Rhaeto-Romance language
The Rhaetic region was unlucky for it never got its independence and therefore never created its own language. That is why Rhaeto-Romance exists in so many variuos dialects. Linguistics knows three main groups of them: Romansh or Grishun, spoken in Graubünden (Grisons) Canton in southeastern Switzerland; Ladin, spoken in northern Italy, or in the Alto Adige region and to the east in the Dolomite Alps; and Friulian, spoken in the Friuli region of Italy, east of the Alps. Certainly, they all once covered a larger area. Of about half a million Rhaeto-Romanic speakers, about 90 percent speak Friulian; about 1 percent of Swiss citizens speak Romansh, one of Switzerland's four official languages. Romansh, Ladin, and Friulian have thriving local literatures since the 12th century AD.

The Rhaeto-Romance language has always been developing under the influence of two more powerful neighboring tongues - Italian in the south and German in the north. That is why different dialects acquire different phonetic, morphologica, phonetic peculiarities from those two languages.

The most significant differences of Rhaeto-Romance from other Romance languages are interesting. The diphthongization occurred not only in open, but even in closed syllables. Just the au diphthong turned into o in some dialects (e.g. Latin altus (high) > aut, ot). The final vowels were dropped, except a which became e here. Consonant are often softened (or lenited, as in Celtic) between vowels, and for example p > v. The final -s was preserved, and it plays vital role for morphological structure of the language. As for the very morphology, we can point some processes in Rhaeto-Romance: the verb lost the Perfect tense, and from the other side acquired some special forms of the future.

The vocabulary has many German and Italian words, as well as some words from Slavic and other Germanic languages. Words of non-Indo-European origin, existing only in Rhaeto-Romance, make about 3% of the language.

Rhaeto-Romance Links