Lingue nell’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 changes. 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 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 (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.

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. 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.

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”
Finland Swedish 1990  Finland Beat “Fri?”
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 Walters & Kazha “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”
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)

[6] 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.

From the first Contest in 1956 until 1965, and again from 1973 until 1976 there was no restriction on language. From 1966 until 1972, and again from 1978 until 1998, songs were required to be performed in a national language. The national language rule was actually instituted shortly before the 1977 Contest, but some countries had already selected non-national language entries, and they were allowed to enter without any changes.

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.

Year Language Country Performer Song
1979
2019
Greenlandic  Denmark Rasmus Lyberth
Julie & Nina
“Faders bøn”
“League of Light”
1979 Faroese Annika Hoydal “Bølgen (Aldan)”
1999 Basque  France Kukumiku “Irradaka”
2000
2005
West Frisian  Netherlands Gina de Wit
Meänder
“Hjir is it begjin”
“Tusken skimer en ljocht”
2008
2017
2020
Northern Sámi  Norway Ann-Mari Andersen
Elin & The Woods
“Ándagassii”
“First Step in Faith (Oadjebasvuhtii)”
“We Are As One”
2008 Silesian  Czech Republic Čechomor “Józef, mój kochany”
Tatar  Russia Asılyar “Qarlığaçlar”
2010 Lingala  Sweden Getty Domein “Yeba”
Livonian  Latvia Kristīne Kārkla-Puriņa “Rišti räšti”
2015
2017
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 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 languages. Three times in the history of the contest, songs have been sung, wholly or partially, in fictional languages.

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

Entries with sign languages. Some performances have included phrases in sign languages on stage.

Appearance Country Performer Song
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”
2019  France Bilal Hassani “Roi”

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.

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”
Crimean Tatar 2016  Ukraine Jamala “1944”
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)
3rd 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”

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.

Latest
appearance
Language Country Performer Song
2019 English  Netherlands Duncan Laurence “Arcade”
Icelandic  Iceland Hatari “Hatrið mun sigra”
Slovene  Slovenia Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl “Sebi”
Serbian  Serbia Nevena Božović “Kruna” (Круна)
Albanian  Albania Jonida Maliqi “Ktheju tokës”
Spanish  Spain Miki “La venda”
Hungarian  Hungary Joci Pápai “Az én apám”
Portuguese  Portugal Conan Osiris “Telemóveis”
Italian  Italy Mahmood “Soldi”
phrases in Arabic
Georgian  Georgia Oto Nemsadze “Sul tsin iare” (სულ წინ იარე)
phrases in Abkhaz
phrases in Northern Sámi  Norway KEiiNO “Spirit in the Sky”
phrases in Danish  Denmark Leonora “Love Is Forever”
phrases in German
phrases in French  France Bilal Hassani “Roi”
phrases in Turkish  San Marino Serhat “Say Na Na Na”
phrases in Polish  Poland Tulia “Fire of Love (Pali się)”
phrases in Croatian  Croatia Roko “The Dream (Heroj)”
2018 French  France Madame Monsieur “Mercy”
Greek  Greece Yianna Terzi “Oniro mou” (Όνειρό μου)
Armenian  Armenia Sevak Khanagyan “Qami” (Քամի)
Montenegrin  Montenegro Vanja Radovanović “Inje” (Иње)
phrases in Hebrew  Israel Netta “Toy”
phrases in Lithuanian  Lithuania Ieva Zasimauskaitė “When We’re Old (Kol myliu)”
2017 Belarusian  Belarus Naviband “Historyja majho žyccia” (Гісторыя майго жыцця)
2016 Bosnian  Bosnia and Herzegovina Dalal & Deen feat. Ana Rucner & Jala “Ljubav je”
Macedonian  Macedonia Kaliopi “Dona” (Дона)
phrases in Crimean Tatar  Ukraine Jamala “1944”
phrases in Bulgarian  Bulgaria Poli Genova “If Love Was a Crime”
2015 Finnish  Finland Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät “Aina mun pitää”
phrases in Romanian  Romania Voltaj “De la capăt (All Over Again)”
2014 phrases in Latvian  Latvia Aarzemnieki “Cake to Bake”
2013 Romanian  Moldova Aliona Moon “O mie”
Estonian  Estonia Birgit “Et uus saaks alguse”
Bulgarian  Bulgaria Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankoulov “Samo shampioni” (Само шампиони)
Croatian  Croatia Klapa s Mora “Mižerja”
Hebrew  Israel Moran Mazor “Rak bishvilo” (דיווה)
phrases in Romani  Macedonia Esma & Lozano “Pred da se razdeni”
2012 Udmurt  Russia Buranovskiye Babushki “Party for Everybody”
Swedish  Finland Pernilla “När jag blundar”
Austrian dialects  Austria Trackshittaz “Woki mit deim Popo”
2011 Corsican  France Amaury Vassili “Sognu”
Polish  Poland Magdalena Tul “Jestem”
phrases in Russian  Russia Alexej Vorobjov “Get You”
phrases in Swahili  Norway Stella Mwangi “Haba Haba”
2010 Dutch  Netherlands Sieneke “Ik ben verliefd (Sha-la-lie)”
Slovak  Slovakia Kristína “Horehronie”
2009 Russian  Latvia Intars Busulis “Probka” (Пробка)
phrases in Ukrainian  Russia Anastasia Prikhodko “Mamo” (Мамо)
phrases in Catalan  Andorra Susanne Georgi “La teva decisió (Get a Life)”
2008 Turkish  Turkey Mor ve Ötesi “Deli”
Imaginary  Belgium Ishtar “O Julissi”
2007 Czech  Czech Republic Kabát “Malá dáma”
2006 Norwegian  Norway Christine Guldbrandsen “Alvedansen”
Catalan  Andorra Jenny “Sense tu”
phrases in Tahitian  Monaco Séverine Ferrer “La coco-dance”
2004 German  Austria Tie Break “Du bist”
Võro  Estonia Neiokõsõ “Tii”
Latvian  Latvia Fomins & Kleins “Dziesma par laimi”
2000 phrases in Maltese  Malta Claudette Pace “Desire”
1999 Samogitian  Lithuania Aistė “Strazdas”
1997 Danish  Denmark Kølig Kaj “Stemmen i mit liv”
1996 Breton  France Dan Ar Braz & L’Héritage des Celtes “Diwanit bugale”
1994 Lithuanian  Lithuania Ovidijus Vyšniauskas “Lopšinė mylimai”
1993 phrases in Luxembourgish  Luxembourg Modern Times “Donne-moi une chance”
1992 Antillean Creole  France Kali “Monté la riviè”
Luxembourgish  Luxembourg Marion Welter & Kontinent “Sou fräi”
1991 Neapolitan  Italy Peppino di Capri “Comme è ddoce ‘o mare”
1989 Romansh   Switzerland Furbaz “Viver senza tei”
1980 Arabic  Morocco Samira Said “Bitaqat hub” (بطاقة حب)
1972 Irish  Ireland Sandie Jones “Ceol an ghrá”
Maltese  Malta Helen & Joseph “L-imħabba”

Notes.

  • [N 1] This song was partially sung in Ukrainian.
  • [N 2] This song was partially sung in Crimean Tatar.
  • [N 3] This song contained phrases in Hebrew and Japanese.

As of the 1999 Contest, the restriction was again lifted, and songs may be performed in any language. As a result, many of the songs are performed partially or completely in English. In2003, Belgium made full use of the so-termed free language rule, and entered a song, “Sanomi”, in an artificial language created especially for the song. This proved successful as the country finished second, only two points behind Turkey. The same tactic was used in 2006 by the Dutchentry Treble which is partially sung in an artificial language and once again by Belgium with their 2008 entry “O Julissi”.

No entirely instrumental composition has ever been allowed in Eurovision contests. Latvia did their act in a cappella in 2006, as did Belgium in 2011.

Dialects and regional languages: On some occasions, dialects of a language or a very rare language have been used in a song entry:

  • 1971, 1996, 2003 & 2012 – Austria sang in various dialects of German
  • 1972 – Ireland sang in Irish, one of the two official languages of Ireland
  • 1982 – Germany sang in German but after winning performed the reprise in four different languages: German, English, French and Dutch
  • 1989 – Switzerland sang in Romansh, the fourth language of Switzerland
  • 1990 and 2012 – Finland sang in Swedish, which is the country’s second official language.
  • 1991 – Italy sang in Neapolitan, an Italo-Dalmatian language spoken in Naples and surrounding areas.
  • 1992, 1993, 1996 and 2011 – France sang in the languages of Creole (1992), Corsican(1993 and 2011) and Breton (1996).
  • 1999 – Lithuania sang in Samogitian, a dialect of Lithuanian
  • 2004 – Estonia sang in Võro, which is considered by some to be a dialect of Estonian, and others, a separate language
  • 2003, 2006 and 2008 – In 2003, Belgium’s Urban Trad sang “Sanomi” in a completely made-up language, while the Dutch participants in 2006, Treble, sang half of their song “Amambanda” in a fictional language. In 2008, Ishtar performed their song, “O Julissi” in a fictional language as well.
  • 2006 – Monaco sang partially in Tahitian.
  • 2009 – The Czech Republic sang partially in Romani, the language of the Romani people.
  • 2011 – Norway introduces lyrics in Swahili.
  • 2012 – Most of the lyrics of Russia’s entry were in the Udmurt language (which, alongsideRussian, is the official language in Udmurtia).

Language issues: Many European countries were founded on ideas of linguistic unity and because of the sometimes unwelcome dominance of the English language in modern pop music, the language of a country’s Eurovision entry can be a contentious issue. Some entries are performed in English to reach broader audiences, though this is sometimes looked upon as unpatriotic. In recent years up to 2007 the number of non-English language entrants has decreased, with mostly Eastern European countries, French language countries, Spain and Portugal performing in their native language. In terms of recent Contest performance, most non-English songs have been far less successful than those in English. Until 2007, the last wholly non-English language winner was Israel’s Dana International, who performed Diva in Hebrew in 1998. The 2004 winner,Wild Dances performed by Ruslana, was partially sung in Ukrainian. After 2007 when Marija Šerifović won, singing in Serbian, the number of non-English contestants increased again in 2008. Almost half of the performers contested in their native language.

In some cases, the lyrics are written and recorded in two different versions (usually English and a national language) or a single multi-language version. Examples include:

  • Denmark, where the national selection procedure allows freedom of language, but if the winning song from their national competition is in Danish, it must be re-written in English for the competition.
  • Sweden, even as there is no outspoken rule the song must be translated into English, it has usually been done so (if allowed in the rules), as in 1965, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1999, 2000, 2004, and 2006.
  • Macedonia, who held a vote to decide whether their 2005 song should be in English orMacedonian.
  • France, whose entry in 2001 was performed partially in French and partially in English. The2007 entry was sung in Franglais. The French entry in 2008 caused controversy as it was all in English and people were unhappy about being represented with an English song. In 2012 Anggun Performed her song Echo partly in English but mostly in French.

Rule changes by year: 

  • 1956 First contest – each of the 7 competing countries were obliged to hold a National selection final to choose their entries.
  • 1957 After Italy’s song lasted 5:09 minutes, rule changes were introduced to limit maximum song times to 3 minutes – which still operates.
  • 1958 The convention of the winning country being invited to host the following year’s contest is introduced. However, several countries would decline the opportunity in subsequent years.
  • 1959 Professional publishers or composers were no longer allowed in the national juries.
  • 1962 Voting system change. Each country had 10 jury members who awarded their three favourite songs 3, 2, and 1 points in order. Previously countries awarded 1 point to their favourite song.
  • 1963 Jury sizes doubled to 20 and points awarded were 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1.
  • 1964 Jury sizes revert to 10, and points are now 5, 3 and 1. It becomes possible for a unanimous jury to award all 9 points to one song – but this does not occur.
  • 1966 Countries must now sing in one of its national languages.
  • 1967 Scoring system reverts to the one used between 1957 and 1961. Each of the ten jurors awards a single point to their favourite song – so in theory a country could be awarded all 10 points, although the highest tally allocated under this system was 9 by the Belgian jury forDana’s 1970 winning song.
  • 1968 Although not a rule change, the contest is broadcast in colour by 6 of the 17 countries competing. It has been available in colour to broadcasters each year since.
  • 1970 Following a four-way tie in the 1969 contest, a tie-break rule was introduced with provision for a sing-off and a show of hands from the juries to elect a winner.
  • 1971 Another voting system change. Each country had two jury members, one under 25 and one over 25. They each awarded 1 to 5 points for each song. This created an issue where some juries gave fewer points out than others. The rule permitting groups of up to six performers on stage was introduced. Previously, entrants could only perform solo or as a duet.
  • 1972 Each country had 2 jurors present in the hall. Each juror awarded all songs with a score between 1 and 5, so each country gave all other countries a score between 2 and 10 points.
  • 1973 The rule forcing countries to sing in one of its national languages is relaxed – however this is only in place for 4 years.
  • 1974 The scoring system used between 1957 and 1961 and between 1968 and 1970 is restored for a third time.
  • 1975 The scoring system that still operates today is introduced. Each jury would now give 12 points to the best song, 10 to the second best, then 8 to the third, 7 to the fourth, 6 to the fifth and so forth until the tenth best song (in the jury’s opinion) received a single point. Unlike today, the points were not given in order (from 1 up to 12), but in the order the songs were performed.
  • 1976 As the cost of staging the contest increases, a new rule was introduced that, in future, each participating broadcaster would have to pay a part of the cost of staging the contest.
  • 1977 Countries must again revert to singing in their own national languages.
  • 1980 The jury spokesperson now read the points out in numerical order (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 12) rather than in song order.
  • 1987 As the number of countries reached a record of 22, the EBU imposed a limit on the number of countries competing. Although set at 22, this limit has varied slightly over the years.
  • 1990 Following Sandra Kim’s 1986 win for Belgium at the age of just 13 and controversy over two performers in 1989 being just 11 and 12 years old, a restriction on competitor’s age was introduced. The minimum age is now 16 at the time of the event.
  • 1993 After the breakup of Yugoslavia, a pre-qualifying round was introduced.
  • 1994 Relegation had to be introduced to accommodate the ever-increasing number of countries wishing to compete. Initially the bottom five countries from 1993 would not get an entrant at the 1994 contest. The relegation rules would change slightly over subsequent years.
  • 1994 This year’s contest saw the highest number of participants in the 1990s, with 25 countries performing.
  • 1997 After controversy over a 1996 pre-selection procedure (similar to 1993) which resulted in Germany being omitted from the contest, the selection procedure changed to allow only the countries with the best average scores over the previous four years.
  • 1997 Televoting was trialled in five countries and would become the preferred method of voting from 1998.
  • 1999 Restrictions are lifted again allowing countries to sing in any language.
  • 1999 Countries preferences to use backing tracks virtually leads to the abolition of orchestras. Live music became optional and all broadcasters since 1999 have declined to use an orchestra. In 2004, all live music was banned; even artists on stage were not allowed to play their instruments live, even if they explicitly voiced their wish to do so. This live music prohibition is still in place.
  • 2000 The “Big Four” rule is introduced giving France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom automatic entry in the contest regardless of previous performance. In 2011 it was expanded with Italy, becoming “Big Five”.
  • 2004 Relegation rules, which varied slightly since 1994 were dropped and a semi-final was introduced. Countries eliminated in the semi-final were still allowed to vote on the final, so the convention of reading the scores in both French and English were dropped. The spokesperson would now read the score in one language with presenters repeating in the other language.
  • 2006 Jury spokespersons no longer read out all the points from 1 up to 12. Instead the scores up to 7 points are displayed briefly before the spokesperson reads out their 8, 10 and 12 point allocations.
  • 2008 With a record entry of 43, a second semi-final was introduced. Juries were used to allocate a wild-card place in the final from each of the semi-finals. 25 countries now compete in the final.
  • 2009 After criticism of the voting system after the 2007 Contest, changes in the voting procedure were made with the re-introduction of a national jury alongside televoting (split 50/50). This format would be extended to the semi-finals in 2010.
  • 2010 People can vote from the first song until the end of vote.
  • 2012 The fifteen-minute televoting window is restored due to criticism of the voting method after the 2011 contest. 26 countries now compete in the final, because Italy made comeback in 2011 and became a “Big Five” country along with Germany, France, Spain and United Kingdom.
  • 2013 The format of the jury/televoting result is changed slightly in that all songs are now ranked instead of being given a score in each method, this is then merged and the ten highest ranked songs receive points in the usual manner. Also, for the first time, the running order in all three shows is determined by producers of the show instead of a random draw, which is supposed to give each song competing a fair chance of success.
  • 2015 The EBU considers the possibility of inviting countries outside of the European Broadcasting Area or the Council of Europe to participate in future editions of the contest. The first of such “guest nations” was Australia in 2015. This also bumps up the number of countries competing in the final to 27.

Cristicism (Opposition to English singing in non-anglophone countries): 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. 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.