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How to Say "Child" in Swiss German

Children - S. Hofschaeger  / pixelio.de

Over the last few years of blogging here on 'A Humorous Guide to Switzerland', I've written quite a few posts on language in Switzerland with a special focus on my native Swiss German. As a native speaker, there are few words I don't understand and rarely do I encounter a word I don't know but once in a while this is exactly what happens.

If I'd tried to characterize my Swiss German dialect, I would probably say it's a mixture of Aargauerdütsch and Züridütsch, both dialects of the northern region of Switzerland called 'Mittelland' (lit. middle land). I understand most of the other Swiss German dialects, with the exception of Walliserdütsch (Valais Swiss German), but if I stumble upon an unknown Swiss German word it is almost always from a dialect different from my own.

A New Swiss German Word

Last time I came upon a surprising Swiss German word was last summer in Basel. I was enjoying a day in the city with a walk along the Rhine river with my son when we decided to take the ferry to the other side. When I read the small sign with the time table and ticket prices I had to smile. It was all in Swiss German - and they called a bicycle a 'Drahtesel' (lit. wire donkey) and children 'Binggis'. Although I have family in Basel, I never heard this word before. 
Binggis means Children in Basel dialect

Common Words for Children in Swiss German

I decided to listen around for other words for children in different Swiss German dialects and came up with this list of words for Children in Swiss German. Some of them are nicknames, some are used all over Switzerland and other's just locally. My personal favorite: 'Mägerlimucki' because it's what my mom used to call my little sister because she was very skinny as a child.

Baby (baby)
Bébé (baby in Bernese dialect)
Binggis (children in Basel dialect)
Boppi (baby in Grisons dialect)
Bueb (boy)
Buebe (boys)
Chind (child, children)
Ching (child in Bernese dialect)
Chnopf (lit. button, small child)
Chnüderi (small child)
Fägnäscht (fidgety child)
Fragi (child who keeps asking questions)
Giel (boy in Bernese dialect)
Giele (boys in Bernese dialect)
Goof (pejorative, child)
Goofe (pejorative, children)
Gschpänli (play mate)
Luusbueb (boy, rascal)
Luuschaib (rascal)
Luusmeitli (girl, rascal)
Mädi (girl in Bernese dialect)
Mägerlimucki (a skinny child)
Meitli (girl, girls)
Meitschi (girl in Bernese dialect)
Pfüderi (small, lively boy)



© 2020 IRENE WYRSCH "A HUMOROUS GUIDE TO SWITZERLAND" ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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