Swiss Linguistic Geography


Switzerland lies at the crossroads of several major European cultures that have heavily influenced the country’s language and culture. It’s the only European country other than Austria to have four official languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh. This diversification of languages concentrated in this one country has drawn much attention to the use of translation and interpretation services not only by international firms but also by individuals requiring any type of document translated.

The high demand for translation and interpretation continues to grow at a rapid rate, which is not very surprising as it’s said that the Swiss need a dictionary to communicate with each other! German is spoken by about 64% of the population, French by about 20%, and Italian by about seven%. Romansh is spoken by less than one per cent of the total population. English is not an official language; however it is used to bridge the divides.

It’s quite important to point out that the most notable linguistic fact about German-speaking Switzerland is the use of a dialect for spoken communication, which is spoken as a first language, and standard German for written communication. The German spoken in Switzerland is quite different from the official German language spoken in Germany.

The French language is the second most widely spoken language in Switzerland, dominating the West of Switzerland where it borders with France. Unlike the German language in Switzerland, the French spoken there does not differ that greatly from the standard variety of the French language spoken in France.

While Italian is spoken in Ticino and the south of neighboring Graubünden, the basic language is the same as that spoken across Italy, the dialect of Italian language spoken in Switzerland resembles that spoken in the north of Italy. Lastly, Romansh is spoken only in Graubünden. However, there are language minorities from elsewhere in all the major cities.

Don’t hesitate to request your free quote for translation or interpretation services in one of these Swiss languages or any others that you may need.