About the Swiss German Language

The Swiss federation is composed of 26 “cantons (states)”.  The majority of the population, about 65%, speaks Swiss German, and it is spoken in 11 out of the 26 cantons. The so-called “German speaking cantons” are the cantons of Aargau, Appenzell, Basel, Berne, Lucerne, St. Gallen, Schwyz, Thurgau, Unterwalden, Uri, and Zurich. French is the language of 18% of the population of Switzerland, while 10% speak Italian. About 1%, mainly in the Engadin, speak Rhaeto-Romanic (Romansch), the fourth national, but not official, language.
 
The first language of all German-speaking Swiss is not the standard German that is the official language of Germany. It is rather one of the many Swiss German dialects, generally referred to collectively as Swiss German, Schwyzerdutsch.

The Pimsleur course uses speakers with urban intonation and pronunciation spoken in cities such as St. Gallen, Zürich and Basel.  Swiss German is a spoken language only and written material such as newspapers and letters, are written in standard German, which the Swiss learn in school.  The spoken Swiss German differs significantly from standard German in grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. 

Swiss German-Speaking Countries

Swiss German

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