Do you know what language is spoken in Switzerland?
As a country blessed with abundant natural beauty and delectable chocolate, Switzerland is a place that inspires and fascinates just about everyone. But aside from beautiful mountains and confectionary, it’s also a country that’s made up of multiple linguistic groups.
The Swiss have, in fact, managed to turn their multilingualism into one of their greatest strengths. But what are all these languages that we’re talking about?
They say that multilingualism is the daily norm in Switzerland, but the country recognizes four national languages, most of which are generally confined to specific regions!
Switzerland’s Four Official Languages
If you’re wondering what language is spoken in Switzerland, you need to think more than singular form. In fact, Switzerland has four official languages. Although they’re unique to Switzerland, they use unique dialects of German, French, Italian, and Romanian as the country’s official languages. Here’s a look at each one!
Swiss German is one of Switzerland’s most widely spoken official languages. Just over 60% of the country’s population are Swiss Germans.
However, its speakers are scattered across the country’s northern, eastern, and central parts. Schwyzerdütsch, as locals call it, is a collection of Alemannic languages that they don’t use Germany or Austria anymore.
There are also many different dialects of Swiss German, so the version of this language you’d encounter in Zurich will sound worlds apart from that found in Basel. But because the Swiss learn Standard German from a very young age, it’s effortless communicate with Germans, Austrians, and other German speakers.
Did you know that there’s no universal written form of Swiss German? Due to this, they publish all books, laws, media, and other written communication in Standard German!
In the western part of Switzerland, the French language prevails. In fact, around 20% of the Swiss population speak Swiss French. It’s one of the most popular languages in this region. Cities like Geneva and Lausanne, which are popular attractions for international tourists, are entirely French-speaking.
There’s a less subtle difference between the French spoken in France and the Swiss French than compared to the variation between Swiss German and Standard German.
If you’re skilled in Standard French, Swiss French ought to be an easy one for you. Why? Well, because there are just a few distinctions in vocabulary and expressions between the two.
Along the border of Italy, in the south of Switzerland, the majority of people speak the official language of Swiss Italian. The community of Italian speakers here forms the third-largest national language group in Switzerland. They also make up roughly 8% of the country’s population.
Much like Swiss French, it’s fairly easy to understand Swiss Italian. Naturally, you need a firm grasp of the Italian language first. Local dialects like Ticinese do exist in the Swiss Italian language, but it’s still all very similar to Standard Italian.
The smallest group of national languages is Romansh. 37,000 speakers use this official language . It’s also interesting to note that they speak the language in the southeastern regions of Grisons.
Most Romansh speakers tend to hail from the mountainous parts of southeastern Switzerland. This area is much more remote. Its remoteness is probably also the reason why the language survived despite the encroachment of Italian and German into areas where they traditionally speak Romansh.
This language’s vocabulary gets the majority of its syntax from the German language. However, there are a total of five distinct Romansh dialects in use amongst its speakers.
Need Help with Switzerland’s Languages?
Switzerland is a place teeming with natural beauty. But it can also give the multilingual traveler a run for their money. With all four corners of the country hosting its own native language, you don’t want to lose yourself in the languages!
If you need a little help flexing your language skills in either German, French, Italian, or Romansh, Day Translations is here to help you on your Swiss odyssey!