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Rhaeto-Romance

The Rhaeto-Romance languages are a subfamily of the Romance languages consisting of three languages:

  • Romansh: one of Switzerland’s four national languages, albeit the most-forgotten and marginalised one, with 60,000 speakers
  • Ladin: spoken in South Tyrol, with 41,000 speakers
  • Friulian: spoken in Italy’s far northeast, near the border with Slovenia, with 500,000 speakers

You might notice the names “Romansh” and “Ladin” come directly from “Roman”/“Latin” – this is likely because, as minority Rom­ance languages in areas that otherwise spoke a patchwork of Germanic languages, there was no real need to give them names that differentiated them from other Rom­ance languages.

The subfamily is pretty similar to Gallo-Italian and sometimes simply considered part of that group, but others believe they have some common characteristics that set them apart (like lengthened stressed vowels, their consonants, and a central rounded vowel series).