A nice collection of links about Romansh:

Less than one per cent of the Swiss population speak Romansh. Yet this endangered Latin-based language, spoken in parts of the eastern canton of Graubünden, is still very much alive. To coincide with the parliamentary session in Romansh-speaking Flims from September 18-October 6, swissinfo took a look at the fourth Swiss national language, which is almost as little known inside Switzerland as outside its borders.

Thanks, Paul!


  1. 35,000 people speak it as their first language and it’s considered endangered?!
    No Australian language (and I’m going out on a pretty safe limb here with this generalisation) ever had more than (I’m guessing) 3,000 speakers.
    Then again, one needs perspective. I mean, languages of Indigenous people are always going to be smaller in population. If the community of German speakers suddenly shrank to 100,000 say, it might be considered quite moribud.
    It depends less on the number of speakers and more on the rate of next-generation uptake (I’m sure there’s a sociolinguistic-jargon term for it; transference or something), the rate of language learning in the children of language-speaking parents. I’m sure there’s a lot of literature on this.

  2. I think it’s safe to say that any language with under, say, a million speakers can be considered “endangered” in the larger sense. Obviously the threat is more immediate for Australian languages, but you can’t really expect a Romansh speaker to worry about that.

  3. A German friend of mine went on a dog-training course in Switzerland recently and met a Romansh dog. The owner’s first language was Romansh, so the dog was trained in Romansh, although the owner spoke Italian most of the time.

  4. Which reminds me of this old post.

  5. Very cool. Are those Romansh speakers descendents of ancient Roman territory folks? Is that why it’s official?

  6. What’s a Flim?

  7. A pastry? A sausage? The local word for “film”?
    Name of a town, I think. It threw me too.

  8. Flims. (It’s a village.)

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