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 over the years.
From 1956 until 1965, there was no rule restricting the languages in which the songs could be sung. However, in 1966 a rule was imposed stating that the songs must be performed in one of the official languages of the country participating.
The language restriction continued until 1973, when it was lifted and performers were again allowed to sing in any language they wished. Several winners in the mid-1970s took advantage of the newly-found allowance, with performers from non-native-English-speaking countries singing in English, including ABBA in 1974. In 1977, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the Contest's organisers, decided to revert to the national language restriction. However, special dispensation was given to Germany and Belgium as their national song selection procedures were already too advanced to change.
In 1999, the rule was changed again to allow the choice of language once more. This linguistic allowance led to the Belgian entry in 2003, "Sanomi", being sung in an entirely fictional language. In 2006 the Dutch entry, "Amambanda", was sung partly in English and partly in an artificial language. In 2008, again a Belgian entry, "O Julissi" was made in an imaginary language.
Since the re-introduction of this language rule, several countries have chosen to sing their songs in a mix of languages, often including English and the national language of the country. Prior to that, several songs (such as Croatia's "Don't Ever Cry" in 1993, Austria's "One Step" and Bosnia and Herzegovina's "Goodbye" in 1997) had the title and a line of the song in a foreign language (mostly English).
The country that used the most languages in a song is "Liubi, Liubi, I Love You" that was sung by the group Todomondo, that represented Romania in the 2007 Contest. The song was sung in 6 different language, Romanian, English, French, Italian, Spanish and Russian.
|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"|
|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[see 1]||1961||Yugoslavia||Ljiljana Petrović||"Neke davne zvezde" (Неке давне звезде)|
|13||Croatian[see 1]||1963||Yugoslavia||Vice Vukov||"Brodovi"|
|15||Bosnian[see 1]||1964||Yugoslavia||Sabahudin Kurt||"Život je sklopio krug"|
|16||Slovene||1966||Yugoslavia||Berta Ambrož||"Brez besed"|
|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'
(Κρασί, θάλασσα και τ' αγόρι μου)
|22||Turkish||1975||Turkey||Semiha Yankı||"Seninle Bir Dakika"|
|23||Arabic||1980||Morocco||Samira Bensaid||"Bitaqat Khub" (بطاقة حب)|
|25||Romansh||1989||Switzerland||Furbaz||"Viver senza tei"|
|26||Neapolitan||1991||Italy||Peppino di Capri||"Comme è ddoce 'o mare"|
|27||Corsican||1993||France||Patrick Fiori||"Mama Corsica"|
|28||Estonian||1994||Estonia||Silvi Vrait||"Nagu merelaine"|
|29||Romanian||1994||Romania||Dan Bittman||"Dincolo de nori"|
|31||Lithuanian||1994||Lithuania||Ovidijus Vyšniauskas||"Lopšinė mylimai"|
|32||Hungarian||1994||Hungary||Friderika Bayer||"Kinek mondjam el vétkeimet?"|
|33||Russian||1994||Russia||Youddiph||"Vyechniy stranik" (Вечный стрaнник)|
|34||Polish||1994||Poland||Edyta Górniak||"To nie ja"|
|35||Vorarlbergish||1996||Austria||Georg Nussbaumer||"Weil's dr guat got"|
|36||Breton||1996||France||Dan Ar Braz||"Diwanit Bugale"|
|37||Macedonian||1998||Macedonia||Vlado Janevski||"Ne zori, zoro" (Не зори, зоро)|
|39||Styrian||2003||Austria||Alf Poier||"Weil der Mensch zählt"|
|41||Latvian||2004||Latvia||Fomins & Kleins||"Dziesma par laimi"|
|42||Catalan||2004||Andorra||Marta Roure||"Jugarem a estimar-nos"|
|45||Montenegrin||2005||Serbia and Montenegro||No Name||"Zauvijek moja"|
|46||Albanian||2006||Albania||Luiz Ejlli||"Zjarr e ftohtë"|
|47||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"|
|51||Romani||2009||Czech Republic||Gipsy.cz||"Aven Romale"|
Source: The Diggiloo Thrush
Proponents of this rule state that singing in English is more appealing and brings more votes from other candidates, and many countries achieved success singing in English. Sweden, Norway and Finland have already won at least one time the ESC singing in English. On the other side, many intellectuals, mainly from the southern European countries state that singing in English is a depreciation of their own culture. French legislator François-Michel Gonnot have already criticized the French television and launched an official complaint on the French Parliament, as the song which represented France in 2008 was sung in English. "French Singer Stirs Storm". http://www.nytimes.com. 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/17/arts/17arts-FRENCHSINGER_BRF.html?_r=2&ref=arts&oref=slogin. (English)