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 1972, 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 the 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. 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, though the rules required 13 countries to complain before Poland could be removed from the competition, the proposed removal did not occur. [4]

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 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 (leading 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 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.[5] 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]

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 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"
phrases in Spanish 1957  Germany Margot Hielscher "Telefon, Telefon"
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 (variety of Serbo-Croatian)[6] 1961  Yugoslavia Ljiljana Petrović "Neke davne zvezde" (Неке давне звезде)
13 Croatian (variety of Serbo-Croatian)[6] 1963  Yugoslavia Vice Vukov "Brodovi"
14 Portuguese 1964  Portugal António Calvário "Oração"
15 Bosnian (variety of Serbo-Croatian)[6] 1964  Yugoslavia Sabahudin Kurt "Život je sklopio krug"
16 Slovene 1966  Yugoslavia Berta Ambrož "Brez besed"
phrases in Russian 1969  Yugoslavia Ivan & M's "Pozdrav svijetu"
17 Viennese (dialect of German) 1971  Austria 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 Hub" (بطاقة حب)
24 Montenegrin (variety of Serbo-Croatian)[6] 1983  Yugoslavia Daniel Popović "Džuli"
25 Icelandic 1986  Iceland ICY "Gleðibankinn"
26 Romansh 1989   Switzerland Furbaz "Viver senza tei"
27 Neapolitan 1991  Italy Peppino di Capri "Comme è ddoce 'o mare"
28 Antillean Creole 1992  France Kali "Monté la riviè"
phrases in 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"
phrases in Ancient Greek 1995  Greece Elina Konstantopoulou "Pia Prosefhi" (Ποιά προσευχή)
36 Vorarlbergish (dialect of German) 1996  Austria 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 (dialect of Lithuanian) 1999  Lithuania Aistė "Strazdas"
40 Styrian (dialect of German) 2003  Austria Alf Poier "Weil der Mensch zählt"
41 Imaginary language 2003  Belgium Urban Trad "Sanomi"
42 Latvian 2004  Latvia Fomins & Kleins "Dziesma par laimi"
43 Catalan 2004  Andorra Marta Roure "Jugarem a estimar-nos"
44 Ukrainian 2004  Ukraine Ruslana "Wild Dances"
45 Võro 2004  Estonia Neiokõsõ "Tii"
46 American Sign Language 2005  Latvia Valters and Kaža "The War Is Not Over"
47 Albanian 2006  Albania Luiz Ejlli "Zjarr e ftohtë"
phrases in 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"
phrases in Romani 2009  Czech Republic Gipsy.cz "Aven Romale"
phrases in Swahili 2011  Norway Stella Mwangi "Haba Haba"
51 Corsican 2011  France Amaury Vassili "Sognu"
title in Latin 2012  Albania Rona Nishliu "Suus"
52 Udmurt 2012  Russia Buranovskiye Babushki "Party for Everybody"
53 Mühlviertlerisch (dialect of German) 2012  Austria Trackshittaz "Woki mit deim Popo"
phrases in Azerbaijani 2012  Bulgaria Sofi Marinova "Love Unlimited"
54 Georgian 2012  Georgia Anri Jokhadze "I'm a Joker"
55 Romani 2013  Macedonia Esma & Lozano "Pred da se razdeni" (Пред да се раздени)
phrases in Pontic Greek 2016  Greece Argo "Utopian Land"
56 Crimean Tatar 2016  Ukraine Jamala "1944"
57 Belarusian 2017  Belarus Naviband "Story of My Life"
phrases in Sanskrit 2017  Italy Francesco Gabbani "Occidentali's Karma"

Source: The Diggiloo Thrush

Winners by language[edit]

Circle frame.svg
  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%)
  Croatian (1.5%)
  Ukrainian (1.5%)
  Serbian (1.5%)
  Crimean Tatar (1.5%)
  Portuguese (1.5%)

Between 1966 and 1973, 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.

Wins Language Years Countries
31 English 1967, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004,[N 1] 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016[N 2] United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Turkey, Ukraine, 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
Ukrainian 2004[N 1] Ukraine[N 1]
Serbian 2007 Serbia
Crimean Tatar 2016[N 2] Ukraine[N 2]
Portuguese 2017 Portugal

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 and references[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c This song was partially sung in Ukrainian.
  2. ^ a b c This song was partially sung in Crimean Tatar.

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. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence (2008-04-17). "French Singer Stirs Storm". http://www.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2010-05-07. 
  6. ^ a b c d At the time of Yugoslavia's existence the common name for these languages was Serbo-Croatian. 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). 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, "Don't Ever Cry" for Croatian, also in 1993, and "Zauvijek moja" for Montenegrin in 2005.
  7. ^ "Ishtar from Belgium to Belgrade". EBU. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 

Bibliography[edit]