French is French, right? Well…not quite! There are many different dialects of French, from Canada to Morocco, and from Belgium to Switzerland. While French that’s spoken in France is the most classic, when you’re doing business, it’s vital that you don’t neglect the others. Blending in with the locals is your key to success, and even if you’re using the right language, by using the wrong dialect you’re going to stick out like a sore thumb. So, that’s why we’d like to take a quick look at Swiss French, to give you a little more insight into our French-speaking neighbour.

How many people speak Swiss French?

Swiss French is the language spoken in the French-speaking area of Switzerland called Romandy and is one of Switzerland’s four official languages. Those of you who are familiar with Swiss German will know that it’s so completely different to the German spoken in Germany that they can barely understand each other. However, Swiss French and the French spoken in France are pretty similar, and only sport minor differences, mainly in vocabulary. 24.4% of the population of Switzerland speak Swiss French as their native language, and around 30% of the population has a working knowledge of French.

When should Swiss French be used?

If you’re a business who’s trying to expand into Switzerland, or you’re trying to target Swiss consumers, Swiss French is a must. There are quite a few differences in the way French is spoken, e.g. in Switzerland people are less formal, whereas, in France, people are a lot more formal. Another big difference is in vocabulary, as you can see below.

Swiss French French English
adieu salut hello/goodbye
bancomat Distributeur automatique de billets ATM
bobet crétin idiot
bourbine suisse-allemand Swiss-German
maman de jour assistante maternelle daycare assistant
mutr mère mother
natel portable mobile phone
roye pluie rain
services couverts cutlery
vatr père father

Not sure which French to use?

Choosing which version of French to go for is a little bit complicated, but we’re here to help. Sometimes you don’t always have to localize for every single locale, so feel free to reach out and we’ll give you some honest advice. We can also help you put a plan together to help you target every corner of the French-speaking world in the most cost-effective way possible.