1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: German
  4. >
  5. Swiss German of the canton of…


Swiss German of the canton of Bern

This is mainly aimed at those with some level of familiarity with the Swiss German dialects spoken in the Berner Oberland or around the canton of Bern. I was visiting Interlaken, Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen last weekend and I've been trying to make sense of the phrases I heard used. So I often (to my surprise) heard "merci" and "merci vilmal" used for thank you. I've read that in Swiss German hello is "Grüezi", but this sounds a little different to what I heard used which sounded more like "Grüe-zuh". Is this right? Also, goodbye sounded to my ears something like "ah-reh-vei". Was I mishearing this? This question is a bit of a long shot as the number of people who can answer is probably very small, but I'd appreciate responses if any such people are reading :)

April 3, 2018



Hi Tom

I speak another Swiss Dialect, but my guess is:

merci (vilmal) - (many) thanks - many swiss dialects use a lot of french loan words, especially the ones bordering the french speaking part of Switzerland and France. In my dialect merci / tankä (danke) are interchangeable, merci sounding a tiny bit posher/nicer.

Grüezi - would translate to standard german (Ich) grüsse Sie / (I) greet you - the you beeing formal, singular. Around Bern Grüessech, which translates to (Ich) grüsse Euch - the you beeing plural (formal, still used for one person) is more common. They also often use Euch where other german speakers would use Du/Sie.

ah-reh-vei - probably au revoir, another french loan word


Thanks for this! Very interesting. Grüsse sounds pretty close to what I heard. Come to think of it, ah-reh-vei did sound a little like au revoir. Cheers!


You might enjoy poking around berndeutsch.ch, at least if you have some idea of what to look for (e.g., merssi viumau or grüessech).

I can say (as an American living in Bern for ~19 months now) that grüezi vs. grüesse is a basic difference between Züritüütsch vs. Bärndütsch, and merssi or merssi viumau seem more common than danke around Bern. However, I've only ever heard the usual tschüss or bis bald for goodbye. Of course, you were up in the Oberland, and I'm told that once one gets into the mountains there can be significant differences in dialect from one valley to the next.


Ah cheers! I'll have to look through this. I guess being such isolated communities, it shouldn't be surprising that they'd use such different words.


not all of switzerland is german speaking a part is italian another part french and a part "retro romanisch" you probably run into some people from the frenchspeaking part of the country.


I'm aware of this, I live in the French speaking part, specifically Geneva :) I'm mainly interested in the dialect of Swiss German used in Bern, as I can't find much on google about it. And these were Swiss German speakers, all local. They certainly didn't sound French or Italian and Romansch speakers are few and far between. Merci is used for thank you in Swiss German, I can assure you!


than maybe they greeted you in french cause they smelled that you are french speaking or the people you run into where from the french speaking part as well or it was because it was close to the border of the french speaking part? i used to live in the Kanton Bern (Seeland) than i was little. the people in our village always said grüetzi as a greeting. but as soon as we entered Biel most people startet greeting in french.


I'm actually English haha. These were local people who would greet me in Swiss German before realising I was English. And that's interesting, sounds like greetings aren't uniform across the canton...


I think others have already answered your question regarding "merci vielmal" / grüess(u)chh. However, the most common "goodbye" in the canton of Bern is "adieu" which sounds a bit like "ad air" . That said it doesn't look like the "ahrevei" you've written.


There's every chance I was mishearing, but I'm pretty sure the last sound in the word as an "eye" sound. I'll have to check when next I'm there


There's regional variations in the pronunciation of "adieu". One should also not forget "(a)uf Wiederluege". A typically Swiss variation of Auf Wiedersehen.

Here are a couple of inks: https://www.pauker.at/pauker/DE_DE/SC/wb/?d=Auf+Wiedersehen https://www.idiotikon.ch/hoerproben?id=310 In the first audio recording you'll hear him say "umma luege" (luegen - look)

Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.