An addition to our linguistic menu
Try reading this aloud: "tschuntschientschuncontatschun tschancs tschufs." – Well? With a bit of luck, you won't be trampled by the "55 dirty sheep" that you've just summoned – assuming, of course, that the animals understand Romansh! This tongue-twister from the south-eastern Swiss canton of Grisons is nonsense, of course, but as the local version of Zurich's famous "Chuchichäschtli" test of linguistic dexterity, it is particularly popular among the region's holiday guests.
Romansh, Switzerland's fourth national language, is made up of the five dialects of Sursilvan, Sutsilvan, Surmiran, Puter, and Vallader. A standardised written language, Rumantsch Grischun, was developed in the 1980s, and official documents such as those issued by the Federal Government have been published in this common language ever since. Yet as rustic as Romansh may sound, even those who are not from Canton Grisons are likely to recognise a few phrases, especially if they have anything of an ear for the language used in television programmes such as "Cuntrasts", or for the greetings they may have heard on a walking holiday in the Engadine – allegra, bien di, buna notg, sta bain, viva, and others. That said, as with other languages, the devil can be in the detail, in this case in the individual letters. For instance, a sweet-smelling, soft-skinned baby is a "pop", but a "pup" refers to the rush of warm air, and accompanying sound effect, produced by that peachy baby bottom!
At the Apostroph Group, we like to take the ibex by its long, curved horns, and offer language services in Rumantsch Grischun to the same high Swiss quality as we guarantee in all other languages.