Typically Alpine realia (as the CHAMOIS, the SWISS STONE PINE or the MOUNTAIN PASTURE) often are denoted by pre-Roman substratum words. This linguistic layer has probably been described in more detail first by Jakob ; it forms the nucleus of the Alpine lexicon. But the expression is not entirely unambiguous as it has a broader sense both in the use of Otto von Greyerz 1933 who probably coined it and in the use of Johannes [Bibl:Hubschmid 1951]] who first and foremost made it known to the public: "By Alpine lexicon, I understand words which denote formations of terrain, nature phenomena, animals and plants or concrete terms which are connected to human activity, words which only or mainly remained preserved in the Alpine dialects or which live in a larger region, but show a special, 'Alpine' meaning in the Alps. The Alpine lexicon can also be of Germanic or Romance origin ("Ich verstehe darunter Wörter, die Geländeformationen, Naturerscheinungen, Tiere und Pflanzen oder mit der menschlichen Tätigkeit zusammenhängende konkrete Begriffe bezeichnen, Wörter, die sich nur oder hauptsächlich in den Alpenmundarten erhalten haben, oder die zwar auf einem größeren Gebiet leben, aber in den Alpen häufig eine speziell 'alpine' Bedeutung zeigen. Alpenwörter können auch germanischen oder romanischen Ursprungs sein", Hubschmid 1951, 7; cf. for the history of the term recently also Rampl 2011, 131 ff.).
Greyerz, Otto von (1933): Alpenwörter.Untersuchungen über die Sprachgemeinschaft im alpinen Wortschatz der deutschen Alpenvölker, Bern, in: Sprache, Dichtung, Heimat: Studien, Aufsätze und Vorträge über Sprache u. Schrifttum der dt. Schweiz, Francke, 72-145
Hubschmid, Johannes (1951): Alpenwörter romanischen und vorromanischen Ursprungs, Bern, Francke
Rampl, Gerhard (2011): Lo sviluppo di alcune “parole alpine” in Tirolo / Zur Entwicklung einiger Alpenwörter im Raum Tirol, Innsbruck, in: Scaramellini, Guglielmo/ Dal Borgo, Alice Giulia (Hrsg.): Le Alpi che cambiano tra rischi e opportunità: Die Alpen im Wandel zwischen Risiken und Chancen., vol. 12, Innsbruck Univ. Press, 129-140
The dimensions of knowledge that are in the horizon of VerbaAlpina in terms of content, i.e. THINGS, CONCEPTS and WORDS, are often combined with each other very closely and in a very unclear way. An example is the case of the map 1192a in the AIS, LA CASCINA DI MONTAGNA. The title of the map has the status of a concept, namely BUILDING, “wo ein gut ausgebildeter Käser (‘Senn’) mit Hilfspersonal die Milch sachgemäss zu Käse, Butter, Zieger verarbeitet” (translation: where a well trained cheesemaker ('Alpine dairyman') makes milk into cheese, butter, fromage frais properly with ancillary staff). Furthermore, the title of the map is a generic term as well as some chalets serve as storeroom for milk and cheese, whereas in other cases there are special cellars for milk and cheese for this purpose. These cellars can be an annexe or separate buildings through which very often a watercourse flows. Besides, one has to distinguish between the "meist massive steinerne Sennhütte" (translation: the mostly solid stone chalet) and the wooden chalet etc. There is, in other words, a whole typology of subordinate and more specific concepts and it is not always clear in detail which hut is meant by which word on the map. The concept in the map title is often underspecified; the existence of other designations for more specific kinds of huts cannot be excluded for any place. In fact, dialect dictionaries confirm this impression regularly. At the same time, other concepts as MILK CELLAR and CHEESE CELLAR which are no subordinated terms of CHALET come into play. A third concept turns up as well: terms for stalls for different animals, also for pigs, appear frequently in the legend of the same map. Designations for these additional concepts are as a rule not recorded in the topographic map, but in the margin in form of lists that mostly show only few attestations for a few places. At the same time, there are often polysemous words in the lists that denote completely different concepts in the individual places. The type kort, e.g., occurs in the list for the concept ALPINE STALL at the places 107 and 109 of AIS; however, one of the attestations (place 109) denotes a totally different concept, namely the open RESTING AND MILKING PLACE FOR LIVESTOCK NEAR THE ALPINE HUT.
Inconsistencies of this kind absolutely have to be eliminated when digitally taking data into the database. It is an overriding principle to separate the mentioned dimension with regard to content, as it were, to deconstruct the presented information systematically.
After that, all information can be retrieved and visualised from the database in consistent categories and in almost any combination.
No full and coherent history of the Alps has been presented until now ("Eine umfassende und kohärente Geschichte der Alpen wurde bisher noch nicht vorgelegt", http://www.hls-dhs-dss.ch/textes/d/D8569.php); rather different, physiogeographical and economical-political definitions of the Alps are competing with each other ("naturräumliche" und "wirtschaftlich-politische Alpendefinitionen", Bätzing 1997, 23 f.). In the sense of a transparent and pragmatic definition, the area under investigation of this project has been equated with the clearly defined purview of the Alpine Convention. The inconsistencies between the member states ("Inkonsistenzen zwischen den Mitgliedstaaten", Bätzing 1997, 31)) which are defined in this treaty have been accepted by VerbaAlpina. They regard the Bavarian foothills of the Alps (included), larger areas at the edge of the Alps as the Emmental or the Zürcher Oberland ("größere randalpine Gebiete wie das Emmental oder das Zürcher Oberland", Bätzing 1997, 32), excluded) as well as some more important cities at the edge of the Alps: Lucerne and Salzburg are included, but Graz and Biella are excluded. The perimeter of the Alpine Convention can be downloaded here. The real aim of the project is, however, to record the Alps as linguistic-cultural area within this formally defined frame and to depict the similarity of the places belonging to the Alps.
All written contributions of the VerbaAlpina website are marked by name. The abbreviation "auct." marks the author(s) of a contribution, the abbreviation "trad." the translator(s). The software is developed essentially by Florian Zacherl.