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Romansh in the digital age A Swiss dictionary made in China

The first 13 volumes of the Romansh dictionary became available online at the beginning of December — a feat made possible by outsourcing to China.  

The dictionary, 'Dicziunari Rumantsch Grischun', has existed on paper since the 16th century. The web versionexternal link was typed up in record time by six women in China, despite them not understanding a single word of it.

The digitalisation had to be done in China, project director Ursin Lutz explained: "If we had to do this in Switzerland or Europe we wouldn't have been able to afford it."

Five dialects with sub-dialects

Spoken in the south-eastern Swiss canton of Graubünden, Romansh — which has five written dialects, each with its own sub-dialects — is one of the four national languages in Switzerland besides German, French and Italian. 

Despite it being spoken by only 0.5% of the Swiss populationexternal link, it has been an official language of Switzerland since 1996, but only for official correspondence with Romansh-speakers.

(Kai Reusser /

Romansh is descended from Latin, the common parent of all the Romance languages, some of the most widely spoken of which are Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian. 


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