Swiss German – One of the many forms of the German language
Germany is not the only country where you can find German speakers. There are in fact a few countries that share German as their official language, with Switzerland being one of them. In addition to so-called Standard German, a standardized variety of the German language, Switzerland also has its very own variety called Swiss German (“Schwiizertüütsch”).
As previously mentioned, the type of German that is spoken most widely in Switzerland is not Standard German, but Swiss German. Swiss German encompasses a great variety of local dialects and depending on the place and region, the individual dialects can differ greatly.
For people learning German, Swiss German can sound like a completely different language, and even for Germans and Austrians it is not always easy to understand.
A friend from Germany gave me a good tip for traveling in Switzerland: If you have trouble understanding people, just ask them to speak Standard German.
Most Swiss people learn Standard German in school and usually choose to rely on it when they realize that their counterpart does not understand them. Nevertheless, communication can sometimes be difficult, as spoken Standard German in Switzerland is also influenced by the Swiss German dialect, and everyday words and their pronunciations can differ from the Standard German used in Germany or Austria.
2. Do you need help with Swiss German? We’re here to help!
One of the many blogs from our Transeuro Academy is entirely dedicated to Switzerland. In his blog, “Birewegge” writes about all sorts of topics related to Switzerland, including Swiss German. For each of his articles, he creates a list of relevant Swiss German terms and their Standard German equivalents, showing how similar and yet different these two forms of the German language are. For people who are particularly interested in the colloquial language spoken in Switzerland, Birewegge’s blog is an easy and entertaining introduction to the world of Swiss German. If that sounds interesting to you, then make sure to take a look at his articles and explore the peculiarities of Schwiizertüütsch.
Dialects and language varieties are not exclusive to the German language. The Japanese language has also changed over time, and features countless regional dialects, specific words, and grammar that are geographically unique.
For foreign language learners, dialects are difficult to understand and can sometimes lead to frustration. Despite all the effort and time you put into learning a language, if the person you’re talking to speaks a dialect, you might not be able to communicate. Languages, however, are not only a means of communication; they are also an expression of identity. This is why we at transeuro greatly value the various languages and dialects of countries and regions.
Swiss German is a spoken language. This means that it is mainly used for oral communication and there is no officially standardized spelling. However, it is common in Switzerland to write, for example, e-mails in Swiss German, and words are written in such a way that they are as similar as possible to the spoken language.
Do you need help with e-mails, letters, etc. written in Swiss German? Here at transeuro, we also offer a translation service for Swiss German.