Heinrich Schmid (linguist)

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Heinrich Schmid (born April 6, 1921 in Zurich ; † February 23, 1999 there ) was a Swiss linguist and the creator of the Rhaeto-Romanic umbrella languages Rumantsch Grischun and Ladin Dolomitan .

Live and act

Heinrich Schmid lived in the same house in Zurich in which he was born. In spite of a congenital hearing loss, the love for languages ​​awoke in him in his youth. In addition to Greek and Latin , he learned the Romance languages French , Italian , Spanish and the individual Rhaeto-Romanic idioms early on .

After graduating from high school , he studied Romance languages in Zurich . His studies in which the focus on language history and linguistic geography was, he finished in 1946 summa cum laude . After a stay in Florence he returned to Switzerland , where he found it difficult to earn a living due to his hearing impairment. He finally got a job as a member of the Rhaetian Name Book and worked for almost 15 years on the Dicziunari Rumantsch Grischun . In 1962 he completed his habilitation at the University of Zurich and was soon promoted to assistant professor and three years later to associate professor .

Shortly before his resignation from the academic teaching post in 1983, he was commissioned by the Lia Rumantscha in early 1982 to create a common Romansh written language for all five main dialects. After only six weeks of work, in April 1982 he presented his guidelines for the common written language. This was followed by lively discussions and trips to all parts of the Romansh language area, where he promoted the common written language and was able to dispel many reservations. As a result, the Rhaeto-Romanic language became more widely recognized by the Swiss public and a new dynamic came into the Rhaeto-Romanic language area, which also encompassed Ladin.

In 1988 representatives of the Dolomite Ladins asked Heinrich Schmid to create a common written language for them too. In the summer of 1998 Schmid was finally able to experience the long-awaited publication of the guidelines for the development of a common written language for the Dolomite Ladins. However, he did not live to see the Italian translation of this work because he died of a heart attack in February 1999. His estate is in the Biblioteca Chasa Jaura in Valchava.


  • For the formation of forms of “dare” and “stare” in Romansh. Dissertation. Francke, Bern 1949.


  • Bernhard Cathomas: Heinrich Schmid in memory. In: Bündner Jahrbuch: Zeitschrift für Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte Graubünden, Vol. 43, 2001, pp. 154–156 ( digitized version ).
  • Maria Iliescu, Guntram A. Plangg, Paul Videsott (eds.): The diverse Romania. Dialect - language - umbrella language. Commemorative publication for Heinrich Schmid (1921–1999). Istitut Cultural Ladin "Majon di Fascegn", Vich 2001, ISBN 88-86053-23-1 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Winter festival culture in Val Müstair . Neue Zürcher Zeitung of December 5, 2002, accessed on July 2, 2013.