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2022-04-01 01:59:58

What language do the Swiss usually speak to each other?

What language do the Swiss usually speak to each other?

German, French, Italian, Romansh are the national languages of Switzerland.

  • The least used of them is Romansh, with only 0.5% of the population speaking it.
  • With the help of the Italian language in the country communicate about 8%,
  • With the help of French – 23% of people living in Switzerland,
  • the most widely spoken language in the country is German, in everyday life it is used by 63% of the Swiss.

For the Swiss, the language is part of folklore, culture, and that is why there is no single generally accepted language in the country. 

In Switzerland, it is customary to distinguish between national and "official" languages, that is, those that are used in bureaucratic and clerical spheres. In this sense, the same German, French and Italian languages are used, but Romansh is not. It can be considered more of a language spoken among a relatively small group of the population, and therefore it can only be used as an "official" language on a regional scale. Various federal legislation is translated into three languages, which are also used for discussion and debate in Parliament.

The political sphere is extremely demanding on the use of literary languages, since the slightest misunderstanding here can result in unpleasant consequences. The Parliament and the National Council have a permanent special service which, if necessary, translates speeches and documents into the official languages of the country.

In recent years, English and French have become increasingly popular and widespread, while the use of German is declining. English is not national, but is nevertheless actively present in the speech of those living in Switzerland. 

The penetration of this language into all segments of the population is associated with the growth of immigration in order to work from countries where English is used. In addition, it is sometimes easier for multilingual Swiss to communicate in English than to try to understand each other when everyone speaks their own. So English serves as a link between different language groups. However, when to start learning English is a thorny question.

  • Some believe that the earlier, the better, since this language has become widespread in all spheres of life.
  • Others approach the answer to the question from a political point of view and do not share the views of the former: there is an opinion that early study of English can affect national unity.

The same "unofficial" languages as English in this country can be called Portuguese and Albanian - a certain proportion of the population uses them in speech. You can hear the Russian language on the Swiss streets, and in some cities there is even a system of HSK language schools: thanks to it, students of Russian-Swiss schools have the opportunity to maintain the level of knowledge of the Russian language.

It is known that residents of Switzerland who speak German prefer to know and use English or French. So they have the opportunity to present their education to the interlocutor and thereby increase their own self-esteem. In addition, German "became famous" for its confusing grammatical rules.

In Switzerland, a study was conducted according to which the proportion of the population over 15 years old who speak two languages and have a university education is more than 75%. Among young people under 24 years of age, almost 80% communicate fluently in two languages, and among working people - 72%. Also, about 84% of immigrants and their descendants use two languages in speech.

This does not mean that all Swiss can easily switch from one language to another, but many still have to use several languages regularly in everyday life, for example, speaking one at home, and at work - completely different.

Forces you to learn multiple languages and a possible location. In Geneva, for example, many people speak French without having a very good command of other languages.

It is curious that in Switzerland between the local "Germans", "French" and "Italians" there is even a conditional border, the name of which is "Moat polenty", or "Potato moat"! And yet, it is not uncommon for words to "flow" from one language to another in Switzerland because of this multilingual feature, especially the various aphorisms and so-called jargon.

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Egor Eremeev
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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