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Whence "KTV" & "MTV"?: Chinese? English?[edit]

On a trip to China I saw lots of buildings and establishments with "KTV" emblazoned on them. I began wondering why an English looking acronym/abbreviation/initialism that I'd never heard of was so prevalent. I'm still fascinated.

  • [1]
    Another very common lexical item involving Sino-alphabetic transcription of a non-western item is *kǎlā OK* "karaoke". This word began life as a Japanese loanword blend: J. 空 *kara* "empty", and オーケストラ *ookesutora* "orchestra", meaning that the orchestra is on the tape, but the tape is empty of the human voice, to be supplied by the patron. *Ookesutora* was clipped to *oke*, (the loss of the long vowel is puzzling), and the whole compound word is written in karakana as カラオケ *karaoke*. When borrowed into Mandarin, the first two syllables were transliterated using semantically empty Sinographs, and the latter two with Roman letters. Undoubtedly this is not a pure case of Sino-alphabetic transcription, but is influenced by folk etymology, given the existence of *OK* firmly entrenched in the loan lexicon. But again, this is independent use of *OK* to transcribe material that is not English in origin. In a further independent development, *kǎlā OK* has recently been clipped to a single *K* and combined with *TV* to produce *KTV*, a word which refers to the latest innovation in entertainment technology, video karaoke.
  • [2] pp774
    Speakers in Taiwan have used the morpheme *TV* to coin several initialisms, some of which are shown in (8) the P.R.C. coined the hybrid word in (9).
    component of the lexicon | example
    foreign | *MTV* 'music television'59 adopted directly
    foreign influenced | karaoke > K / M : K = MTV : *KTV* 'karaoke TV'
    foreign influenced | restaurant > R / M : R = MTV : *RTV* 'restaurant TV'
    foreign influenced | barber(shop) > B / M : B = MTV : *BTV* 'barber(shop) TV'
    foreign influenced | disco > S / M : S = MTV : *STV* 'sleeping television' (recreational center)
    foreign | *MTV* 'music TV' adopted directly
    foreign-influenced | M : 相声 *xiàngsheng* = / MTV : 相声 TV *xiàngsheng TV* 'cross-talk TV'
    59 The word *MTV* gained a new meaning in Taiwan. In addition to the meaning 'music television', *MTV*s are also a type of business where individuals can rent videos and watch them in a private room. *MTV*s were popular in the 1990s but have generally given way to *KTV*s, where individuals can rent a private room to sing *karaoke* to music that led to the creation of other *-TV* suffixed words representing similar types of businesses in Taiwan.
    In (8), the natively created initialisms *KTV*, *RTV*, *BTV*, and *STV* (all from Liu 2001) are formed by analogy with the earlier borrowed form *MTV* and also by analogy with one other. In each case, *TV* is the head of the initialism, and the one-letter initialism before it is the modifier.
  • [3]
    Karaoke (minus the video) first showed up in local coffee shops and restaurants in 1976 as an import from Japan. Soon it had swept the island, becoming immensely popular in both urban and rural areas. A second boom started in 1988, when the government began to boost enforcement of a ban against pirated videotapes. Many of the island's numerous MTV parlors, which rent videos for customers to watch in private rooms, were forced to stop showing pirated movies, a mainstay of their offerings. To stay in business, many added karaoke equipment and switched a letter on the signboard to become KTVs. And so, a new trend was born.
  • [4]
    What’s KTV? It’s a word Chinese use for karaoke.
    Thanks a lot for the kind words. I always associated KTV with China only :)
  • [5]
    I have been reading parts of the forum and keep seeing 'KTV' but have no idea what it is. Can anyone explain it to me?
    KTVs are karaoke bars consisting entirely of private rooms.
    what is KTV without girls called?
    KTV is simply what Chinese people call Karaoke (Karaoke TV).
  • [6]
    But I digress, we’re here to talk about Chinese karaoke which they call KTV. KTV joints are everywhere in China.
  • [7]
    Karaoke is a national obsession in China, where they call it KTV.
  • [8]
    The preferred name for karaoke in Taiwan is “KTV” (which I’m guessing means Karaoke Television, although to be honest I’m not sure).
  • [9]
    KTV, the Chinese word for “Karaoke,” means a place (kind of bar or club) where people go to sing and have fun.
    In fact, KTV in the U.S. can only be found in some major cities’ Chinatown area, and often cost three times as much as the KTV in China.
  • [10]
    KTV, Taiwan's version of Japanese karaoke, has become immensely popular.
    Taiwan developed its own distinct version of karaoke, called KTV.
    It's impossible not to notice the big flashing KTV signs everywhere, or even the newer offshoots such as DTV (disco karaoke) and RTV (restaurant karaoke).
  • [11]
    ¿Qué es un KTV? KTV o Karaoke television es un fenómeno cultural en China.
  • [12]
    I want to talk about a big part of Chinese nightlife culture: KTV. The chinese word for Karaoke.
  • [13]
    Wir haben Bubble Tea getrunken, der hier tausendmal leckerer schmeckt als in Deutschland und waren Karaoke singen (hier heißt das KTV).
  • [14]
    Another name for karaoke equipment is KTV and only few countries are using this name.
  • [15]
    KTV: Le Karaoké Asiatique
  • [16]
    Here another name for Karaoke is KTV (Seale). KTV is a really popular thing to do in Beijing on the weekends, there is a spot to test out your singing skills on seemingly every corner (Seale).
  • [17]
    Assim como as casas de massagens, é possível achar um karaoke em cada rua da cidade. Todos tem o mesmo nome: KTV.
  • [18]
    Karaoke Chinese Style aka KTV
    But I digress, we’re here to talk about Chinese karaoke which they call KTV. KTV joints are everywhere in China.
  • [19]
    The Karaoke in China is very much different than the USA. They call it KTV.
  • [20]
    Vierter Tag in Taiwan ... Und da ich den Vormittag und Nachmittag mit schlafen und ausruhen verbracht habe, komme ich diesmal gleich zum Abendprogramm: Karaoke! (oder wie es hier heißt: KTV)
  • [21]
    When we got back it was time to go to karaoke with Fu Ma, Shi Jia, and Alex. (They call it KTV in China… I did not catch onto this until way later in the trip..)
  • [22]
    The Chinese love their karaoke or as they call it KTV and it is probably their number one entertainment.
  • [23]
    Karaoke (or as they call it, KTV) is really popular in China among all ages.
  • [24]
    Für alle die es noch nicht wissen: KTV heisst in China das ursprünglich aus Japan stammende Karaoke, welches sich hier einer ungeheuren Beliebtheit erfreut.
  • [25]
    KTV -- the Chinese name for karaoke -- is a rite of passage among all foreign travelers to China, and if you ever intend to spend any length of time at all in the country, you’re certain to be invited out to chang K (唱K) -- to sing karaoke songs.
  • [26]
    I knew this day would come. I tried to avoid it as long as possible, but like going to the bathroom on a squat toilet it could not be avoided while living in China: I went to a KTV. KTV? I hear you ask. What is KTV? I’ll give you one hint. The K stands for karaoke.
  • [27]
    …..wir machen das beim KTV…so heißt hier in China das Karaoke singen….
  • [28]
    While we call it “karaoke” in the US, they call it “KTV” over here (and in Hong Kong, just “K”).
  • [29]
    I'm sure you have all heard how much the Chinese like karaoke. You will be happy to know it is true. They love Karaoke. They call it KTV (karaoke television) and they do not mess around.
  • [30]
    Chinese Karaoke (they call it KTV here, short for karaoke television) shows a music video or concert footage on a big screen with subtitles that light up as a guide for you to sing along.
  • [31]
    Now for those of you who are only familiar with European karaoke bars, which I am going to assume is most of you, I will give you a short introduction to KTV, which is the Chinese name for karaoke.
  • [32]
    Bisher sind wir um diese Art der typisch chinesischen Freizeitgestaltung noch herumgekommen, aber anläßlich des Geburtstages eines Kollegen betreten wir zum ersten Mal ein KTV, so heißen Karaoke Bars in China.
  • [33]
    El KTV (así se llama el karaoke en China) es un espacio oscuro, artificial, del todo aislado del mundo exterior, a medio camino entre aquellos locales para juegos de disparar láser de mediados de los 90 y un hotel de lujo de provincias
  • [34]
    If you remember, KTV is karaoke, and I’ve only been once, the evening into my birthday. It was awesome but what I’ve found in Zhangzhou, RTV, is even better! KTV is just drinking and doing karaoke, whereas RTV is a restaurant karaoke, you can eat, drink and do karaoke, and as I love food, this is a much better option in my opinion!
  • [35]
    2nd week travel in china ... After the sushi and sake we were went to Karaoke. They call it KTV here. And it’s a little different from it is in the U.S.
  • [36]
    That's a lie, we actually just sang karaoke. They call it KTV here, and it's a bit different from North American Karaoke. You go with a group (Jen and I went with some of our Chinese conversation partners) and you get a little room with couches and a karaoke machine all to yourself.
  • [37]
    So that evening the crew roll back into Xiaoshan, and went to KTV for the evening. Now as you've heard karaoke is big in Asia. When you went to go out with friends, you don't go to a bar. You go to karaoke. Of course karaoke is an evil Japanese word, so here they call it KTV, as in karaoke television.
  • [38]
    The Chinese favourite evening outing is karaoke, they call it KTV. There are dozens of KTV bars around Wenshan, all packed every night of the week.
  • [39]
    I made the mistake of suggesting that we go to KTV (the Chinese name for Karaoke).
  • [40]
    What to do? We were all planning to go back to the apartment with no one really knowing how to pack us together there, but in the end, we got an excellent idea: KTV, which is the Chinese name for Karaoke.
  • [41]
    The location of the hotel is convenient to the MRT and the railway station giving you easy access to the city and the night markets, as well as department stores and KTV (which is Taiwanese name for Karaoke).
  • [42]
    There is a little past time that Chinese people love- in America we call it Karaoke, here they call it KTV. I have so many memories at KTV from all my travels to China.
  • [43]
    KTV in China (Chinese Karaoke) ... I accepted the offer not knowing I was about to experience KTV in China, which is totally different from karaoke in the western hemisphere.
  • [44]
    KTV, or Karaoke Television, is a national obsession in China. Sure, they have many Karaoke bars in Japan, but no one can do KTV like the Chinese do KTV.
    No matter where you are in China, KTVs will be everywhere. No matter the smallest cities in China, a KTV is sure to be somewhere near.
  • [45]
    After Duck Blood soup, everybody wanted to walk across the way to do some karaoke (they call it KTV in China).
  • [46]
    Someone brought up the idea of karaoke (they call it KTV), and obviously we had to say yes to that (when in Asia…)! We went to a pretty nice KTV place down the main strip in downtown Qingdao, because they knew that place had some English songs and also we managed to find a flyer on the street that gave us a free hour.
  • [47]
    In China they call it KTV, and instead singing in front of a whole bar, you get a private room, with a couch, table, and big screen tv, and a computer console to choose your music.
  • [48]
    After dinner, some of those who were with us played cards while others sang with karaoke. Here in Taiwan, they call it KTV.
  • [49]
    The city of Xi'an was also a pretty strange place. The central downtown area felt like Las Vegas to me, with flashing lights advertising things like KFC and KTV (the inexplicable Chinese name for karaoke; I don't think it stands for anything).
  • [50]
    Friday, as usual, was our going out night. Some of our Chinese language partners wanted to go to KTV (Chinese name for karaoke lounges), so 6 of us Hayzers and four of our partners went out for that. It was super fun!!
  • [51]
    It was awesome to get half off everything with my “Wu Krew” card and after trivia ended we decided to head over to KTV (the Chinese name for Karaoke).
  • [52]
    The day ended with a 4 hours karaoke (here they call it ktv), then sleep in a hotel found on the way. The morning after, the guys helped me to get back to the bus station and buy a ticket to 昆明 Kunming.
  • [53]
    After I got back from the game, another group of people wanted me to go do karaoke with them. They call it KTV and it is extremely popular in Taiwan and China.
  • [54]
    The Taiwanese claim to have invented karaoke television or KTV. Whereas karaoke takes place around the karaoke jukebox in a bar and performers can thus be observed by all the clients, KTV not only introduces a visual element, it also takes place in separate private rooms.
  • [55]
    Around here a communist is someone who goes to karaoke five or six time a day stone damn sober. (They call it KTV) Here it's not a big room where everyone laughs at you for spilling your vodka tonic down your shirt as you mumble through 'Knock on Wood' by Amii Stewart.
  • [56]
    Last night we were invited to go out for Karoke with our Chinese teachers and some friends who are leaving Beijing. This is a truely favorite pastime in China. Everyone sings karoke (they call it KTV) and they take it very seriously.
  • [57]
    i'm not really a fan, since i can't sing worth ****, and it's really popular in a lot of places -- when i went to taiwan, i couldn't believe how many karaoke (they call it KTV) bars there were!!
  • [58]
    Friday was…wow. I experience Chinese karaoke or, as they call it, KTV.
  • [59]
    The Nikki Madi Dynasty ... China Adventures ... Some of my students even sang sang along to some Elvis, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Backstreet Boys, Brittney Spears, and Taylor Swift when I played some samples and we did some karaoke (they call it KTV here).
  • [60]
    Kala Ok or KTV (Karaoke) ... KTV Karaoke clubs, aka Ka La O.K. in Chinese, aka KTVs (a karaoke in your own private room) are Asia's claim to fame.
  • [61]
    También, el MOI sugirió que los MTV (centros para ver películas en televisión) y los KTV (clubes de karaoke en los que se canta con el apoyo de un sistema estereofónico) paguen a los autores una porción de las ganancias obtenidas por el alquiler al público de obras de audio o visuales.
  • [62]
    The issue concerned American films that were being shown without licensing in personalized movie parlors, called "Movie TV" (MTV), in Taiwan. The U.S. government argued that MTV was nothing but a movie house where any film shown must be licensed, even if a copyrighted videotape (usually designated for personal use only) of the film was used in such a performance.
    After 1988. motion pictures became the focal point of discussions. With the aid of technological innovation, a personalized movie viewing room called an MTV became popular and mushroomed all over Taiwan. Videotapes of movies, copyrighted and uncopyrighted, were shown in MTVs without following relevant regulations, thereby causing concerns for the American motion-picture industry.
  • [63]
    Laser disk smorgasbord—Taiwan's MTV parlors, where clients rent LDs and a private viewing room, have been hard hit by the IPR crackdowns. More than half have closed shop since the late 1980s.
    Local and foreign film companies suffered great losses during the 1980s becauseof the island's many MTV parlors (theaters that rent videos and private viewing rooms).
    In the late 1980s, most MTV parlors carried two thousand to three thousand unauthorized films for clients to rent. Most of these companies have now closed down. Taipei had more than two hundred MTV parlors operating four years ago, but only a handful have survived.
  • [64]
    May 1989 / Special 301 Priority Watch list / Licensing requirement for U.S. films shown in Taiwan's private movie parlors (MTV)
  • [65]
    KTV is short for “karaoke-television” and refers to the use of private rooms in large clubs, where popular music soundtracks minus the lyrics are played on televisions upon the request of the club patrons. This form of entertainment arose in Taiwan in the 1980s. The term “KTV” actually derives from the “MTV” (for movie television). MTV were video-film houses that became popular in Taiwan in the 1980s.
    As in Japan, small Taiwanese karaoke bars allowed customers to sing songs with the “mama” or hostesses, a custom also with Japanese colonial-era precedents in Taiwan.19 Larger “KTV” bars with private singing rooms (baofang) arose in Taiwan in the late 1980s. Many of these KTV bars also involved hostesses, which fostered prostitution. “Karaoke boxes” came to Hong Kong directly from Japan later in the 1980s, and Taiwanese and Hong Kong entrepreneurs brought karaoke to China in the early 1980s, where it was initially very popular in restaurants.
    This was certainly true of institutions such as bars and KTV hostess clubs, which were developed abroad before being imported into China.
  • [66] ...
    Also in the early 1980s, Music TV emerged in the US and landed in Taipei around mid-decade. Due to the close contacts between the two countries, especially through linkages with the US West Coast Chinese communities, pirated copies of Music TV produced in the US were shipped over to Taiwan and quickly established their public presence in coffee houses.
    Ironically, as more capital was invested Music TV was eliminated; such venues were turned into places for watching movies on video. From mid-1980s on, the so- called MTV-centers, i.e., movie-tv centres, became the most popular form of entertainment.
    However, with the subsequent imposition of legislation to protect intellectual property, the MTV moment was over.
    In relation to movie theaters, MTV-centers provided not only more variety but also a sense of privacy. It is the latter which made MTV-centers so popular, especially for teenagers who were dating. Significantly, the MTV-centers also 'renovated' the traditional sex industry which picked up this form so that soon consumers could go and watch porn videos with sex workers. MTV-centers thus became a problem for the parents and certain state authorities. For example, in 1990, the then Prime Minister, Hau Bo-tsun, openly stated 'good people will not go to MTV or KTV' (China Times, 26 August, 1990).
    With American MTV, local music industry also began to make music videos as advertising promotions for newly released pop songs. Not only was advertising style thus transformed, the growing popularity of video clips with images and songs paved the way for the KTV. The M(ovie)TV forms of entertainment space with karaoke and TV screen with moving images were all the elements necessary for business people to put together to create KTV. The initial 'trial' of simply taking over MTV spaces and putting in singing equipment proved to be a great success and grew immediately. One small technical difference between KTV and karaoke should be noted because it partly explains the instant popularity. With karaoke, performers have to know the songs well enough to sing along at the right pace; whereas with KTV, singers are prompted by the screen on when to sing and what to sing; the subtitles are gradually colored in, thus cueing singers as to when to sing the right lyrics. Hence more people can be incorporated into KTV's cultural space.
    Given the different strands of singing practices in Taiwan elucidated earlier, it could be argued that as a cultural practice singing in general, and KTV in particular, is crucially about social memories. The different song-preferences of the different generations reflect the historical moments that have been incorporated into the KTV culture. Thus, when the more mature generations go to KTV, Japanese songs dominate their choices; that Japanese songs constitute an independent category is, of course, historically not accidental.
  • [67]
    A growing number of lettered words are also natively created initialisms, such as KTV 'karaoke TV', and hybrid words, such as PC机 'personal computer', lit. ‘PC-machine’.