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Swiss German 101 - An Introduction to the Swiss German Language

Helene Souza  /
Most people who travel to a foreign country usually try to get along by speaking English. That works fine for most locations nowadays. However, many travelers and especially expats consider it a must to know at least the basic courtesies in the language of the place they are visiting or living. 

In addition, knowing at least a few words in the local language will help you get in touch with locals and thus make your travel experience a much more interesting one. Everyone likes a foreigner who is trying to speak the local language. Even or maybe especially, if it sounds a bit odd. And don't forget to smile! Smiles are the same in every language.

In the past I wrote about the different cantons of Switzerland and their dialects of Swiss German. However, I haven't yet taught you some useful Swiss German words and phrases. Now, I'll do exactly that.

Basic Swiss German Words and Phrases

For those who plan to visit Switzerland in the future or are living here, these words and phrases in Swiss German should be useful for your day to day life:
  • Grüezi  [ˈɡ̊ryə̯t͡si] - Hello (formal greeting)
  • Hoi, Hallo - Hello (informal greeting)
  • Guete Morge - good morning
  • Adieu [adjø]- goodbye
  • Wie got's ine? - How are you? (formal)
  • Wie got's? - How are you? (informal)
  • Guet - good, fine
  • soso lalal - more or less
  • Wo? - Where?
  • Wo isch ...? - Where is ...?
  • Was? - What?
  • Wänn? - When?
  • Auto - car
  • Zug - train
  • Bahnhof - train station
  • Bus - bus 
  • Bushaltschtell - bus station
  • Stross - street
  • Huus - house
  • Reschti - restaurant
Since it is quite hard to give a proper phonetic transliteration I recommend that you check out this short lesson in Swiss German on youtube:

More Swiss German words and expression can also be found in the Swiss German dictionary



  1. Replies
    1. Indeed! And now that I think of it, I should have added Bitte and Danke... basics of Swiss politeness I think! ;)


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