening to BTS song make her felt rebirth, her feeling goes to depressed then runs to the place that things could pull her to the new life, it’s called hope. She also said that BTS song is very meaningful. She knows well dear friends that in order to get the highest dream, the road could not be fine at all. Throughout blood, sweet, and tears accompanied, sometimes helpless knock ordering the stressful. People need to rest for a while and see that always be hopes waiting us to make the dreams real. She really like that BTS song can give the big positive impact for her life, especially in motivate her to not give up and stay struggle in reach her dream.


From the discussion above, we can conclude that there are many of metaphorical entailment in BTS’ song lyrics by tittle Not today and Sea. The entailment of the song lyrics has the meaning in facing the problem, never give up, the struggle in reaching the dream, erase all the negative thoughts and trying to out from the comfort zone.

The metaphorical entailment in BTS’ song also influences their listener to be enthusiasm in reaching the dream, and never give up. Many of people are success in reaching their dream, and it will be strength to do the same. If we brave to dream something, we must to brave to face anything to make the dream come true.


The researchers would like to thank Allah SWT, our parents, our classmate, Dean of FPIP Umsida, Dr. Akhtim Wahyuni, Chair of the Department of English Education, Yuli Astutik M.Pd, our lecture Mr. Niko Ferdiyant, SS., MA., who guided us in writing this research and all of BTS’s members and lyrics as our inspiration, all of seminar committee, and all parties not mentioned. Without their supports, this research would not be a good research as well.


  1. Katz, J. J. (1972). Semantic Theory (Harper & Row, Eds.). New York.
  2. LinguaLinks Library. (2003). Sil Glossary of Lingusitic Terms. Retrieved December 12, 2019, from SIL International website:
  3. (2020). What is a Song. Retrieved December 12, 2019, from
  4. Genius. (2020a). BTS - Not Today Lyric (Translation). Retrieved December 12, 2019, from Genius Media Group Inc. website:
  5. Genius. (2020b). BTS - Sea Lyric (Translation). Retrieved December 12, 2019, from Genius Media Group Inc. website:
  6. Griffiths, P. (2006). An Introduction to English Semantics and Pragmatics (H. Giegerich, Ed.). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  7. Borg, E. (2006). Minimal Semantics. New York: Oxford University Press.
  8. Kreidler, C. W. (1998). Introducing English Semantics. London and New York: Routledge.
  9. Yule, G. (1998). The Study of Language (Third Edit). New York: Cambridge University Press.
  10. Ingemann, F., & Crystal, D. (1998). Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. In Language (Sixth Edit, Vol. 74).
  11. Nouwen, R., & Elenbaas, M. (2011). Linguistics in the Netherlands 2011. John Benjamins Publishing Company.
  12. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980). Methapors We Live By. In University of Chicago (Vol. 8).
  13. Kovecses, Z. (2003). Metaphor and Emotion; Language, Culture, and Body in HUman Feeling. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
  14. Daymon, C., & Holloway, I. (2002). Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications (Second Edi). New York: Routledge.
  15. Leedy, P. D., & Ormrod, J. E. (2016). Practical Research Planing and Design (Eleventh; C. Griscom & G. Gottfried, Eds.). United Kingdom: Pearson ESL.