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 organisers have sometimes compelled countries to only sing in their own national 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 1972, due to the aforementioned case, 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, this included ABBA's Waterloo in 1974 for Sweden [1] and Teach-In's Ding-a-dong for The Netherlands in 1975.

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 the United Kingdom as English is an official language in those countries. The restriction was imposed from 1977 to 1998.

From 1999 onward, 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. In 1994 Poland caused a scandal when Edyta Górniak broke the rules by singing her song in English during the dress rehearsal[2][3] (which is shown to the juries who selected the winner). Only six countries demanded that Poland should be disqualified, and, with the rules requiring at least 13 countries to complain, the proposed removal did not occur.[4]

Since 2000 some songs have used fictional or non-existent languages: the Belgian entries in 2003 ("Sanomi") and 2008 ("O Julissi") were entirely in fictional languages. In 2006 the Dutch entry, "Amambanda", was sung partly in English and partly in a fictional 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 was represented by the song "Love Unlimited" sung by Sofi Marinova, which mainly had lyrics in Bulgarian, but 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 also had phrases in Spanish, German, French, English, Dutch, Italian, Russian and Finnish.

As of 2017, only two countries have never entered a song in one or more of their national languages: Azerbaijan has not used Azerbaijani since its debut in 2008 (leaving Bulgaria to be the first country to enter a song with Azerbaijani lyrics), and Monaco has not used Monégasque, its traditional national language.

On the other hand, as of 2016, there are only ten countries whose representatives have performed all their songs at least partially in an official, regional or national language: Andorra, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Morocco, and Portugal. In addition, former countries Serbia and Montenegro, Yugoslavia, and current countries Australia, Ireland, Malta and the United Kingdom, only have been represented by songs fully in an official language.

Criticism[edit]

French legislator François-Michel Gonnot criticised French television and launched an official complaint in the French Parliament, as the song which represented France in 2008, "Divine", was sung in English.[5] A similar incident occurred again in 2014, when Spanish artist Ruth Lorenzo was criticised 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]

Languages are fully counted below when they are used in at least an entire verse or chorus of a song. First brief uses of a language are also noted.

Order Language[6][7] First
appearance
Country First performer First song
1 Dutch 1956  Netherlands Jetty Paerl "De vogels van Holland"
2 German   Switzerland Lys Assia "Das alte Karussell"
3 French  Belgium Fud Leclerc "Messieurs les noyés de la Seine"
4 Italian  Italy Franca Raimondi "Aprite le finestre"
5 English 1957  United Kingdom Patricia Bredin "All"
phrases in Spanish  Germany Margot Hielscher "Telefon, Telefon"
6 Danish  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  Norway Nora Brockstedt "Voi voi"
title in Sámi
10 Spanish 1961  Spain Conchita Bautista "Estando contigo"
11 Finnish  Finland Laila Kinnunen "Valoa ikkunassa"
12 Serbo-Croatian[N 1]  Yugoslavia Ljiljana Petrović "Neke davne zvezde" (Неке давне звезде)
13 Portuguese 1964  Portugal António Calvário "Oração"
14 Slovene 1966  Yugoslavia Berta Ambrož "Brez besed"
phrases in Russian 1969 Ivan & M's "Pozdrav svijetu" (Поздрав свијету)
15 Viennese (dialect of German) 1971  Austria Marianne Mendt "Musik"
16 Maltese  Malta Joe Grech "Marija l-Maltija"
17 Irish 1972  Ireland Sandie Jones "Ceol an ghrá"
18 Hebrew 1973  Israel Ilanit "Ey Sham" (אי שם)
19 Greek 1974  Greece Marinella "Krasi, thalassa kai t'agori mou" (Κρασί, θάλασσα και τ'αγόρι μου)
20 Turkish 1975  Turkey Semiha Yankı "Seninle Bir Dakika"
title in Latin 1977  Finland Monica Aspelund "Lapponia"
21 Arabic 1980  Morocco Samira Said "Bitaqat Hub" (بطاقة حب)
phrases in Northern Sámi  Norway Sverre Kjelsberg & Mattis Hætta "Sámiid ædnan"
22 Icelandic 1986  Iceland ICY "Gleðibankinn"
23 Romansh 1989   Switzerland Furbaz "Viver senza tei"
Finland Swedish 1990  Finland Beat "Fri?"
24 Neapolitan 1991  Italy Peppino di Capri "Comme è ddoce 'o mare"
25 Antillean Creole 1992  France Kali "Monté la riviè"
26 Serbian (variety of Serbo-Croatian)[N 1] 1992 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Yugoslavia Extra Nena "Ljubim te pesmama" (Љубим те песмама)
phrases in Corsican 1993  France Patrick Fiori "Mama Corsica"
27 Bosnian (variety of Serbo-Croatian)[N 1]  Bosnia and Herzegovina Fazla "Sva bol svijeta"
28 Croatian (variety of Serbo-Croatian)[N 1]  Croatia Put "Don't Ever Cry"
29 Estonian 1994  Estonia Silvi Vrait "Nagu merelaine"
30 Romanian  Romania Dan Bittman "Dincolo de nori"
31 Slovak  Slovakia Martin Ďurinda & Tublatanka "Nekonečná pieseň"
32 Lithuanian  Lithuania Ovidijus Vyšniauskas "Lopšinė mylimai"
33 Hungarian  Hungary Friderika "Kinek mondjam el vétkeimet?"
34 Russian  Russia Youddiph "Vechnyy strannik" (Вечный стрaнник)
35 Polish  Poland Edyta Górniak "To nie ja!"
phrases in Ancient Greek 1995  Greece Elina Konstantopoulou "Pia prosefhi" (Ποιά προσευχή)
36 Vorarlbergish (dialect of German) 1996  Austria George Nussbaumer "Weil's dr guat got"
37 Breton  France Dan Ar Braz & l'Héritage des Celtes "Diwanit bugale"
38 Macedonian 1998  Macedonia Vlado Janevski "Ne zori, zoro" (Не зори, зоро)
39 Samogitian (dialect of Lithuanian) 1999  Lithuania Aistė "Strazdas"
40 Styrian (dialect of German) 2003  Austria Alf Poier "Weil der Mensch zählt"
41 Imaginary language  Belgium Urban Trad "Sanomi"
42 Latvian 2004  Latvia Fomins & Kleins "Dziesma par laimi"
43 Catalan  Andorra Marta Roure "Jugarem a estimar-nos"
44 lines in Ukrainian  Ukraine Ruslana "Wild Dances"
45 Võro  Estonia Neiokõsõ "Tii"
46 lines in Latvian Sign Language[8] 2005  Latvia Walters & Kazha "The War Is Not Over"
47 Montenegrin (variety of Serbo-Croatian)[N 1] 2005  Serbia and Montenegro No Name "Zauvijek moja" (Заувијек моја)
48 Albanian 2006  Albania Luiz Ejlli "Zjarr e ftohtë"
phrases in Tahitian  Monaco Séverine Ferrer "La coco-dance"
phrases in Andalusian Spanish  Spain Las Ketchup "Un Blodymary"
phrases in Italo-Dalmatian  Croatia Severina "Moja štikla"
49 Bulgarian 2007  Bulgaria Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankoulov "Water"
50 Czech  Czech Republic Kabát "Malá dáma"
phrases in Armenian  Armenia Hayko "Anytime You Need"
phrases in Romani 2009  Czech Republic Gipsy.cz "Aven Romale"
51 lines in Armenian  Armenia Inga and Anush "Jan Jan" (Ջան Ջան)
phrases in Karelian (dialect of Finnish) 2010  Finland Kuunkuiskaajat "Työlki ellää"
phrases in Swahili 2011  Norway Stella Mwangi "Haba Haba"
52 Corsican  France Amaury Vassili "Sognu"
Gheg Albanian 2012  Albania Rona Nishliu "Suus"
53 Udmurt  Russia Buranovskiye Babushki "Party for Everybody"
54 Mühlviertlerisch (dialect of German)  Austria Trackshittaz "Woki mit deim Popo"
phrases in Azerbaijani  Bulgaria Sofi Marinova "Love Unlimited"
phrases in Georgian  Georgia Anri Jokhadze "I'm a Joker"
55 lines in Romani 2013  Macedonia Esma & Lozano "Pred da se razdeni"
Chakavian (dialect of Croatian)  Croatia Klapa s Mora "Mižerja"
phrases in Pontic Greek 2016  Greece Argo "Utopian Land"
56 lines in Crimean Tatar  Ukraine Jamala "1944"
57 Belarusian 2017  Belarus Naviband "Historyja majho žyccia" (Гісторыя майго жыцця)
phrases in Sanskrit  Italy Francesco Gabbani "Occidentali's Karma"
phrases in Japanese 2018  Israel Netta "Toy"
58 Georgian  Georgia Ethno-Jazz Band Iriao "For You"
phrases in Torlakian (dialect of Serbian)[9][10][11]  Serbia Sanja Ilić & Balkanika "Nova deca" (Нова деца)
phrases in Abkhaz[12] 2019  Georgia Oto Nemsadze "Keep on Going"
Amharic 2020  Israel Eden Alene "Feker Libi" (ፍቅር ልቤ)

Winners by language[edit]

  English (46.3%)
  French (20.9%)
  Dutch (4.5%)
  Hebrew (4.5%)
  German (3.0%)
  Norwegian (3.0%)
  Swedish (3.0%)
  Italian (3.0%)
  Spanish (3.0%)
  Danish (1.5%)
  Serbo-Croatian (1.5%)
  Ukrainian (1.5%)
  Serbian (1.5%)
  Crimean Tatar (1.5%)
  Portuguese (1.5%)

Between 1966 and 1972, and again between 1977 and 1998, countries were only permitted to perform in their own language; see the main Eurovision Song Contest article. In 2017 "Amar pelos dois" became the first Portuguese-language song to win the contest, the first winner since 2007 to both be in a language that had never produced a winning song before and be entirely in a language other than English. Among all Eurovision winning entries, only Ukraine's were performed in more than one language.

Wins Language Years Countries
33 English 1967, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004,[N 2] 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,[N 3] 2018,[N 4] 2019 United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Turkey, Ukraine, Greece, Finland, Russia, Norway, Germany, Azerbaijan, Austria, Israel
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
Serbo-Croatian[N 5] 1989 Yugoslavia[N 5]
Ukrainian 2004[N 2] Ukraine[N 2]
Serbian 2007 Serbia
Crimean Tatar 2016[N 3] Ukraine[N 3]
Portuguese 2017 Portugal

Entries in constructed languages[edit]

Three times in the history of the contest, songs have been sung, wholly or partially, in constructed languages.[13]

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

Performances with sign languages[edit]

Some performances have included phrases in sign languages on stage.

Appearance Country Performer Song Ref
2005  Latvia Walters & Kazha "The War Is Not Over" [8][14]
2006  Poland Ich Troje "Follow My Heart" [15]
2011  Lithuania Evelina Sašenko "C'est ma vie" [16][17]
2015  Serbia Bojana Stamenov "Beauty Never Lies" [18]
2019  France Bilal Hassani "Roi" [19]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Serbo-Croatian is the name given to the pluricentric language to which Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian and Montenegrin belong. At the time of Yugoslavia's existence there was little distinction between the four standard varieties: the term Croatian came into use during the 1970s; Serbian and Bosnian evolved politically in the 1990s, and Montenegrin in the 2000s (see Serbo-Croatian for more details). Varying sources outline the language in which Yugoslav entries were performed differently, and another view is that the first entry performed by an artist from each Yugoslav constituent republic can be considered the first for their respective languages: "Neke davne zvezde" for Serbian in 1961, "Brodovi" for Croatian in 1963, "Život je sklopio krug" for Bosnian in 1964, and "Džuli" for Montenegrin in 1983.
  2. ^ a b c This song was partially sung in Ukrainian.
  3. ^ a b c This song was partially sung in Crimean Tatar.
  4. ^ This song contained phrases in Hebrew and Japanese.
  5. ^ a b Yugoslavia's 1989 winner "Rock Me" is alternatively considered to have been performed in Croatian.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Facts & Trivia". European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  2. ^ "Eurovision Song Contest 1994". Eurovision.tv. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
  3. ^ "Poland1994 - Edyta Gorniak To Nie Ja (Polish/English)". YouTube clip. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  4. ^ "Eurovision Song Contest 1994 facts". eurovision-contest.eu. Archived from the original on 9 November 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
  5. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence (2008-04-17). "French Singer Stirs Storm". nytimes.com. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
  6. ^ "The Diggiloo Thrush". Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  7. ^ "4Lyrics.eu - Eurovision". Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  8. ^ a b Hughes, Niamh (12 May 2018). "What is the rarest language used at Eurovision?". BBC. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  9. ^ Sanja Ilić & Balkanika - Nova deca (English translation), Lyrics Translate, 28 February 2018.
  10. ^ "Nova deca" lyrics, Wiwibloggs, 21 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Everything you need to know about Eurovision—and its decades of glorious camp". Retrieved 13 May 2018.
  12. ^ [1], lyricstranslate, 7 March 2019
  13. ^ "Ishtar from Belgium to Belgrade". EBU. 10 March 2008. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  14. ^ Walter & Kazha - The War Is Not Over (Latvia) Live - Eurovision Song Contest 2005 on YouTube
  15. ^ Ich Troje - Follow My Heart (Poland) 2006 Semi-Final on YouTube
  16. ^ "Evelina goes all classic for Lithuania". eurovision.tv. 2 May 2011. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  17. ^ Evelina Sašenko - C'est Ma Vie (Lithuania) Live 2011 Eurovision Song Contest on YouTube
  18. ^ Bojana Stamenov - Beauty Never Lies (Serbia) - LIVE at Eurovision 2015 Grand Final on YouTube
  19. ^ France - LIVE - Bilal Hassani - Roi - Grand Final - Eurovision 2019 on YouTube

Bibliography[edit]