Definition and origin
The term chalet stems from Arpitan speaking part of Switzerland and French Savoy and originally referred to the hut of a herder. It derives from the medieval Latin calittum, which might come from an Indo-European root cala that means shelter. Many chalets in the European Alps were originally used as seasonal farms for dairy cattle which would be brought up from the lowland pastures during the summer months. The herders would live in the chalet and make butter and cheese in order to preserve the milk produced. These products would then be taken, with the cattle, back to the low valleys before the onset of the alpine winter. The chalets would remain locked and unused during the winter months. Around many chalets there are small windowless huts called mazots which were used to lock away valuable items for this period. Franco-Provencal (Francoprovencal), Arpitan, or Romand (in Switzerland) (Vernacular: francoprovencal, arpetan, patoue; Italian: francoprovenzale, arpitano; French: francoprovencal, arpitan, patois) is a Gallo-Romance language spoken in east-central France, western Switzerland, and the Italian Aosta Valley. Franco-Provencal has several distinct dialects and is separate from but closely related to neighboring Romance languages: Oil languages, Occitan, Gallo-Italian, and Romansh. The name Franco-Provencal was given to the language by G.I. Ascoli in the 19th century because it shared features with French and Provencal without belonging to either. Arpitan, a neologism, is becoming a popular name for the language and the people who speak it. Today, the largest number of Franco-Provencal speakers reside in the Aosta Valley, an autonomous region of Italy. The language is also spoken in alpine valleys in the province of Turin, two isolated towns in Foggia, and rural areas of the Romandie region of Switzerland. It is one of the
three Gallo-Romance language families of France and is officially recognized as a regional language of France, though its use is marginal. Organizations are attempting to preserve it through cultural events, education, scholarly research, and publishing. Switzerland (German: Schweiz[note 3] [vats]; French: Suisse [sis]; Italian: Svizzera [zvitsera]; Romansh: Svizra [vitsr] or [vits]), officially the Swiss Confederation (Latin: Confoederatio Helvetica, hence its abbreviation CH), is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in western Europe,[note 4] where it is bordered by Germany to the north, France to the west, Italy to the south, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. Switzerland is a landlocked country geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning an area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi). While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 8 million people is concentrated mostly on the Plateau, where the largest cities are to be found. Among them are the two global cities and economic centres of Zurich and Geneva. The Swiss Confederation has a long history of armed neutrality-it has not been in a state of war internationally since 1815-and did not join the United Nations until 2002. It pursues, however, an active foreign policy and is frequently involved in peace-building processes around the world. Switzerland is also the birthplace of the Red Cross and home to a large number of international organizations, including the second largest UN office. On the European level, it is a founding member of the European Free Trade Association and is part of the Schengen Area - although it is notably not a member of the European Union, nor the European Economic Area.
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