- Linguistic geography of Switzerland
country = Switzerland
image size = 200px
immigrant = Albanian, Croatian, English, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish, Turkish and Ukrainian.
foreign = English
Langage gestuelle, Deutschschweizer Gebärdensprache
linguistic geographyof Switzerlandis on the main tripartite, with the Swiss Germanregion ("Deutschschweiz") in the northeast, the Swiss Frenchpart ("Romandie") in the west and the Swiss Italian("Svizzera Italiana") " Ticino" in the south. There remains a small Romansh speaking minority in the Grisons.
The four official languages of Switzerland are German, French, Italian and Romansh.Native speakers number about 64% (4.6 million) for German (mostly
Swiss Germandialects), 20% (1.5 million, mostly Swiss French, but including some Arpitandialects) for French, 7% (0.5 million, mostly Swiss Italian, but including Lombardic dialects) for Italian and less than 0.5% (35,000) for Romansh.
Development of linguistic demographics in Switzerland since 1950 according to official census data:
The German speaking part of Switzerland ( _de. Deutschschweiz _fr. Suisse alémanique _it. Svizzera tedesca) comprises about 65% of
Switzerland(North Western Switzerland, Eastern Switzerland, Central Switzerland, most of the Swiss plateauand the greater part of the Swiss Alps).
The canton of
Bernhas a French minority, while in Fribourg and Valais, German has minority status. In the canton of Graubünden, more than half of the population speaks German, while the rest speak Italian and Romansh. In each case, all languages are official languages of the respective canton.
While the French-speaking Swiss prefer to call themselves "Romands" and their part of the country "la
Romandie", the German-speaking Swiss used to refer to (and, colloquially, still do) the French-speaking Swiss as "Welsche" and to their area as "Welschland", which has the same etymology as the English . In Germany "Welsch" and "Welschland" refer to Italy; there, the term is antiquated, rarely used, and somewhat disparaging.
In contrast to the Italian- and French-speaking Swiss, the German-speaking Swiss do not feel very close to their German neighbours in the north (or Austrian neighbours to the east) even though, in the case of Germany, the
Alemannicdialects on both sides of the Rhine are similar. The reasons for this are mainly historical, as the German part of Switzerland has effectively been culturally and politically separated from the rest of the German-speaking areas since the late Middle Ages and officially since the Peace of Westphalia. Another factor is the status of the dialect. Standard German is the official language and is used in writing and to a great part by the media, but the spoken language in Switzerland in all social classes is almost exclusively Swiss German(more precisely one of the Swiss German dialects) - in Germany, people with higher education seldom speak a marked dialect.
The German-speaking Swiss do not feel as a uniform group; the average German speaking Swiss feels foremost belonging to Solothurn, St. Gallen, or Uri and sees himself not speaking Swiss German but the Baseldytsch (dialect of Basel), Bärndütsch (dialect of Bern) or Züridütsch (dialect of Zurich). The marked
subsidiarityof the Swiss federalismwhere many political decisions are taken at municipal or cantonal level supports this attitude.
The German-speaking part of Switzerland has no single culture. In the
Middle Agesalready there was a marked difference between the rural cantons and the city cantons focusing on trade and commerce. After the Reformation, all cantons were either Catholic or Protestant and the denominational influences on culture added to the differences. Even today, where all cantons are somewhat denominationally mixed, the different historical denominations can be seen in the mountain villages, where the Roman Catholic Central Switzerland abounds with chapels and statues of saints and the farm houses in the very similar landscape of the Protestant Bernese Oberland show Bible verses carved on the housefronts instead.
Romandy ( _fr. la Suisse romande, _de. Romandie, Welschland, Welschschweiz or Westschweiz, ["Welsch" is an old German word for "Foreign" and is the same word the Anglo Saxons used for the original British inhabitants i.e. the people from
Wales. It is considered a derogatory term in Switzerland which is not appreciated by the French Swiss unlike the word "Romandie" which derives from "Roman"] _it. Svizzera romanda) is the French-speaking part of Switzerland. It covers the area of the cantons of Geneva, Vaud, Neuchâtel, and Jura as well as the French-speaking parts of the cantons of Berne, Valais, and Fribourg. About 1.5 million people (or 20% of the Swiss population) live in Romandy.
Swiss Frenchand the French of Franceare the same language, with some differences. For example, like some other regions of the French-speaking world, Swiss people (as well as many Francophone Belgians) use "septante" (seventy) instead of "soixante-dix" (literally, "sixty ten") and "nonante" (ninety) instead of "quatre-vingt-dix" ("four twenties and ten"). In much of Romandy, speakers use "huitante" (eighty) instead of the standard French"quatre-vingt" (four-twenty) and "sou" for a 5-centime coin. [cite web|title=Septante, octante, huitante, nonante|language=French|publisher="Langue français"e|url=http://www.langue-fr.net/index/S/septante.htm|accessdate=2008-04-07] Historically, the vernacular language used by inhabitants of most parts of Romandy was Francoprovençal. Francoprovençal (also called Arpitan) is a French variant sometimes considered halfway between Standard French ( langue d'oïl, originally spoken in northern France) and Provençal ( langue d'oc, spoken in southern France). Standard French and Francoprovençal/Arpetan, linguistically, are distinct and mutual intelligibility is limited. Increasingly, Francoprovençal/Arpetan is used only by members of the older generations.
The term "Romandy" does not formally exist in the political system but is used to distinguish and unify the French-speaking population of Switzerland. The
televisionchannel Télévision Suisse Romande(TSR) serves the "Romande" community across Switzerland, is syndicated to TV5, and CanalSatRomande on October 2.
Italian Switzerland ( _it. Svizzera italiana, _fr. Suisse italienne, _de. italienische Schweiz) is the Italian-speaking part of
Switzerland, which includes the Canton of Ticinoand the valleys of Mesolcina, Calanca, Bregagliaand Poschiavoin Graubünden. It is sometimes referred to as "La Terza Svizzera" ( _en. Third Switzerland), due to Italian being the third most spoken language in the country.
The linguistic region covers an area approximately 3,500km² and has a total population of around 400,000 inhabitants, 80,000 of which are foreign nationals.
The most important towns in Italian Switzerland are in
Bellinzona, the capital of Ticino.
Lugano, on Lake Lugano, the largest city in Italian Switzerland and the country's third financial centre.
Chiassoon the border with Italy, near Como.
Locarnoand Asconaon Lake Maggioreclose to the border with Italy.
Airoloat the entrance of the Gotthard Road Tunnel, the third longest in the world.
In 1996 the region established its first university, the
Università della Svizzera italiana, which is based in Lugano and Mendrisio. The region's international airport is located in Agno.
On the cantonal level, Romansh is an official language only in the trilingual canton of Graubünden, where the municipalities in turn are free to specify their own official languages.
Significant communities of Romansh speakers remain in the
Surselva, the Oberhalbsteinvalley, the lower Engadinand the Val Müstair.
Romansh has been recognized as one of four "national languages" by the
Swiss Federal Constitutionsince 1938. It was also declared an "official language" of the Confederation in 1996, meaning that Romansh speakers may use their Romansh idiom for correspondence with the federal government and expect to receive a Romansh response – in Romansh Grischun, because the federal authorities use the standardized idiom exclusively.
The non-official language with the largest group of native speakers is
Serbo-Croatianwith 103,000 speakers in 2000, followed by Albanian with 95,000, Portuguese with 89,500, Spanish with 77,500, English with 73,000, Turkish 44,500, and a total of 173,000 speakers of other languages, amounting to roughly 10% of the population with a native language not among the four official languages. [Lüdi, Georges; Werlen, Iwar. " [http://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/portal/fr/index/infothek/lexikon/bienvenue___login/blank/zugang_lexikon.Document.52217.pdf Recensement Fédéral de la Population 2000 — Le Paysage Linguistique en Suisse] ". Neuchâtel, avril 2005: Office fédéral de la statistique. Accessed from [http://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/portal/fr/index/infothek/lexikon/bienvenue___login/blank/zugang_lexikon.topic.1.html Encyclopédie statistique de la Suisse] on 5 January 2006.]
Demographics of Switzerland
List of multilingual countries and regions
* Franco-Provençal/Arpitan language
Tour de Romandie, a UCI ProTour cycling event
Radiotelevisione Svizzera di lingua Italiana
* [http://www.crcsoft.com/lessico/ Differences between the standard Italian language and Swiss Italian]
* [http://www.cslf.gouv.qc.ca/publications/PubD115/D115ch1.html Swiss language laws]
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