Formulation, Performance and Instrumentalisation of the German-French Language Border in Swiss Tourism

Project management

Iwar Werlen (UniBE)


Liliane Meyer Pitton (UniBE)

01.2013 - 04.2016
Institutions, Policy
Swiss National Science Foundation, project funding, project no. 143184

The project examines the German-French language border in Switzerland through the analysis of touristic discourses and activities. By looking at the language border through the eyes of tourism, the project places Swiss multilingualism clearly in the context of globalisation and its related socio-economic changes. The research focuses on two regions situated on the language border in the cantons Valais and Fribourg: the areas of Sierre/Siders and Murten/Morat, where tourism plays a key economic role. By means of an ethnographic study, the project examines how the language border and/or bilingualism affect the touristic offer, e.g. promotional and informational material, the organisation of touristic institutions and the carrying out of touristic activities. A further aspect under consideration is the extent to which the language border is made visible in tourist areas (linguistic landscape). The overall goal of the research project is to demonstrate how language – in this case in the form of the language border and bilingualism – is used in a sector with economic relevance for Switzerland, and to identify the resulting consequences for the local language situation and for the speakers of the languages concerned. The project intends thus to close the academic void between traditional research in multilingualism and empirical tourism research focused on economic impact.