Tgi che sa Rumantsch sa dapli! A trip to Disentis / Mustér…

17:10 (UTC±01:00 +DST), 17 APR 2016 | CHE THUSIS GR

Rumantsch is that mysterious, hidden language that only “comes to” if you take a look at a Swiss passport or ID card. On the last line of the inside back cover of our passport, where you might “usually” expect English, you get this instead…

Quest passport cuntegna in chip da datas electronic. Il passaport sto vegnir tractà cun quità e na dastga betg vegnir faudà, sturschi, donnegià u exponì a champs electromagnetics ferms. Mintga perdita dal passport sto vegnir annunziada al proxim post da polizia. In passport ch’è puspè vegni chattà na dastga betg pli vegnir utilisà.

I see you utterly confused! This is Rumantsch Grischun, an “artificial” take on a language which has up to six local variants in eastern Switzerland, predominantly in the Canton of Graubünden / Grigioni / Grischun.

So outside of a Swiss passport, I have not seen one real living and breathing case of Rumantsch. Heading onto Highway 19, Tracy and I headed to the town of Disentis / Mustér (Disentis in German, Mustér in Rumantsch). On the way there, I saw my first real sample of Rumantsch.

Rumantsch 800 19

Holy shiitake. This language is alive! My first reaction was one of wow, happy to know that the language spoken by a mere 0.5% of the Swiss population, remained alive and well.

Number two was a very impressive, multilingual sign at the town’s main station.

Rumantsch 800 RhB

Although in this day and age, Mandarin Chinese might make a little bit more sense than Japanese, seeing how many of us from China are virtually “taking over” the Alpine republic… as is the case everywhere else!

Number three was a mix of road signs and place names in Rumantsch just east of Disentis / Mustér. This language was alive!

Rumantsch 800

My end, I’m launching a Rumantsch Grischun mini-version of the website in mid-September 2016. I love to do this — and equally love to keep a language that is so much part of Switzerland. Switzerland is not “itself” without this quintessential language, no matter how few people speak it.

Behind every language is a bit of history, and I’m somewhat a wee bit ashamed to admit that, in a typical “Londoner” way, I haven’t really been outside of the Canton of Zürich that much (although Sargans in the Canton of St Gallen is a big favourite of mine). To me, much of Graubünden / Grigioni / Grischun remains fully unexplored (but of course everyone’s been to Davos, Klosters, and St Moritz!). And with a great big Swiss National Park in the canton, there’s another bigger reason still.