8 January 2020
One of the fascinating aspects of Switzerland is that a history of fifteen hundred years has established so many contemporary (linguistic) borders, identities and cultures.
The six centuries after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 still determine the French-German language border.
The Alemanni introduced the German language in large parts of eastern, northern and central Switzerland after the departure of the Roman legions around 410 AD.
The French-speaking Burgundian kingdoms in Western Switzerland (443-534 and 888-1032) were decisive for the French language.
French remained the common language in this area after the occupation of Vaud by German-speaking cantons (Bern and Freiburg) after 1536.
What the Constitution of 1848 did not foresee, however, is the proliferation of local German dialects, Schwyzertütsch or Schwyzerdütsch.
These dialects are often difficult to understand for other Swiss citizens, even for German-speaking citizens from other cantons or cities.