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Different Swiss German Dialects

Switzerland has four official languages: (Swiss) German, French, Italian and Rumantsch. The spoken language, however, in the so called 'German' part of Switzerland is not actually standard German but Swiss German.

Swiss German Dialects

Swiss German is spoken in more than half of the 26 cantons of Switzerland which makes it the most spoken language in Switzerland. In fact, in 21 of the 26 German is recognized as the official language, in some cantons together with another official language like French or Rumantsch.

People from each of the (Swiss) German speaking cantons have their own distinct dialect. Someone who grew up in Berne has a very different dialect from someone who was raised in St. Gallen or Zurich. The dialects differ slightly in grammar and a bit more in vocabulary. The biggest difference lies definitely in the pronunciation of the words! Yet, despite the differences a native of Zurich can understand almost all other dialects, with the exception of some mountain dialects that no outsider really understands.

To give you a few example for the different dialects, watch the following videos. The first is a video of an interview with the Swiss tennis player Roger Federer. He has a typical Basel dialect which we Swiss call 'Baslerdytsch'.


This is an example of Zurich Swiss German i.e. Züridütsch.


The most common dialect in the east of Switzerland is 'St. Galler-Dütsch'. Here is a short video with 29 words that sound great in St. Gallen Swiss German.


If you are in the capital of Switzerland, you'll hear lots of Bernese Swiss German.






© 2011 IRENE WYRSCH "A HUMOROUS GUIDE TO SWITZERLAND" ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

LAST UPDATED: FEBRUARY 2019

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