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Home > Engadinese, WHATL > New conlang Engadinese: Greek with Romansh sound changes

New conlang Engadinese: Greek with Romansh sound changes

October 10th, 2008

I’ve been thinking about another WHATL-based conlang, though I haven’t put pen to paper cursor to editor yet. It’s not even got a name, though one working title is “Engadinese”. (

The premise is that it’s Greek with Romansh-based sound changes — essentially, what Romansh would be if the Romans had spoken Greek instead of Latin.

The vague idea is to bias the sound shifts in favour of the “Ladin” varieties of Romansh (Putèr, Vallader, and — if I can get my hands on information, since it’s a spoken but not a written dialect — Jauer), essentially because front rounded vowels are cool. (The Ladin varieties have “ü” and “ö”, which have unrounded or split to  “i” and “e”/”eu/”ieu” in the Rhine varieties of Romansh as well as the compromise standard Rumantsch Grischun.)

Though on the other hand, that throws a spanner into the works of the idea I had to have certain additional orthographies for the language.

You see, I had intended to have not only a Greek-based orthography (naturally, since the Roman alphabet is non-existent in WHATL and Europe uses Greek letters) and a Latin-based orthography (based on real orthographies for Romansh idioms), but also a Latin and a Cyrillic one based on Croatian/Serbian, since I had read once that the phonology of Romansh and BCS is very similar (for example, differentiating between ć and č, spelled ch/tg and tsch respectively in Romansh).

But that probably applied specifically to Rumantsch Grischun; certainly, BCS doesn’t have /ø/ or /y/.

But that’s only a small deal. I expect that the “Croatian” orthography will use “ö” and “ü” (like the standard Latin one) and that the “Serbian” one will use ө and ү, which I think is pretty much the standard representation for those sounds in the languages which have them and which use the Cyrillic alphabet. (I briefly considered getting sounds for /œ/ and /ʏ/, too — perhaps ӫ and ұ — but probably won’t go that route since the Latin orthographies underspecify that difference [not to mention several other vowel phoneme distinctions], too.)

Ideally, I’d have a big old list of Romansh words — in as many different idioms as possible — along with their Latin ancestors and their cognates in Modern and Old French (since as I understand it, Romansh is more closely related to French than to Italian, from amongst the “big” Romance languages, and more specifically, the ones I’m familiar with), to help me derive sound changes (and to see what words in Ladin look like).

There’s a set of books that looks as if it could be useful, but it costs CHF 90, so that will have to wait a while. (Assuming it’s still available by the time I get around to buying it… books in or about Romansh tend to have a low print run.)

I’m also undecided quite where the language is going to be spoken, though I’m currently leaning to “those areas currently in Graubünden east of the Albula Range”, i.e., Engadine, Münstertal, and Valposchiavo.

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