Romansh Language - Language Structure - Vocabulary - German Loanwords

German Loanwords

Another distinguishing characteristic of Romansh vocabulary are its numerous Germanic loanwords.

Some Germanic loan words already entered the language in Late Antiquity or the Early Middle Ages, and are often found in other Romance languages as well. Words more particular to Romansh include surs./suts. tschadun, surm. sdom/sdong, engad. sdun 'spoon', which is also found in Ladin as sciadon and Friaulian as sedòn and is thought to go back to Ostrogothic *skeitho, and was once probably common throughout Northern Italy. Another such early loan is bletsch 'wet', which probably goes back to Old Frankish blettjan 'to squeeze', from where French blesser 'to wound' is also derived. The change in meaning probably occurred by the way of 'bruised fruit', as is still found in French blet. Early Germanic loans found more commonly in the other Romance languages includes surs./vall. blau, suts. blo/blova, surm. blo/blava, put. blov 'blue', which is derived from Germanic blao and also found for instance in French as bleu and Italian as blu.

Others were borrowed into Romansh during the Old High German period, such as glieud 'people' from OHG liut or surs. uaul, suts. gòld, surm. gôt, eng. god 'forest' from OHG wald. Surs. baul, suts. bòld, engad. bod 'soon, early, nearly' is likely derived from Middle High German bald, balde 'keen, fast' as are surs. nez, engad. nüz 'use' from Middle High German nu(t)z, or losch 'proud' likely from Middle High German lôs. Other examples include surs. schuber 'clean' from Swiss German suuber, surs. schumber 'drum' from Swiss German or Middle High German sumber, and surs. schufar 'to drink greedily' from Swiss German suufe.

Some words were adapted into Romansh through different dialects of German, such as the word for 'farmer', borrowed as paur from Bavarian in Vallader and Putèr, but from Alemannic as pur in the other dialects.

In addition, many German words entered Romansh beginning in the 19th century, when numerous new objects and ideas were introduced. Romansh speakers often simply adopted the German words, such as il zug 'the train' or il banhof 'the train station'. Language purists attempted to coin new Romansh words instead, which were occasionally successful in entering popular usage. Whereas il tren and la staziun managed to replace il zug and il banhof, other German words have become established in Romansh usage, such as il schalter 'the switch', il hebel 'the lever', la schlagbohrmaschina 'the hammer drill', or in schluc 'a sip'. Especially noticeable are interjections such as schon, aber or halt, which have become established in everyday language.

Read more about this topic:  Romansh Language, Language Structure, Vocabulary

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