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Bien di!

Today is sunny and it hasn’t rained yet, although there always is the risk of a brief yet light rain when the clouds are looming. It is T-shirt and shorts weather (18°C) and today is the first day where I have worn my shorts since leaving Zürich. Today in class we learned the four main verb types and how to conjugate them, plus a slew of irregular verbs and the numbers. In Sursilvan Romansch there are three auxiliary verbs, ESSER (to be), HAVER (to have) and VEGNIR (to come, used only in future tenses). There is also the adorable little irregular horror of a verb, IR, meaning “to go”, which when conjugated resembles the infinitive form in no way at all. Makes sense that a verb as irregular as IR should begin ir-.

Aside from the weather, some of you have asked about the local currency. In Switzerland one uses Swiss francs, which I have seen abbreviated both as SFr and ChF (the Ch standing for the Confoederatio Helvetica). One Swiss franc is worth almost one Canadian dollar (0.945244 according to, where they use the abbreviation CHF), so there is no need for me to convert prices.

When Mark and I ate out at dinnertime in Zürich, we did hunt around for reasonable restaurants. Time after time we turned away from places where the entrees started at 40 ChF. In fact we dined twice at one place, the Restaurant Bahnhof Wiedikon, because it was so cheap. It was located across the street from the Wiedikon Railway Station in central Zürich (Bahnhof means “railway station” in German).

Laax is a ski town in the winter and that’s when the German tourists pour into the village. One is more likely to hear German here in the winter than in the summer. Laax is a Romansch village and the signs around town are mostly in Romansch. In the small library, which I visited yesterday, there is a calendar posted listing events in July. It is written only in Romansch. On 11 July it is marked as the first day of summer Romansch classes at the Casa Caltgera.

All the houses here are named. The first part of the name starts with “Casa” and then the name follows. Casa Caltgera is the area’s cultural centre for the Romansch language. In Sursilvan Romansch, the -tg- is pronounced almost like -ch- in English. It is distinct from another Romansch sound, -tsch-, which is exactly like the English -ch-. I believe the phonetic symbol for the Romansch -tg- sound would be a “t” followed by a “c” with a loop ( = tɕ, a voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate). If you can’t master this sound in the name of the casa where I am staying, try saying just “CALCHERA” instead.


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