Go Back   English Forum Switzerland > Help & tips > Language corner  
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 18.10.2007, 05:26
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 37
Groaned at 4 Times in 1 Post
Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
stickboy504 has no particular reputation at present
Swiss languages

Does anybody else get sad when they see figures of how many people speak Romansh and the other little languages? It is a shame that its dying out so quickly. The number of native speakers has dropped by half since 1970, and who knows if the language will survive another few generations.

Also Franco-Provencal. That used to be the vernacular language of Romandy and then regular french came and pushed it out of the way. My grammy remembers her mother and her family and friends speaking it when she was little, but now she is hard pressed to find anyone under 50 who has any sort of competent understanding of the language.

It just plain sucks that all these languages are dying out.

The same thing is happening in the U.S. with the native american languages, and they for the most part are undocumented. Cajun french has something like 70,000 native speakers left from, nearly 560,000 in 1950. I just hate seeing these languages go because they are all beautiful.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 18.10.2007, 14:00
miniMia's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: romandie
Posts: 9,993
Groaned at 101 Times in 92 Posts
Thanked 9,106 Times in 4,522 Posts
miniMia has a reputation beyond reputeminiMia has a reputation beyond reputeminiMia has a reputation beyond reputeminiMia has a reputation beyond reputeminiMia has a reputation beyond reputeminiMia has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Swiss languages

Yes. I also think it's sad. I was thinking of learning Romansh. My SO's family come from there, but like, waaaayyyy back. 1800s.

I have the books & tapes. But then I thought "what will I do with this knowledge?". I mean, I think it would be rather "easy" for someone with a good foundation in the romance languages, but why? why learn it? I don't live anywhere near Grison. :/ (not to mention my grammar is disastrous in the languages I know already... )

Sad.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 18.10.2007, 14:12
Nairda's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 354
Groaned at 2 Times in 2 Posts
Thanked 147 Times in 79 Posts
Nairda has made some interesting contributions
Re: Swiss languages

Interesting series of articles on Swissinfo that starts here:
Indestructible Romansh survives centuries.

Edit:
Actually, there is a whole section on Romansh called Little Islands of Romansh with lots of interactive features.
iirc, the videos are really interesting as is the pronounciation comparison. Enjoy!
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank Nairda for this useful post:
  #4  
Old 18.10.2007, 14:59
miniMia's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: romandie
Posts: 9,993
Groaned at 101 Times in 92 Posts
Thanked 9,106 Times in 4,522 Posts
miniMia has a reputation beyond reputeminiMia has a reputation beyond reputeminiMia has a reputation beyond reputeminiMia has a reputation beyond reputeminiMia has a reputation beyond reputeminiMia has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Swiss languages

Quote:
View Post
Interesting series of articles on Swissinfo that starts here:
Indestructible Romansh survives centuries.

Edit:
Actually, there is a whole section on Romansh called Little Islands of Romansh with lots of interactive features.
iirc, the videos are really interesting as is the pronounciation comparison. Enjoy!
Great, thanks. Now I MUST learn Romansh!
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 18.10.2007, 15:02
Newbie 1st class
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Cork Ireland
Posts: 21
Groaned at 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanked 8 Times in 3 Posts
RomanCork has no particular reputation at present
Re: Swiss languages

May that is the reason why the Swiss Germans are not accepting the High German everywhere.
The future looks not good for small languages.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 24.10.2007, 13:52
Zug bound's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Meisenberg Zug
Posts: 863
Groaned at 19 Times in 11 Posts
Thanked 284 Times in 182 Posts
Zug bound is considered knowledgeableZug bound is considered knowledgeableZug bound is considered knowledgeable
Re: Swiss languages

I think the last native (rather than learned by linguafone) Cornish speaker died recently

Last edited by Zug bound; 24.10.2007 at 13:53. Reason: spelling
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 23.05.2008, 00:10
Dorio
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Swiss languages

I very much enjoyed reading about your feelings for our Rumantsch language. (Vus me donnais tant fitg plaschair legaindo voss/tes sentiments da noss lingua Rumantsch.) I was born in the US, and still live here, but will be moving in about 7 years. I listen to the RTR over the internet and surf Lia Rumantscha and search other websites, too. My Rumantsch comes from the alpes at the base of the Engiadina, when it comes down just north of the top of the Lario of Lake Como. The Area where the Val Bregaglia and the Valtalina are all right there. It's kind of like a cross between a very alpine Lombardese and Puter/Ladin dialect of Rumantsch. I'm still in the process of trying to nail it down. My family brought it over to American when they came here, so it's like frozen in time... Some 100 year old language that never changed because it wasn't around any of the other influencial majority languages of the region. It pretty much stayed as it was when it came over here. I just wish I had a bigger vocabulary, but I do what I can to improve it.
Tom
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank for this useful post:
  #8  
Old 23.05.2008, 08:33
Nev
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Swiss languages

Quote:
View Post
Does anybody else get sad when they see figures of how many people speak Romansh and the other little languages? It is a shame that its dying out so quickly. The number of native speakers has dropped by half since 1970, and who knows if the language will survive another few generations.

Also Franco-Provencal. That used to be the vernacular language of Romandy and then regular french came and pushed it out of the way. My grammy remembers her mother and her family and friends speaking it when she was little, but now she is hard pressed to find anyone under 50 who has any sort of competent understanding of the language.

It just plain sucks that all these languages are dying out.

The same thing is happening in the U.S. with the native american languages, and they for the most part are undocumented. Cajun french has something like 70,000 native speakers left from, nearly 560,000 in 1950. I just hate seeing these languages go because they are all beautiful.
Iím ambivalent about this. The sentimental side of me (yes I have one) says itís a pity to lose something as unique as a language. When a mother tongue is lost so is a major driver of cultural identity/nationhood and a way of expressing how a particular ethnic group see the world the world.

The more pragmatic side of me says but this has always happened throughout human history and itís part of the normal process. Many languages have been lost or become extinct as spoken languages all throughout history - some major languages like Old English, Sanskrit, Ancient Greek, Latin are all gone as spoken tongues. Once that happens they stop developing vocabulary etc so effectively are dead. The meaning of the Egyptian hieroglyphs was lost for thousands of years until the Rosetta was discovered in the 19th century. Language constantly changes and evolves as cultures evolve or are assimilated and borders or nationality changes etc etc.. Canít put language in a time warp. Stagnation would be just as bad. An old language dies out and a new one develops. People stop expressing themselves in one language but they don't stop expressing themselves. English literature is one of the most diverse in the world, but is it any worse for not being written in Anglo Saxon?

Apparently there some 6,000 - 7,000 languages but over half of that number are spoken by less than 0.5% of the worldís population. 52% of the world speak just 20 languages like English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian etc so maybe the idea of linguistic diversity is a bit of a myth for practical purposes. Maybe whatís different is globalisation is accelerating the process. Some reckon half of all human languages will have disappeared by the end of the century, though many of these aboriginal languages spoken by a few thousand native speakers.

A lot would be lost if our linguistic diversity disappeared but think of the benefits if we all spoke one language. Franco Provencal patois may have disappeared in Romande but sentimentality apart, the benefits of speaking and communicating in one standardised language are huge. Over emphasis on a regional patois can have major drawbacks like small mindedness, isolationism etc.

On balance I think it is sad if a language is lost especially if no record is kept of it for posterity. That way languages can be revived if future generations want to. Cornish is a prime example. But thatís the responsibility of those who speak it as a mother tongue. If itís that important to them then they will teach it to their kids - not just the language, but a pride in and an appreciation of the importance of actually using it. The Welsh have done a great job because their nationhood is important to them. And that's why Swiss German is alive and kicking and I guess why Romansh is still around. If people didn't value them they would have gone the way of many other languages in history. Once they stop valuing the language then maybe they should die out.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 23.05.2008, 09:07
Nev
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Swiss languages

Let me add one big proviso to my post. I think there is a world of difference between a language dying out because of voluntary neglect by those for whom it's their mother tongue and a language going into decline because of the political/social/economic policies imposed on a society by an ouside force. I the former the language has ceased to have relevance. The latter is cultural vandalism of the highest order. The highland clearances and banning of the Scots gaelic by us English is one example (though the language is still hanging in). And where a minority has the will to preserve it's language, central governments should lend every encouragement and assistance to them.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 23.05.2008, 09:15
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Geneva
Posts: 5,531
Groaned at 123 Times in 108 Posts
Thanked 3,297 Times in 1,737 Posts
Shorrick Mk2 has a reputation beyond reputeShorrick Mk2 has a reputation beyond reputeShorrick Mk2 has a reputation beyond reputeShorrick Mk2 has a reputation beyond reputeShorrick Mk2 has a reputation beyond reputeShorrick Mk2 has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Swiss languages

Quote:
View Post
Language constantly changes and evolves as cultures evolve or are assimilated and borders or nationality changes etc etc.. Canít put language in a time warp. Stagnation would be just as bad.
This is actually an interesting subject. I was talking with a good friend of mine who studied Chinese, did a PhD and now is a teacher at the University in the Chinese department. He was saying that in his opinion the stability of China over years has been assured by the lack of changes in the language over time (i.e. since Middle Ages and further back). Similarly he was saying that the unity of China was maintained thanks to the language as well - Mandarin and Cantonese couldn't understand each other in speech, however would communicate perfectly in writing.
__________________
The opinions expressed above are not necessarily the opinions of management and in fact may be the opposite of that intended in order to confuse and obfuscate trolling readers.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 23.05.2008, 09:35
AbFab's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: ZŁrich
Posts: 7,649
Groaned at 324 Times in 218 Posts
Thanked 10,446 Times in 3,656 Posts
AbFab has a reputation beyond reputeAbFab has a reputation beyond reputeAbFab has a reputation beyond reputeAbFab has a reputation beyond reputeAbFab has a reputation beyond reputeAbFab has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Swiss languages

Quote:
View Post
This is actually an interesting subject. I was talking with a good friend of mine who studied Chinese, did a PhD and now is a teacher at the University in the Chinese department. He was saying that in his opinion the stability of China over years has been assured by the lack of changes in the language over time (i.e. since Middle Ages and further back). Similarly he was saying that the unity of China was maintained thanks to the language as well - Mandarin and Cantonese couldn't understand each other in speech, however would communicate perfectly in writing.
You could easily apply the blanket language unifying to the USA and the opposite applies to Europe...
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 23.05.2008, 09:40
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Geneva
Posts: 5,531
Groaned at 123 Times in 108 Posts
Thanked 3,297 Times in 1,737 Posts
Shorrick Mk2 has a reputation beyond reputeShorrick Mk2 has a reputation beyond reputeShorrick Mk2 has a reputation beyond reputeShorrick Mk2 has a reputation beyond reputeShorrick Mk2 has a reputation beyond reputeShorrick Mk2 has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Swiss languages

Quote:
View Post
You could easily apply the blanket language unifying to the USA and the opposite applies to Europe...
True. I was more interested in the stability of the language per se rather than the actual consequences. My friend was saying that a Chinese 11 or 12 year old could now more ore less read texts written hundreds of years ago and understand them. You cannot really say the same thing for Europe, I don't know about the US.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 23.05.2008, 16:17
Nev
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Swiss languages

Quote:
View Post
This is actually an interesting subject. I was talking with a good friend of mine who studied Chinese, did a PhD and now is a teacher at the University in the Chinese department. He was saying that in his opinion the stability of China over years has been assured by the lack of changes in the language over time (i.e. since Middle Ages and further back). Similarly he was saying that the unity of China was maintained thanks to the language as well - Mandarin and Cantonese couldn't understand each other in speech, however would communicate perfectly in writing.
I can see your friend's point. It's kind of what I was trying to get at with the comment about there being benefits from standardizing languages instead of perpetuating patois. And it's not just the political unity of China but also the cultural unity which is huge. Even the most independant minded Taiwanese I worked with still regarded themselves as part of a "greater" Chinese cultural family. As for China itself, centralised rule, an iron fist and Confucius also probably had a hand in keeping China together. The other thing is the language was free from outside influences, as was Japanese, for hundreds of years. That helps maintain stability of language. Unlike poor old English which was changed for ever after the Normans came. But if Chinese stayed basically the same down the centuries (I take his word on it) then presumably it was because the culture was stable so it remained a relevant, living language. It must have adapted some over the years - new vocabulary for new ideas (communism for example and "capitalism with chinese characteristics") etc. What's interesting is how languages "move on". If you listen to Welsh tv you hear english words for modern stuff. Same in Japanese - the Japanese for hamburger is "hambagga" and they have a special alphabet to write words of foreign origin.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
french, italien, romansh




Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
job interview in 2nd and 3rd languages.... Rico Other/general 11 08.10.2007 15:28
English natives and foreign languages? Stuart Language corner 58 01.05.2007 15:51
languages and communication in switzerland! fabiolah Daily life 3 09.12.2006 03:26


All times are GMT +2. The time now is 00:47.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
LinkBacks Enabled by vBSEO 3.1.0