Insights June 17, 2024

Localisation – Taylor’s version

By Living Word

Any Taylor Swift fans in the house? If you like the queen of break-up anthems and share our love of languages and localisation, you’re in for a treat.

It has probably escaped no one that Tay Tay is touring, at the time of writing bringing huge excitement to cities all over Europe with the Eras Tour. And beyond the sheer excitement among fans, she brings with her a significant impact on the local economy wherever she goes. Whatever your taste in music, it’s hard to deny that she’s a force to be reckoned with, in more ways than one.

As it happens, she does her bit for linguistic inclusion too, if in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way. In the song We Are Never Getting Back Together, supposedly written in response to a rumour about her getting back together with an ex-boyfriend, there’s a line at the end of the bridge that goes: “I mean, this is exhausting, you know? Like, we are never getting back together…” At that point, dancer and stage performer Kameron Saunders has the honour of delivering the punchline: “… like, ever.” During the Eras Tour, however, fans have been treated to localised versions of his line – not just translated into different languages, but incorporating slang and dialect too.

Some examples? In Buenos Aires on the 9th of November, Saunders declared “Ni en pedo”, while on the 29th of May in Madrid he went “Ni de coña”.  In Melbourne the following February, the line went “Naur, mate”, and in Edinburgh earlier this summer it was changed to “Ya wee radge”.

Many of the localised versions are more or less direct translations of the original, just with added local panache. Some, however, are more creative, like “Dröm vidare” in Stockholm back in May, which means “Dream on”, and, similarly, “Dans tes rêves” from a Paris gig the week prior, for “In your dreams”.

Some might say that the move is an easy one to pull off for an artist who, in the eyes of her fans, can do no wrong, but others believe the quips to be so sharp and culturally sensitive as to suggest that the team is taking care to consult locals to make sure to get it right.

Love it or loathe it, we’re always here for a bit of linguistic fun – and if this isn’t a great example of the power of localisation to evoke an emotional response and help an audience bond, we don’t know what is.