Saint Etienne's "Like a Motorway" in Japanese

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Given how many non-Japanese bands these days do Japanese language versions of their songs for the Japanese market (and the positive reaction I’ve seen from Japanese audiences to Western bands earnestly mangling the language), I’m guessing the reaction would have been very much not negative.

It feels very much like an English-language (and perhaps specifically a US and UK) thing of taking insult when people speak the language imperfectly.

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As a Spanish speaker my thoughts on a band making a song in Spanish are mixed, I suppose it depends a lot on context and intent. Why is the song being made in another language? If it’s just because, or for money or another superficial reason I would be pretty turned off. If it was because they wanted to connect with fans or as a thank you, etc I would be pretty receptive. Just make that intent known


I never hated Shonen Knife for singing in English.


Saint Etienne are one of my absolute favorite bands. I thought I had everything they’ve ever recorded, or at least knew about it. Somehow this flew under my radar. So thank you for this lovely find.

I was fortunate enough to see them at a small club in Philly in 1999. After the show we got to meet Sarah and Pete and they were just as sweet as could be.

Edited for spelling.


Really? English is so widely spoken, I get the impression English speakers are of necessity very tolerant of hearing that language spoken in different ways. The traditional British view of a heavy French accent is sexy, for example, while a German or Russian one is scary and impelling. A thick Dutch accent is hilarious, and an Italian one is funny but endearing, but I can’t think of any that English speakers would take offence at. And as @Kilkrazy says, nobody disliked Shonen Knife.

EDIT: Oh wait - Dick Van Dyke. OK I am now extremely angry.

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Had the same experience with them in Washington DC in about 2018. Super-nice people.


Accents are one thing, but not speaking English well is another. I’ve found, in a lot of countries, people are pleased and even impressed that you made the effort to speak any of their language at all, but English speaks have this expectation that people will learn their language. Songs, even by non-English speaking bands, are in English for the US/UK market, up until recently people refused to watch subtitled tv shows or movies in other languages, etc. (Even in recent movies, I notice that characters that don’t speak English well are sometimes treated as stupid.)

So if somebody speaks in broken enough English it’s taken that they haven’t (or can’t) make the effort or something, perhaps? I’m not sure that’s offense so much as ridicule though. I’ve also been in some European counties where I’ve tried to speak the local language only to have had people reply to me in English. Never know what to think about that.

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Yeah, that’s sort of the attitude - and English speakers take offense when someone else can’t be bothered to make the effort. (They also, hypocritically, have tended to be quite bad about expecting people in other countries to know English…) English speakers have had an expectation, traditionally, that they’re going to be catered to, language-wise, and if it didn’t happen, that was a deficiency of the speaker.

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