Faculté des lettres et sciences humaines

Zur Sprachsituation der Schweiz mitbesonderer Berücksichtigung der Diglossie in der Deutschschweiz

Werlen, Iwar

In: Bulletin VALS-ASLA, 2004, vol. 79, p. 1-30

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    This article provides a brief sketch of the linguistic situation in Switzerland. Special emphasis is laid onthe German-speaking part, where both Standard German in its Swiss form and Swiss German (acover term for a series of locally or regionally defined dialects) are used. The distribution of these twovarieties is determined by the medium of communication: Standard German is used in writing; SwissGerman in speaking. Data from the federal censuses of 1990 and 2000 are used to give a morecomplex picture of the linguistic situation: it is shown that Standard German is spoken in educationaland professional contexts, while its use in the family is far more restricted. Further, the extent to whichStandard German is spoken is shown to depend on the level of education. Swiss German dialects, onthe other hand, are not only spoken but also written, especially in electronic communication such as e-mail and SMS. This complex picture raises some questions for the teaching of German as a foreign orsecond language in Switzerland.