Swiss Official Languages
German, French, Italian and the ancient Romansh are the official and national languages of Switzerland. The former three being also the most spoken languages in Switzerland, and maintain equal status as the official languages in the federal administration of the confederation. German Swiss and Standard German is the most widely spoken language in Switzerland. Swiss French is more common than the Arptian dialects. The Swiss Italian and Lombard dialects are standard. The German region lies in the central, north and east, the French in the west and Italians to the south. The Romansh native population lives in Graubünden.
Languages Spoken In Switzerland
German is the official language of 17 Swiss cantons, and the population of the speakers is about 4,348,289 accounting for 64.47% of the country's total population. The Swiss German is more common in communication, and it divides further into regional dialects. Despite the sub-dialects the Swiss use the standard or High German in writing. In fact, Standard German is the first foreign language Swiss Germans learn when starting school. The reformation of the 15th century brought about the need to have a uniformly written German. The reform was necessary as it enabled the translation of the Bible into a language understood by many. Likewise, newspapers, schoolbooks, literature, and political statements needed a common base that everyone could understand. Thus came the formalities; Swiss dialect in communicating and High German in writing. In Bern, the capital city of Switzerland, and Zurich, the largest city, Swiss dialect is the most dominant language. However, French is the official language in the canton of Bern.
Romandy is the particular French Speaking region of Switzerland. The area covers the cantons of Geneva, Jura, Vaud, and Neuchatel, parts of Bern, and in Valais and Fribourg, French-speaking people is the majority. In Switzerland, about 1,525,003 people speak French accounting for 22.61% of the population. Unlike the Swiss German that has many dialects, the standard Swiss French and the France French are similar with minor differences. The Swiss dialect has a slower pace, a unique antique quality, different accent and some variations in words and phrases. For example, soixante-dix is French Swiss for seventy whereas septante is French. Historically, Franco-Provencal or Arpitan was the native language of the inhabitants of Romandy. Arpitan is a language that uses some dialects of the Langue d'oil of northern and ancient France and langue d'oc of southern France. Today, Arpitan is used by the most senior citizens. In actual sense, Romandy is not a political term, but a unification system that unites French-speaking citizens of Switzerland. It is important to note also that French of France is both the spoken and the written form of French in Switzerland. On March 20, the Francophone Festival celebrates the French population in the country.
561,857 people in Switzerland speak Italian, and that is about 8.33% of the population in the country. Italian Switzerland is the part of the country that speaks Italian exclusively. The areas include Canton of Tinico, Gondo valley in Valais, and the southern region of the Graubünden. The linguistic regions cover an area of about 3,500 km². About 20% of Tinico population is Italian by Nationality. The Swiss dialect of Italian differs somehow with that spoken in Italy. However, the Standard Italian is the formal written language. The other dialect, Ticinese is more different from the Swiss or France French. The community speaking the Ticinese dialect is somehow isolated from the rest of the French: the more the isolation, the more the distinction of the dialect. People in Switzerland have a right to use their dialect or the standard. For example, the Locarno people prefer to use their dialect while the Lugano people prefer the Standard French.
Approximately 35, 753 people use the ancient tongue called Romansh. This population accounts for 0.53% total population. However, the Romansh is officially spoken only in the trilingual Graubünden. The majority of speakers live in Surselva, the lower Engadin, Val Müstair, and Surses/Oberhalbstein valley. Outside these lingual regions, Zurich has the largest population of Rumantsch-speaking people. It is thought that the dialect evolved from a native language of a migratory people who moved into the region around 500 B.C. the Latinos from the Roman Empire influenced these people, and soon dialects emerged. In 1982 only five dialects existed but a standardized written version of the dialects, Rumantsch Grischun, was adopted and assimilated. However, thanks to Microsoft adding the dialect as an option in the desktop languages, the language that was facing extinction is somehow preserved.
These languages are the formal languages spoken in Switzerland. However, the English language is common with about 316,830 people speaking it accounting for 4.70% of the population. The language has no formal status in the country, but its importance as the international language of communication makes it the second language learned in schools. Business Switzerland also uses English. Today, English is the Lingua Franca of German and French-speaking Swiss in the Business world. Thus, though a foreign language, it finds its place in the fourth position among the most popular languages spoken in Switzerland.
Switzerland has no common Language. All Swiss must learn a minimum of two languages in school. The constitution protects the different language used in the country. Unlike many nations in Europe, Switzerland tolerates almost every language spoken by people in the country.
Languages Spoken In Switzerland
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