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Swiss-German phrasebook

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Swiss-German (Schweizerdeutsch in Standard German; some endonyms are Schwyzerdütsch, Schwiizertüütsch or Schwizertitsch) is a broad category of Germanic dialects spoken in Switzerland.

These dialects are considerably different from German, especially as it happens in regard to those very phrases which a traveler needs: niceties, greetings, asking for stuff, getting directions, etc. One of the key differences to getting by with Swiss German. For example, "Fine, thank you" is Guet, merci; with guet being the German word for good/fine, while merci is from the French "thank you". In addition, there are many pronunciation differences which separate Swiss-German from either language. For example, the diphthong in Swiss-German "guet" versus the monophthong in High-German "gut".

You are unlikely to have to learn Swiss-German, as all German-speaking Swiss educated in modern day schools are also able to speak standard German. Nevertheless, saying a few words in Swiss-German will undoubtedly impress the locals.

Swiss German is different from Swiss Standard German (Schweizer Hochdeutsch), which is a variant of standard German for formal speech and writing in Switzerland, with some vocabulary differences, such as das Tram ("streetcar", Straßenbahn or die Tram in standard German) and Billett ("ticket", Fahrkarte, Fahrschein or Ticket in standard German).

Neither Swiss German nor Swiss Standard German use the Eszett (ß).

Pronunciation guide[edit]

Note that most of the following Swiss-German phrases and words are written as they would be pronounced by people living in the area around Bern, Basel, Zürich (i.e. in the canton of Bern, etc.). Whilst bernese dialect is widely understood in the Swiss-German part of Switzerland, it's by no means "official" Swiss-German (despite of the fact that Bern is the Swiss capital). There is no standardized Swiss-German ("Schwyzerdüütsch"), and it is standard German that is an official language in Switzerland. Remarkably, the native dialects spoken in the many Swiss-German cantons are clearly distinguishable by locals (i.e. they can tell apart from the dialect in which canton somebody grew up). Speaking Swiss-German is common for all people living in the Swiss-German part of Switzerland, independent of age or education. For writing, standard German is mostly used, though Swiss-German dialect is particularly popular on informal writing (e.g. in e-mail messages, SMS messages etc.). With the ongoing globalization and immigration, mixing Swiss-German dialects with English (quite often even with pseudo English) or speaking so called "Jugo-Deutsch" (German pronounced as immigrants coming from the former Yugoslavia region tend to pronounce it) has also become trendy for youngsters.

For official documents, standard German is used.

Vowels[edit]

The vowels in swiss german are unlike the english vowels closer to the german and latin pronunciations.

Pronunciation Guide:

a - ah (as in saw) e - eh (as in end) i - e (as in eel) o -oh (as in on) u - oo (as in moose)

Consonants[edit]

Common diphthongs[edit]

Phrase list[edit]

Basics[edit]

Hello/Hi (informal)
Hoi!
Hi, everyone! (informal)
Hoi zäme!
Hi (very informal)
Saluti! [salooti!] / Saletti!
Hello (formal)
Grüezi! [Grea-atsie] / Grüessech! [Grea-sec]
Hello, Ms./Mr. ... (formal)
Grüezi/Grüessech Frau/Herr ...
Hello, everyone (formal)
Grüezi mitenand! [Grea-tsi metta-nònd] / Grüessech mitenang!

Problems[edit]

i(ch) ha(n) mi(s) Portmonnaie verlore!
I lost my wallet! (ch, n, s = variants, depending on the dialect)
i(ch) fühl mi(ch) schlächt
I feel sick/not well/upset (ch = variant)
wo isch de Polizei Poschte?
where is the police station?
i(ch) mues öppis mälde
I have to/must report something (ch = variant)
Spital
Hospital
Hät's da es Spital i de Nöchi?
is there a hospital nearby?
i(ch) bi(n) velore/mer sind verlore
I/we am/are lost!! (ch, n = variant)
bitte säged sie mir wo.....isch?
Can you please tell me where.....is?
Bahnhof
train station
Taxi Stand
taxi station
Bank
Bank
Poscht
post office
Hotel " "
the " " hotel
Chile
church
i(ch) bi(n) verliebt!
I'm in love
i(ch) liib di(ch)!
I love you!

Numbers[edit]

1
eis, äis, ais, eins
2
zwei, zwöi, zwai
3
drü, drai, drei
4
vier
5
foif, fföif, füüf, fünf
6
sächs, säggs
7
sibe, sebe, siebe
8
acht
9
nün
10
zäh, zehn
11
elf, euf
12
zwölf, zwöuf
13
drizäh
14
vierzäh
15
füfzäh
16
sächzäh
17
sibzäh
18
achzäh
19
nünzäh
20
zwänzg, zwanzig
21
einezwänzg, einezwanzig
22
zweiezwänzg, zweiezwanzig, zwöiezwänzg
23
drüezwänzg, dreiezwanzig
24
vierezwänzg, vierezwanzig
25
foifezwänzg, fünfezwanzig, füüfezwänzg
26
sächsezwänzg, säggsezwanzig
27
sibenezwänzg, siebenezwanzig
28
achtezwänzg, achtezwanzig
29
nünezwänzg, nünezwanzig
30
driss(i)g
40
vierz(i)g
50
füfzg, fuffzig
60
sächz(i)g
70
sibezg, siebzig
80
achtz(i)g
90
nünz(i)g
100
hundert
101
hundertundäis, hundertundeis
102
hundertzwöi

Clock time[edit]

time
Zit
What time is it?
Was isch für zit?
It is...
Es isch ...
one o'clock
eis
half past twelve
halbi eis
quarter to one
viertel vor eis
ten to one
zäh vor eis
quarter past one
virtel ab eis
ten past one
zäh ab eis
half past one
halbi zwoi

Duration[edit]

Wie lang gohts bis ... (How long does it take to...) Wie lang het me bis....?

Days[edit]

Mänti(g)
Zyschti(g)
Mittwuch
Dunnschti(g)
Fryti(g)
Samschti(g)
Sunnti(g)

Months[edit]

January
Januar
February
Februar
March
März, Merz
April
April
May
Mai
June
Juni
July
Juli
August
Auguscht
September
Septämber
October
Oktober
November
Novämber
December
Dezämber

Writing time and date[edit]

date
Datum
tenth of January, 2009
zähte erste zwoitusignün

Colors[edit]

Red
rot
Blue
blau
Black
schwarz
Green
grüen
White
wiiss
Yellow
gäl(b)
Purple
violet
Orange
orange (orah-nsh)
Pink
rosa/pink
Gray
grau

Transportation[edit]

Motorcycle - Töff, Döff
Vespa, Motorbike - Töffli, Döffli, Mofa
Bicycle - Velo
Tram (Streetcar) - Tram, Drämmli

Bus Train Plane[edit]

Bus, Car - Bus
Reisecar - travel bus
Zug - train
Flugzüg, Flüüger - airplane

Directions[edit]

graad uus - straight ahead
links - left
rächts - right
vore, vorne - in front
vüre, vürschi, vorwärts - forwards
hinde, hinge - in the back
hindere, rückwärts, zrugg - backwards, back

Taxi[edit]

Zum Hotel ...... bitte! - to the ..... hotel please!
was koschtet's öppe nach .......? - How much does it cost to ....., approximately?
Flughafe - airport
Bahnhof - train station
Hotel .... - ..... hotel
i(ch) ha(n)'s pressant! - I'm in a hurry!
mir händ's pressant! - We are in a hurry!
Bitte pressiere! - Hurry, please!

Lodging[edit]

Money[edit]

Gäld / Bargäld, Stutz (coll.), Stütz (coll.)
cash, money.
isch Bargäld ok? mit Bargäld bezahle?
can I pay with cash? pay with cash?
Was koschtet das?
how much is this/that?
Z'tüür! (Zu teuer)
Too expensive! (might be very offensive!)
Das isch mir e chli z'tüür
That seems to be rather expensive (more polite phrasing)
Hät's no billigeres?
Do you have something cheaper?
Chann i(ch) mit Kreditkarte zahle?
Can I use my Credit Card?
Trinkgäld (gäh)
Tip (Tipping)
I(ch) nimm das
I'll take/buy it (i pronounced like "e" in english)
I(ch) möcht öppis anders
I would like something else.
Händ si Souvenirs?
Do you have souvenirs?
Wo chan i(ch) Gäld wächsle?
Where can I change money?
Wo isch de nächscht Bankomat?
Where is the closest ATM?

Eating[edit]

En guete!
Enjoy your meal!
Schoggi
Chocolate (gg is often pronounced as 'ck,' thus 'schocki')
Proscht, Pröschtli, Prosit!
Cheers
Herdöpfel / Erdöpfel
Potato(es) (pronounced hadopfel / erdoplfel)(Erdöpfel would roughly translate to "earth apple" similar to the French Pom De Terre.)
Rüebli
Carrot(s)
Ä Stangä, es Chliises
A small glass of beer
En Chübel, es Grosses
A big glass of beer
Es Glas Wii
A glass of wine
Es Glas Rote (Wii)
A glass of red wine
Es Glas Wysse (Wii)
A glass of white wine
Oktobertee
wine (slang/coll.)
Chriesi
cherry/cherries
Chueche
pie
Gipfeli
croissant(s)
Milchkafi, Schale
cafe au lait
Kafi crème
coffee
Bier
beer
Suufe
to drink beer/alcohol...
Schwiizer Chääs
Swiss cheese
Röschti
mashed, fried potatoes (a Swiss speciality)
Fondue
Fondue (melted Swiss cheese in a bowl, a Swiss speciality, usually eaten during winter-time only)
Raclette
melted, roasted Swiss cheese (a Swiss speciality, usually eaten during winter-time only)
Züri-Gschnätzlets
Cut veal, often served with Röschti, speciality of Zurich
I(ch) würd(i) gern e Schwiizer Spezialität probiere
I'd like to taste a Swiss speciality
Was chönd Sie mir empfehle?
Can you recommend something?

Bars[edit]

e Schtange, es Chliises
A small glass of beer
en Chübel, es Grosses
A large glass of beer
en/es Aperitiv
a starter
Pröschtli!, zum Wohlsii!
Cheers!
Chueche, Cake, Flade
Cake

Shopping[edit]

Poschtä, iichaufe
Going shopping
Wieviel choschtet ...?
How much does ... cost?
Gits en Rabatt? Gits en Ermässigung?
Can you give me a discount?
Wo häts ...?
Where can I find ...?

Driving[edit]

Auto fahre
driving a car
Wo ane fahrt dä bus?
Where is this bus going to?
Fahruswiis
driving license
Verkehrsregle
traffic rules
Unfall
accident
Polizischt
police officer
Rechtsverkehr
right-hand traffic/driving (that's the way to drive in Switzerland)

Other[edit]

Händ ihr de ... kaputt gmacht?
Did you destroy the ...?
Hoi
Hi (informal)
Grüezi/Grüessech Frau/Herr
Hello (formal)
Guete Morge
Good morning (informal and formal)
Guete Abig/Abe
Good evening (informal and formal)
Schöne Hinicht
Have a pleasant evening (informal and formal)


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