Swiss French

Swiss French (French: français de Suisse) is the variety of French spoken in the French-speaking area of Switzerland known as Romandy. French is one of the four official languages of Switzerland, the others being German, Italian, and Romansch. As of 2015, around 2 million people in the country (24.4% of the population) spoke French as their primary language, and around 29.1% of the population has working knowledge of French.[1]

The French spoken in Switzerland is very similar to that of France or Belgium and has only minor and mostly-lexical differences. That is in contrast to the differences between Standard German and Swiss German, which are so many that mutual unintelligibility can cause both to be considered different languages.

Swiss French is characterized by some terms adopted from the Arpitan language, which was formerly spoken widely across the alpine communities of Romandy but only by a few today. Also, expressions have been borrowed from both Swiss and Standard German. Although Standard French is taught in schools and used in the government, the media and business, there is no uniform vernacular form of French among the different cantons of Switzerland. For example, some German terms in regions bordering German-speaking communities are completely unused in the area around Geneva near the border with France.[2]

Differences from French of France

Many differences between Swiss French and the French of France are due to the different administrative and political systems between Switzerland and France. Some of the distinctive lexical features are shared with Belgian French (and some also with Quebec French):

  • The use of the word septante for seventy and nonante for ninety as opposed to soixante-dix (literally 'sixty-ten') and quatre-vingt-dix (literally 'four twenties-ten') of the "vigesimal" French counting system.
  • The use of the word déjeuner for "breakfast" ("lunch" in France, which uses petit déjeuner for "breakfast"), and of the words le dîner and le souper for "lunch" and "dinner" respectively (in French of France, déjeuner and dîner respectively), much like the varying uses of dinner and supper throughout the English-speaking world.

Other examples which are not shared with other varieties of French:

  • The word huitante is sometimes used for eighty instead of quatre-vingts (literally 'four twenties'), especially in the cantons of Vaud, Valais and Fribourg; the term octante (from the Latin octaginta) is now considered defunct.
  • The word canton has a different meaning in each country; in Switzerland, a canton is a constituent state of the Confederation, but in France, it is a grouping of communes. In Belgium, it is a group of municipalities, but in Quebec, it is a township municipality.
  • In France, a post office box is called a boite postale (BP),[3] but in Switzerland (as in French Canada), it is called a case postale (CP).[4]
  • In colloquial Swiss French, the word natel is used for "mobile phone": "I didn't take my phone" becomes Je n'ai pas pris mon natel. France uses either portable or téléphone.

Examples of words that differ between Switzerland and France

Swiss FrenchStandard FrenchEnglishNotes
actionpromotionspecial offer
adieusaluthello/goodbyeIn French, "adieu" means "farewell" and is generally never used except in cases where the people concerned will not meet again. In Switzerland it is used as an informal general form of greeting when people meet or leave each other.
attiquedernier étagetop floor
bancomatDistributeur automatique de billetsATM
bifferrayer/barrer quelque chose d'écrit(to) scratch/delete
bobetcrétin (noun) or bête/stupide (adjective)idiot (noun) or stupid (adjective)
boguetmobylettemoped
bonnardsympa or biennice
bonne-mainpourboiretip (gratuity)Literally "good-hand".
borne hydrantebouche d'incendiefire hydrant
bourbinesuisse-allemandSwiss-GermanThis word is considered pejorative.
carnotzetcave à vin/cellier/fumoirWine cellarThis expression can sometimes be found in France, in places close to Switzerland.
chenisdésordremess
chiquelettechewing-gumchewing-gum
collège (Genève, Valais, Fribourg) or gymnase (Vaud)lycéehigh school
crousilletireliremoney
cornetsac en plastiqueplastic bagIn France, "cornet" would typically designate an ice cream cone.
cutipscoton-tigecotton bud/swabAntonomasia from the brand Q-tips which phonetically becomes "cutips" when pronounced in French.
cycle (Genève, Fribourg, Valais)collègemiddle school
déjeunerpetit-déjeunerbreakfastMeal names are shifted in Swiss French, meaning that the name for lunch is used for breakfast, the one for dinner is used for lunch and the French equivalent of the word "supper" is used for dinner.
dent de lionpissenlitdandelion
dînerdéjeunerlunchMeal names are shifted in Swiss French, meaning that the name for lunch is used for breakfast, the one for dinner is used for lunch and the French equivalent of the word "supper" is used for dinner.
duvetcouettecomforter"Duvet" comes from the fact that comforters used to be filled with down feather (duvet). "Duvet" in France means sleeping bag, for similar reasons.
s'encoublerse prendre les pieds dans quelque chose/trébucherto trip over
s'énuquerse briser la nuqueto break a neck
étude d'avocatscabinet d'avocatslaw firm
faire la nocefaire la fêteto partyThis expression can also be found in Standard French even though it is probably less used or used predominantly by old people.
fœhnsèche-cheveuxhairdryerThe name "fœhn" comes from the Foehn wind.
fondsterrain or champsfield
fourredossier/houssefolderIn French, "fourrer" means "to stuff".
frouzles Françaispeople from France - FrenchThis word is considered pejorative.
galetasgrenieratticAlso used in Alpine regions of France, down to Dauphiné.
giratoirerond-point, giratoireroundaboutComes from "carrefour à sens giratoire" which would translate to "circular crossroads".
gouilleflaquepuddle
huitantequatre-vingtseightyIn Swiss French, as opposed to French, the words for seventy, eighty and ninety are similar in construction to the ones used for thirty up to sixty.
lingeserviettetowelIn French, "linge" is a generic word that refers to clothing, bed sheets and towels.
lolettetétinepacifier/teat
maman de jourassistante maternelleday care assistant
mascognertricher aux examenscheat during exams
maturitébaccalauréathigh-school final examination
mutrmèremotherComes from the German word for "Mother", "Mutter".
natel(téléphone) portablemobile phone
nom de bleu !nom de dieu !in the name of god!/god dammit!
nonantequatre-vingts-dixninetyIn Swiss French, as opposed to French, the words for seventy, eighty and ninety are similar in construction to the ones used for thirty up to sixty.
panosseserpillièrefloorcloth or mop
papier ménagepapier essuie-toutpaper towel
pivepomme de pinconifer cone
poutzernettoyerto cleanComes from the German word "putzen" which means "to clean".
Procès verbal d'examen (PV)bulletin de notereport card
réclamepublicitéadvertisement"Réclame" is an older disused word for advertising in French.
régieagence immobilièrereal estate agent
royepluierain
royerpleuvoirto rain
sans autresans plus attendrewithout delay
santéà tes/vos souhaitsbless you (when someone sneezes)
septantesoixante-dixseventyIn Swiss French, as opposed to French, the words for seventy, eighty and ninety are similar in construction to the ones used for thirty up to sixty.
serviceje t'en/vous en prieyou're welcomeFrom "à votre service" meaning "at your service".
servicescouvertscutlery
signofile/indicateurclignotantindicator/turn signal (motor vehicle)
souperdînerdinnerMeal names are shifted in Swiss French, meaning that the name for lunch is used for breakfast, the one for dinner is used for lunch and the French equivalent of the word "supper" is used for dinner.
tablardétagèreshelf
taluspenteslope
uni (short for université)fac (short word for faculté)university
votationscrutinvoting
vatrpèrefatherComes from the German word for "Father", "Vater".

See also

Notes and references

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.