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There are about 1.6 million French-speakers in Switzerland, about 20% of the total population. My tutor is Swiss and has lived his entire life in Lausanne. His father is French. I(Chris) suspect that I will be learning French with a slighty Swiss accent. But it is really not a concern one way or the other, because my English-American accent will be so strong that it will mask any Swiss influence.

Unlike the spoken standard German (Hochdeutsch) and Swiss German, there is as far as I know not much difference between Parisian French and Swiss French. A Swiss French speaker would have no trouble understanding a French speaker, while a French speaker would encounter only a few unfamiliar Swiss French words. The French also thinks the Swiss speaks relatively slowly and any deviations are just provincial (at least for the Parisians).

I will keep a running list of the differences here. In my first class, to check my competence, my tutor and I went over the numbers quickly. In France, the number 60 is soixante. To go higher than 69, one must also know base 20 mathematics. For 70, it is soixante-dix (sixty-ten). For 80, it is quatre-vingts (four-twenties) and 90 is quatre-vingts-dix (four-twenties-ten). The Swiss saved us from that mental calculation – 70 is septante (sept is 7), 80 is huitante (huit is 8) and 90 is nonante (neuf is 9, so this one is a bit different). Huitante is used mostly in the cantons of Vaud, Valais, and Fribourg, but not so much in Geneva or Neuchatel.

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One Comment

  1. Dai ong, apart from your English-American accent, your cantonese accent also plays a part! = P

    Btw, what is the purpose of the three pictures posted under this article?


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