St. Moritz

St. Moritz

The Languages of Graubünden

After accidentally being forgotten when languages were spread to early man, the beautiful Alpine canton of Graubünden ended up with the most languages in all of Switzerland…

Graubünden, or Grisons, is world-famous for many things. Among the Alpine panorama and mountain lakes are the best ski resorts in the world, especially St. Moritz, which is located in the heart of the canton and is renowned for its healing springs and winter sports. It is less well known that three cultures meet here in harmony, as Switzerland’s only trilingual canton with German, Italian and Romansch ​all considered official languages. It’s no wonder that a true Graubündner has a special way with words. The following legend tells of how this unique multilingualism came about.

At the beginning of time, God was putting the final touches on His creation. Humanity was perfect, and only the assignment of languages remained. God wanted to give each land the language and dialect that best suited their people, so for this task God chose one of his most beautiful angels to collect the holy seeds of language, which were spread among several bags for sowing. The angel then flew over the continents and scattered the supply onto the heads of speechless man, where the seeds would blossom into beautiful voices. The faithful angel dutifully worked from mountain to valley, through forests and meadows, across the islands and oceans, until all the languages in the world had been shared.

 

When the angel completed his work, he was dismayed to discover that he had completely overlooked a small section of the Alps where the waters of the Rhine, Inn, and Moesa all began their long journey. But, alas, the language bags were all empty! The angel confessed his mistake to the Creator, who replied sternly and said, “Take the sacks and see if there are not any leftovers in the folds. Spread what is left to the poor people.” The angel shook and patted the sacks, and indeed, a few lost seeds fell from the bags, each slightly different. He sprinkled this medley over the heads of the still speechless inhabitants, where the languages flourished into a beautiful garden. And so, it is to this day that Graubünden thrives with its unique variety of languages.

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