Carl C asked in TravelSwitzerlandBasel · 1 decade ago

US expat (potential) - Language question (English, French, German)?

Hi, I am seriously considering moving to Basel, and had a "language" question. I am a native speaker of English, took French for a few years but am pretty rusty, and was wondering if it's best to concentrate on brushing up on my French, or to learn Swiss German/Basel style (I see that just learning German i.e. "German for Dummies" is probably not the same at all as spoken in Basel).

I haven't found much information in if "Basel French" (or "Swiss French") is much like "France French" -- although I've found plenty of sites that "Swiss German/Basel German" would make me understood in say, Berlin! So I would like to learn another language that is most useful in other areas.

I know English is widely spoken in Switzerland and presumably that includes Basel, but would like to take on another language (too bad this isn't encouraged more in the US! :-)



whoops, in the above I meant:

"Swiss German/Basel German" would NOT make me understood in say, Berlin!

3 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    <<or to learn Swiss German/Basel style>> makes me laugh - sorry :)

    Basel is a city just at the border to Germany as well as to France (the only German (and of course French) speaking part of that country). I think the best for you is brushing up your French since in Basel people are used to speak French beside Baseldiitsch and German.

    btw, you would have no problems only speaking English there, because Basel is a quite international city due to the two well known pharma companies Novartis and Roche and the chemical industries Ciba and Clariant.

    coming back to Swiss German/Basel style; you would have a hard time to learn it, because that language is pretty "colored", i mean it has a very unique accent.


    let me tell that Swiss French and France French is very similar although French people say there are some little differences but the understanding between them is absolutely no problem.

    BUT, between High German and Swiss German the differnce is that huge, so a person from Berlin is unable to understand Swiss German but a Swiss understands High German. this is due to the fact that Swiss German is hardly a written language because of the many different dialects in Switzerland. the vast majority of books and ALL newspapers in Switzerland are written in High German (except of course those in the French and Italian part of Switzerland).

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It's better to learn German if you will live in Basel because it's the predominant language of the area. French is spoken as well, but German is used more often. Swiss German would be best to learn since you will be living in Switzerland, but since their aren't many Swiss German language books, learning German would be fine for now.

    Source(s): I've been to Switzerland many times.
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    You should learn German, all Swiss in the German speaking part understand High German. Than you can learn a bit Swiss German (is usually not written, you just talk in Swiss German). For example: You wouldn't write a C.V. or application in Swiss German.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.