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Switzerland to showcase its fourth national language Romansh abroad

Romansh is a Rhaeto-Romanic language derived from Latin. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Swiss representations abroad will participate in the first ever Romansh week as part of an initiative to shine the spotlight on the country’s plurilingualism. 

This content was published on February 18, 2021 - 12:24
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The so-called “Romansh week” begins on Friday and is organised by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs together with the Swiss canton of Graubünden, where Romansh is spoken. Less than 1% of the nation is Romansh-speaking. 

"Our country is composed of a multitude of identities and cultures living together in harmony,” said Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis on Thursday. “And Romansh is a key ingredient of that melting pot.” 

“Plurilingualism and diversity are both a challenge and an asset: they teach us to resolve conflicts through dialogue, a Swiss quality that is in great demand throughout the world," he added. 

Participants will share and discuss why Romansh is an essential part of Switzerland (Rumantsch: in ferm toc Svizra). Swiss representations abroad will promote the little-known language through stories, interviews, language courses, readings, videos and virtual meetings, depending on what is possible in the midst of Covid-related restrictions. Ambassadors Chasper Sarott and Aita Pult will also contribute video messages from Madagascar and from New York, respectively, during the launch event on Friday (to be livestreamed from 11:45am to 1pm CET on www.rtr.ch.) 

"We excel in diplomacy precisely because of our centuries of experience in bringing different identities and cultures together in harmony. We want to pass on this experience at the international level, through our good offices and mediation services,” said Cassis. 

Switzerland has four official languages: German is the main language for about 62% of residents, while French accounts for about 23%; Italian is the mother tongue of around 8% of the population, while fewer than 0.5% are primarily Romansh speakers. 


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