However, picking up two or three phrasebooks will certainly help you along the way. For more information see Affiliate Disclosure. The first three of those are also official languages of Switzerland at the national/federal level. Quick Facts About Switzerland Languages Spoken in Switzerland.

Even local business communication is made easier via English. The Swiss German speaking population has no written language of their own, there are just too many different idioms to agree on one only, therefore our written language is High German. Over the years, Catalonia was repeatedly repressed by governments who tried to quash it, seeing it as a threat to national unity. Contact Visiting Switzerland is the perfect way to flex your language muscles, while dipping into a bit of French, Italian, Romansh and German culture at the same time. That being said, English does not rank first in terms of the number of native speakers. How did this come about and why is there not a single, unified ‘Swiss’ language? Each canton decides which additional language is added to the curriculum and when. Although the French and Italian speaking population are culturally more influenced by their foreign neighbours than by the Swiss Germans, in the end, they cherish their otherness and independence too much to truly divide our nation. In this sense, Switzerland is a federation, rather than a nation.

The particular languages spoken by each canton represents both the geographical and cultural boundaries of Switzerland and the influence of the closest countries to them. The bible, and later newspapers, literature, schoolbooks, political statements and so on were meant to be read and understood by everyone - translating them into different dialects would have been an impossible task. So take it from me, if you speak standard German then you will have a hard time understanding Swiss German! Almost half of the world’s population claim one of only ten languages as their mother tongue.

Whereas in the private sphere, and between Swiss-Germans themselves, dialects win the day. Most visitors to Switzerland visit the alpine canton Graubunden, the only place where this language is spoken but also famous for its ski resorts, including St. Moritz. Though you won’t find any “Belgian” speakers, Belgium is home to a diverse bunch of national languages. What about the other languages spoken in Switzerland? The largest community of Rumantsch speaking people outside of Graubünden can be found in Zürich (Turidg in Rumantsch) due to migration for work. In Switzerland however, this didn’t happen, as it isn’t like other European countries and didn’t follow the same course. Babbel has got you covered when it comes to French, German, and Italian, all of which will serve you well on your Swiss odyssey! Want to hear how Rumantsch sounds? They are the most savviest when it comes to learning languages: They learn German already in Kindergarten and most of them easily pick up an accent free Italian and French as well. Want to learn a new language yourself? But you also find multilingualism in the smallest areas of daily life, such as when I entered a supermarket outside of Zurich only to be greeted by signs warning me in German, French, and Italian, that all shoplifters will be prosecuted. Moreover, as there is no universal written form of the various Swiss German dialects, all laws, books, newspapers and other forms of written communication are written in Standard German. Great news: you’ve got plenty of options. The cantons of Valais, Fribourg and Bern are also officially bilingual, speaking both French and German. But what exactly makes the Swiss tick language-wise? The more isolated the community, the more distinct the dialect, which is hardly understood by the Italians. Switzerland recognizes four languages as so-called “national languages,” and while speakers of these languages can be found throughout the country, the four languages are largely confined to specific regions. Written Italian in Switzerland is the same as in Italy, with a few exceptions.

Despite the relatively small size of the Romansh-speaking community there are incredibly five Romansh dialects in daily use, with attempts by the government of Grisons to introduce a universal “pan-Romansh” being met with mixed results at the local level. So, why has Swiss German not managed to become a written language, for example like Dutch? The Italian region of Ticino is chock full of piazzas and gorgeous Italianesque villas. Bespoke Itineraries, Privacy Policy The prices are the same as when you would buy them directly. French is exclusively spoken in the cantons Geneva, Jura, Vaud and Neuchâtel; bilingual cantons are Fribourg/Freiburg, Berne/Bern, Valais/Wallis and parts of Basel/Bâle. For instance, French-learners will rejoice at the Swiss French usage of the words septante and nonante for “seventy” and “ninety” — none of that “sixty-ten” (70) and “four twenties-ten” (90) nonsense that you had to struggle with when learning French in school! The most obvious example of Swiss multilingualism comes in the form of the numerous international companies, banks, scientific bodies and political organizations setting up shop in Switzerland due to the multilingual workforce readily available in the country. Maybe the influence of the methodical German-speaking Swiss had something to do with this? In fact, the differences that do exist are often quite pleasant for foreigners to come across. Instead Switzerland is a Willensnation, or nation of the will, as the whole state is based on the country’s 26 ‘cantons’, or administrative blocs, each agreeing to work with one another. So if Swiss German is a dialect-ridden language that’s incredibly difficult to understand it must be folly to even attempt a conversation in German with a Swiss person right? The dialects on the other hand - Ticinese - can be as different as Schwiizertütsch (Swiss German) from High German. According to Wikipedia (Languages of Switzerland), the four national languages of Switzerland are German, French, Italian, and Romansh. About/Impressum The language borders overlap. Every language community can access TV, films, books, music, etc. Time for a labored metaphor? 9% are speaking languages other than the four national languages of Switzerland: The largest groups being Serbo-Croatian (2.5%), followed by Albanian, Portuguese, Spanish, English, Turkish and Kurdish. It’s remarkable that the Swiss can keep their trains so punctual when you consider the amount of time they spend delivering announcements in all the languages spoken in Switzerland and also English. There are 38 international schools and Swiss Universities offer at least one master's program in English. Take for instance the Swiss Italian word for “driver’s license.” In Italian, this would be Patente but Swiss Italians use the longer Licenza di condurre which is a direct translation of the French permis de conduire. So you want to immerse yourself in the French language? And the German regions are exactly what you would imagine when asked to describe the stereotypical “Germanic” Alpine scene: bratwurst, timber-framed houses, and a cacophony of cowbells. Quadrilingual branding is the norm in Switzerland | © Sean Mowbray. So…. Even though Switzerland is multilingual, it doesn't mean that all of us speak all four languages. In many countries, language developed as a tool to unify populations around a national identity. Swiss Germans vigorously promote the rich array of dialects found within their community, meaning that it’s not even accurate to say that there is one unified spoken version of Swiss German. I'd appreciate a thumbs up by sharing it! The particular languages spoken by each canton represents both the geographical and cultural boundaries of Switzerland and the influence of the closest countries to them. Going back through history, these cantons were fully sovereign states, each with their own borders, armies and customs and language. This article was printed from Likewise, if you plan on taking a train ride through Switzerland and are relying on the announcements being made in English you will need the patience level of a Trappist monk, as all announcements will be made in German and French first, then possibly Italian, and last but not least, English. Romansh is … The Francophone Festival is an annual event around March 20 that celebrates particularly the French language and population in Switzerland.

If you buy a product I receive a small commission with no additional cost to you. Not everyone understands or speaks English in Switzerland. The differences between “Swiss French” and the standard form of French you hear in France are much less obvious compared to Swiss German and Standard German. There are also a great many Italians living in German and French speaking Switzerland who came as workers from Italy, some of them neutralized others still counting as migrants.


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