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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more



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Media: AP: Google to offer Rumantsch service

Submitter: Stephen Anderson

Submitter Email: stephen.anderson@yale.edu
Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics

Media Body: The story below recently appeared on AP. They don't say which of the
five existing 'Romansch' standards (six, if you count the cross-dialect
form 'Rumantsch Grischun') Google is using. They also have the figures
wrong: the number of speakers is more like 60,000. For more information on
the situation of the language, see

http://www.liarumantscha.ch/de/actualitads/rumantsch04_r.pdf

-- a brochure prepared by the Lia Rumantscha.

June 9, 2005 | Bern, Switzerland -- Not many people have heard of
Romansch. But in the future, those looking for Web sites in Switzerland may
find themselves trying to decipher this Latin-linked language.


That's because Google Inc., the Internet's leading search engine provider,
is now offering its service in Romansch, a language spoken by just 35,000
people in the mountains of southeastern Switzerland, the company said
Wednesday.

The Swiss government has passed laws to protect the minority Romansch
language, such as requiring its use in schools and on bank notes, but
speakers will now have the opportunity to 'tschertgar il web' -- or search
the Web -- in their native language.

Though the interface is in Romansch, results aren't limited to the
language. Nonetheless, the initiative has been welcomed by Romansch groups,
who have been seeking ways to keep their dwindling language alive.

Romansch, a direct descendant of Latin and one of Switzerland's four
official languages, has struggled to cope with encroachment of German.

--
Stephen R. Anderson
Professor of Linguistics, Psychology and Cognitive Science
Yale University
Issue Number: 16.1836
Date Posted: June 10, 2005

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