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Did you know this about... Ladin?

01The Ladin language is the oldest language of the Alps. It is a Rethoromance language dating back to the end of the 1st century B.C., when the Roman army conquered the Alps. The Latin spoken by Roman merchants and soldiers who flocked to this area came in contact with local dialects (spoken by Rhaetian, Norican and Celtic peoples) and eventually transformed into a new language..

02 In the early A.D. centuries, the Rethoromance area included almost the entire Alpine range, from the Danube to Lake Garda, down to the Adriatic coast. With passing time, however, this cultural unity disintegrated due to the invasion of the barbaric tribes and the subsequent fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century A.D.

03The language and culture of the these peoples, as a result, remained confined only to a few scattered and isolated areas: in the Canton of Grisons in Switzerland, in Friuli and in the Ladin Dolomites, namely, the five valleys gathered around the Sella group and targeted as “Ladinia” (Gardena Valley, Badia Valley, Livinallongo, Ampezzo and Fassa Valley).

04Ladin is spoken normally by about 30.000 people and is used by its speakers together with Italian and German.

05Ladin is one of the 12 minority languages recognized by the Italian law 482/99 and is promoted and safeguarded by the Statute of the Region Trentino-SouthTyrol and by provincial laws.

06The Ladin language is rich of idioms, which show a high degree of polynomy both among the different valleys and inside them.

07 Each one of the 5 valleys where Ladin is spoken has a standard language to be used for educational, institutional and official purposes.

08The Rethoromance languages, as Ladin is, are characterized by several linguistic features that are more or less present in the different idioms. Among these we can find the palatalization of velar plosives [k] and [g] before [a], the retention of the morphologically salient suffix –s, the retention of the consonant cluster C + [l], sigmatic plural and lazy agreement in the feminine plural syntagm (as in other Romance languages).

09Also a standard language covering all the Ladinia idioms (and valleys) has been created with the assistance of professor Heinrich Schmid, who is also the father of the Rumantsch Grischun standard.

10With a Ladin song the Fassan Ladin singer Martina Iori won the 10th edition of Liet International - the song contest for musicians who sing in a regional or minority language - that took place in the North-German city of Oldenburg, in Lower Saxony, in 2014.

11Ladin is the native language of the famous composer, songwriter, and record producer Giorgio Moroder, who has worked with The Rolling Stones, Electric Light Orchestra, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Queen and Elton John, among others. He has also produced film soundtracks and scores, including Midnight Express, American Gigolo, Superman III, Scarface, The Never Ending Story.

What does Ladin sound like? Listen to a Ladin radio station here.


We are most grateful to the members of the Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity for their support in providing the information on the Ladin language for this page.