Planning a visit to Switzerland? Then it is likely that one of your first questions is what languages are spoken in Switzerland and how to communicate comfortably in front of the local inhabitants of this wonderful country.
Whether you are interested in traveling or moving to Switzerland for work reasons, spending a season as a digital nomad, studying, doing an exchange, or simply looking for a better future, it is essential to know what languages are spoken in Switzerland if you want to facilitate your adaptation social and cultural.
Through this article, we will clarify various doubts about the languages spoken in Switzerland as official languages, minority languages , and destinations that give rise to or have in common the “Swiss languages” among their main languages.
Without further introduction, let’s go for it!
Table of contents
Official languages are spoken in Switzerland.
One of the first qualities you should know about Switzerland is that it welcomes a multilingual population, so it is not surprising that the country recognizes four languages in official use. Among the official languages of Switzerland, we have:
German is the most widely spoken official language in Switzerland, dominated by at least 60% of the people of this country. Due to the mixes and variations of dialects, it is often referred to as “Swiss-German”.
At least 20.4% of the Swiss population can communicate fluently in French, the Swiss cantons of Geneva, Jura, Neuchâtel, and Vaud.
Italophones are also present in Switzerland and officially represent around 840,000 inhabitants or 10% of the population. However, considering the proximity to the Italian land and its immigrant influences, it can be said that more than 1 million of the inhabitants of Switzerland use Italian as their main language to communicate on a day-to-day basis.
Although Romansh is the least widely spoken official language in Switzerland, it is a language that has managed to survive among 37,000 speakers in the extreme southeast of the country, representing just 0.5% of the Swiss population.
Minority languages of Switzerland
In addition to the languages with official national recognition, the Helvetic Confederation recognizes the Yeniche language, a variant of German popularly used by the people of the same name, one of the largest nomadic ethnic groups on the European continent.
The Yeniche people are nomads focused on touring areas of France, Germany, Austria, and of course, Switzerland.
In which other countries are the official languages of Switzerland spoken?
At this point, you will be clear that the official languages recognized by Switzerland are not only specific to this nation. Therefore, they also appear in the lists of national languages in other countries.
On the one hand, German is considered the most widely spoken mother tongue among the European Union member countries (EU). In addition to its official use in nations such as Germany and Switzerland is also recognized in Austria, Belgium, Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg.
Meanwhile, French occupies one of the first places in the list of the world’s most spoken languages, so the list of French-speaking countries is quite extensive and goes beyond France and Switzerland.
Among these countries, we can highlight Canada, Luxembourg, Monaco, French overseas territories, and dozens of countries on the African continent that have lived under the influence of France throughout history.
Italian and its official use in Italy and Switzerland are also an official language in San Marino, Vatican City, Slovenia (in specific regions), and Croatia.
Unfortunately, the forecast is not similar for Romansh, a language in danger of disappearing for several years and lacking visibility in other countries besides Switzerland, despite applying different government programs and strategies designed to prevent its extinction.