Romansh languages

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Romansh languages

Spoken in

Italy , Switzerland
speaker approx. 1,000,000
Distribution areas of the Romansh languages

As Romansch languages - sometimes Alpenromanisch - is a group of Romance languages in Switzerland and Italy referred, namely Romansh (in the Swiss canton of Grisons ), Dolomitenladinisch (in the Dolomites ) and Friulian (in Friuli ).

The question of whether these three languages, which do not have a coherent linguistic area, form a genetic unit within Romansh has been discussed for a long time and has not yet been decided. Most of the opponents of this unit also reject the term “Rhaeto-Romanic” as a comprehensive term for the three languages; instead, they use this term exclusively for the Graubünden Romansh. The term "Romansh" was coined in the late 19th century by the Romance scholar Theodor Gartner , where it appears in the title of his Rhaeto-Romanic grammar from 1883 and his handbook of the Rhaeto-Romanic language from 1913. It goes back to the name of the Roman province of Raetia .

Questione Ladina

The discussion about the nature and degree of the relationship between these three languages ​​forms the core of the Questione Ladina . To simplify matters, the opposing positions can be described as follows:

  • There is a genetic unit of the languages Grisons Romansh , Dolomite Ladin and Friulian , i.e. a unità Ladina . Romansh then describes a clearly defined genetic sub-unit of Romansh.
  • Such a genetic unit does not exist because the three dialect groups do not have any common innovations or defining linguistic features that sufficiently distinguish them from other Romance varieties. Romansh then only describes a remainder of Alpine Romance varieties that are not the dialect of one of the great Romance cultural languages ​​of Italian or French. (For some authors the designation loses its justification.)

The three Rhaeto-Romanic idioms, which have no coherent linguistic area, can be seen as residual dialects of the Latin of the Roman province of Raetia , which cannot be assigned to any other Romance language or classified as its dialect ( French , Italian ). Indeed, the Rhaeto-Romanic dialects developed largely independently of the neighboring Romanesque cultural languages ​​and have had little or no interaction with them since Roman times .

In non-linguistic usage in Switzerland, “Rhaeto-Romanic” refers exclusively to the Graubünden Romance language , not including the Alpine Lombard dialects of the southern Graubünden valleys of Bergell , Puschlav , Misox and Calanca . In this article, the Romansh languages ​​are considered in the broader sense of Romance studies without making a decision on the question of the genetic unity of the three languages ​​or dialect groups.


Distribution area of ​​the individual Romance idioms in Graubünden

Regardless of the question of their genetic unit, the three Romansh languages ​​have the following dialectal structure:

Graubünden Romance


  • Maréo / Badiot (Ennebergisch / Abbotial)
  • Gherdëina (Val Gardena)
  • Fascian (Fassan)
  • Anpezan (Ampezzan)
  • Fodom (Buchensteinisch)
  • Låger (Laager)
  • Nones (Nonsbergerisch)
  • Solander (Sulztaler)

Furlan or Friulian (Furlan)

A preliminary phylogenetic classification based on a basic vocabulary analysis identifies a primary split between Graubünden Romance in Switzerland and Ladin in Italy. The analysis also shows a secondary separation within Switzerland between Engadin and the other Romansh languages. In Italy there is also a secondary division, obviously due to the Dolomite Mountains, which divides Ladin into a northern and a southern branch, with Friulian being assigned to the southern branch.

In this study, the divergence of the Romansh languages ​​from their reconstructed lexical ancestors averages about 7%. This corresponds to a time depth of around 500 years if the (controversial) glottochronological decay rate of 14% per millennium applies. However, the earliest existing Alpine Romance text is somewhat older and is dated to around 1200.

See also


  • Georg Bossong : The Romance Languages. A comparative introduction. Buske, Hamburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-87548-518-9 (+ 1 CD-ROM).
  • Martin Harris, Nigel Vincent (Eds.): The Romance Languages. Routledge, London 2000, ISBN 0-415-16417-6 (reprint of the London 1988 edition).
  • Ricarda Liver : Romansh. An introduction to the Romansh language of the Grisons. 2nd edition Narr, Tübingen 2010, ISBN 978-3-8233-6556-3 .
  • Lorenzo Renzi: Introduction to Romance Linguistics (“Introduzione alla filologia romanza”, 1978). Fool. Tübingen 1981, ISBN 3-484-50139-1 .
  • Carlo Tagliavini : Introduction to Romance Philology (“Le origini delle lingue neolatine”, 1972). Francke, Bern 1998 (first edition 1973).

Web links

Wikisource: Romansh dictionaries  - sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Georg Bossong: The Romance Languages. A comparative introduction. Buske, Hamburg 2008, p. 174.
  2. ^ Peter Forster, Alfred Toth, Hans-Jurgen Bandelt: Evolutionary Network Analysis of Word Lists: Visualizing the Relationships between Alpine Romance Languages. Journal of Quantitative Linguistics 5: (1998) 174-187, doi: 10.1080 / 09296179808590125
  3. ^ Theodor Gartner: Handbook of the Rhaeto-Romanic language and literature. Niemeyer, Halle 1910.