Swiss German

Swiss German
Schweizerdeutsch (in Standard German), or e.g. Schwiizerdütsch (in Swiss German)
Pronunciation[ˈʃʋitsərˌd̥ytʃ]
Native toSwitzerland (as German), Liechtenstein, Vorarlberg (Austria), Piedmont & Aosta Valley (Italy)
Native speakers
4.93 million in Switzerland (2013)[1]
Unknown number in Germany (excluding Alsatian) and Austria
Language codes
gsw
ISO 639-3gsw (with Alsatian)
swis1247[2]
Linguasphere52-ACB-f (45 varieties: 52-ACB-faa to -fkb)
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Swiss German (Standard German: Schweizerdeutsch, Alemannic German: Schwyzerdütsch, Schwiizertüütsch, Schwizertitsch Mundart,[note 1] and others) is any of the Alemannic dialects spoken in the German-speaking part of Switzerland and in some Alpine communities in Northern Italy bordering Switzerland. Occasionally, the Alemannic dialects spoken in other countries are grouped together with Swiss German, as well, especially the dialects of Liechtenstein and Austrian Vorarlberg, which are closely associated to Switzerland's.[citation needed]

Linguistically, Swiss German forms no unity. The linguistic division of Alemannic is rather into Low, High and Highest Alemannic, varieties of all of which are spoken both inside and outside Switzerland. The only exception within German-speaking Switzerland is the municipality of Samnaun where a Bavarian dialect is spoken. 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.[citation needed]

The dialects of Swiss German must not be confused with Swiss Standard German, the variety of Standard German used in Switzerland. Most people in Germany do not understand Swiss German. Therefore, when an interview with a Swiss German speaker is shown on German television, subtitles are required.[3] Although Swiss German is the native language, from age 6, Swiss school students additionally learn Swiss Standard German at school and are thus capable of understanding, writing and speaking Standard German with varying abilities mainly based on the level of education.

Use

Unlike most regional languages in modern Europe, Swiss German is the spoken everyday language of all social levels in industrial cities, as well as in the countryside. Using the dialect conveys neither social nor educational inferiority and is done with pride.[4] There are a few settings where speaking Standard German is demanded or polite, e.g., in education (but not during breaks in school lessons, where the teachers will speak in the dialect with students), in multilingual parliaments (the federal parliaments and a few cantonal and municipal ones), in the main news broadcast or in the presence of non-Alemannic speakers. This situation has been called a "medial diglossia", since the spoken language is mainly the dialect, whereas the written language is mainly (the Swiss variety of) Standard German.

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. Swiss German speakers on TV or in films are thus usually dubbed or subtitled if shown in Germany.

Dialect rock is a music genre using the language; many Swiss rock bands, however, alternatively rather sing in English.

The Swiss Amish of Adams County, Indiana and their daughter settlements also use Swiss German.

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