National Anthems: Basic Information

Courtesy of Friends

The national anthem of Zimbabwe has been translated into all three of
its main languages:

The national anthem of Spain doesn’t have official lyrics, just music:

New Zealand has 2 national anthems, “God save the Queen” and “God defend New Zealand,” both of equal status, and the second of which was translated into
Maori as well…


Canada sings its anthem in English, French and Iniuit (native language). It is sung as chosen by the people often mixed in both languages. Interesting to note it was composed in the minority language — French and translated into English.

 “Singers at public events often mix the English and French lyrics to represent Canada’s linguistic duality. For example, one common form is singing the first three and last three lines in English. The last two lines could also alternate between English and French. Roger Doucet, the former singer of national anthems at the Montreal Forum for the National Hockey League‘s Montreal Canadiens team, almost always sang the first seven lines in French, and then completed the song in English. This practice has continued with the team’s following anthem singers.

“O Canada” is routinely played before sporting events involving Canadian teams. During the opening ceremonies of the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, “O Canada” was performed in the Southern Tutchone language by Yukon native Daniel Tlen.[25][26] The NHL requires arenas to perform both the Canadian and American national anthems at games that involve teams from both countries.[27] One American team, the Buffalo Sabres, goes a step further and performs both anthems before every game, a nod to Buffalo’s location near the Canadian border and the team’s substantial number of Canadian fans.”

  South Africa

South Africa’s anthem “pulls together two anthems, five languages – and over 49-million people. South Africans, take ownership’ song!

Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika
Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo,
Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo.

Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso,
O fedise dintwa le matshwenyeho,
O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso,
Setjhaba sa South Afrika – South Afrika.

Uit die blou van onse hemel,
Uit die diepte van ons see,
Oor ons ewige gebergtes,
Waar die kranse antwoord gee,

Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom,
In South Africa our land.



Although national anthems are usually in the most common language of the country, whether de facto or official, there are notable exceptions. India‘s anthem, “Jana Gana Mana,” is a highly Sanskritized version of Bengali. States with more than one national language may offer several versions of their anthem: For instance, Switzerland‘s anthem has different lyrics for each of the country’s four official languages (French, German, Italian and Romansh). ……. The Sri Lankan national anthem has translated lyrics for each of the country’s official languages Sinhala and Tamil. It was actually written in Sinhala, but a Tamil translation is also played on some occasions and mostly played in Tamil Provinces and Tamil schools. On the other hand, South Africa‘s national anthem is unique in that five of the country’s eleven official languages are used in the same anthem (the first stanza is divided between two languages, with each of the remaining three stanzas in a different language). Apart from God Save the Queen, the New Zealand national anthem is now traditionally sung with the first verse in Māori (Aotearoa) and the second in English (God Defend New Zealand). The tune is the same but the words are not a direct translation of each other. Another multilingual country, Spain, has no words in its anthem, “La Marcha Real,” although in 2007 a national competition to write words was launched.

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