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Switzerland - How bilingual is Switzerland?

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One of the great peculiarities of Switzerland is that it is multilingual. A survey by the Federal Statistical Office shows that this picture does not entirely correspond to reality. Only a minority of people are bilingual or speak two or more national languages ​​on a daily basis.

Switzerland likes to boast of its multilingualism - for many it is an integral part of national identity. Until now, little was known about how closely this picture corresponds to reality.

An evaluation by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) shows: Even the Swiss resident population is far less multilingual than is commonly assumed when it comes to the national languages. Just 2 out of 100 people are bilingual with German and French as their main language. If you include those who speak the language at work or on the street, it is 7.5 percent.

It looks even more gloomy with the bilingual Swiss, whose main languages ​​are German and Italian. Only 1.8 percent of the resident population are blessed with this language combination. After all, four percent speak both languages ​​in everyday use.

The proportion of trilingual people is even more negligibly small. Only 0.2 percent of Swiss speak German, French and Italian from an early age. On the other hand, the proportion of people who speak all three languages ​​at work or in everyday life is surprisingly high. It is 1.8 percent.

Multilingualism brings economic advantages

If you think of Switzerland's image as a particularly multilingual country, then there are really only a few multilingual people in this country. The mutual national languages ​​are also in great demand in business - especially between German and French-speaking Switzerland.

For François Grin, Professor of Economics at the University of Geneva, it is clear that multilingualism has measurable advantages in the labor market. This clearly includes advantages of a financial nature. "Thanks to the foreign language skills in the respective national languages, you can achieve a wage supplement of around 14 percent."

Tagesschau 7.30 p.m.; srf / herm; horm

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  • Comment from Charly Ball (Charly Ball)
    As a long-term HR person, I recruit people who speak the two national languages ​​D + F as far as possible. Is increasingly difficult to find in ZH as in GE. But what use are billingue CH-er with D / Albanian, D / Serbian, D / Arabic, etc. It would be nice if EVERYONE would try harder and learn at least 1 other national language. In a few years time we will only speak English to each other in CH - the only language that everyone wants to learn.
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Comment from Srdjan Dragojevic (Sergio)
    (2) This article is even stranger about the multilingualism of Switzerland. Switzerland is multilingual because there is not a single language, but because we have a different dominant language depending on the region. This does not mean that people in Switzerland grow up multilingual. How should this even work? If both parents speak one language, then the child will not become bilingual. The above figures probably represent people in language border regions.
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Comment from Srdjan Dragojevic (Sergio)
    (1) "If you think of Switzerland's image as a particularly multilingual country, there are in fact only a few multilingual people in this country" The fact that there are also Second @ s who are often multilingual is completely ignored. Also, from a linguistic point of view, it is strange what is being investigated here at all. Everyone has a dominant language called their mother tongue. Even if he grows up speaking two languages, he prefers one of them.
    Agree agree to the comment
    1. answer from Thomas Leu (tleu)
      @ Srdjan Dragojevic: Your argument is certainly worth discussing. However, I believe I have understood that this FSO evaluation is exclusively about the Swiss national languages ​​and not the languages ​​that are otherwise spoken in Switzerland (probably half of all world languages). This would then be a different, and certainly interesting, topic.
      Agree agree to the comment
    2. answer from Thomas Leu (tleu)
      @ Srdjan Dragojevic: Your argument is certainly worth discussing. However, I believe I have understood that this FSO evaluation is exclusively about the Swiss national languages ​​and not the languages ​​that are otherwise spoken in Switzerland (probably half of all world languages). This would then be a different, and certainly interesting, topic.
      Agree agree to the comment
    3. Show answers

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