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And no, I don't mean Pitbull saying "Uno, dos, tre, quattro".

I'm wondering if there have been any instances of songwriters writing most or all of the lyrics to an original song in a language or dialect they aren't fluent in, perhaps even an extinct one. They don't necessarily have to be the singer, though.

Aside from Pitbull, I don't need any suggestions for non-Black rappers using AAVE. Sorry, Vanilla Ice fans.

Ideally, there should be at least 50 words in the foreign language per song.

Any suggestions from the music fans?

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    An interesting question, but it is difficult to imagine a songwriter composing in a language they are not fluent in (for a reasonable definition of fluency). – user3955 May 21 at 6:50
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    The closest that I can offer is Sanskrit: it's improper to call it a dead language, but it's not really spoken in the sense of two people having a conversation (except in a unique village in India), but it's the language of many shlokas that are chanted even today in many households. So, if a musician composes in Sanskrit then that might fit your criteria, but I don't know if it's what you're looking for. – user3955 May 21 at 10:40
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    @Brahadeesh Sanskrit is a cool language, but do you have any examples of musicians composing in Sanskrit if they aren't from the one village that speaks it? – Micah Windsor May 21 at 13:10
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    Yes, I can list many Indian classical music composers, even contemporary ones (and not from that village), with compositions in Sanskrit. Let me know if you'd like me to make an answer along those lines :) – user3955 May 21 at 14:19
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    @Brahadeesh Please feel free! Also, in response to your first comment, in Grade 9 I had to write a short song/poem in French and I could hardly have been called fluent. – Micah Windsor May 21 at 14:21
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The Police: Hungry for You (J'aurais Toujours Faim De Toi). Written mostly in French, apparently with the help of Trudie Styler, with whom Sting was having an affair at the time.

Reference: https://www.songfacts.com/facts/the-police/hungry-for-you-jaurais-toujours-faim-de-toi

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    Yes! The Police are great! Any idea why he wrote it in French? Was it simply because it's a "romantic language"? Doesn't seem to say in the link. – Micah Windsor May 21 at 18:49
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    Sorry. Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe he just thought it was cool and sexy? I immediately thought of this song when I read your question but I thought maybe Sting spoke French (although his French doesn't sound very French to me). The linked post indicated otherwise, so I posted my answer. – jrw32982 supports Monica May 21 at 23:37
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Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones of course) - (Si Si) Je Suis un Rock Star (1981) - Has various parts in French, and looking at the quality of those parts it's very hard to believe Mr Wyman is fluent!

Je suis un rock star
Je avais un residence
Je habiter la
A la south of France

Voulez vous
Partir with me?
And come and rester la
With me in France

In fact earlier in the song, he has a bash at Portuguese as well! Making this perhaps the only song written in TWO languages the author does not speak!

We danced to the music
At the Mardi-Gras
Then jumped on the Concorde
You're so lah-di-dah
Si, si
Si, si
Si, si

"Lah-di-dah" by the way is pure Cockney, so counts as three?! ;)

During research I found out he wrote it for Ian Dury - which makes perfect sense listening to it! He claims to have reluctantly recorded himself in "Cockney French" - Source

PS. Bonus points for "California Über Alles"? Just how many words does there have to be in this game?

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    Not quite what I had in mind, but that's hilarious. As to how many words there should be, I'd say at least 50 words in the foreign language. – Micah Windsor May 22 at 2:51
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Expanding my comment above into an answer as requested by the OP.


This is an interesting question! The closest that I can offer is: Sanskrit. It's not really spoken any more in the sense of people carrying conversations in it (except in a unique village in India). It is, however, the language of many shlokas that are chanted even today in many households, so it's improper to call it a dead language. Though it doesn't fit the letter of your question, I believe it does fit the spirit.

There are many composers in the tradition of Indian classical music with compositions in Sanskrit. A tiny list of them follows:

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    That is really amazing! It's hard to imagine composing 400 songs in English, let alone other languages. Thanks for sharing! – Micah Windsor May 22 at 11:08
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As requested by the OP and with due respect to @Brahadeesh for making me think of it....

In the 1990's, British band Kula Shaker had a number of hits that were written with a substantial part of the lyrics in Sanskrit. Apparently, frontman Crispian Mills was somewhat obsessed with Indian culture.

Two of their 1996 Top 10 hits were called "Tattva" and "Govinder", which, for any non-English-speakers, are NOT English words!

Their album, "K" went to number 1 in the UK.

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