Zurich German

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Zurich German

Spoken in

Switzerland ( Canton of Zurich )
Official status
Official language in -
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2

gsw (Swiss German)

ISO 639-3

gsw (Swiss German)

Zurich German (own name: Züritüütsch ) describes the Alemannic dialect that is mainly spoken in the Swiss canton of Zurich .

Distribution area

The distribution area of ​​Zurich German is primarily the canton of Zurich. Excluded from this are parts of the Weinland and Rafzerfeld in the north and a narrow border area near Frauenfeld in the east , which includes the communities of Ellikon and Hagenbuch . These three areas are assigned to the Schaffhausisch-Thurgau dialect. In contrast to the north and east, where a clear bundle of isoglosses delimits Zurich German, the transitions to the south and west are more fluid. For example, the dialect spoken in Rapperswil-Jona in the canton of St. Gallen is practically identical to the Zurich dialect, whereas the language in the Knonaueramt already shows certain traits of the western and southern neighboring dialects.

Measured against the population of the Canton of Zurich (1.5 million), the Zurich dialect is the most widely spoken Alemannic dialect in Switzerland .


Zurich German is a high Alemannic dialect and has all the typical characteristics of Alemannic . It has its own sound, which many perceive as rough. The characteristic “ch” and “k” (“kch” ( kx )) are pronounced in a particularly throaty way - as in almost all German-speaking Swiss dialects - but so are the vowels , especially the “a”, which is very low, in contrast to the other northern Swiss dialects are not dimmed to the open "o".

In contrast to other regional dialects, Zurich German has always been quite homogeneous; the individual dialects of the various Zurich landscapes differ in sound and vocabulary only in details. Unlike in the canton of Bern, for example, where important isoglosses run close to the capital, the usage of language in the city of Zurich radiated far into the landscape as early as the late Middle Ages. This charisma is particularly clear in the so-called lowering of the long open òò / ɔː /, which for its part had been evaporated from Middle High German / aː / and was lowered again to / ɑː / from the early modern period - in which Zurich German is different from all other northern Swiss dialects can be demarcated (in the Zurich Oberland / ɔː / was closed on the same train as / oː /).

Today, many Swiss people consider Zurich German to be a relatively “unspecific” dialect. This is a view that is dialectologically in no way correct, but is not unjustified insofar as a radical change in dialect took place in the canton of Zurich in the course of the 20th century. The reasons for this are to be found in the fact that the city has become a national and international economic center and the landscape has become its agglomeration.

Characteristics of the regional forms

Dialects within Zurich German
Isoglosses in the canton of Zurich Wëschpi / Waschpi, eng / äng (north / south) Aabig / Oobig (west / east) nid / nöd (northeast / southwest) e Chind / es Chind (north / south, simplified) Summer / Sumer, machid / mached, olt / old (west / east)

In literature, the form spoken in the city and by the lake is assumed to be the normal form.

Wine country

A dialect is spoken to the north of Thur and Rhine which, from a linguistic point of view, no longer belongs to Zurich German, but to the Schaffhausen-Thurgau dialect area, although these elements are now partially pushed back by Zurich German. The lack of the Zurich-German overopened ä [æ], which is replaced by an open è [,], z. B. lèse for Zurich German were reading, or Lautungen as Braat for Zurich German bräit, üüs for Zurich German ÖIS, ois or he siet / siət / for Zurich German he gseet (he sees).
In the wine country, the indefinite neutral article is then called e, as in north-eastern Switzerland
, e.g. B. e Chind (otherwise it is Chind; around Winterthur and in the Unterland are e and es next to each other).


The sound nid, niid (otherwise nöd, nööd ) for 'not' (also used in Schaffhausen and Northwest Thurgau ) is well known. The closed / e / in the two words Nescht (otherwise Näscht ) and Bese (otherwise Bäse ) is also characteristic of the Winterthur district and the Weinland ; The latter also applies to the Unterland, whereas the rest of Zurich German has overopened / æ /. Another peculiarity of the Winterthur and Weinland area as well as adjacent parts of the Lower and Upper Country (and the bordering Eastern Switzerland) are the short high vowels / iuy ø / which are pronounced closed. The pronunciation of the deep tongue vowels / a / and / æ / in open syllables also formed a contrast between the cities of Winterthur and Zurich: While these were spoken long into the 20th century in the capital and in the entire southern half of the canton ( e.g. baade , läse ), has known Winterthur like the entire northern half of the canton for a long time ( i.e. bathing, läse ). As Winterthur Schibboleth the use of the word Pünt applies to the allotment garden .


Same as to Winterthur and the wine country is here the closed pronunciation of the / s / in the word Bese (but not in Näscht ), and the indefinite neutral article can (but need not) e loud (e [s] Chind) . Typical for parts of the Unterland is the pronunciation nüd ('not'), while nöd at the lake and in the Limmattal , nid in Winterthur and in the Weinland . In the northern and western lowlands it is then called Tüne (otherwise Wèèe ' Wah ') as in the wine country and in the Amt .
Incidentally, the Lower Land dialect largely follows the common sea tongue, but never took part in the elongation of the deep tongue vowels that was in effect there until the first half of the 20th century.


The main characteristic of the Zurich Oberland dialect is the long closed (and not open as in the neighboring north-eastern Switzerland) oo instead of the normal Zurich (and Old High German) long aa: Strooss (otherwise Straass ), spoot (otherwise spaat ), Broote (otherwise Braate ), schlooffe (otherwise sleepy ), Spitool (otherwise Spitaal ). That the rest of Zurich German also had this dulling a long time ago becomes clear in the fact that in umlauted cases like Ströössli, later, Schlööffele the dulling is common Zurich German. It is also typical for the Oberland that (as in the subsequent canton of St. Gallen) ii, uu and üü are shortened before a t : Zit (otherwise Ziit ), Fritig (otherwise Friitig ), Züritütsch (otherwise Züritüütsch ), Chrüz (otherwise Chrüüz ). In the other areas, however, the Oberlandish differs little from the common sea mouth species.

Lake region

The Seemundart, to which the dialect of the city of Zurich belongs, forms the actual center of many manifestations of Zurich German. Until well into the 20th century, the lake region was, for example, a center of expansion of deep tongue vowels in open syllables, for example baade ('bathe'), lääse ('read'), as well as the monosyllabic ( apocopied ) feminine, for example Naas (' Nose '), wing (' fly '). Both phenomena have meanwhile disappeared and are - as in the past in most of the neighboring dialects as well as in northern Zurich German for a long time - bathing, läse, nose, flights .
A word that only exists in Switzerland in the city of Zurich / Lake Zurich / middle Glatttal is Chrottepösche for 'dandelion'; other Zurich regions use words like Chettebluem (e), Griggele, Buggele, Söistock, Milchlig (stock) or Ringelbluem .


The dialect in the south and southwest of the canton of Zurich is a transition dialect to the dialects of the southeastern Aargau and Lucerne. As in the neighboring Freiamt and Zugerland and generally as in most Swiss-German dialects, the sonantas are spoken long (ll, mm, nn), the otherwise Zurich German has been lenized (l, m, n) . It says here also: gfalle (otherwise in Zurich gfale ) schwümme (otherwise schwüme ). The Ämtler dialect has a further feature within Switzerland in the verbal plural ending, which here is mir / ir / si machid, but in the rest of Zurich German is mir / ir / si mached .
The Albis chain is then the border between eastern overopened ä and western neutral è in the cases of high German "have, has, because, if". In this case, the Knonaueramt already works like western Swiss German: du hèsch (otherwise in Zurich häsch ), he hèd (otherwise hat ), dènn (otherwise Danish ), wènn (otherwise wänn ).
The Knonaueramt stands on its own with the dulling of a before l plus consonant, for example in olt (otherwise old ), cholt (otherwise chalt ), Olbis (otherwise Albis ).



Zurich German Standard German Usage example
lie watch Lueg deet de Elifant!
loose (listen, listen) On the train tueni mixed musig loosely.
taste smell That tastes good!
poschte shop On Saturday, the whole family went poschte.
lisme knit You would have a chappe glismet and a funnel.
glette iron I have to glette well.
run (to walk Nämed mer de bus or running spring mer?
jump to run He's gone crazy.
bye Play football (from English to shoot ) Min Fründ every Saturday drink go chuute.
plague specify Listen to the plague, you Schnori!
roar cry Chind is roaring at the play area.
chlübe pinch S Lisi had me in Aarm chlobe.
charter run over Mis Büsi has been charged.
Chrottepösche dandelion D Wisen isch vole Chrottepösche.
Müllerblüemli daisy All of you know wiiss before luuter Müllerblüemli.
Büsi cat I hett gèèrn es Büsi.
Röiel Male cat De Röiel roilet.
Pfnüsel sniff In the morning plaaget en de Höipfnüsel.
Glettise Iron For the Glette, I'm going to book it Glettise.
Chlüppli Clothespin To the d Wösch uufhänke mer Chlüppli books.
Zine laundry basket The freshly wösch liit zämeggläit i de täine.
Chlorine Marble (made of glass) En Hegel and e Hampfle Chlüüren in the pants bag.
Bottle (Baby) bottles Give em Chind de Schoppe!
Stutz Francs; money That's what föif Stutz wants.
Bileet Ticket; Driving license Ali Bileet, please!
Barile apricot Barilegomfi and Barilewèèen isch öppis Guets.
Binätsch spinach Vil Chind hands Binätsch nöd gèèrn.
Böle Onion (younger also instead of bale for the game ball) Aazele Böle schelle, d Chatz gaat uf Walisele.
Chabis Cabbage; nonsense Red ekäi chabis!
Hèrdöpfel potato Hèrdöpfel grew up in the forest.
Hèrdöpfeltampf Mashed potatoes Si makes eso-n-en good Hèrdöpfeltampf.
Wèè (j) e Sheet cake; Tart Friday is weekdays.
Sidele Table Di Sidele is two hundred and fifty years old.
Winch Attic Uf de winds have a hoof Grümpel.
Schoche heap Very Schöche Hèrdöpfel asse.
Sai nonsense Red nöd eso-n-en Säich.
Sick (Bastard) guy (originally: a sick person) You little stupid baby! He is a smooth sick!
Sibesiech clever guy De Felix, de Sibesiech, would have caught the bull!
Tubel idiot You bisch en tubel!
gruesome disgusting III, that's gruusious.
häimlifäiss seeming harmless, but with a fist behind the ears You bisch scho na häimlifäiss.
uu very That is uu nice of you!
öpper someone Öpper has his wallet gstole.
öppis something I bet the öppis give it away.
öppe about That chosks a hundred francs.
noime (t) somewhere Häsch nöimet miini Ziitig gsee
ufe, ue up, up Uf dèè summit ue müemer chrasme.
but down, down D Chatz trout himself but the tree.
daa here How long will you stay there?
amig (s) each On the Wuchenänd he was walking amigs go.
echli a little D Musig isch mer echli z luut.

Translation example

«Isch s Hoochtüütsch wurkli so heavy? S häisst, s Hoochtüütsch seg e foreign language. And koomisch: Me säit Hoochtüütsch and mèrkt gaar nöd, me sälber au Hoochtüütsch, just different than di Tüütsche. My wife would have gone to Greece, woni i de Fèrie gsii bi, ime large hotel corridor ine gfrööget: ‹Sii, where you go to Schwümmbaad?› You have gmäint, I bless Tüütsche. And I had the Tüfel gschtoche, and I ha zruggfrööget: 'Do you want to swim?' Drufmer beedi müese laugh. Yes, so gaats äim stop öppedie, hammers tame gmäint. I always find de Rank with em Hoochtüütsch. And mängisch, wämers hät wele bsunders good, ischs completely wrong usechoo. And druufabe si the aint or other gsäit: ‹I'll try nothing.› Daa hockts! But the Mäinig dörfed mer nöd laa iiriisse, wants soo difficult, pointed out, ischs au against nööd. The warmer one. "

«Is standard German really that difficult? It is said that standard German is a foreign language. And funny: you say High German and don't even notice that you speak High German yourself, just a little different from the Germans. A woman in Greece, where I was on vacation, asked me in a large hotel corridor: 'Sii, where do you go to Schwümmbaad?' She thought I was a German. And the devil rode me, and I asked back: 'Would you like to swim a gogen?' We both had to laugh at that. Yes, that's how it feels sometimes, we both said. You don't always find access to standard German. And sometimes, when you wanted to do it particularly well, it turned out very wrong. And then one or the other said to themselves: 'I'm not trying anymore.' There it is! But we must not let this opinion tear, because it is not as difficult as it seems. We want to show that now. "

Meaning and position

Due to the central function of the city of Zurich, the dialect spoken here is a focal point of the processes that are moving towards a unified northern and eastern Swiss dialect. Due to the large number of speakers and the role of Zurich as a business and media center, this “modern” Zurich German has a certain dominance among Swiss dialects, especially in the media. This is not welcomed in the rest of German-speaking Switzerland and is partly responsible for a so-called “anti-Zurich reflex”. However, it must also be taken into account that the Zurich dialect has given up and continues to give up many peculiarities in favor of features of other dialects and in particular of High German; There can therefore be no question of a displacement of other dialects by Zurich German, but rather of the emergence of an actual large-scale Koiné .

With U. a. the Trio Eugster , the Schlieremer Chind , the Minstrels , Toni Vescoli , Jimmy Muff and, more recently, with Schtärneföifi , Andrew Bond , Big Zis , Phenomden and Bligg , dialect music from Bern and Zurich is widely used.


About Zurich German



  • Albert Weber and Jacques M. Bächtold : Zurich German Dictionary . Zurich 1961, 3rd, revised. and strong exp. Edition 1983 (= grammars and dictionaries of Swiss German in a generally understandable representation. Vol. III), ISBN 3-85865-054-4 .
  • Heinz Gallmann: Zurich German Dictionary. NZZ Libro, Zurich 2009, ISBN 978-3-03823-555-2 .
  • Viktor Schobinger:
  • Häxebränz (= Jacques M. Bächtold): 99 × Züritüütsch. How me Züritüütsch fountains, talks and writes. Verlag Hans Rohr, Zurich 1975, ISBN 3-85865-033-1 (4th edition 1982).
  • Adolf Guggenbühl : Uf guet Züritüütsch. A small dictionary for everyday use. Zurich 1953.
  • Fritz Herdi :
    • Limmat flowers. From peeling to Zwibackfräsi. From the vocabulary of the 5th national language. Sanssouci-Verlag, Zurich 1955. «1. uncensored edition »Huber, Frauenfeld 2001, ISBN 3-7193-1232-1 .
    • Limmat butterfly. Vo Abe-mixed till chirp. (An intermediate dictionary for advanced learners). Sanssouci-Verlag, Zurich 1956.
    • Limmat blossoms and Limmat butterflies in one band. An alley dictionary. Sanssouci-Verlag, Zurich 1977, ISBN 3-7254-0306-6 .
    • Thus spoke Zürithustra. Zurich anecdotal. Pendo-Verlag, Zurich 1983, ISBN 3-85842-078-6 .
  • Domenico Blass: Züri-Slängikon. Orell Füssli Verlag, Zurich 2007, ISBN 978-3-280-05267-9 .


  • Albert Weber :
    • Zurich German grammar. A guide to good dialect . With the participation of Eugen Dieth . Zurich 1948. (Reprints 1964 and 1987 (= grammars and dictionaries of Swiss German in a generally understandable representation. Vol. I), ISBN 3-85865-083-8 )
    • The dialect of the Zurich Oberland . (PDF) Frauenfeld 1923 (= contributions to Swiss German grammar XV) [until today the authoritative diachronically oriented representation].
  • Viktor Schobinger: Zurich German short grammar. 3. revised Zurich 2007 edition, ISBN 978-3-908105-65-7 .
  • Johannes Reese: Swiss German. The Modern Alemannic Vernacular in and around Zurich. Munich 2007 (= Languages ​​of the World / Materials 462).
  • R [udolf] E. Keller : Schwyzertütsch: Züritüütsch. In: German Dialects. Phonology & Morphology, with selected texts. Manchester 1961, pp. 30-86.

Special examinations


Teaching aids

In Zurich German

See this preliminary compilation of Zurich German literature .

Bible translations:

  • Josua Boesch (translator): d Psalme, Züritüütsch. Us translated in Hebrew. 2nd Edition. Zurich 1990.
  • Eduard Schäubli (translator): d Genesis, Züritüütsch. Us translated in Hebrew . Zurich 1990.
  • Viktor Schobinger (translator): de Versamler - de Preacher Salomo, Züritüütsch. Us translated to Hebrew. Zurich 1985.
  • Fritz Stolz (translator): De Prediger, us em Hebrew is translated as Züritüütsch. Theological publisher, undated
  • Emil Weber ( transl .): S Nöi Teschtamänt Züritüütsch, translated into Greek. 3. Edition. Zurich 2011, ISBN 978-3-906561-34-9 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Albert Weber: Zurich German Grammar. A guide to good dialect. With the participation of Eugen Dieth. Schweizer Spiegel Verlag, Zurich 1948.
  2. See in particular the cluster maps on Swiss German dialectometry .
  3. ^ A b Viktor Schobinger: Züritüütsch. Zürcher Kantonalbank, Zurich 1979.
  4. See the maps of the language atlas of German-speaking Switzerland .
  5. See for this Christoph Landolt : Dialektale Morphologie und Morphonologie im Wandel - Example Zurich German . (PDF; 449 kB). In: Helen Christen, Sibylle Germann, Walter Haas, Nadia Montefiori, Hans Ruef (eds.): Alemannic dialectology: ways into the future. Contributions to the 16th conference for Alemannic dialectology in Freiburg / Friborg from September 7th to 10th, 2008. Stuttgart 2010, pp. 97-113 (ZDL supplement 141); Heinz Wolfensberger: Dialect Change in the 20th Century. Depicted on excerpts from the linguistic life of the community of Stäfa . Huber. Frauenfeld 1967 (contributions to Swiss German dialect research 14).
  6. ^ Albert Weber and Jacques M. Bächtold: Zurich German Dictionary. Zurich (= grammars and dictionaries of Swiss German in a generally understandable presentation. Vol. III).
  7. See also bto: Bacon border. Local language boundaries persist . In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung , October 29, 2002 (accessed September 16, 2016).
  8. a b c d e f See Linguistic Atlas of German-speaking Switzerland . Volumes I – VIII. Bern / Basel 1962–1997.
  9. See for example Püntenwesen on stadt.winterthur.ch. In the rest of Zurich German and to a large extent in Swiss German in general, Bünt, Pünt, Bünte mean “planting land, meadow, tree garden near apartments”, see Schweizerisches Idiotikon, Volume IV, column 1401, article Bünt, meanings 2 and 3 ( digitized version ). Cf. also Hans Bickel , Christoph Landolt : Schweizerhochdeutsch. Dictionary of the standard language in German-speaking Switzerland. 2nd, revised and expanded edition. Dudenverlag, Berlin 2018, p. 65.
  10. See Heinz Wolfensberger: Dialect change in the 20th century. Depicted on excerpts from the linguistic life of the community of Stäfa. Huber. Frauenfeld 1967 (contributions to Swiss German dialect research; 14).
  11. ^ Albert Weber: Zurich German Grammar. P. 28, footnote 2.
  12. Beat Siebenhaar , Vögeli Walter: Dialect and Standard German in comparison. In: Study books, language landscape 1.