How Children Speak and Listen to a Foreign Language

July 30th 2023
Eastern Switzerland
Sound timbre of a language
Sound dynamics of a language
Soundscape studies
Social studies
Sound repatriation

In the German-speaking part of Switzerland, Romansh is mainly present on state television and radio

Every child has heard a story for children in Romansh or witnessed the presenters on television from an early age. The sound is familiar somehow.
How does the language feel to a child from the German-speaking part and how would he or she imitate Romansh?
Are there sounds, words that are close to Swiss German?
Is it like French, which is also one of the national languages, that you move your mouth quite differently and have to discover a different feeling for speaking first?

In the experimental interview with an 11-year-old German-speaking Swiss girl, these questions are asked in Romansh and Swiss German. She answers in pseudo-Romansh children's language and Swiss German, depending on whether the question was asked in Romansh or Swiss German.

Among other things, she tells us that she has never been to Graubünden, but that she likes the language. That it sounds to her like a mixture between Italian and Swiss German, and that its sound reminds her of water music with wine glasses. She also has ideas about how to save the language. On the one hand, that big cities should be part of the Grisons so that people don't move away for work, and on the other hand, that the language could be offered more as a voluntary subject in schools in the other parts of Switzerland. She personally would save the language if she could, because there are only a few people left who speak it and she thinks the language is great. Her drawing and her water music illustrate what she was talking about.