In Switzerland we speak Swiss German. Although it comes from High German, it is a dialect of its own. A German from Stuttgart may still understand us, but a German from Hamburg has no chance. Although High German is his or her mother tongue. How difficult must it even be for an American or an English to understand us?
Learning Swiss German is difficult, but not impossible
In order to settle in a new country as quickly as possible, learning the local language is a very important factor. This way you get in touch with the locals much faster and you also understand better how the country and its people tick. It is quite clear to us that Swiss German is not the easiest language to learn. There are innumerable different dialects, and what makes it even more difficult, is that it is only a spoken language. But from our own experience we know that it is absolutely possible to learn at least a little Swiss German.
Typical Switzerland – these expressions are as Swiss as Willhelm Tell
Maybe you already know a few very typical Swiss German sayings. No matter whether you have just arrived in Switzerland or have been living here for some time. We have put together a few important Swiss German words for you that are typical for this country. And make your everyday life easier.
Znüni is the snack you eat at nine o’clock in the morning. A sort of second breakfast, it’s a chance to down a quick coffee, read the paper, chat with a colleague or eat a Gipfeli (as croissants are known in the German-speaking part of Switzerland).
Before starting to eat, it is very common to wish everyone a good meal. “En Guete” means as much as “have a good one”. Not wishing each other “En Guete” before eating is actually considered rude.
It is also not uncommon for complete strangers in a restaurant to wish each other “En Guete”. Or if you walk along an office hallway during lunch hour, most everyone will greet you with this iconic Swiss German expression.
Someone who lives in a cute little house with a white picket fence, a garden gnome in the yard and always eats dinner exactly at 6pm is called a “Bünzli” in Switzerland.This word describes the type of person who fully conforms to rules and ensures that everyone else does the same.
That coworker who always splits the bill down to thelast peny? He’s a Bünzli. Or the neighbor who ties up her old newspapers for recycling in a perfectly rectangular fashion (and stacks them as if they were gold bars)? She’s a Bünzli, too.
Means handy, just like the Swiss Army knife. but also comfortable. And pleasant. And depending on the part of the country, it’s also quite friendly and sociable. All that. In one word. A gäbiges word, this gäbig.
In which case? In case of a case? No, just like that, in case. A blatantly self-righteous way to emphasize an appropriate argument. Just so, in case.
Kantönligeist refers to the intense desire for independence oft he 26 cantons in Switzerland. For many people this small-mindedness sums up everything that is wrong with politics in Switzerland, as cantons often refuse to cede an inch of ground to the federal government because they believe they know best what their region needs.
Thanks to Kantönligeist, Swiss cantons have their own education systems and their own tax regimes. It also means moving from one part of the country to another can be an administrative nightmare.
Surely, in other countries, too, one knows the joy of indulging in something small for little money – usually sweets from a kiosk. But only the Swiss have a special verb for this: chröömle.
That is a tricky one. Actually there is no perfect English translation for this verb.The closest might be “to hold up”, “to be airtight” or “to withstand”. The Swiss use the word verhebe to describe something that will withstand external factors or challenges. It could also be a concept without holes in it.
Look around Switzerland and you will find lots of evidence of verhebe: the Swiss system of democracy has withstood global conflicts, houses are constructed to exist for centuries, and even park benches are solid. In short: it simply makes the Swiss feel good if their world verhebet!
In Switzerland a blue collar worker is called a Büezer. A construction worker for example or a member of a road crew who works hard. Büezer usual like their after work beer, preferably at the “Stammtisch”. Which is a round table at a restaurant or bar, where the same guys meet almost very day and enjoy their well deserved beer together.
The literal translation would be: someone who shits little dots. A Tüpflischiesser is a pedant for whom everything has to be done in the correct way. This could include the government official who makes you redo a form because you’ve filled everything out in black pen rather than in blue pen as clearly specified. Or it might include the neighbour who enjoys reminding you vacume cleaning is not allowed after 10pm.
Important sentences for everyday life
And here are a few words and sentences that you often use in your everyday life.
|Guete Morge||Good morning|
|Guete Abig||Good evening|
|Schlaf guet||Sleep well|
|Träum süess||Sweet dreams|
|Merci vilmal||Thanks a lot|
|Wie gahts dir?
Wie gahts Ihnä?
|How are you?
How are you (formal)?
|Froit mi||Nice to meet you|
|Wie spat isch äs?||What is the time|
|Ich bi nöd Schwizer (m) / Schwizeri (f)||I am not Swiss|
|Ich red kei Schwizerdütsch||I don’t speak Swiss German|
|D’Rächnig bitte||The bill please|
|Ich heisse….||My name is…|
|Wie heissisch du?
Wie heissed Sie? (formal)
|What is your name?|
Wohi gönd Sie? (formal)
|Where are you going?|
Wo sind Sie? (formal)
|Where are you?|
|Mir gfallt d’Schwiz||I like Switzerland|
Händ Sie Füür?
|You got a lighter?|
Do you want to learn even more?
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