Italian Minority Groups: Ladini/Raetic People


Figure 1.--An Italian reader tells us about the Ladini people who live in the mountains of north-western Italy. They speak their own destinct language. They appear to be ethnically and linguistically related to the Romansch in southern Switzerland. The Swiss population is centered in the the canton of GraubŁnden (Grisons). The Italian population is much smaller. In the photo we can see a woman with a baby and three girls wearing the traditional costumes.

An Italian reader tells us about the Ladini people who live in the mountains of north-western Italy. They speak their own destinct language. This is not a group that we know much about. They appear to be ethnically and linguistically related to Romansch in southern Switzerland. The Romansh speak the Romansh language. They settled in parts of the Grisons. Ethnically they have descended from Raetic stock. Little is known of the origin or history of the Raetians. They first apea in Roman records. The Romans believed that they descended from the Etruscans. The Romans described them as an especially war-like Alpine tribe. Some settled in the plains of the Po, but were driven into the more defemdsible mountains by the invading Celts (Gauls). There they adoptedthe name Raetians from an important war leader--Raetus. Another theory is the name comes from the Celtic rait ("mountain land"). What ever their origins, by the time the Romans came in contact with bthem they appear to have been a asically Celtic people. They were conquered by the Romans (15 BC)and Raetia brecame a Roman province. Their language does appeaer to have Etriuscan influences and later Celtic. After the Roman conquest, Latin became widely adopted. After the fall of Rome the language of the Ladini became Romansh It is now one of the four national languages of Switzerland. It is classified as one of the Rhaeto-Romance languages. It is widely accepoted thsat it descenced from the Vulgar Latin that became adopted after he Roman conquest. It is thus related to French, Occitan and North Italian dialects. The Vulgar Latin influences all three of these sareas, but the local languages and subsequet Germanic tribes explain many of the differences. The Swiss population is centered in the the canton of GraubŁnden (Grisons). The Italian population is much smaller. In the photo we can see a woman with a baby and three girls wearing the traditional costumes (figure 1). A reader writes, "This write up caused me to remember the time my wife and I were on a train crossing the French Alps. We stopped somewhere on the Italian side of the border and people got on that had a "strange" accent. My wife, Italian by birth, asked me what language they were speaking because she couldn't understand them. I said it sounded like Italian, but with a French accent. I wonder if they were the Landini people HBC describes here. Interesting if they were descendents of the Etruscans."








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Created: 4:05 AM 11/29/2006
Last updated: 4:06 AM 11/29/2006