Rhaeto-Romance Languages

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Rhaeto-Romance Languages


(Rhaeto-Romanic), a subgroup of Romance languages spoken in Graubünden Canton in Switzerland and in the Trentino-Alto Adige and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions of northern Italy.

The Rhaeto-Romance languages are spoken by people of the Rhaeto-Romance group, which includes Romansh speakers, Ladins, and Friulians. Speakers number more than 400,000, of which 340,000 (1962, estimate) speak Friulian, which has a special non-Rhaetian substratum not shared by the other languages and a well-developed literature. The Rhaeto-Romance languages are subdivided into western (Swiss), central (Tyrolean, in Italy), and eastern (Friulian, in Italy) languages. In 1938 the Swiss dialect of Graubünden (Romansh), which exists in two varieties (Upper Engadine and Sursilvan), became the fourth national language of Switzerland.

Occupying the north central part of the area in which the Romance languages are spoken in Europe, the Rhaeto-Romance languages represent the most archaic relic area, intermediate between the eastern and western Romance languages. Blending of Romance and Germanic lexical elements occurs in the region adjacent to the area of German dialect distribution; for example, the future tense is formed in the German manner, by means of the auxiliary verb gnir (“to become”). Traces of the Vulgar Latin two-case declension and the Latin ending -s have been preserved in some Rhaeto-Romance language areas.


Borodina, M. A. Sovremennyi literaturnyi retoromanskii iazyk Shveitsarii. Leningrad, 1969.
Bibliografia Retoromontscha, vols. 1–2. Published by Lia Rumantscha, 1938–56.
Widmer, A. Das Personalpronomen im Bündnerromanischen in phonetischer und morphologischer Schau. Bern, 1959.
Crestomaƫie Romanicǎ, vols. 1–3. Edited by J. Jordan. Bucharest, 1962-68.