Switzerland – the country of glorious mountains and the best chocolate in the world – is also home to some of the more interesting dialects of German. In the isolated mountain regions, it was not unheard of that every village spoke a language their neighbours were unable to understand until not too long ago. Being isolated from Standard German has given way to such heavy changes in Swiss German that some linguists would actually like to classify it as a separate language.
Be that as it may, there are excellent reasons for focusing on learning Swiss German.
Feel at home in Switzerland
If you’ve moved to the German-speaking part of Switzerland, learning to speak the language should be on the top of your priority list. That’s even the case if you already speak Standard German. While the news and media might be in a language you’d be able to understand, everyday life is conducted in the local Swiss German dialect.
In fact, the Swiss are rather adamant about using their language and will avoid speaking Standard German if they can help it. Throw in the fact that the majority of Swiss communicate in the language, you can see why learning it is important to feeling yourself at home in Switzerland.
Make learning Hochdeutsch easier
Even from a purely practical standpoint, it pays to learn Swiss German first if you want to move on to Hochdeutsch. The main issue native German-speakers complain about when confronted with Swiss German is the pronunciation. And you know things are serious when the inventors of a word such as Hottentottenpotentatentantenattentat start running for the hills. However, once you master the Swiss German way of doing things, you’ll find Standard German a whole lot easier.
In addition, the written language in Switzerland doesn’t show nearly as many differences from Hochdeutsch as the spoken (although it’s still called Swiss Standard German). So, from a writing and reading point of view, you’ll already be almost halfway towards acquiring Standard German as well.
Learning any language is a great way to make friends, learn about a new culture, increase your hireability, and even improve your health. And if you have the chance to achieve those bonuses with Swiss German, that can only be considered an extra perk.
Once mastered, Swiss German is such a fun language to speak so, even in that respect, it really pays to dive into this fascinating tongue. The word most often associated with the language – Chuchichäschtli (kitchen cabinet) – already shows how much fun you can have with the language if you don’t let the seemingly impossible pronunciation get you down (which you shouldn’t!). Luckily, the Swiss don’t stop there! You can find a whole list of other mindblowing tongue twisters, with which you can spend a whole eternity practicing.
Conclusion – Swiss German is essential for life in Switzerland and beneficial in general
Even if you’re just looking for a fascinating language to learn, you should definitely consider Swiss German. The Alemannic dialects spoken in the country provide an interesting alternative viewpoint to German and they’re used by around ten million people (including people in Austria, France, Germany, and other places).
But if you’re planning on making the move to Switzerland, learning the language should definitely be high on your priority list. You should even consider starting online Swiss German lessons before leaving home to be able to grasp the basics when arriving in the country.