Die deutsche Besiedlung des Oberwallis – Das Zeugnis der Ortsnamen
The German colonization of the Upper Valais, part of a bilingual canton (French-German), has been a subject of lively debate over the last two centuries. Previous explanations of this colonization are briefly discussed and dialectological studies of the Upper Valais are presented and analysed. No studies exist, however, on the matter of the place names of the six districts in the Upper Valais. It seems that most of the place names in the valley of the Rhone (such as Leuk, Raron, Visp, Brig, Mörel and Münster) are Gallo-Roman ones while the Alemannic ones are found in areas higher up (e. g. Zeneggen, Bürchen or Unterbäch). The conclusion is clear, then: the German colonisers (if they came from the North of Switzerland) settled in the higher places while the traditional population of the Gallo-Roman places in the valley was Germanized later on.
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