There is nothing better than making a nice first impression as a foreigner in a new country, and what better way to do that than by making some effort to communicate in their language. Here are some of the most frequently used Swiss German words and phrases, starting from hello and introductory phrases to how to order, and words derived from inside jokes of the country.
The famous greeting is a must-known conversation starter in Switzerland. If you want to say hello, you use “grüezi.” This word is a contraction from the phrase “Gott grüez-i,” meaning “may God greet you.” If you are in Bern, they use the similar greeting “Grüessech.” Other greetings to keep in mind are “guete Morge” for “good morning,” “guete Daag” which translates as “good day,” but is used as a general phrase to greet people with, and lastly “Guete Abig,” to wish people a good evening.
You are new to the Swiss German language? Well, it is time to introduce yourself. In such cases, you say “I heisse (your name here)” in formal introductions, or you can also say “Mi name isch” in a more relaxed situation. These literally translate to “I am called” and “My name is.” So, don’t be hesitant to make new connections; it is the best way to practice some Swiss German phrases.
Wie Gaats Dir?
Another important phrase for the Swiss and a typical way to greet people is “Wie gaats Dir?”. This phrase translates to “How are you doing?”. If you are talking to an elderly or want to address someone you don’t know personally, you use “Wie gaats Ine?”. The answers you can expect most often are: “Mir gaats guet, danke. Und dir?,” meaning “I’m doing well, thank you. And you?,” or “Mir gaats nöd so guet,” for “I’m not doing very well.”
When you meet someone for the first time, this is your go-to phrase. “Fröit mi” means “Pleased to meet you.” You can also use this phrase when someone tells you “Mir gaats guet” to reply that you are glad to hear that.
French and German meet together in this phrase used in Switzerland to say “thanks a lot.” Merci, from French “thank you,” and Vilmal from German “many times.” Additionally, they use both “danke’” and “merci” to say thank you in Swiss German, often one more than the other, depending on the region and canton.
“En Guete” is a phrase used in Switzerland when you are about to have a meal. This is the Swiss German equivalent of the French “Bon appétit,” a typical way to say “Enjoy your meal.” It is customary to say “En Guete” to people when you are on your lunch break at work, or out for dinner in a restaurant. When someone wishes you “En Guete” you say it back if they are eating too, or just say “danke” or “merci” if you are not sure.
You might be familiar with this phrase if you are a German speaker. Like the German “aber genau,” the Swiss German “abä, genau” is frequently used in conversations to say “yeah/right/exactly.” This is a phrase you use to reassure someone, or if you agree with what they are saying.
”Uf Widerluege” is used to say goodbye in Swiss German. The phrase translates as ”‘until we see each other again,” from the Old High German word “luogēn” meaning “to look”. In less formal situations, the Swiss also use greetings like “tschau,” “ade,” “tschüss,” and so on.
Wämmer Eis Go Ziie?
Going out in a pub (or Beiz, as the Swiss call it) is a popular pastime in Switzerland. So, when you feel like inviting your friends out for a drink, you say “Wämmer Eis Go Ziie?.” This is definitely a phrase that will give you the opportunity to socialize and practice your Swiss German.
I hätti Gern es…
Speaking of drinks, this phrase is the one you use to order one, or order anything for that matter. “I hätti gern es” translates to “I would like a” If you would like a glass of red wine, for example, you say “I hätti gern es Gläsli Rote, bitte,” or “es Bier” for beer, both being quite popular drinks in Switzerland.
After you have ordered your drink, it is now time to toast with others. The Swiss use “Proscht” or “Pröschtli” to say “cheers,” similar to the German word “prost.” Do not be surprised to hear phrases like “À la votre,” “Zum Wohl,” or “Salute,” though. You will find this language mixture of French and Italian quite often among Swiss-German phrases and conversations.
I würdi Gern e Schwiizer Spezialität Probiere
Regardless if you are in Switzerland as a tourist or are planning to live there, you must try some Swiss food, it is the country of chocolate and cheese after all. If you are keen to try some of the country’s special dishes, then, you say “I würdi Gern e Schwiizer Spezialität Probiere.” This translates to “I would like to try a Swiss specialty.” From there, the choices are endless (and delicious, of course.)
Home to the FIFA World Football Museum, Switzerland is the place to be for sports fanatics. Combined with their national pride, the Swiss are avid sports fans, from football to skiing, ice hockey, tennis, and more. When you are watching the next match or athlete that represents the country, you will hear people cheering “Hopp Schwiiz!,” as a phrase of encouragement, which translates as “Go Switzerland!”
“Röstigraben” is a humorous term inspired by the “rösti” potato dish, used in Switzerland to refer to the cultural boundaries between the German-speaking and French-speaking Swiss. The story behind this word goes back to when the famous dish would not be found in other regions besides the Swiss German-speaking cantons. The country with 4 official languages now uses the term jokingly to refer to the differences between the multiple Swiss cultures.
These were some of the most popular and characteristically Swiss words and phrases you can now use to show off your knowledge of Swiss-German vocabulary and culture.