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Vernamiège commune (Valais/Wallis canton, Switzerland)

Last modified: 2010-12-30 by rob raeside
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[Flag of Vernamiège]
by Pascal Gross

Azure a Crosier Or issuant from base and an alder-tree Branch Vert fructed Sable in saltire in chief two Mullets of Five of the second.

Željko Heimer, 24 March 2000

The branch appearing on the flag of Vernamiège is the one of an alder-tree (in French "vergne").

Pascal Gross, 23 March 2000

The name of this tree is a very interesting case of linguistic conflict. The following is a summary of the explanations given by the linguist Henriette Walter in her book "L'aventure des mots francais venus d'ailleurs."  The Gaulish name of the alder was "verno", but it was replaced by the Latin "alnus", itself borrowed to Germanic, and now "aulne" in common French.  However, there are 230 toponyms constructed on "verne" or "vergne", indicating that the Gaulish name was once spread all over the country.  Moreover, most regional variants of French still use names based on "verno" for the alder. "Vergne" is used in the regions of Maine, Berry, Bourbonnais, Aquitaine and Languedoc. "Verne" is used in the regions of Franche-Comte, Bourgogne (except North), Beaujolais, Dauphine and Savoy (usual name in the latter case).  The name "aulne" is unknown or not in use in the South-West.  The toponyms based on "aulne" are only 57 and all found in the Northern part of the country, which was earlier germanized during the Franc conquests.  To make the things more complicated, "verne" is used in Savoy and Romand Switzerland for the black alder, whereas "vargne" or "vouargne' is used for the white fir.

Ivan Sache, 23 March 2000