By Ritwik Datta 29 Mar 2020
The tourists visiting Switzerland, are not only awe-struck by the heavenly beautiful scenic views, but also the diversity of languages spoken in this small country. The four national languages used in Switzerland are French, Italian, German, and Romansh.
Though in principle, all the mentioned languages should have equal rights, the federal constitution states that the Italian, German, and French should be the official language of Switzerland. The 4th official language, Romansh is used to communicate with the Romans.
The way Swiss speak German or French are quite different and have a dialectical influence. If you are used to the original German and French language, you will find a different form and style of these two languages used in Switzerland.
Some Swiss cities, like Fribourg, Berne, and Valais are bilingual officially. So, the tourists may need to learn at least German and French to communicate with the inhabitants of those cities.
It is used in the German-speaking region. A foreigner will probably find it too confusing to pick up as it is an amalgamation of various dialects and accents. When you hear a conversation between two Swiss in this Swiss-German variation, you cannot summarize what are they saying. Moreover, if you have learnt German outside Switzerland, then you cannot get a single word for sure.
More to your surprise, Germans even consider it difficult to identify every word. You need not worry if you are visiting Switzerland for business purposes.
Most of the people have a good command of German Hochdeutsch. It is high German and if you had German in school, then you may have learnt it.
The Swiss still have not followed an official national Grammar, they use Hochdeutsch for written communication.
In Switzerland, French is used throughout Jura, the cantons of Geneva, Neuchâtel, and Vaud. Some people living in the cantons of Bern, Valais, and Fribourg also speak in French.
In the rural districts of the Romandie which is French-speaking Switzerland, have quite different dialects. However, over the last century, this slight indifference in accent has been rubbed off by the joint effort of the schools and the church.
If you are accustomed to French, then you may notice than the form and style of French used in western Switzerland, sounds almost similar to in France. However, The French may detect a few distinctive words and expressions.
If any tourist communicates in French with the people residing in western Switzerland, they will understand you and you will also get their messages. The tourists who do not know French may find hurdles to pick up new accents and takes a considerable amount of time to pick up this Swiss-French tongue.
The foreigners will hear the Swiss Italian tongue while travelling in the southern valleys up to the Lukmanier, St.Gotthard, San Bernardino, Bernina passes and Maloja. This region covers the entire canton of Ticino as well as the valleys of Bergell/Bregaglia, Misox/Calanca, and Poschiavo in the canton of Graubuenden.
The Swiss inhabitants in these areas prefer speaking this language with a Lombardy accent. The tourists find it hard to adopt this particular accent, but they can carry on a basic conversation if they know Italian well.