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List of languages in the Eurovision Song Contest

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 changesEdit

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, this included ABBA's Waterloo in 1974 for Sweden [1] and 1975, Teach-In with Ding-a-dong for The Netherlands.

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 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.

CriticismEdit

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 appearanceEdit

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    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 Serbian (variety of Serbo-Croatian)[6]   Yugoslavia Ljiljana Petrović "Neke davne zvezde" (Неке давне звезде)
13 Croatian (variety of Serbo-Croatian)[6] 1963 Vice Vukov "Brodovi"
14 Portuguese 1964   Portugal António Calvário "Oração"
15 Bosnian (variety of Serbo-Croatian)[6]   Yugoslavia Sabahudin Kurt "Život je sklopio krug"
16 Slovene 1966 Berta Ambrož "Brez besed"
phrases in Russian 1969 Ivan & M's "Pozdrav svijetu"
17 Viennese (dialect of German) 1971   Austria Marianne Mendt "Musik"
18 Maltese   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"
title in Latin 1977   Finland Monica Aspelund "Lapponia"
23 Arabic 1980   Morocco Samira Said "Bitaqat hub" (بطاقة حب)
phrases in Northern Sámi   Norway Sverre Kjelsberg & Mattis Hætta "Sámiid ædnan"
24 Montenegrin (variety of Serbo-Croatian)[6] 1983   Yugoslavia Daniel "Džuli" (Џули)
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 Patrick Fiori "Mama Corsica"
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 (Dyki tantsi)" (Дикі танці)
45 Võro   Estonia Neiokõsõ "Tii"
46 lines in Sign language[7] 2005   Latvia Valters and Kaža "The War Is Not Over"
47 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"
48 Bulgarian 2007   Bulgaria Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankoulov "Water (Voda)" (Вода)
49 Czech   Czech Republic Kabát "Malá dáma"
phrases in Armenian   Armenia Hayko "Anytime You Need"
phrases in Romani 2009   Czech Republic Gipsy.cz "Aven Romale"
phrases in Karelian (dialect of Finnish) 2010   Finland Kuunkuiskaajat "Työlki ellää"
phrases in Swahili 2011   Norway Stella Mwangi "Haba Haba"
50 Corsican   France Amaury Vassili "Sognu"
phrases in Gheg Albanian 2012   Albania Rona Nishliu "Suus"
51 Udmurt   Russia Buranovskiye Babushki "Party for Everybody"
52 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"
53 lines in Romani 2013   Macedonia Esma & Lozano "Pred da se razdeni"
phrases in Pontic Greek 2016   Greece Argo "Utopian Land"
54 lines in Crimean Tatar   Ukraine Jamala "1944"
55 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"
56 Armenian   Armenia Sevak Khanagyan "Qami" (Քամի)
57 Georgian   Georgia Ethno-Jazz Band Iriao "Sheni gulistvis" (შენი გულისთვის)
phrases in Torlakian (dialect of Serbo-Croatian)[8][9][10]   Serbia Sanja Ilić & Balkanika "Nova deca" (Нова деца)
phrases in Abkhaz[11] 2019   Georgia Oto Nemsadze "Sul tsin iare" (სულ წინ იარე)

Source: The Diggiloo Thrush

Some languages that appeared in songs that didn't manage to represent their countries at Eurovision include Greenlandic, Basque, Lombard, Sardinian, Emilian, Ligurian, Pitjantjatjara, Tagalog and various Sámi languages used in Sweden and Finland.

Winners by languageEdit

  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. 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 1] 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,[N 2] 2018,[N 3] 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
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 fictional languagesEdit

Three times in the history of the contest, songs have been sung, wholly or partially, in fictional languages.[12]

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

Entries with sign languagesEdit

Some performances have included phrases in sign languages on stage.

Appearance Country Performer Song
2005   Latvia Walters & Kazha "The War Is Not Over"
2011   Lithuania Evelina Sašenko "C'est ma vie"
2015   Serbia Bojana Stamenov "Beauty Never Lies"
2019   France Bilal Hassani "Roi"

The best placed entry in each languageEdit

This list presents the highest placed song by each language. Songs performed only partially in the given language that have placed higher than the ones completely in that language are included too.

Best
placing
Language Most recent year Country Performer Song
33 wins English 2019   Netherlands Duncan Laurence "Arcade"
14 wins French 1988    Switzerland Céline Dion "Ne partez pas sans moi"
4 wins Hebrew 1998   Israel Dana International "Diva" (דיווה)
phrases in Hebrew 2018 Netta "Toy"
3 wins Dutch 1969   Netherlands Lenny Kuhr "De troubadour"
2 wins Norwegian 1995   Norway Secret Garden "Nocturne"
Swedish 1991   Sweden Carola "Fångad av en stormvind"
Italian 1990   Italy Toto Cutugno "Insieme: 1992"
German 1982   Germany Nicole "Ein bißchen Frieden"
Spanish 1969   Spain Salomé "Vivo cantando"
win Portuguese 2017   Portugal Salvador Sobral "Amar pelos dois"
Serbian 2007   Serbia Marija Šerifović "Molitva" (Молитва)
Croatian 1989   Yugoslavia Riva "Rock Me"
Danish 1963   Denmark Grethe & Jørgen Ingmann "Dansevise"
2nd Imaginary 2003   Belgium Urban Trad "Sanomi"
Polish 1994   Poland Edyta Górniak "To nie ja!"
3rd Bosnian 2006   Bosnia and Herzegovina Hari Mata Hari "Lejla"
Russian 2003   Russia t.A.T.u. "Ne ver', ne boysia" (Не верь, не бойся)
Turkish 1997   Turkey Şebnem Paker & Grup Etnic "Dinle"
4th Hungarian 1994   Hungary Friderika "Kinek mondjam el vétkeimet?"
Icelandic 1990   Iceland Stjórnin "Eitt lag enn"
Montenegrin 1983   Yugoslavia Daniel "Džuli" (Џули)
5th Albanian 2012   Albania Rona Nishliu "Suus"
Bulgarian 2007   Bulgaria Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankoulov "Water (Voda)" (Вода)
4th phrases in Bulgarian 2016 Poli Genova "If Love Was a Crime"
5th Greek 1997   Cyprus Hara & Andreas Konstantinou "Mana mou" (Μάνα μου)
4th phrases in Greek 2001   Greece Antique "(I Would) Die for You"
5th Estonian 1996   Estonia Maarja-Liis Ilus & Ivo Linna "Kaelakee hääl"
6th Austrian dialects 2003   Austria Alf Poier "Weil der Mensch zählt"
7th Slovene 1995   Slovenia Darja Švajger "Prisluhni mi"
Neapolitan 1991   Italy Peppino di Capri "Comme è ddoce 'o mare"
Finnish 1989   Finland Anneli Saaristo "La dolce vita"
11th Romanian 2013   Moldova Aliona Moon "O mie"
6th phrases in Romanian 2005 Zdob și Zdub "Boonika bate doba"
13th Macedonian 2012   Macedonia Kaliopi "Crno i belo" (Црно и бело)
12th phrases in Macedonian 2006 Elena Risteska "Ninanajna" (Нинанајна)
13th Romansh 1989    Switzerland Furbaz "Viver senza tei"
Luxembourgish 1960   Luxembourg Camillo Felgen "So laang we's du do bast"
15th Corsican 2011   France Amaury Vassili "Sognu"
4th phrases in Corsican 1993 Patrick Fiori "Mama Corsica"
15th Irish 1972   Ireland Sandie Jones "Ceol an ghrá"
17th Belarusian 2017   Belarus Naviband "Historyja majho žyccia" (Гісторыя майго жыцця)
18th Slovak 1996   Slovakia Marcel Palonder "Kým nás máš"
Arabic 1980   Morocco Samira Said "Bitaqat hub" (بطاقة حب)
2nd phrases in Arabic 2019   Italy Mahmood "Soldi"
18th Maltese 1972   Malta Helen & Joseph "L-imħabba"
8th phrases in Maltese 2000 Claudette Pace "Desire"
19th Breton 1996   France Dan Ar Braz & L'Héritage des Celtes "Diwanit bugale"
20th Samogitian 1999   Lithuania Aistė "Strazdas"
25th Lithuanian 1994 Ovidijus Vyšniauskas "Lopšinė mylimai"
12th phrases in Lithuanian 2018 Ieva Zasimauskaitė "When We're Old (Kol myliu)"
SF 11th Võro 2004   Estonia Neiokõsõ "Tii"
SF 14th Georgian 2019   Georgia Oto Nemsadze "Sul tsin iare" (სულ წინ იარე)
SF 15th Armenian 2018   Armenia Sevak Khanagyan "Qami" (Քամի)
4th phrases in Armenian 2008 Sirusho "Qele, qele" (Քելե, քելե)
SF 17th Latvian 2004   Latvia Fomins & Kleins "Dziesma par laimi"
SF 13th phrases in Latvian 2014 Aarzemnieki "Cake to Bake"
SF 18th Catalan 2004   Andorra Marta Roure "Jugarem a estimar-nos"
SF 12th phrases in Catalan 2007 Anonymous "Salvem el món"
SF 28th Czech 2007   Czech Republic Kabát "Malá dáma"

See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ a b c This song was partially sung in Ukrainian.
  2. ^ a b c This song was partially sung in Crimean Tatar.
  3. ^ This song contained phrases in Hebrew and Japanese.

ReferencesEdit

  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. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  5. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence (2008-04-17). "French Singer Stirs Storm". 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. ^ Hughes, Niamh (12 May 2018). "What is the rarest language used at Eurovision?". BBC. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  8. ^ Sanja Ilić & Balkanika - Nova deca (English translation), Lyrics Translate, 28 February 2018.
  9. ^ "Nova deca" lyrics, Wiwibloggs, 21 April 2018.
  10. ^ "Everything you need to know about Eurovision—and its decades of glorious camp". Retrieved 13 May 2018.
  11. ^ [1], Lyrics Translate, 7 March 2019.
  12. ^ "Ishtar from Belgium to Belgrade". EBU. Retrieved 19 May 2013.

BibliographyEdit