The history of the Ladin language dates back to the period of Roman settling of the Alpine divide.
Once upon a time the Ladin language used to be the most widely spread in the Alps, while today it is only still spoken by the inhabitants of the Dolomite valley. This language has emerged in the period of Roman settling of the main Alpine divide. The Roman emperor Drusus conquered the Alpine region in 15 BC, this language has developed out of a mixture of the Rhaetian and Roman culture. The Ladin language itself is believed to have become established in the first centuries AD, while the Italian language, for instance, has developed only several centuries later.
In these days the Ladin language area stretched from the Danube in the north to Lake Garda in the south, from the St. Gotthard Pass in the west to Trieste in the east. When in the 6th century, in the times of the Migration period, the Bajuwars entered the territory from the north and the Langobards from the south, the Ladin language area was restricted. Soon after the connection between the Rhaeto-Romanesque Ladins in the Dolomites and the Rhaeto-Romanesque area in the west was disconnected. Only the valleys stretching in remote position were able to preserve their language.
After the end of WWI and the affiliation of South Tyrol to Italy, the areas in which the Ladin language was still spoken passed from the Austro-Hungarian empire to Italy. In these days the Ladin language was still considered a kind of Italian dialect. However, the Italians were not at all interested. Only the 2nd Autonomy Statute for South Tyrol officially accepted the Ladin population as minority in South Tyrol.
A few valleys in Italy and Switzerland were able to preserver the Ladin language up to these days: Val Gardena, Val di Fassa, Livinallongo, Ampezzo in the Dolomites, the Italian province of Friuli as well as the Swiss canton of Grisons. In the Ladin valleys Ladin is taught at school, moreover there are several publications in this language, such as magazines and books.