Rhaeto-Romance, Rheto-Romance, or Rhaetian, is a purported subfamily of the Romance languages that is spoken in south-eastern Switzerland and north-eastern Italy. The name "Rhaeto-Romance" refers to the former Roman province of Raetia. The question of whether these languages actually form a subfamily is called the Questione Ladina. The Italian linguist Graziadio Ascoli, writing in 1873, found them to share a number of intricacies and believed they formed a linguistic group. What distinguishes the Rhaeto-Romance languages from Italian are their phonemic vowel length (long stressed vowels), consonant formation, and a central rounded vowel series. If the subfamily is genuine, three languages would belong to it: Romansh in Switzerland, and Ladin and Friulian in Italy. Their combined number of speakers is about 660,000; the large majority of these (about 500,000) speak Friulian.
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