[Ads-l] Bolze

Mark Mandel markamandel at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jun 23 08:37:15 EDT 2021

*From BBC Travel*

*The Swiss Language That Few Know*
*Bolze is more than just a language: it’s a cultural identity and a point
of pride in the Basse-Ville of Fribourg.*
BBC Travel
• Molly Harris

The Sarine River skirts the edge of Basse-Ville (lower town), dividing both
the canton of Fribourg and the city of Fribourg into two sectors:
German-speaking and French-speaking. The city of around 40,000 people is
clearly one of duality: street signs are all in two languages; residents
can choose whether their children will use French or German in primary
school; and the university even offers a bilingual curriculum.

However, head to medieval Basse-Ville, caught between the German- and
French-speaking divisions of Fribourg, and you’ll find yourself in a
no-man's land where the two languages have become one: le Bolze.

Speak to any Swiss national, and you’ll likely find them enthralled with
the topic of communication, probably because languages are so incredibly
diverse within this small country. The nation can be geographically divided
into three major language groups. The south, which shares in the famous
lakes of the Swiss-Italian lake region, is Italian-speaking. To the west
near Geneva is French-speaking; while central and eastern parts of the
country, such as Zurich and St Moritz, rely on German (and the
south-eastern canton of Graubünden even includes Romansh speakers).

It gets even more confusing when you throw in the various dialects, such as
Franc Comtois, a French dialect spoken in Switzerland’s Jura and Bern
cantons; and Swiss German, which is learned at home and only used
conversationally (as opposed to ‘proper’ German, which is both written and
spoken, and taught at school).

Among all this linguistic complexity, the city of Fribourg/Freiburg (as
it’s known in French/German) has the added challenge of lying on the
language borders between French- and German-speaking cantons – Vaud and
Bern – which is perhaps why it’s home to a people who decided to develop
their own language.

As I walked along Fribourg’s main thoroughfare, the first indicator that I
was nearing Basse-Ville glided past. From the upper-town terrace that
overlooks the Sarine, a historical funicular connects the city centre to
Basse-Ville on the riverbank down below. Opened in 1899, the pastel-green
‘Funi’, which is powered by 3,000 litres of water, is the only funicular to
run on waste water in Europe. The two-minute ride, which still operates
today, is both a symbol of industrial Fribourg and a gateway into the
history of the lower town where Bolze was created.

While the exact origins of the language are unknown, many believe that
Bolze was created during the Industrial Revolution in the 19th Century,
when people began to migrate from the countryside into cities as jobs
became available during the industrial boom. As a city bordering both
French- and Swiss German-speaking countryside villages, Fribourg grew and
expanded into a bilingual, cultural and industrial hub for the poor seeking

*Click headline for full story*

Mark Mandel

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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