Paul Zinsli

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Paul Zinsli (born April 30, 1906 in Chur ; † September 11, 2001 in Bern ) was a Swiss folklorist and linguist .

Paul Zinsli


After graduating from high school in Chur (where the dialectologist Manfred Szadrowsky was one of his teachers), Paul Zinsli studied German , art history and Germanic antiquity at the University of Zurich from 1926 to 1934 , especially with Albert Bachmann (or after his death with Wilhelm Wiget ), Emil Ermatinger , Konrad Escher , Hans Lehmann and Heinrich Wölfflin . He received his doctorate in 1934 with the dissertation Grund und Grat. The structure of the mountain world in the linguistic terms of the Swiss German Alpine mouth species with Otto Gröger .

Paul Zinsli in his second form of expression: painting

From 1936 to 1946 he was a teacher at the municipal high school in Biel . In 1938 he married Elisabeth Färber; a son and a daughter were born to them. From 1943 he worked in the Cantonal Nomenclature Commission in Bern. In 1944 he succeeded Heinrich Baumgartner as a lecturer at the teaching college of the University of Bern . In 1946 he was appointed associate professor there, and in 1951 - also as successor to Baumgartner and Walter Henzen , who changed the chair after only one year - to professor of language, literature and folklore in German-speaking Switzerland. He retired in 1971.

The main focus of his research activities was name research - especially the lexicographical recording of place and field names in the canton of Bern and Upper Valais - and research into the Walsers . Zinsli founded the place name book of the canton of Bern (developed and published by the Research Center for onomastics at the University of Bern) and worked on the language atlas of German-speaking Switzerland . He has also reissued the works and letters of the Swiss reformer Niklaus Manuel .

Awards and honors

  • 1971: Literature Prize of the City of Bern
  • 1971: Mozart Prize from the JW Goethe Foundation Innsbruck
  • 1978: Culture Prize of the Canton of Graubünden
  • 1987: Honorary doctorate from the ETH Zurich


Publications (selection)

  • Ground and ridge. The structure of the mountain world in the language terms of the Swiss German Alpine mouth species. Francke, Bern [1945].
  • Walser folklore in Switzerland, Vorarlberg, Liechtenstein and Piedmont. Heritage, existence, essence . Huber, Frauenfeld 1968; 7th, extended edition Bündner Monatsblatt, Chur 2002, ISBN 3-905342-05-7 .
  • Place names. Structures and layers in the names of settlements and fields in German-speaking Switzerland. (= Writings of the German-speaking Swiss Language Association. Issue No. 7). Huber & Co. AG, Frauenfeld 1971. 2nd, reviewed and supplemented edition. Frauenfeld 1975 ( digitized version of the 3rd, corrected edition, which no longer came into being).
  • Place name book of the canton of Bern (old canton part) (= BENB; as co-editor of the first three parts). Francke, Bern 1976/1987/2008.
  • Südwalser Namengut. The German place and field names of the Ennetbirgischen Walser settlements in Bosco-Gurin and in Piedmont . Stämpfli, Bern 1984, ISBN 3-7272-9895-2 .
  • The painter-poet Hans Ardüser . A popular dual talent at the turn of the 16th century . Terra Grischuna, Chur 1986.
  • Language traces . Calven, Chur 1998, ISBN 3-905261-17-0 .
  • The Bernese Dance of Death by Nikolaus Manuel (1484–1530). Bern undated (= Berner Heimatbücher. Volume 44/55).
  • Niklaus Manuel: Works and Letters. Complete new edition (edited with Thomas Hengartner ). Stämpfli, Bern 1999, ISBN 3-7272-9910-X .


  • Maria Bindschedler, Rudolf Hotzenköcherle, Werner Kohlschmidt (eds.): Festschrift for Paul Zinsli . Francke, Bern 1971, ISBN 3-7720-0932-8 .
  • Rudolf J. Ramseyer: Directory of the writings and lectures of Paul Zinsli with life data and a portrait . Stämpfli, Bern 1986.
  • Rudolf J. Ramseyer: Paul Zinsli to commemorate In: Schweizer Volkskunde 91, 2001, pp. 73–75.
  • Alois Senti : Zinsli, Paul. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .

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