Wanabe writer has a question for those that Speak Swis

Saint of M

Elite Member
Apr 27, 2020
United States
Long story short, I am doing the write 50,000 words NaNoWRamo for november, and the story I am doing involves an orc, and I need help with a couple of lines for one scene.

THe part of the story in question: Our hero is talking to a masked woman, and from the words she says he realies she is a wood elf by the word use and accent slippage. To confirm this, he says something perfectly in her tounge and she confirms it.

I also want to base the lanuguage off of Swiss for this variant of elf, just because it sounds fun, and since I don't speak the languuage need some help from anyone that does.

How you you write and say "Crystal Mountains" and "I should have known of you by your smell" in Swiss?

Terminal Blue

Elite Member
Apr 20, 2020
United Kingdom
So, there is actually no Swiss language.. most Swiss people speak German as their first language, about a quarter speak French, and around 1 in 10 speak Italian. There is a language native to Switzerland called Romansh, but less than 1% of Swiss people speak it as a first language.

There are some grammatical and pronunciation differences between Swiss and non-Swiss dialects, so German people might find it a bit hard to understand Swiss German, but it's kind of like how an American English speaker might struggle to understand someone speaking Scottish English, even though they're technically both dialects of the the same language.

Fat Hippo

Prepare to be Gnomed
Apr 4, 2020
Okay, so a Swiss native here. Evilthecat has it mostly right, but not quite. So yeah, we speak German, French, Italian or Romansh natively depending on the region. But when you say "Swiss" the closest thing would be Swiss German. I would however call the differences between Swiss German and High German quite a bit bigger than between e.g. a Scottish and American dialect.

For one thing there are also some grammatical differences, e.g. some verb tenses that simply don't exist. Also sentences can be constructed differently. For another, there isn't one Swiss German dialect, but many different ones, so the differences are large enough that we sometimes find it tricky to understand certain dialects ourselves if we're not used to them.

There's also no official orthography, since we learn High German and not Swiss German in schools, and as I said there's so many dialects but each one is spelled differently when people do write it. My dialect is probably closest to the Bernese, though with some mixing for life history reasons.

So, for your examples, how I would write them is:

"Crystal Mountain" - Chrischtallbaerge

Take note that like in German, we basically smack our words together when combining them. So Crystal is "Chrischtall" and Mountains is "Baerge"

"I should have known of you by your smell" - I haett di a dim Gruch souue bemaerke.

I...honestly have no idea how to explain how this is pronounced. Most people arguably think Swiss German sounds more funny than it does elegant, and I can't fault them for it. We even joke about it ourselves.

EDIT: I forgot the Escapist forums don't like Umlauts. I changed them to ae, oe, and ue respectively, but they should be umlauts...except for s - oe - u - e where the ue is in fact written like that, which is basically a German "l" getting turned into a "u" for weird Bernese German reasons.