https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pira_14

Question about Swiss German

Hey, I was doing some research the other day and found that most people said Swiss German and Standard German (high german) are not mutually intelligible, so I asked my friend who speaks german and he told me that when he was in Zurich he could speak and understand german fine with the locals, and that I shouldn’t bother learning Swiss German but learn standard german instead. I also heard that in Switzerland Swiss German is only a spoken language, and that all the signs and books/news are in standard german. If I want to eventually live in Switzerland, would I need to learn Swiss German or high german or both? Thanks for the read.

September 11, 2018

23 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Langophobe

I would suppose he understood them just fine because anyone raised speaking Swiss German at home goes to school in Hochdeutsch, or "Schreibdeutsch" (the written German) as they call it, so they could simply have been speaking German Standard German back to him because real Swiss German is not mutually intelligible.

September 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andu444

Most northern German (ie standard German speaking) people don't understand Swiss German. The Swiss will switch to a more standard version of German when talking to them though, so it's no problem at all to get by. And written Swiss German is indeed like standard German, unless it's for effect like in ads or so. So living in Switzerland you'll easily get by with standard German, but if you want to stay and integrate then you should learn Swiss German too. :)

September 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Semeltin

Great post.

And written Swiss German is indeed like standard German,

I disagree with that. Written Swiss German is like Swiss German. If it is like Standard German it is not Swiss German but Swiss Standard German. ;)

https://als.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alemannisch
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZDnjBmfBh8

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pira_14

Yes, although I was told that most if not written German that Swiss speakers use is written in standard german. In the article it also references this “Standard German is used in writing, and orally in formal contexts, throughout the Alemannic-speaking regions.”

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andu444

Agreed, it's not the same, that's why I put 'like', I meant it to mean 'similar' and not 'the same', I realise now that was a bit ambiguous, sorry. :)

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Semeltin

No worries. But I think I meant something different. :)

There are both varieties. Swiss Standard German Heute abend ist es heiss and Swiss German Hüüte abig isch s heiss [or something … :)].
Swiss Standard German is indead "like" the BRD(/FRG) standard (although it sounds different) but Swiss German is very different, both in writing and in pronunciation. If it isn't different, then it isn't Allemanic, and hence not Swiss German.
Do you agree? :)

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andu444

I'm pretty sure we mean the same thing, I just didn't explain it properly or too simplified. :) At least I think that "ich ha chalt" ;) is not the way the Swiss would usually (formally) write, or is it?

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Semeltin

Right.

September 13, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pira_14

So essentially I would need standard german for short term living and both for long term?

September 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bobthesane

I suspect if you were there long term your standard German would evolve naturally.

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gatiquo

If you are going to live in Switzerland, it might be useful to learn some of the local dialect. Otherwise stick with standard German.

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pira_14

If I were to live in Switzerland, would I need to learn both standard and Swiss German?

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Itschi187

I life in south germany not to far away from switzerland. I understand them just fine, but most people from germany don't understand them.

Don't take Zurich as an example because they speak more a standard german.

If you speak standard german they will understand you, but you may not understand them.

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andu444

The dialect in the south is already closer to Swiss German of course. :) As a child I moved from Hamburg to the Swiss border, and I didn't understand the other children at all, luckily as a child it didn't take long to learn the local dialect. After that I had no problems understanding Swiss German either. :)

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jooooooooooooosh

I'm English and have lived in Switzerland for just over a year. Before I came here I couldn't speak a word of German, let alone Swiss German. I've learnt High German from the ground up through language school so now my speaking, reading and writing level is pretty good after a year. I do have a few problems though.

For example my Swiss friends love speaking English with me (because everyone learns it here at a very young age) when pushed they'll talk to me in High German and that's no problem but I tend to flick back to English when I can't get the words out, which is a blessing and a curse! What also frustrates me is that I've got a head full of High German all the rules, all the books and movies I consume are in High German, but when my friends talk to one another in Swiss all those rules go out the window and it sounds like gibberish! I understand a fair bit of Swiss German now and to be honest I like the sound of it better than regular old German - it has a bouncier more friendly sound to it. I'm in no position to speak or write it yet, my opinion is stick with the High German, there's clear rules to follow!

When it's all said and done do what you feel comfortable with, nobody will laugh at you for speaking High German here. They do with me though because of my terrible accent!

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohnAdamClark

Bouncier and more friendlier feel, that does describe the Alemannischen dialect rather well!

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/debdumler

I have friends that live in Switzerland and they go to germany and they have no problems. It is just like the volga german which you may have not heard of unless you are Germans from Russia, they speak German but when they encounters Germans from Germany they had no problem speaking and understand them.

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SnezanaRus

Swiss German is mostly different dialect, same as Austrian German. When I heard it the first time I panicked and was sure it's not German so I asked the person to speak in hoch German - the response I got was: so sorry, keep forgetting how awful Swiss German sounds to other people :) With learning hoch German you can eventually pick up Swiss dialect.

I don't know about written language.

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ally.x
  • 1216

http://www.podclub.ch/sendungen/zukker-im-leben-ch-d/1550-zukker-im-leben-1-mein-nachbar-im-freibad-und-die-telefonbuecher-in-brigits-wohnung-8-september-2017

If you play this podcast ("abspielen") you can read along written German while you're listening to the Swiss German and compare them. There is more podcast in Swiss German and also in high German, so it's worth to explore the page.

happy learning :-)

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohnAdamClark

I always find discussions about dialects fascinating! I'm learning German (high German) with the intention of moving to Bregenz, Voralberg to be with my girlfriend. They speak Voralbergisch there, which is part of the Alemannischen family, where Swiss German is also part of.

I can understand a fair bit of spoken High German (thanks Duolingo) but of course, when it's dialect, you get quite lost. But, it's all part of the language learning fun right?!

September 12, 2018
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