Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

Epiphanies: Oberhalbstein

There’s a region in the canton of Graubünden in Switzerland called “Oberhalbstein” in German and “Surses”[*] in Romansh.

I had always presumed that that word was pronounced “,Ober'halbstein”… which would make it something like “Upper Half-Stone”. Even though that didn’t make much sense.

I just realised that it would make more sense if pronounced “,Oberhalb'stein”: that would be something like “Above the stone”, and would match the Romansh much more closely, too (which is from something like SUPRA SAXAM; feel free to correct me on the Latin).

Edit 2011-03-28: Having asked Miriam in Savognin, the "oberhalb 'Stein" pronunciation is indeed the correct one.

[*] Not to be confused with “Sursaissa”, which is “Obersaxen” in German (and, in practice, in English), which must be from the same root. The English Wikipedia article mentions a 765 form Supersaxa, which fits that theory. Here, though, the “-sax-” element was not interpreted by the Germans.

Tags: etymology, graubünden, language, pronunciation
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