List of languages in the Eurovision Song Contest

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The following is a list of languages used in the Eurovision Song Contest since its inception in 1956, including songs (as) performed in finals and, since 2004, semi-finals.

The rules concerning the language of the entries have been changed several times. In the past, the Contest's organizers have sometimes compelled countries to only sing in their own languages, but since 1999 no such restriction has existed.

Rule changes[edit]

From 1956 until 1965, there was no rule restricting the language(s) in which the songs could be sung. For example, in the 1965 Contest, Ingvar Wixell of Sweden sang his song in English.

From 1966 to 1973, a rule was imposed that a song must be performed in one of the official languages of the country participating.

From 1973 to 1976 inclusive, participants were allowed to enter songs in any language. Several winners took advantage of this, with songs in English by countries where other languages are spoken, including ABBA's song in 1974.[1]

In 1977, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the Contest's organisers, reimposed the national language restriction. However, Germany and Belgium were given a special dispensation to use English, as their national song selection procedures were already too advanced to change. During the language rule, the only countries which were allowed to sing in English were Ireland, Malta and United Kingdom as English is an official language in those countries. The restriction was imposed from 1977 to 1998.

From 1999 onwards, a free choice of language was again allowed. Since then, several countries have chosen songs that mixed languages, often English and their national language. Prior to that, songs such as Croatia's "Don't Ever Cry" (1993), Austria's "One Step" and Bosnia and Herzegovina's "Goodbye" (1997) had a title and one line of the song in a non-native language.

Since 2000 some songs have used artificial or non-existent languages: the Belgian entries in 2003 ("Sanomi") and 2008 ("O Julissi") were entirely in imaginary languages. In 2006 the Dutch entry, "Amambanda", was sung partly in English and partly in an artificial language.

The entry which used the most languages was "It's Just a Game", sung by the Bendik Singers for Norway in 1973. It was performed in English and French, with some lyrics in Spanish, Italian, Dutch, German, Irish, Serbo-Croatian, Hebrew, Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian. In 2012 Bulgaria's entry, "Love Unlimited" had lyrics in Bulgarian, with phrases in Turkish, Greek, Spanish, Serbo-Croatian, French, Romani, Italian, Azerbaijani, Arabic and English. 1969 Yugoslav entry "Pozdrav svijetu" was mainly sung in Croatian, but it had phrases in Spanish, German, French, English, Dutch, Italian, Russian and Finnish.

As of 2013, only three countries have never entered a song in one or more of their national language(s): Belarus has used neither Belarusian nor Russian since its first participation in 2004, Azerbaijan has not used Azerbaijani since its debut in 2008 (leading Bulgaria to be the first country to enter a song with Azerbaijani lyrics) and Monaco has not used Monégasque, which is one of the official languages of Monaco.

On the other hand, as of 2013, there are only twelve countries whose representatives have performed all their songs at least partially in an official, regional or national language: Andorra, France, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Morocco, Portugal, and Spain. In addition, former countries Serbia and Montengro, Yugoslavia, and current countries Ireland, Malta, Serbia and the United Kingdom, only have been represented by songs fully in an official language.

Criticism[edit]

French legislator François-Michel Gonnot criticized French television and launched an official complaint in the French Parliament, as the song which represented France in 2008, "Divine", was sung in English.[2] A similar incident occurred again in 2014, when Spanish artist Ruth Lorenzo was criticized by the Royal Spanish Academy after the Spanish national selection for singing her entry, Dancing in the Rain, with some lyrics in English.

Languages and their first appearance[edit]

Order Language First
appearance
Country First performer First song
1 Dutch 1956  Netherlands Jetty Paerl "De vogels van Holland"
2 German 1956  Switzerland Lys Assia "Das alte Karussell"
3 French 1956  Belgium Fud Leclerc "Messieurs les noyés de la Seine"
4 Italian 1956  Italy Franca Raimondi "Aprite le finestre"
5 English 1957  United Kingdom Patricia Bredin "All"
6 Danish 1957  Denmark Birthe Wilke & Gustav Winckler "Skibet skal sejle i nat"
7 Swedish 1958  Sweden Alice Babs "Lilla stjärna"
8 Luxembourgish 1960  Luxembourg Camillo Felgen "So laang we's du do bast"
9 Norwegian 1960  Norway Nora Brockstedt "Voi Voi"
10 Spanish 1961  Spain Conchita Bautista "Estando contigo"
11 Finnish 1961  Finland Laila Kinnunen "Valoa ikkunassa"
12 Serbian[3] 1961  Yugoslavia Ljiljana Petrović "Neke davne zvezde" (Неке давне звезде)
13 Croatian[3] 1963  Yugoslavia Vice Vukov "Brodovi"
14 Portuguese 1964  Portugal António Calvário "Oração"
15 Bosnian[3] 1964  Yugoslavia Sabahudin Kurt "Život je sklopio krug"
16 Slovene 1966  Yugoslavia Berta Ambrož "Brez besed"
17 Viennese 1971  Austria[4] Marianne Mendt "Musik"
18 Maltese 1971  Malta Joe Grech "Marija l-Maltija"
19 Irish 1972  Ireland Sandie Jones "Ceol an Ghrá"
20 Hebrew 1973  Israel Ilanit "Ey Sham" (אי שם)
21 Greek 1974  Greece Marinella "Krasi, Thalassa Kai T' Agori Mou"
(Κρασί, θάλασσα και τ' αγόρι μου)
22 Turkish 1975  Turkey Semiha Yankı "Seninle Bir Dakika"
23 Arabic 1980  Morocco Samira Bensaid "Bitaqat Khub" (بطاقة حب)
24 Icelandic 1986  Iceland ICY "Gleðibankinn"
25 Romansh 1989  Switzerland Furbaz "Viver senza tei"
26 Neapolitan 1991  Italy Peppino di Capri "Comme è ddoce 'o mare"
27 Haitian Creole 1992  France Kali "Monté la riviè"
28 Corsican 1993  France Patrick Fiori "Mama Corsica"
29 Estonian 1994  Estonia Silvi Vrait "Nagu merelaine"
30 Romanian 1994  Romania Dan Bittman "Dincolo de nori"
31 Slovak 1994  Slovakia Tublatanka "Nekonečná pieseň"
32 Lithuanian 1994  Lithuania Ovidijus Vyšniauskas "Lopšinė mylimai"
33 Hungarian 1994  Hungary Friderika Bayer "Kinek mondjam el vétkeimet?"
34 Russian 1994  Russia Youddiph "Vyechniy stranik" (Вечный стрaнник)
35 Polish 1994  Poland Edyta Górniak "To nie ja"
36 Vorarlbergish 1996  Austria[4] Georg Nussbaumer "Weil's dr guat got"
37 Breton 1996  France Dan Ar Braz "Diwanit Bugale"
38 Macedonian 1998  Macedonia Vlado Janevski "Ne zori, zoro" (Не зори, зоро)
39 Samogitian 1999  Lithuania Aistė "Strazdas"
40 Imaginary language 2003  Belgium Urban Trad "Sanomi"
41 Latvian 2004  Latvia Fomins & Kleins "Dziesma par laimi"
42 Catalan 2004  Andorra Marta Roure "Jugarem a estimar-nos"
43 Ukrainian 2004  Ukraine Ruslana "Wild Dances"
44 Võro 2004  Estonia Neiokõsõ "Tii"
45 Montenegrin[5] 2005  Serbia and Montenegro No Name "Zauvijek moja"
46 Albanian 2006  Albania Luiz Ejlli "Zjarr e ftohtë"
47 Tahitian 2006  Monaco Séverine Ferrer "La Coco-Dance"
48 Bulgarian 2007  Bulgaria Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankoulov "Water"
49 Czech 2007  Czech Republic Kabát "Malá dáma"
50 Armenian 2007  Armenia Hayko "Anytime You Need"
51 Romani 2009  Czech Republic Gipsy.cz "Aven Romale"
52 Swahili 2011  Norway Stella Mwangi "Haba Haba"
53 Udmurt 2012  Russia Buranovskiye Babushki "Party for Everybody"
54 Azeri 2012  Bulgaria Sofi Marinova "Love Unlimited"
55 Georgian 2012  Georgia Anri Jokhadze "I'm a Joker"

Source: The Diggiloo Thrush

Winners by language[edit]

Wins Language Years Countries
29 English 1967, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004,[6] 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Turkey, Ukraine,[6] Greece, Finland, Russia, Norway, Germany, Azerbaijan, Austria
14 French 1956, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1965, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1977, 1983, 1986, 1988 Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Monaco, Belgium
3 Dutch 1957, 1959, 1969 Netherlands
Hebrew 1978, 1979, 1998 Israel
2 German 1966, 1982 Austria, Germany
Norwegian 1985, 1995 Norway
Swedish 1984, 1991 Sweden
Italian 1964, 1990 Italy
Spanish 1968, 1969 Spain
1 Danish 1963 Denmark
Croatian 1989 Yugoslavia
Serbian 2007 Serbia

The Contest's name in national languages[edit]

This is what the "Eurovision Song Contest" is called in the official languages of current and past participant countries of the contest.

Language Countries which language has official status in Name in language
Albanian  Albania Festivali Evropian i Këngës
Arabic  Israel,  Morocco مسابقة يوروفيجن للأغاني
Armenian  Armenia Եվրատեսիլ երգի մրցույթ
Azerbaijani  Azerbaijan Avroviziya Mahnı Müsabiqəsi
Belarusian  Belarus Конкурс песні Еўрабачанне or Конкурс песьні Эўрабачаньня
Bosnian  Bosnia and Herzegovina Pjesma Evrovizije
Bulgarian  Bulgaria Песенен конкурс Евровизия
Catalan  Andorra,  Spain Festival de la Cançó d'Eurovisió
Croatian  Bosnia and Herzegovina,  Croatia Pjesma Eurovizije
Czech  Czech Republic Velká cena Eurovize
Danish  Denmark Europæisk Melodi Grand Prix
Dutch  Belgium,  Netherlands Eurovisiesongfestival
English  Ireland,  Malta,  United Kingdom Eurovision Song Contest
Estonian  Estonia Eurovisiooni lauluvõistlus
Finnish  Finland Eurovision laulukilpailu
The Finnish national selection is named Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu (New Music Competition).
French  Belgium,  France,  Luxembourg,  Monaco,  Switzerland Concours Eurovision de la Chanson
Georgian  Georgia ევროვიზიის სიმღერის კონკურსი
German  Austria,  Belgium,  Germany,  Luxembourg,  Switzerland Eurovision Song Contest, often "Grand Prix"
Greek  Cyprus,  Greece Διαγωνισμός Τραγουδιού Eurovision
Hebrew  Israel תחרות הזמר של האירוויזיון
Hungarian  Hungary Eurovíziós Dalfesztivál
Icelandic  Iceland Söngvakeppni evrópskra sjónvarpsstöðva
Irish  Ireland Comórtas Amhránaíochta na hEoraifíse
Italian  Italy,  San Marino,  Switzerland Eurofestival or Concorso della canzone dell'Eurovisione
Latvian  Latvia Eirovīzijas dziesmu konkurss
Lithuanian  Lithuania Eurovizijos dainų konkursas
Luxembourgish  Luxembourg Eurovision Song Contest
Macedonian  Macedonia Евровизија
Maltese  Malta Festival tal-Eurovision
Montenegrin  Montenegro Evrovizija
Norwegian (Bokmål)  Norway Eurovisjonens musikkonkurranse
The Norwegian national selection is named Melodi Grand Prix
Polish  Poland Konkurs Piosenki Eurowizji
Portuguese  Portugal Festival Eurovisão da Canção
Romanian  Moldova,  Romania Concursul Muzical Eurovision
Romansh  Switzerland Eurovision Song Contest
Russian  Belarus,  Russia Конкурс песни Евровидение
Serbian  Bosnia and Herzegovina,  Montenegro,  Serbia Песма Евровизије
Slovak  Slovakia Veľká cena Eurovízie, often "Eurovízia"
Slovene  Slovenia Pesem Evrovizije
Spanish  Spain Festival de la Canción de Eurovisión
Swedish  Finland,  Sweden Eurovision Song Contest or Eurovision Melodifestivalen
Turkish  Cyprus,  Turkey Eurovision Şarkı Yarışması or Avrovizyon Şarkı Yarışması
Ukrainian  Ukraine Пісенний конкурс Євробачення


Entries in artificial (constructed) languages[edit]

Three times in the history of the contest, songs have been sung in invented languages.[7]

Appearance Country Performer Song
2003  Belgium Urban Trad "Sanomi"
2006  Netherlands Treble "Amambanda"
2008  Belgium Ishtar "O Julissi"

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Facts & Trivia". European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved 10 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence (2008-04-17). "French Singer Stirs Storm". http://www.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2010-05-07. 
  3. ^ a b c At the time of Yugoslavia's existence the common name for these languages was Serbo-Croatian. The term Croatian came into use during the seventies; Serbian and Bosnian evolved politically in the 1990s (see Serbo-Croatian for more details). Another view is that the first post-breakup entries can be considered the first for the respective languages: "Ljubim te pesmama" for Serbian in 1992, "Sva bol svijeta" for Bosnian in 1993, and "Don't Ever Cry" for Croatian, also in 1993.
  4. ^ a b Austria has sent two entries to the contest in dialects of German: "Weil der Mensch zählt" was sung in the Styrian dialect in 2003, while "Woki mit deim Popo" was sung in the Mühlviertlerisch dialect in 2012.
  5. ^ It could be considered that the Yugoslav songs of 1983 (Džuli) and 1984 (Ciao amore) were sung in Montenegrin language, although its autonomy as a language was not recognized until the mid 90s.
  6. ^ a b This song was partially sung in Ukrainian.
  7. ^ "Ishtar from Belgium to Belgrade". EBU. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 

References[edit]