A (very) Few Words of Swiss-German

In the Swiss-German speaking part of Switzerland (most of the country), the standard greeting is “Greuzi” (the “u” has an umlaut over it – two dots – but we can’t type it into Blogger). Approximate pronunciation: GREW-tzih, with distinct regional variations. Although we did not see it this year, Zurich airport has in the past greeted you with large signs saying only “Greuzi”. As you pass other hikers on the trails, you frequently hear (and should respond with) this greeting. I have read that it is something of a national game to try to identify a person’s home region, or even village, from their pronunciation of Greuzi. I like to think I can make them hesitate a few moments before labelling me as a foreigner on the basis of uttering one word which I have spoken innumerable times.

Some alternate greetings you also encounter are “Gruss Gott” (greetings from God – also common in Germany) and the standard German “Gutten Tag” (listen for the ending sound, “tahk”).

Some commonly used words are borrowed from French: “Merci” for thank you, “Adieu” (pronounced more like ah-DEH) for goodbye, and “Voila” for there you go. The standard German “Auf wedersehen” and “Danke” also work for goodbye and thank you.

The word “mitenand” (MIT-uhr-nahnd) is often added to include more than one person. Examples are: “Greuzi mitenand” and “Merci mitenand” (kind of like “hello y’all” or “thank y’all” but more formal).

Now you have the vocabulary you need for the hiking trails!

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Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.