Switzerland has four official languages and learning to greet people is your key to meeting people.
Of course, the Swiss German dialect is the most common in the country because German speakers make up around 2/3 of the whole population.
So, let’s start with how the locals in the Swiss-German-speaking part of the country say hello.
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How do you say Hello in Swiss German?
There are a lot of different ways to say hello in German and Swiss German. Let’s start with the most common phrases.
Grüezi is the formal greeting you use when saying hello in swiss german. You use it when speaking to your elders, your boss, and people you don’t know in general.
When there is more than one person you have to add the phrase “mitenand” which means “everyone”. So, then the greeting becomes “Grüezi mitenand”.
You will hear this when people enter a lift, a gym changing room or a room in an office. It is a general “hi everyone” people say out of politeness, despite the fact that no one may be listening or they may all be complete strangers. You will hear it a lot, if you pay attention in daily life.
A phrase ‘in between” formal and informal is Hallo. It is actually a German greeting but is also commonly used in Swiss German.
Hoi, Sali, Tschau/Ciao
The informal greeting equivalent is “hoi“, pronounced “hoy”. Yes, like ships ahoy!
Friends and younger people will use it a lot, so keep your ears open and you will notice “hoi” everywhere you go.
Sali is also one of those common phrases you will hear in the north of Switzerland. It is used interchangeably with hoi.
Just like there is a rule to add mitenand to Grüezi when there is more than one person, you also add “zäme” to hoi or sali. So, an informal greeting to a group would be “hoi zäme”. Which means “hi everyone”.
An imported phrase from the Italian language I hear a lot in Zurich and Aargau is Ciao. Or if you want to spell it in Swiss-German Tschau. It is an informal greeting that you also add zäme to if there are multiple people. Again, you will hear it a lot and it depends on the person if they use that, hoi or sali. Personally, I use Ciao way too much and don’t use hoi or sali almost at all. Habit is a stange thing!
Guete Morge, Guete Namitag, & Guete Abig
Another common greeting at the start of the day, just like in English, is Good Morning – which is “Guete Morge” in Swiss German. And yes, you have to Mitenand to it if there is more than one person.
The equivalent for the afternoon and evening are:
- Good Afternoon – Guete Namig, Guete Daag
- Good Evening – Guete Abig
How do you say Hello in Swiss French?
Saying hello formally in Swiss-French is the same as in French – Bonjour. The translation of which is simply “good day” in English. The informal version is Salut, which is also sometimes used in the German speaking part of the country.
How do you say Hello in Swiss Italian?
To say hello in Swiss Italian you can either use Buon Giorno, for formal, or Ciao for informal.
How do you say Hello in Swiss Romansch?
To say hello in Romansch you have two common options – “allegra” and “bun di”. There are probably more, as Romansch has quite a few specific dialects, but those two are the most common versions you will hear.