There is a word in Sursilvan Romansch that reminds me of the sixties rockers Iron Butterfly. The word for “once” is inagada, and each time my teacher uses it, the closet-DJ in me replays the group’s monumental seventeen-minute track, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” (well maybe not all of it).
Today after class I visited the nearby town of Ilanz (known as Glion in Romansch, pronounced “yone” with a short O sound) and shopped at the town’s only bookstore. Ilanz is known as “the first town on the Rhine” and the Rhine River does indeed flow through the town. The river is a beautiful shade of blue green.
I bought a map of Switzerland and a map of Graubünden canton. There are so many maps here put out by so many different companies that it’s hard to make up my mind which ones to get. I am currently using the library’s Michelin map, however I don’t like it because the lines marking international and cantonal borders are very hard to make out. I always buy maps of the places I visit and I especially like to find regional maps which are not always available, even in Toronto travel bookstores.
There are several tables at Casa Caltgera displaying new Romansch books, as well as a whole library of other books in another room at the Casa. One book struck my eye yesterday, Istorgia Grischuna (2003) and I spent about an hour not only looking at the book, but reading it. Each sentence gave me a smile. Not because the book about Graubünden history was full of jokes, but because I could go from sentence to sentence and understand quite a lot already. I find that in my language acquisition I can read a new language better than speaking or hearing it. In fact I find I can write a new language even better (I use the abbreviation WRSH to rank the specific order of my competency; Writing, Reading, Speaking, Hearing). It is harder for me to speak and then to understand the spoken word; my competency is therefore stronger in the written word versus the spoken. A few of you have already pointed out to me that Romansch did not seem to be a difficult language to learn. And I agree.
Tomorrow I am going to visit Chur, the capital of Graubünden canton, a forty-minute bus ride northeast. There are three bookstores in the town and one of them sells Romansch books only. I found out that that store is only open from 10.00-13.00 so I’m going to hit that place first. Wanna bet I’ll stay the entire three hours there?
When I arrived at dinner today I saw what appeared to be pizza topped with onions (and lots of them) or with unripe tomato slices. Then I saw another student take a can of whipped cream and spray a thick layer on a slice. What the? This was not some kind of way for the Casa to dispense of an overload of undesirable vegetables; rather what I was looking at was a genuine Swiss dish consisting of baked thin apple or apricot slices served on a flat cake. This dish can be served either at breakfast or dinner and was as Swiss as chocolate and cuckoo clocks. Delicious, and served cold.