Sunday, August 7, 2022

Language & Phrasebook in Switzerland

EuropeSwitzerlandLanguage & Phrasebook in Switzerland

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Switzerland has four official languages at federal level, namely German, French, Italian and Romansh, and the main language spoken depends on which part of the country you are in. The cantons are free to choose which official language they want to adopt, and some cities such as Biel and Fribourg (Fribourg) or Murten (Murten) are officially bilingual. In all parts of Switzerland, people speak languages other than the national language at home, with English, German and French being the second most widely spoken. You are unlikely to hear Rhaeto-Romanic – except in some valleys in Graubünden – as almost all of the 65,000 people who speak Rhaeto-Romanic also speak German, and there are even more of them in Switzerland than native English speakers, as well as Portuguese, Albanian and Serbo-Croatian immigrants.

About two-thirds of the population of Switzerland is German-speaking, especially in the centre, north and east of the country. Swiss German is not an individual dialect, but a general term for the dialects of German spoken in Switzerland. These dialects differ so much from standard German that they can hardly be understood by native German speakers. All German-speaking Swiss learn standard German at school, so almost everyone in the large German-speaking cities (e.g. Zurich, Bern, Basel) and many people in the countryside can speak standard German. The many dialects of Swiss German are primarily spoken languages, colloquial languages, and Swiss German speakers write almost exclusively in High German, even though they speak Swiss German. Dialects of Swiss German are highly valued by all levels of society and are widely used in the Swiss media, in contrast to the general use of standard German on television and radio in other countries, although news broadcasts are usually in standard German.

The second most widely spoken language is French, which is spoken mainly in the western part of the country, which includes the cities of Lausanne and Geneva. People who speak standard French will generally not have much difficulty understanding Swiss French, although some words are specific to Swiss French. The most noticeable difference is the number system, where seventy, eighty and ninety (70, 80 and 90) are common instead of seventy, eighty and ninety in Standard French. All Francophones understand “standard” French.

Italian is the main language in the southern part of the country, around the city of Lugano. Swiss Italian is widely understood by speakers of Standard Italian, although there are some words that are specific to Swiss Italian. Standard Italian is understood by all speakers of Swiss Italian. North Lombard Italian is also spoken by some.

All Swiss are required to learn one of the other official languages at school, and many also learn English. English is widely spoken in the major German-speaking cities, so English-speaking tourists should have no problem communicating. On the other hand, English is not so widely spoken in the French- and Italian-speaking regions, with the exception of the city of Geneva, where English is widely spoken due to the large international population.

How To Travel To Switzerland

By plane The main international airports are in Zurich IATA: ZRH, Geneva IATA: GVA and Basel (for the Swiss part: IATA: BSL), with smaller airports in LuganoIATA: LUG and Bern IATA: BRN. Some airlines fly to Friedrichshafen, which is on the other side of Lake Constance at Romanshorn, not far...

How To Travel Around Switzerland

By plane As Switzerland probably has the best developed public transport system in the world and the country's airports are not that far apart, domestic air traffic is very limited. Routes offered by Swiss International Airlines and Etihad Regional include Zurich-Geneva, Zurich-Lugano and Geneva-Lugano. In most cases, the train, sometimes...

Visa & Passport Requirements for Switzerland

Switzerland is a member of the Schengen Agreement. There are normally no border controls between the countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. This includes most countries of the European Union and a few other countries.Before boarding an international flight or ship, there is usually an identity check. Sometimes...

Destinations in Switzerland

Regions in Switzerland Politically, Switzerland is divided into 26 cantons, but the following regions will be more useful for the traveller: Western SwitzerlandFrom the north shore of Lake Geneva and the Alps to the Jura.Bern RegionThe central region of traditional Bernese influenceBernese OberlandThe majestic Bernese AlpsCentral SwitzerlandThe birthplace of the Swiss...

Weather & Climate in Switzerland

The climate is temperate, but varies considerably with altitude (on average around 6.5°C every 1000m). There are four clearly defined seasons, which bring changes in both temperature and precipitation. Switzerland experiences cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters and moderate to hot summers, with weather that can change very quickly; especially on...

Accommodation & Hotels in Switzerland

Most accommodation in Switzerland can now be found and booked through the main internet booking portals, even hotels and accommodation in remote areas. Nevertheless, most tourist regions in Switzerland have a tourist office where you can call to book a hotel for a small fee. Each city usually has...

Things To See in Switzerland

Chillon Castle: Castle near MontreuxThe Lavaux vineyards: on the shores of Lake GenevaThe castles of Bellinzona: in the south of the canton of TicinoSt. Gall AbbeyThe summit of Europe and the Sphinx Observatory: a "village" with a post office on the Jungfraujoch, 3,500 metres above WengenGrande Dixence: a 285-metre-high...

Things To Do in Switzerland

Switzerland is world famous for skiing, but the country is also suitable for many other outdoor activities such as hiking and mountain biking. Mountaineering, from easy to very difficult, is also practised in Switzerland, and there is hardly a place with a longer tradition of it. Some routes, such...

Food & Drinks in Switzerland

Food in Switzerland Although Switzerland has a long tradition of culinary exchange with its neighbours' cuisine, it has a number of emblematic dishes of its own. Switzerland is famous for many types of cheese such as Gruyère, Emmentaler (simply called "Swiss cheese" in the USA) and Appenzeller, to name just a...

Money & Shopping in Switzerland

Currency Switzerland is not part of the eurozone and the currency is the Swiss franc (or franc, or franco, depending on which language zone you are in), divided into 100 centimes, centimes or centesimi. However, some places - such as supermarkets, restaurants, tourist attraction counters, hotels and railways, or ATMs...

Festivals & Holidays in Switzerland

Holidays Public holidays are regulated at cantonal level (except 1 August) and can vary greatly. However, they are those that are observed (almost) everywhere: New Year's Day: 1 January (one of the three public holidays legally recognised by each canton). St. Berchtold: 2 January (in many cantons and municipalities it is a...

Traditions & Customs in Switzerland

English is widely spoken in Switzerland, but any attempt to speak the local language is always appreciated, even if you are answered in English. It is always polite to ask if you speak English before starting a conversation. Make an effort to learn at least the words "hello", "goodbye", "please"...

Internet & Communications in Switzerland

Many of the internet cafés that popped up in the 1990s have now closed, probably because Switzerland has one of the highest rates of high-speed internet connections in the world in households, but there may be a few internet terminals in some major train stations. The tourist office should...

Culture Of Switzerland

Three of the most important European languages are official languages in Switzerland. Swiss culture is characterised by its diversity, which is reflected in a variety of traditional customs. A region may in some ways be strongly culturally linked to the neighbouring country that shares its language, since the country...

History Of Switzerland

Switzerland has existed as a state in its present form since the adoption of the Swiss Federal Constitution in 1848. The forerunners of Switzerland concluded a protective alliance at the end of the 13th century (1291) and formed a loose confederation of states that lasted for centuries. Ancient history The oldest...

Stay Safe & Healthy in Switzerland

Stay safe in Switzerland Switzerland is unsurprisingly one of the safest countries in Europe, but any place that attracts Rolex-wearing bankers and throngs of distracted tourists is bound to produce a few pickpockets too. Clearly, you need to keep an eye on your business, especially amid the summer crowds. In...

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