Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

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Fun with homographs in Romansh

I was reading La Quotidiana the other day (issue of Tuesday 2010-02-16) when I came across two articles on the same page that each had two identically-spelled words next to each other. (I’m not sure whether they are also pronounced identically, which would make them homophones and homonyms as well as homographs, according to the the Venn diagram on the Wikipedia article Homograph.)

Anyway, I was a bit chuffed that I manged to read the respective sentences at the first go, without a problem.

The articles were both in Sursilvan. The first was about carnival revellers in worship services and contained the sentence Gia daditg para il tscheiver dad esser ina spina egl egl, e la fundaziun conservative Pro ecclesia ha apparentamain ugliau daditg d’intervenir. Here the first egl is from en igl “in the” (with igl being a variant form of il “the” used before vowels), and the second is the noun “eye”; hence, egl egl “in the eye”.

The second article was about a visit of the President of the Confederation visiting Disentis/Mustér; it included the sentence Silsuenter referescha ella ella sala Peter Kaiser davart las schanzas per il svilup regiunal; here, we have ella “she” followed by ella < en la “in the”: “Afterwards, she will report on the chances for regional development in the Peter Kaiser hall.” (For the juxtaposition, compare the German word order: „Hinterher referiert sie in der Peter-Kaiser-Halle über die Chancen für die regionale Entwicklung.“)

So, fun stuff! Also goes to show that not all Romansh idioms will prevent homography; in Vallader, for example, they distinguish i’l “in the” from il “the”.

Tags: language, romansh
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