Translation into Swiss German is a confusing expression that can mean either:
a translation made orally into Swiss German dialect, or
a written translation into German for the Swiss market.
Indeed, Swiss German dialect (or more precisely, dialects!) is a spoken language that has no standardized written form. The dialect is not uniform and has several variants such as Bernese, Zurich German, Basler German or Walser German. The diversity of Swiss German dialects is a result of Swiss federal system, where each canton is responsible for education, security, healthcare, cultural department, etc.
Standard German (Hochdeutsch) and not Swiss German is an official language of Switzerland, along with French, Italian and Rumantsch. It is the only official language of 17 cantons (over 26), and thus the first written language in Switzerland. Standard German is used for written communication in all its forms, such as newspapers, books, business and private communication, subtitles, etc. It is also the language used at school, at university and in all formal situations. Swiss schoolchildren learn Schriftdeutsch (written German) as a foreign language, with more or less ease depending on their native language (French speakers being the more reluctant).
Written German in Switzerland differs from standard German mostly on two points, namely:
- spelling, for example ß is not used in Switzerland,
- helvetisms, which are dialects words that passed into the written language. Some helvetisms also come from French such as coiffeur, garage, parkieren, trottoir, velo, ..
It is therefore recommended to contact a local Swiss translation agency for translation into German for Switzerland. This way, you will be sure to avoid any cultural faux pas.
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