Ever since its inception, the Eurovision Song Contest has been a bilingual affair, with English and French working as lingua francas to make the contest have as wide of an outreach across the continent as it could. After all, the most ubiquitous phrase of the contest is in French: Douze Points.

Over the years, rules have changed and the cultural landscape has widened, affecting systems and songs alike. This has resulted in a unique effect on the 2022 edition of the contest.

With all the official versions of the songs out, we can confirm that Eurovision 2022 will mark the first time there won’t be a trace of the French language in the contest’s history. Not even from France themselves, who have instead chosen an entry sung in Breton.

The story of the French language and Eurovision

In 1956, Eurovision was born as Le Grand-Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Européenne. This was an event mostly spearheaded by the main countries of Western Europe and EBU founders, and all songs had to be sung in the respective national languages of each competing nation. With France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland in the mix, that already made a huge percentage of the regular participants a lock for the French language.

Fun fact: Due to the running order of the first edition, the first ever song in French was not sent by France! The language was debuted by Belgium’s Fud Leclerc, with “Messieurs les noyés de la Seine”.

As the years passed and the contest progressed, France has almost always been present to showcase the French language. Even in the years they couldn’t, other nations have taken the baton. When France was absent in 1974 and 1982, other Francophone nations such as Luxembourg, Belgium, and Monaco sang in French. And in 1996, when they also sent a song entirely in Breton, Switzerland was the sole country to sing in French that year.

French in the new millennium

As the language rule was relaxed, many countries have dabbled in English-language songs and mainstream genres. However, France has stuck to its guns and has always included lyrics in its national language. For the most part.

Fun Fact: The first-ever song to be completely sung in a non-English language that was not official to the country who sent it was Cyprus’s entry in 2007, when Evridiki performed “Comme ci, Comme ça”.

In 2008, controversy arose in France as the selected competitor, Sébastien Tellier, presented “Divine”, a song entirely in English, prompting French legislator François-Michel Gonnot to file an official complaint in the French Parliament. On the night of the final, Tellier changed the bridge of his song to French, singing “Toi et moi c’est comme tu sais / Pour moi l’amour chante en français”.

Regardless of that added change, Ireland officially featured French the same year, with “Irelande Douze Points” by Dustin the Turkey.

In 2011, France sent “Sognu”, an epic popera song by Amaury Vassili, completely in Corsican.

It was seemingly becoming the first-ever French-less Eurovision… had it not been for an unlikely ally in Lithuania. Evelina Sašenko’s two French lines in “C’est Ma Vie” kept the language alive.

Outside of some odd additions by Austria in 2016 and Denmark in 2019, French was showcased per usual in later editions. But it reached an impressive peak in 2021, with both second and third place completely in the language thanks to Barbara Pravi and Gjon’s Tears.

However, after a marquee year, the French language has completely disappeared in 2022. France will send Alvan & Ahez with the Breton-language “Fulenn”, while other Francophone nations will send songs in English. Bar any improvised changes in the live shows, no songs include French in their official studio cuts.

To date, there have been 15 winners which have included French, brought by Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Monaco, Austria, and of course, France. Nevertheless, this list won’t have the chance to be extended after the results of Eurovision 2022.

Are you sad to see no French-language songs at Eurovision 2022? Do you hope to see the language make a return in 2023? Let us know in the comments below!

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Romeo
Romeo
4 months ago

One day after I post this information on ESCUnited forum it becomes a story on here. You’re welcome lol

AM2PM
AM2PM
4 months ago

Merde

There is a light guiding my way
There is a light guiding my way
4 months ago

I disliked that song too but it’s a regular thing for ESC, it happens every year and doesn’t mean the respective year was weak. Many good songs just were left in the semi.

There is a light guiding my way
There is a light guiding my way
4 months ago

That first ever Eurovision song in French has such a creepy title…

Þórir
Þórir
4 months ago

Interesting, I’d love to see more minority languages though for sure 🙂
Especially given their showings in JESC it would be nice to hear Welsh for the UK, Irish for Ireland, one of Spains many languages… I’d even be down for us in Iceland to send a song in Faroese one time to give our neighbors some representation at last 🙂

meri
meri
4 months ago
Reply to  Þórir

I also hope Sweden send something in one of the other Sami languages (because northern sami was represented once), and Denmark sends an entry in Greenlandic! It would have been so cool!! 😀

There is a light guiding my way
There is a light guiding my way
4 months ago
Reply to  Þórir

Me definitely too. Idk why but I have the softest spot for minority languages and always get so emotional seeing that pride the artists are radiating with when representing their roots and culture and ethnic background on Eurovision stage. That’s why The Netherlands 2021, Norway 2019, Russia 2012 and Georgia 2019 are ones of my favourite moments of Eurovision. Ngl I was a bit disappointed Eden Alene’s 2021 song have never got an Amharic line like Feker Libi had. My personal wishlist for languages includes Elena Gheorghe coming back for Romania with a song in Aromanian, I even think they… Read more »

There is a light guiding my way
There is a light guiding my way
3 months ago

Oh my and how on Earth, while writing under an article that mentions entries in a Celtic language, could I even forget the only revived Continental Celtic language – Gaulish? There is currently only one band in the world that sings in Gaulish and I guess everybody knows who they are. They were on Wiwi Wishlist in 2020 as well.

L’oiseau
L’oiseau
4 months ago

I am actually surprised that it never happened before…. The truth is that two francophone countries do not participate anymore (very very sadly) and the other two very rarely use French these days… But the positive side is that France is giving stage to a minority language, which is great. Something that other countries should look at: UK and Spain! I am talking to you!

Malia
Malia
4 months ago
Reply to  L’oiseau

Remember when the German NF public vote in 2013 favoured a song in Bavarian, but then the “expert juries” completely tanked it? 🙁
It’s unfortunately not easy to convince the experts to go for dialects.

xduroc
xduroc
4 months ago
Reply to  L’oiseau

Not really that sadly. Luxembourg and Monaco were basically chances for France to enter three times.

Flopjul
Flopjul
3 months ago
Reply to  L’oiseau

Netherlands 2021…. In Srnan Tongo a Surinamese language(former colony)

Ytm
Ytm
4 months ago

Without connection to the article
but does anyone knows how georgia is currently 4th in the semi final odds???

Sir Stevia
Sir Stevia
4 months ago
Reply to  Ytm

I commented that 2 hours ago, I’m also confused haha.

Ytm
Ytm
4 months ago
Reply to  Sir Stevia

? didn’t see that

L’oiseau
L’oiseau
4 months ago
Reply to  Ytm

Well…. I think everybody is sleeping on this entry… This is a great tune and I am confident it will pass

Flopjul
Flopjul
3 months ago
Reply to  Ytm

I honestly dont know

Vivian
Vivian
4 months ago

I still have the feeling the whole ‘the hosts need to speak French too’ a bit redundant, as most of the people who watch ESC understand English just fine and I think the ‘country X’ douze pointe is more ‘flair’ than necessary. Would make more sense if it were in the host country’s language for the local audience, but oh well. It doesn’t actively bother anyone I think.

Flopjul
Flopjul
3 months ago
Reply to  Vivian

French people on average dont like/despise the english language and because of that its partly in french(idk for sure)

Joe Bloggs
Joe Bloggs
3 months ago
Reply to  Vivian

I was thinking of this too. It’s an extremely outdated aspect of Eurovision that may have made sense at its inception but doesn’t anymore.

Sir Stevia
Sir Stevia
4 months ago

Off topic but Georgia’s qualification chances in the odds jumped from like 29% to 74%. Did I miss something??

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
4 months ago
Reply to  Sir Stevia

Someone evidently bet a lot of money on them. They are now locked in, sideways.

Sir Stevia
Sir Stevia
4 months ago
Reply to  Purple Mask

Amazing haha. I wonder for what reason? Maybe a Georgian bookie? I mean I love Georgia’s entry if they actually qualify I’d be hella happy lol.

Azan
Azan
4 months ago

OMG this is so depressing, the French language is literally PERFECT for singing! At least, France’s song this year has some words that are common between French and Breton, at least when I heard the song. Last year, the 2nd and 3rd place songs were French, and this year, it VANISHED! OMG, next year a French song could hopefully win!

There is a light guiding my way
There is a light guiding my way
4 months ago
Reply to  Azan

God, you are overdramatising using such words. “Vanished”, really? Tbf the article itself does too a little bit using words like “kept alive” and “completely disappeared”. Please, there are a plenty of languages in Europe that are actually endangered of dying out. Eurovision stage has never heard most of them and maybe never will. And you are crying for one single year without French? For real.

Azan
Azan
4 months ago

Well, I love French, and I just find it unbelievable that French, one of two Eurovision’s official languages, doesn’t have a single song this year. I don’t see 0 English songs at Eurovision ever happening, so it is just so depressing.

Also, the literal point of this article is to show how disappointing it is not to have French, so people are supposed to be mourning its loss, like hello!?

Miro
Miro
3 months ago
Reply to  Azan

Zero English-language songs did actually happen twice, in 1956 and 1958, when the United Kingdom did not compete.

Azan
Azan
3 months ago
Reply to  Miro

interesting!

John
John
4 months ago

Sacrebleu

Fast Food Music Lover
Fast Food Music Lover
4 months ago

If there is any consolation, I don’t think a lot of people can distinguish between Breton and French when they watch Fulenn this May. I can’t.

Colin
Colin
4 months ago

Interesting trivia: Linguistically, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish are all closer to French than Breton is. So, Mahmood & Blanco, Achille Lauro, Maro, Zdob si zdub, Wrs, and Chanel are all giving us songs with closer ties. But as Alvan & Ahez are representing France, some indeed might not notice unless told by their commentators on Tv.

Azuro
Azuro
4 months ago

Yeah unless the commentators specify its Breton most people will assume it’s in French, same with their 2011 one being in Corsican.

Yankee
Yankee
4 months ago

I am saddened. French, in my opinion, is the most beautiful language in the world. A very musical language. I don’t speak French fluently, but I know an intermediate amount of the language. I always love to listen to French language songs. I hope to see the language next year in ESC. At least I can always count on JESC to bringing a French song.

Azuro
Azuro
4 months ago
Reply to  Yankee

Je veux un Moustache

Jofty
Jofty
4 months ago
Reply to  Azuro

Or even just un banc, un arbre or a ru

Jofty
Jofty
4 months ago
Reply to  Azuro

Or even just un banc un arbre or une rue

Nils
Nils
4 months ago

To be honest, I don’t care too much about the languages of the songs. But I think it’s a pity, even the hosts barely speak French anymore (except for the voting). I mean, yes, it’s unnecessary af these days, but I always liked it, simply for the sake of the tradition and the europeanness of it.

Jonas
Jonas
4 months ago
Reply to  Nils

I’d like to hear at least a little of the broadcaster’s own language, I don’t understand why we never do anymore. Probably Ireland in the 1990s is the last time we did, when the presenter always started in Irish. I almost want the points read in three languages this year, like the last time the contest was in Italy. A contest in Italy with no Italian just would not be right.

Azuro
Azuro
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

What would be the point, apart from making the voting segment 50% longer?

Jonas
Jonas
4 months ago
Reply to  Azuro

I said I “almost” want it. It would be nice for every contest to have its own character, instead of feeling more and more the same. Also, the people paying for Torino are Italian license fee payers, so using their own language should not be too much to ask.

Nils
Nils
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

While I generally agree with you, Stefan Raab permanently speaking German in 2011 still makes me shudder. They really overdid it.

Pietro
Pietro
4 months ago
Reply to  Nils

Back in the times many europeans spoke French and not English, but this is no longer the case so it no longer makes sense for hosts to also speak French… one thing that would make sense is to say something in the language of the host country, both to make locals understand if they do not speak English, and to enhance cultural identity

Joe Bloggs
Joe Bloggs
3 months ago
Reply to  Nils

There’s absolutely no point in the presenters speaking French now.

Joe Bloggs
Joe Bloggs
3 months ago
Reply to  Joe Bloggs

Also why is French meant to be considered to represent Europe? In the 50s maybe it did, but not now.

Roo
Roo
4 months ago

The French public chose this year’s entry in a minority language. As much as I love a good old chanson this years French entry will be fun indeed!

Azuro
Azuro
4 months ago

Hon he hon he hon

Alex
Alex
4 months ago
Reply to  Azuro

Anything smarter than stealing some Katherine Tate’s quote with definitely no chance to be as funny? C’mon, man…

The Voice of Reason
The Voice of Reason
4 months ago

Barbara in 2021: OMG So many songs in French or with French words. Junior Eurovision 2021: EVEN MORE French.

2022: LITERALLY no French, just Breton.

Whisker
Whisker
4 months ago

I hope this means there will be a greater variety of languages in ESC in the near future.

Nikki
Nikki
4 months ago

It’s kinda ironic that there’s no French the very next year after the Top 3 was 67% French

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
4 months ago

Ben, peut-être l’absence du français est la raison que je n’aime pas l’Eurovision en 2022? Un peu triste.

Nils
Nils
4 months ago
Reply to  Purple Mask

If so, wouldn’t that be a bit narrow-minded? Nö offenes, but … well.

Nils
Nils
4 months ago
Reply to  Nils

* No offense

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
4 months ago
Reply to  Nils

Bien sûr. It is one factor, so it is literally narrow-minded in scope. I will miss les chansons this year.

Azuro
Azuro
4 months ago

Pretty soon Spanish will be more common in Eurovision than France, could argue it is already.

Both Spain and Romania this year. Plus Loco Loco and Hasta La Vista for Serbia in other years.

Valentino
Valentino
4 months ago
Reply to  Azuro

Plus some entries from Cyprus in recent years.

Lorena
Lorena
4 months ago
Reply to  Azuro

Plus Albania introducing Spanish lyrics in Sekret: “Dámelo, dámelo”

carlos
carlos
4 months ago
Reply to  Azuro

Cyprus- el diablo

Nomo nomo
Nomo nomo
4 months ago
Reply to  carlos

& Fuego

Emsi
Emsi
3 months ago
Reply to  Azuro

italian had its shot this year as well. was expecting at least switzerland and malta as well…

Nicolas
Nicolas
4 months ago

It’s not that a song has 3 words in french than suddenly it’s a french song, so I don’t see how 2011 is not counting as a no french year.

moramento22
moramento22
4 months ago
Reply to  Nicolas

Well 3 words (and it’s actually 6 words) is still French. This year there won’t be even one word.

Thallo
Thallo
4 months ago

Good, let’s hope 2023 will be the first year without any English songs.

DonutLover
DonutLover
4 months ago
Reply to  Thallo

UK says hi!

Thallo
Thallo
4 months ago
Reply to  DonutLover

France used Breton. The UK can use Irish, Scots Gaelic, Welsh, Cornish… etc

All those native languages to the Uk says hi back!

James
James
4 months ago
Reply to  Thallo

Has there ever been a time in the history of the UK’s Eurovision history that a song other than English has been sung that’s indigenous to the British Isles per se, even at a national selection level?

Thallo
Thallo
4 months ago
Reply to  James

No, every single UK entry since 1957 was in English. It’s a huge shame since the UK has 14 indigenous languages.

Hopefully, we could see some South Asian or Afro/Caribbean (largest minority ethnicities) culture showcased, since 16% of the UK is non-British by ethnicity.

Azuro
Azuro
4 months ago
Reply to  Thallo

14!!! Where do you get that figure from?

English, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish makes 4.
Let’s go on a stretch and include Irish and Manx, that’s 6.

Where’s the other 8 coming from?
Scouse???

Thallo
Thallo
4 months ago
Reply to  Azuro

Yes, there are around 14 native languages in the UK, however, some languages only have a handful of speakers. If we only include languages that are used day-to-day, there are around 9:

English, Scots, Welsh, Gaelic, Irish, Cornish, Manx, Angloromani and Shelta.

Jonas
Jonas
4 months ago
Reply to  Thallo

Also, if the Netherlands can send a creole language, then the UK can also stop ignoring their colonial history.

Thallo
Thallo
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

Another very good point! A countless amount of languages across the Commonwealth.

Whisker
Whisker
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

So many options there.

Joe Bloggs
Joe Bloggs
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

that sounds like a very underhand anglophobe remark

Joe Bloggs
Joe Bloggs
3 months ago
Reply to  Joe Bloggs

Also I noticed that you are the one who said ‘The British Isles’ is an offensive term. You’ve shown your colours.

British people do not define themselves by empire because most have not lived in the age of empire. The people that define them like that tend to be bigots.

Also Britain has a very strong musical tradition of its own, which people are rightly proud of. In any national selection people would definitely identify with that.

Nikki
Nikki
4 months ago
Reply to  Thallo

Also, counting how big the Caribbean and South East Asian communities are, it could be interesting to see someone at least try to represent UK singing in Patois or Gujarati. Or at least, I would find it interesting.

The Voice of Reason
The Voice of Reason
4 months ago
Reply to  Thallo

UK most certainly WON’T use Irish…but Ireland can! Most people don’t even know those other languages even exist, let alone Cornish!

Jonas
Jonas
4 months ago

This would be a chance for “most people” to learn, it sounds like they need an education.

Azuro
Azuro
4 months ago
Reply to  Thallo

Who actually gets a kick out of not understanding any of the songs!

So pretentious

Thallo
Thallo
4 months ago
Reply to  Azuro

Hearing different languages sung is beautiful, if you can’t appreciate that… that’s your problem.

Denis
Denis
4 months ago
Reply to  Thallo

I find that the people rambling on about native language are people who usually only listen to English songs and can’t be bothered cheking out other languages. And therefore wants ESC to provide it

esc_fl
esc_fl
4 months ago
Reply to  Azuro

Better than hearing English songs with nonsensical or weak lyrics, which has been the case with many English songs in recent ESC editions, even from the UK.

esc_fl
esc_fl
4 months ago
Reply to  Thallo

That would be fun; and Ireland could send an entry in Irish, United Kingdom in Scottish Gaelic/Welsh/Manx/Cornish, Malta in Maltese, and Australia in an Aboriginal language like Pitjantjatjara (Electric Fields????).

Lorena
Lorena
4 months ago
Reply to  Thallo

That’s kind of difficult. But I have to admit that I absolutely love non-English songs. I love the Dutch and the Lithuanian songs this year, for example. And I loved Ram Pam Pam. And of course, all the Italian, French, Spanish songs…

Yankee
Yankee
4 months ago
Reply to  Thallo

No English songs? You must be dreaming. Go watch JESC. Remove Malta and then you can hear songs without English.

Joe Bloggs
Joe Bloggs
3 months ago
Reply to  Thallo

That is such a ridiculous remark it really says something about this website that it got 47 likes.

dade
dade
4 months ago

fun fact: the first ever eurovision song contest didn‘t have a french name but an italian one! Gran Premio Eurovisione della Canzone Europea

There is a light guiding my way
There is a light guiding my way
4 months ago
Reply to  dade

Exactly, because it was “invented”(and first held as well) in Ticino (the Italophone Switzerland)!

Joe
Joe
4 months ago

I don’t mind since at least France is singing in another native language

Jonas
Jonas
4 months ago

I got a fright for a second, I thought the headline meant that French was being dropped as the official second language. I’m glad it’s not. French will still be there, just not in the songs.

Teeks
Teeks
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

Same. That’s pretty much what Mika’s there for. Though I expect we’ll have plenty of Italian too. Allora!

Azuro
Azuro
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

I mean what does the 2nd language really mean.

They read a few lines explaining the voting in french and thats it

Denis
Denis
4 months ago
Reply to  Azuro

For the show yes. But having a second language means more for the day to day work at EBU. Every document must be written in both languages and meetings must be translated and so on. Mostly administrative stuff.

Nils
Nils
4 months ago
Reply to  Azuro

Barely 20 years ago, it was more than just that, and I actually preferred it for the message it sent. Also, it gave the commentators more time for their remarks without them ruining the hosts gags.

Jofty
Jofty
4 months ago
Reply to  Azuro

And wave their finger when telling you in French you cannot vote for your own country

Joe Bloggs
Joe Bloggs
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

I really doubt most of the Eurovision audience want to hear the presenters speak French pointlessly.

Una
Una
4 months ago

Blue heaven!!

Heidi M
Heidi M
4 months ago

*cancels Duolingo subscription* ?

Andi
Andi
4 months ago
Reply to  Heidi M

loool, I also started learning French in December 2021 there…. and now this 😀

Barry
Barry
4 months ago
Reply to  Andi

Hopefully it’s for one year.

Heidi M
Heidi M
4 months ago
Reply to  Andi

The good thing is, when there are plenty of French songs next year, we’ll understand every word! Ish .. 😉

Dubliner
Dubliner
4 months ago
Reply to  Andi

Can be helpful for your upcoming visit to Paris in may 2023 😉

Emsi
Emsi
3 months ago
Reply to  Heidi M

idk you could transfer your knowledge to italian, spanish, romanian and for Konstrakta even some latin….