Eurovision 2016 winner raises awareness of Crimean Tatar language

May 19, 2016
Eurovision 2016 winner raises awareness of Crimean Tatar language

The votes have been counted and the results announced – the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 winner is Ukraine’s Jamala, with her song ‘1944.’ 

Eurovision and language

Eurovision is one of the biggest events of the year when it comes to the general public across the European Broadcasting Zone and Australia being exposed to the sound of a multitude of other languages. 

Crimean Tatar language

This year’s winning song was written and performed by Jamala, a singer from Ukraine. Her song ‘1944’ was sung in English for the verses and in Crimean Tatar for the chorus. It’s a language that many of those watching would have heard for the very first time. 

The indigenous language of Crimea, Crimean Tatar is a Turkic language with some 480,000 native speakers worldwide. Also known as Crimean Turkish and Crimean, it has speakers in Crimea, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and small areas of Canada and the United States. The language can be written in both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets. 

Breaking down barriers

The Eurovision song contest is known for breaking down barriers. This year the hosts Petra Mede and Mans Zelmerlow, in Stockholm, Sweden, acknowledged that, “Once again, Europe is facing darker times,” but advised that, “Now we set aside any differences we have.” 

Political barriers are broken down when it comes to the annual competition, just as linguistic ones are. Entrants can sing in any language – their own, another country’s and even made up languages. The focus is one of unity regardless of nationality, political affiliation or language and it’s a formula that has been winning the hearts and minds of viewers across Europe for more than 60 years. 

Final thoughts

Had you heard Crimean Tatar spoken before hearing Jamala’s Eurovision 2016 winning song? What other languages were you exposed to for the first time as a result of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest? Leave a comment to let us know. 

By Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language technology and translation company that supports business growth through a range of innovative localization strategies. He has been helping companies reach their global goals since 2007.



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