Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Neglected Language - Romansh

A little personal history is in order.

The only time that I've ever visited Europe was in the summer of 2000, when I spent two weeks in Switzerland (including a few hours in Austria and France). I spent most of my time in the German-speaking portion of the country, although I also spent a day in the French-speaking part (Geneva) and an hour in the Italian-speaking part.

So some would say that I've sampled all of the language areas of Switzerland.

Wrong-o, Daddy-O, as Laurent Schneider reminded us in his post "add a new language to Oracle".

I first thought of adding Klingon. Well, finally I added Romansh, which is the fourth official language in my country.

Yep, Klingon (which last I checked is not an official language in any country) gets more respect than Romansh, which is an official language in Switzerland.

You'll recall that Finnish parliament member Jyrki Kasvi hosted a Klingon translation of his website. You can find the Klingon version here.

But Romansh gets no respect. Romansh, according to Wikipedia, is the primary language for only about 60,000 people in Switzerland. Some non-official languages such as Serbian are actually more popular than Romansh.

In addition, there is Romansh and there is Romansh. The government uses Rumantsch Grischun, which ironically means that some Romansh speakers choose to speak German when speaking to the Swiss government, since they don't care for the official version.

But Microsoft does, according to swissworld.org:

Although Rumantsch is only spoken by very few Swiss, it has five distinct forms, known as "idioms", each with its own written tradition - and each with several dialects. An artificial standard language, "Rumantsch Grischun", was created in 1982, as a compromise between the existing idioms. It is used mainly for administrative purposes. However, in the media and for literary works, most speakers prefer to use their own idiom.

In 2001 a cantonal referendum in Graub√ľnden approved Rumantsch Grischun as the form to be used in official election material and the legal code. The standard language made another gain in 2005, when Microsoft announced that it was to be added to its range of desktop languages.

But what of Oracle? Here are some of the Latin character languages supported by Oracle Text:

Afrikaans, Albanian, Basque, Breton, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Faeroese, Fijian, Finnish, Flemish, French, Frisian, German, Hawaiian, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Lappish,
Classic Latin, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Maltese, Pinyin Mandarin, Maori, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Provencal, Romanian, Rumanian, Samoan, Scottish Gaelic, Slovak, Slovene, Slovenian, Sorbian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tagalog, Turkish, Vietnamese, Welsh

But the Romansh speakers are apparently dependent upon Laurent Schneider's efforts.

Klingon speakers are out of luck, unless Jyrki Kasvi does database configuration on the side.

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Laurent Schneider said...
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Laurent Schneider said...
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Laurent Schneider said...

A funny note about Romanshes is that they change the spelling of twenty (vantg/ventg) on the 20 francs banknotes a few years ago due to "uniformisation".


Ontario Emperor said...

Just think what would happen if they tried to perform "uniformisation" on Swiss German. :)

Bryce said...

Wow, very interesting story and facts presented.

Here's a website in Romansh that you might enjoy:

Rumantsch wiki browser