Monday, April 04, 2005

Traveling Switzerland

While traveling to Switzerland, the Language is one of the most fascinating around.

There are actually 4 official languages in Switzerland.

German is spoken by about 64 percent of the population.

French only is spoken in about 19 percent, mostly the regions of Canton Vaud, Valais, Geneve and Biel, Fribourg, Jura, and Neuchâtel.

Italien is spoken mostly in the south in Tincino at about 7 percent.

The fourth national language is Romansh and is only spoken by less than 1 percent of the population in the area of the Grisons, canton of Graubünden, which is mostly extending from the areas past Chur moving towards Davos and over towards St. Moritz. Romanish is the language the Swiss are trying to preserve since it is a dying dialect and quite hard to come across if you are just a tourist.

In a majority of the cantons the most commonly spoken language is Schwyzertütsch, known to most as Swiss German. Swiss German is an Allemanic dialect of German differing vastly from both written German and other German dialects. It's so different that it basically is known by the Swiss as an additional language.

Interestingly enough all newspapers and magazines are written in standard German, so travelers don't have to worry about not being able to understand Swiss German. I tend to think of Swiss German as a dialect with a lot of French words in it. However, Swiss German is so complex that the dialect differs from one Canton to the next. It differs enough that a local can probably tell you which region of Switzerland you are from!

German is the language of many theater, motion picture, and television productions. In all, Swiss German is by far the most popular. You will find most Swiss able to speak High German because this is the language studied in schools. You will find the areas of Basel and Canton Bern/Biel and Fribourg to be the most popular area to find French, English and Swiss German spoken....

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