LINGUIST List 23.5041

Mon Dec 03 2012

Support: General Linguistics, German: PhD Student, Universität Bern, Switzerland

Editor for this issue: Brent Miller <>

Date: 27-Nov-2012
From: Elke Hentschel <>
Subject: General Linguistics, German: PhD Student, Universität Bern, Switzerland
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Department: Germanistik Web Address:

Level: PhD

Duties: Project Work

Specialty Areas: General Linguistics Required Language(s): German (deu)


As one of the oldest domains of philological investigation, the study of proper names (or onomastics) has sometimes been thought of as an outmoded field of investigation. However, in recent years scholars from different horizons have developed an increasing interest in the study of names, especially with regard to place names (or toponyms). Place names are indeed an object of research that brings together linguists, historians, geographers, landscape architects, etc., thus representing an ideal locus for interdisciplinary collaboration.

The main purpose of the project is to present all place names of the German-speaking part of the Swiss canton of Bern and to provide detailed information on their etymology.

The main purpose of the toponomastic project Ortsnamenbuch des Kantons Bern_Alter Kantonsteil [Toponymic Dictionary of the Swiss Canton of Bern_German-speaking part] is to present all place names of the German-speaking part of the Swiss canton of Bern and to provide detailed information on their etymology.

The dictionary will be published in 6 volumes:

- 1976: vol. 1: letters A, E, F
- 1987: vol. 2: letters G, H, I, J, K/CH
- 2008: vol. 3: letters L, M
- 2011: vol. 4: letters N, O, B/P
- 2014: vol. 5 (in preparation): letters Q, R, S
- 2017: vol. 6 (in preparation): letters D/T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z

As a standard work of Bernese toponomy, this dictionary plays a vital role among the other toponomastic projects in German-speaking Switzerland, its results being targeted not only at scientists but also at the lay public.

The Bernese territory with its complex history of settlement contains prealpine and alpine areas as well as big parts of the Swiss Midlands, which in the West merge into the French-speaking part of Switzerland.

The Bernese Research Centre for Onomastics was founded in 1942/43 by the late Prof. Paul Zinsli as a result of a resolution of the Swiss federal council, which obliged all Swiss cantons to form commissions of nomenclature. The collection of toponyms began in the first half of the 20th century. Today, new names are still being added to the corpus due to new inputs from the official topographic survey.

The research group consists of 4 (male, part-time) researchers/editors with a doctor's degree and 2 (female, part-time) tutorial assistants: (

The generous financial support by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and by the University of Bern has assured the project's continuance to this day.

The successful applicant is in possession of good skills in Standard High German as well as in the historical stages of the German language and has a strong sense for dialects. She/he will become part of the research group and participate in its daily work as mentioned above to the degree of a part-time job of 50%. As for the other 50% of the working-time she/he is expected to write a PhD thesis on a topic that is (closely) related to the collection and the objectives of the research project. She/he will be payed through a PhD scholarship of the Swiss National Foundation limited at the moment to Sept. 30, 2014. An extension to an overall period of three years will be made application for within the framework of the project.

Applications Deadline: 10-Dec-2012

Mailing Address for Applications:
        Attn: Prof. Dr. Elke Hentschel Institut für Germanistik Länggass-Strasse 49 Bern 3013 Switzerland

Web Address for Applications:

Contact Information:         Prof. Dr. Elke Hentschel

Page Updated: 03-Dec-2012