Switzerland has four national languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh – a multilingualism enshrined in law and cultivated in society. German is the most spoken. English is also gaining in importance. Nearly two thirds of people speak another language at least once a week.

Swiss newspapers in the four national languages
Switzerland's multilingualism is also reflected in a diverse media landscape. © Christoph Baldinger

Switzerland's four languages – German, French, Italian and Romansh – are integral to our national identity.  Swiss multilingualism developed from cultural links with neighbouring Germany, Austria, France and Italy. Swiss German is the most widely spoken language. The Swiss German that people speak is very different from standard written German.

People from all over the world and ties with other countries have added to Switzerland's multilingualism and changed the linguistic landscape. Non-national languages have gained in importance while the proportion of speakers of all Swiss national languages except French has fallen. English is becoming increasingly vital in the international business world and as a lingua franca between speakers of the four national languages.

Language – facts and figures

German is the most widespread of the four national languages and is spoken as a collection of dialects known as Swiss German.

Languages and dialects

The languages spoken in Switzerland are many and varied. Swiss German – a spoken language consisting of various Alemannic dialects – is the most widespread. Romansh also consists of 5 dialects.


Children learn at least one other national language at school in addition to their first Swiss language. But that is not the only way Switzerland encourages multilingualism.