14 Facts About Swiss German


Swiss German is any of the Alemannic dialects spoken in the German-speaking part of Switzerland and in some Alpine communities in Northern Italy bordering Switzerland.

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The only exception within Swiss German-speaking Switzerland is the municipality of Samnaun, where a Bavarian dialect is spoken.

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The reason "Swiss German" dialects constitute a special group is their almost unrestricted use as a spoken language in practically all situations of daily life, whereas the use of the Alemannic dialects in other countries is restricted or even endangered.

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Swiss Standard German is fully understandable to all Standard German speakers, while many people in Germany - especially in the north - do not understand Swissgermans.

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An interview with a Swiss German speaker shown on German national television therefore requires subtitles, much as an interview in Scots would on US television.

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Unlike most regional languages in modern Europe, Swiss German is the spoken everyday language for the majority of all social levels in industrial cities, as well as in the countryside.

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Swiss German is intelligible to speakers of other Alemannic dialects, but largely unintelligible to speakers of Standard German without adequate prior exposure, including for French- or Italian-speaking Swiss who learn Standard German at school.

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Swiss German is a regional or political umbrella term, not a linguistic unity.

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The main linguistic divisions within Swiss German are those of Low, High and Highest Alemannic, and mutual intelligibility across those groups is almost fully seamless, despite some differences in vocabulary.

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Swiss German keeps the fortis–lenis opposition at the end of words.

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However, no Swiss German dialect is as consistent as Icelandic in that respect.

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Swiss German dialects have quite a few words from French and Italian, which are perfectly assimilated.

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Swiss Standard German is virtually identical to Standard German as used in Germany, with most differences in pronunciation, vocabulary, and orthography.

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The orthographies used in the Swiss-German literature can be roughly divided into two systems: Those that try to stay as close to standard German spelling as possible and those that try to represent the sounds as well as possible.

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