Bernese dialect music and literature


Category:
Oral expressions
  • Social practices
Canton:

Description

Bernese German (Bärndütsch) has a well-established reputation as a dialect with different regional variations and sociolects (Matten English, patrician Bernese German). It is an aspect of regional identity and is of great importance for creative activities. Even though Bernese German is mainly a spoken language, it has a comparatively extensive literature that is still popular today.

While the first wave of the dialect movement began around 1900, with Otto von Greyerz, Simon Gfeller and Carl Albert Loosli, the second wave of what is also known as the ‘modern dialect’ broke new ground in the 1960s, with Walter Vogt, Kurt Marti and Ernst Eggimann. At the same time, Mani Matter was composing his songs in Bernese German, playfully toying with words and ideas. His chansons have long achieved the status of folk songs, and have been included in anthologies.

Following on from this wave of interest in the Bernese dialect, Swiss German music became and more and more popular. In the 1970s and the 1980s, the Berner Troubadours band, following in the footsteps of Mani Matter, and rock musicians and bands such as Polo Hofer and Züri West made Swiss music history singing in Bärndütsch.

By contrast, the production of books in dialect declined sharply in the mid-1980s. Since 2000, however, books in dialect have gained new popularity as the third wave of dialect with the Spoken Word movement and the ‘Bern ist überall’ (Bern is everywhere) authors’ collective.

Image gallery

  • From 1965 to 1971 Mani Matter was among the faces of the Bern Troubadours © Ruedi Krebs
  • Mani Matter on the Worb train in Bern, 1972: Photo for the cover of the “Ir Ysebahn” record © Rodo Wyss, 1972
  • Rudolf von Tavel (1866–1934) with his wife Adèle von Tavel-Stettler (1874–1966) © Burgerbibliothek Bern
  • Walter Vogt (1927–1988) © Yvonne Böhler
  • Group picture of the ‘Bern ist überall’ collective (2014) © Bern ist überall
  • Mani Matter on the Worb train in Bern, 1972: Photo for the cover of the “Ir Ysebahn” record © Rodo Wyss, 1972
  • Mani Matter in Matte/Bern, 1970 © Rodo Wyss, 1970
  • Mani Matter and Franz Hohler: Concert for Amnesty International at Zurich’s Hechtplatz Theatre, 1970 © Bruno Kirchgraber, Zürich/Schweizerisches Literaturarchiv
  • Mani Matter performing at the opening of the Kleine Bühne cellar theatre in Zofingen, May 1971 © Volker Hagendorf, 1971
  • Exhibition at the National Museum Zurich entitled “Mani Matter (1936-1972)”: Mani Matter’s practice guitar © Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum, 2011
  • Simon Gfeller at his desk (1868–1943) © Staatsarchiv Bern
  • ‘Bern ist überall’ with Antoine Jaccoud (Lausanne), Noëlle Revaz (Biel), Guy Kreta (Basel), Daniel De Roulet (Geneva), Beat Sterchi (Bern), Pedro Lenz (Olten) and Michael Pfeuti (Basel) © Bern ist überall
  • Bernese authors published by the publishing house ‘Der gesunde Menschenversand’ © Der gesunde Menschenversand
  • Pedro Lenz at the 15th anniversary celebration of the publishing house ‘Der gesunde Menschenversand’ at the Südpol performing arts centre, Luzern, 2013 © Catherine Huth
  • Carl Albert Loosli (1877–1959), here around 1935 © A. Friedli
  • From 1965 to 1971 Mani Matter was among the faces of the Bern Troubadours © Ruedi Krebs
  • Mani Matter on the Worb train in Bern, 1972: Photo for the cover of the “Ir Ysebahn” record © Rodo Wyss, 1972
  • Rudolf von Tavel (1866–1934) with his wife Adèle von Tavel-Stettler (1874–1966) © Burgerbibliothek Bern
  • Walter Vogt (1927–1988) © Yvonne Böhler
  • Group picture of the ‘Bern ist überall’ collective (2014) © Bern ist überall
  • Mani Matter on the Worb train in Bern, 1972: Photo for the cover of the “Ir Ysebahn” record © Rodo Wyss, 1972
  • Mani Matter in Matte/Bern, 1970 © Rodo Wyss, 1970
  • Mani Matter and Franz Hohler: Concert for Amnesty International at Zurich’s Hechtplatz Theatre, 1970 © Bruno Kirchgraber, Zürich/Schweizerisches Literaturarchiv
  • Mani Matter performing at the opening of the Kleine Bühne cellar theatre in Zofingen, May 1971 © Volker Hagendorf, 1971
  • Exhibition at the National Museum Zurich entitled “Mani Matter (1936-1972)”: Mani Matter’s practice guitar © Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum, 2011
  • Simon Gfeller at his desk (1868–1943) © Staatsarchiv Bern
  • ‘Bern ist überall’ with Antoine Jaccoud (Lausanne), Noëlle Revaz (Biel), Guy Kreta (Basel), Daniel De Roulet (Geneva), Beat Sterchi (Bern), Pedro Lenz (Olten) and Michael Pfeuti (Basel) © Bern ist überall
  • Bernese authors published by the publishing house ‘Der gesunde Menschenversand’ © Der gesunde Menschenversand
  • Pedro Lenz at the 15th anniversary celebration of the publishing house ‘Der gesunde Menschenversand’ at the Südpol performing arts centre, Luzern, 2013 © Catherine Huth
  • Carl Albert Loosli (1877–1959), here around 1935 © A. Friedli

References and documentation

Publications
  • Corina Caduff: Schweizerdeutsche Dialektliteratur: «Frou» oder «Pfrou»? In: Literarischer Monat, Nr. 21, Juli 2015. p. 10-13

  • Corina Caduff: Vertraute Sprache, fremde Schrift. In: WoZ, die Wochenzeitung, Nr. 40, 2.10.2014. p. 21

  • Pedro Lenz: Literatur zwischen Mundart und Hochsprache. Gedanken zur Verwendung der Umgangssprache in meinem literarischen Schreiben. In: Simon Aeberhard, Caspar Battegay, Stefanie Leuenberger (Ed.): dialÄktik. Deutschschweizer Literatur zwischen Mundart und Hochsprache. Zürich, 2014

  • Gotthold O. Schmid: Schwyzer, läset Schwyzerdütsch. E Wägwyser dür üsi schwyzerische Mundarte. In: Schwyzerlüt. Zytschrift für usi schwyzerische Mundarte, Vol. 16/2, 1954 (Original 1940)

  • Charles Linsmayer: Literarisches Kalenderblatt [zu C. A. Loosli]. In: Doppelstab, Nr. 38, 19.9.1985

  • Guy Krneta: «Häb Sorg zu dym Imitsch». Eine Unterhaltung zwischen Kurz Marti und Guy Kneta. In: Vice Versa. Jahrbuch der Schweizer Literaturen, Band 7. Zürich, 2013

  • Roland Ris: Die berndeutsche Mundartliteratur. In: Gfeller, Simon: Lehre wärche u wyteri bärndütschi Gschichte us em Ämmital. Ed. Simon-Gfeller-Stiftung. Heimisbach, 2002

  • Christoph Fellmann: Eifach furt deheim. In: Der Bund, 26.7.2017

  • Christian Schmid-Cadalbert: Dialektliteratur am Ende des 20. Jahrhunderts. Riehen, 1996

  • Christian Schmid: Muster für eine leichter lesbare Version: Einführung, ohne Jahr

  • Stephan Hammer: Mani Matter und die Liedermacher. Zum Begriff des «Liedermachers» und zu Matters Kunst des Autoren-Liedes. Bern, 2010

  • Mani Matter: Sudelhefte. Gümligen, 2003 (1973)

  • Mani Matter: Rumpelbuch. Gümligen, 2003 (1976)

  • Franz Hohler: Mani Matter. Ein Porträtband. Bernziger Verlag, Zürich-Köln 1977 (2001)

  • Christine Wirz: Mani Matter. Vom «Värslischmid», der ein Poet war. Stämpfli-Verlag, Bern, 2002

  • Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum (Ed.): Mani Matter 1936-1972 (Ausstellungskatalog). Bern, 2011

Multimedia
  • Friedrich Kappeler: Mani Matter. Warum syt dir so truurig? (Dokumentarfilm). 2002

  • Mani Matter: Alls wo mir id Finger chunnt (Schallplatte). Gümligen, 1967

  • Mani Matter: Hemmige (Schallplatte). Gümligen, 1970

  • Mani Matter: I han en Uhr erfunde (Schallplatte). Gümligen, 1970

  • Mani Matter: Betrachtige über nes Sändwitsch (Schallplatte). Gümligen, 1972

  • Mani Matter: I han es Zündhölzli azündt (Schallplatte). Gümligen, 1975

  • Dynamit 
    Mani Matter: Ir Ysebahn 
    Lieder von Mani Matter wie «Dynamit» regen mit Witz zum Nachdenken an
    Ref. Swiss National Sound Archives:
    CD69 Tr. 4 

Documentation