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.
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  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 (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.
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.
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. 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
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.
Languages in the national selections
This list presents the languages that have appeared in national selection songs but haven't managed to represent their country at Eurovision. Phrases of Northern Sámi have appeared at Eurovision, but not a complete song.
Julie & Nina
"League of Light"
|1979||Faroese||Annika Hoydal||"Bølgen (Aldan)"|
|West Frisian||Netherlands||Gina de Wit
|"Hjir is it begjin"|
"Tusken skimer en ljocht"
|Northern Sámi||Norway||Ann-Mari Andersen
Elin & The Woods
"First Step in Faith (Oadjebasvuhtii)"
"We Are As One"
|2008||Silesian||Czech Republic||Čechomor||"Józef, mój kochany"|
|Livonian||Latvia||Kristīne Kārkla-Puriņa||"Rišti räšti"|
|phrases in Southern Sámi||Sweden||Jon Henrik Fjällgren||"Jag är fri (Manne leam frijje)"|
"En värld full av strider (Eatneme gusnie jeenh dåaroeh)"
|2016||phrases in Yoruba||Finland||ClemSO||"Thief"|
|2019||phrases in Pitjantjatjara||Australia||Electric Fields||"2000 and Whatever"|
|phrases in Tagalog||Romania||Bella Santiago||"Army of Love"|
Winners by language
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.
|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|
|Ukrainian||2004[N 1]||Ukraine[N 1]|
|Crimean Tatar||2016[N 2]||Ukraine[N 2]|
Entries in fictional languages
Entries with sign languages
Some performances have included phrases in sign languages on stage.
|2005||Latvia||Walters & Kazha||"The War Is Not Over"|
|2006||Poland||Ich Troje||"Follow My Heart"|
|2011||Lithuania||Evelina Sašenko||"C'est ma vie"|
|2015||Serbia||Bojana Stamenov||"Beauty Never Lies"|
The best placed entry in each language
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.
The most recent entry in each language
This list shows the most recent entry performed in each language. If the latest entry is only partly sung in the given language, the latest song solely in the language is listed too. The entries of the same year are presented according to their placing; songs completely in the given language are listed first, followed by the songs partly in that language.
Notes and references
- "Facts & Trivia". European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
- "Eurovision Song Contest 1994". Eurovision.tv. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
- "Poland1994 - Edyta Gorniak To Nie Ja (Polish/English)". YouTube clip. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
- "Eurovision Song Contest 1994 facts". eurovision-contest.eu. Archived from the original on 9 November 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
- Van Gelder, Lawrence (2008-04-17). "French Singer Stirs Storm". nytimes.com. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- 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.
- Hughes, Niamh (12 May 2018). "What is the rarest language used at Eurovision?". BBC. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
- Sanja Ilić & Balkanika - Nova deca (English translation), Lyrics Translate, 28 February 2018.
- "Nova deca" lyrics, Wiwibloggs, 21 April 2018.
- "Everything you need to know about Eurovision—and its decades of glorious camp". Retrieved 13 May 2018.
- , lyricstranslate, 7 March 2019
- "Ishtar from Belgium to Belgrade". EBU. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Eurovision Song Contest winners.|
- Eurovision Song Contest history. Eurovision.tv. Retrieved on 19 August 2007.
- History. ESCtoday.com. Retrieved on 19 August 2007.
- John Kennedy O'Connor (2005). The Eurovision Song Contest 50 Years The Official History. London: Carlton Books Limited. ISBN 1-84442-586-X.
- O'Connor, John Kennedy (2005). The Eurovision Song Contest 50 Years The Official History. London: Carlton Books Limited. ISBN 1-84442-586-X.
- "Historical Milestones". eurovision.tv. 2005. Archived from the original on 2006-05-26. Retrieved 2006-05-26.
- "Urban Trad". UrbanTrad.com. 28 September 2004. Archived from the original on 8 February 2007. Retrieved 2006-07-18.
- "Treble will represent the Netherlands". eurovision.tv. Archived from the original on 2006-05-25. Retrieved 2006-05-25.
- Klier, Marcus (2008-03-09). "Belgium: Ishtar to Eurovision". ESCToday. Retrieved 2008-10-11.