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Romansh

Romansh (also spelled Rumantsch, Romansch or Romanche) is a term that covers various Gallo-Romance languages (also called Rhaeto Romance languages[?]) spoken in Switzerland, in the GraubŁnden canton. They are closely related to other Gallo-Romance idioms spoken in Italy, Switzerland and France. In Italy's Dolomite mountains a local variety called Ladin is spoken.

Romansh was standardized in 1982. On the orthographic level, Heinrich Schmidt sought to avoid all 'odd-looking' spellings, in order to increase general acceptability of the new idiom and its spelling. Therefore, words with /c/ plus /e/ or /i/ have <tg> (tgirar) instead of <ch>. Words with /c/ followed by /a/, /o/, /u/ have <ch> (chalanda) as both speakers of Engadin (chalanda) and the Rhine territory (calanda) except a spelling with <c->. At the same time, che and chi are - due to this rule, called "Leza Uffers Kompromiss" - pronounced /ke/ and /ki/. <k> on the other hand would be a grapheme deemed unfit for a Romance tongue such as Romansh. Schwa, however, is represented by <e> in Romansh which makes it closer to German, as does the use of <sch> for both /S/ and /Z/ and <tsch> for /tS/.

On the other hand, the fact that there is no <ü, ö> in Romansh may not only be due to the lack of /y/ and /2/ in most Romansh idioms, but also to the graphic form which is seen as non-Romance. This also shows that it is not always phonetics that leads to the adoption of a new grapheme, but sometimes also the lack of a grapheme that leads to a certain phonetic shape of the standard. All in all, Romansh spelling is a compromise between Romance (Italian, French) and Germanic (German) spelling.

The Lia Rumantscha is the umbrella organization for all Romansh associations. Their web site provides further background information. Standard romansh language is called Rumantsch grischun.

See also dialect.

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