WORKING OUT THE MEANING OF “TURN DOWN FOR WHAT”
Anyone who deals with teenagers, or even preadolescents, will have heard enough of the expression “Turn down for what” to last a lifetime. But, what exactly is the meaning of “Turn down for what button”? Without a little background, the phrase can seem a bit mysterious, even for a native English speaker.
There is even a “Turn down for what button” at the ready for when you need a triumphant sally to round off an argument: www.td4wbutton.com
So, is this high level poetry? Can we compare it to Ted Hughes and the like? Mmmmm….
The origin of the expression lies in a single by DJ Snake and Lil Jon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMUDVMiITOU
TURNING UP VS. TURNING DOWN
But lets look at how it’s used: “Turn up” is slang for partying, getting drunk and high. Turn down, then, means the opposite, keeping calm and mellow. So the expression means: Why should I stop partying? Why should I sober up, turn down? For what?
The rebellious tone associated with that kind of statement is probably what caused it to spill over into other uses, in non-English speaking contexts, where the refrain can apply to any situation where someone leaves their opponent speechless in an argument.
THE “TD4W” CHALLENGE
At QuicksilverTranslate.com, we have a challenge for you (right up our alley): translate the expression into another language. Not a literal translation, which would be a snap now that we understand it, but a good translation, that preserves the meaning in a way that sounds natural in the target language and is catchy to boot.
Any takers? Who’s up for the challenge?