Swiss languages

swiss flag

The Swiss Conference is a European country that does NOT belong to the European Union or the European Economic Area, since it has always remained neutral and isolationist. However, it does belong to the Schengen Treaty. Its capital often leads to confusion, since it is not Zurich as many people think, but Bern. It has 8.5 million inhabitants (98th position) and an area of ​​41,277 km 2 (135th). Its official currency is the Swiss franc. The Swiss Human Development Index is the second highest in the world, behind only Norway. In addition, it is the fourth richest country in the world.in terms of GDP per capita. Organized in cantons, but… what language do they speak in Switzerland?

What language do they speak in Switzerland?

Switzerland has 4 official languages, giving the country a great linguistic variety:

  • German (63% = 5.4 million) is spoken in the north, center and east . Both Swiss German and Standard German are spoken.
  • French (22.7 % = 1.9 million) is spoken throughout the western part of the country. It is mainly Swiss French, although it includes some Arpitan dialect.
  • Italian (8.4 % = 0.6 million) is spoken in part of the southeastern area. Mainly Swiss Italian, but includes Lombard dialects.
  • Romansh (0.6% = 50,000) is the original language of the nation, although it is the least spoken, being displaced by the other big three languages.

The main foreign languages ​​are English (4.7%), Portuguese (3.7%), Albanian (3%), Serbo-Croatian (2.4%) and Spanish (2.2%).

Map of official languages ​​of Switzerland

The German region (Deutschweiz) comprises the central, northern and eastern areas. At this last point (Graubünden) is where it shares territory with the Romansh language. In the area of ​​the southeast bordering Italy, the Italian zone (Svizzera italiano). Lastly, the western area (Romandie), where Swiss French and Alpitan are spoken.

what language do they speak in switzerland

Major French-speaking cities include Geneva (Geneva on the map), a major financial and economic center, and German-speaking cities include Zurich (the country’s largest city) and Bern (the capital). Regarding the Italian part, mention Lugano, which although it is true that it does not have the importance of the other three cities mentioned, it has a certain importance.

The German language

Swiss German (Schweizerdeutsch), is a dialect of German spoken in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. It is spoken by 5.4 million inhabitants (63%). This dialect should not be confused with Swiss Standard German (Schweizerhochdeutsch), which is the variation of Standard German. A large part of the German population (particularly in the north) does not understand Swiss German. For example, if in Germany they broadcast an interview with a person who speaks Swiss German, subtitles are needed.

Native Swiss German speakers, from the age of 6, learn Swiss Standard German at school, thus being able to understand, write and speak Standard German, at levels that depend on the level of education.

The French language

Swiss French (français de Suisse) is the variety of French spoken in the French part of the Alpine country, known as Romandie. It is spoken by 22.7% of the population (1.9 million). It hardly varies from Belgian French, almost all of its differences are lexical. These differences are in contrast to the differences between Standard German and Swiss German, in which a lack of understanding is created to the point of being considered distinct languages.

Although standard French is taught in schools and is used by the government, media and businesses, there is no uniform form of French between the different cantons of Switzerland. It can be seen in the German loanwords in the regions close to the German-speaking area, against the complete absence of these loanwords in the area around Geneva.

The Italian language

Swiss Italian (svizzero italiano) is the variety of Italian spoken by 8.4% of the population (0.6 million). It is used officially in the canton of Ticino and in the southern part of the canton of Graubünden. As with German and French, there are differences from standard Italian. Swiss Italian has a notable influence from these other two languages, adopting words to its vocabulary.

Romansh language

Romansh (rumantsch) is a Romance language recognized as one of the four national languages ​​by the Federal Constitution of Switzerland in 1938. It was declared an official language of the Confederation in 1996. This means that they can send and receive correspondence with the federal government in Romansh. It is spoken by approximately 50,000 people (0.6%).

Although it is true that it is one of the four official languages, there are up to 6 languages ​​that are more widely spoken than Romansh in the Alpine country: English, Portuguese, Albanian, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish and Turkish.

Evolution of the main languages

The table shows values ​​in percentage:

Several patterns can be observed:

  1. An almost constant decline of German.
  2. After a fall, French grows since 1970.
  3. Romansh is the language that loses the most in percentage terms, since it loses almost half of its speakers.

Share about what languages ​​are spoken in Switzerland.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button