I hope that I can turn back the time (lyrics)

< Previous | Next >

JungKim

Senior Member
Korean
This is part of lyrics of a song called "Middle".

I hope that I can turn back the time
To make it all alright, all alright for us
I'll promise to build a new world for us two
With you in the middle
In the first line, I wonder if the use of "hope" and "can" is natural with the rest of the line "turn back the time".
In other words, I wonder why it's not "I wish that I could turn back the time".

Is this simply a case where lyrics are not grammatical, or is this acceptable even in everyday speech outside the realm of song lyrics and poems?
 
  • JamesM

    Senior Member
    Song lyrics are very malleable English, :) so they are often not very good indicators of everyday language. In this case, however, I can imagine someone saying "I hope we can turn back time" or "I hope we can turn back the clock" to mean "I hope that we can simply ignore recent events and return to the relationship we had before they happened."

    (To me, "turn back the time" sounds like a mixture of the two phrases I suggested.)
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    In this case, however, I can imagine someone saying "I hope we can turn back time" or "I hope we can turn back the clock" to mean "I hope that we can simply ignore recent events and return to the relationship we had before they happened."
    So are you saying that the meaning of "turn back time" can be interpreted figuratively so that it doesn't necessarily involve an unreal situation?

    How about looking at it like people (even native speakers) sometimes use the language loosely enough to use the "hope-can" construction even for unreal situations?

    (To me, "turn back the time" sounds like a mixture of the two phrases I suggested.)
    Doesn't "the time" as opposed to "time" (without "the") indicate that what they turn back is a specific time rather than time in general?
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    How would you turn back time for yourselves and not turn back time for everyone? The general concept is that there is only one timeline, at least as far as this metaphor is concerned.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    How would you turn back time for yourselves and not turn back time for everyone? The general concept is that there is only one timeline, at least as far as this metaphor is concerned.
    Well, if the line means "I hope that we can simply ignore recent events and return to the relationship we had before they happened," then, yes, turning back time would be only for those who were in the relationship and not for everyone.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    You are adding an unfamiliar concept on top of a familiar one. Sometimes this works in lyrics. Sometimes it simply seems awkward or poorly formed. To me this seems to be a poorly formed version of "turn back time" with "the" added for reasons of meter or melody.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    You are adding an unfamiliar concept on top of a familiar one. Sometimes this works in lyrics. Sometimes it simply seems awkward or poorly formed. To me this seems to be a poorly formed version of "turn back time" with "the" added for reasons of meter or melody.
    I don't understand how come it's no less than "adding an unfamiliar concept" to simply interpret "the" (the definite article) in front of "time" as referring to a specific time -- rather than time in general -- known by the the speaker (singer) and the listener ("you", i.e., the love interest in the lyrics). I mean, isn't that what the definite article is all about?:confused:
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top