Janine Barmaz-Chevier

Mission, Switzerland

Evolène dialect is my mother tongue. During my studies in Romance philology, I discovered that it is a language in its own right, known as Francoprovençal. From then on, I took a closer look at its formation, history and variations. I worked as editor of the Glossaire des patois de la Suisse romande, where I learned about the linguistic heritage of French-speaking Switzerland.

Valais patois is part of our heritage. Today, it is on the verge of extinction. Its promotion and preservation are of great importance to me. I have taken part, and continue to take part, in projects dedicated to it. For example, I helped set up a teaching method for the patois and edited the Lexique du patois d’Anniviers. I organize Patois Cafés in the valley, bringing together people who love and practice this dialect. There are only a few people left, most of them quite old, who can speak it. However, I’ve noticed that some young people are taking an interest. And rightly so, for the dialect has left its mark on our civilization. It has left traces in toponymy and patronymy, among other things, that will still be there when no one knows how to speak it.