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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.


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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