Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Swiss Greetings 101

I am amazed that it has taken me this long to write about Greetings in Swiss, but to be honest, it has taken me this whole time to master them myself. Then again, who am I kidding, I am still along way from mastery. It is tricky when you go from a country where "Hello, how are you?" is fine for anytime of day to one with multiple greetings to master!

Nonetheless, here are a few greetings to work on to get on with the Swiss (Note, because of all the different Swiss German dialects and phrases, I can only comment on greetings around Zurich...). As you will see, they seem to have something for every opportunity:

Gruetzi or sometimes Gruetzi Wohl
  • Pronunciation: [Grew-tzee], [Grew-zee-vohll]

  • Meaning: Greetings! Hello!

  • Best time to use: Anytime. Use this to greet people in person, over the phone, personally or impersonally - meaning you can use it with those you know well as well as those you don't.

  • Answer (if someone says this to you... you should answer...): "Gruetzi!" (or as below if there is more than one person!)

Gruetzi Miteinander
  • Pronuncation: [Grew-tzee Mit-ein-an-der]

  • Meaning: Greetings to you both! Hello you two!

  • Best time to use: The only difference between this and Gruetzi above is that you use "Miteinander" when you are greeting a group of two or more people... because obviously you would not want them to think that you are leaving anyone out!!!

  • Answer: "Gruetzi" of "Gruetzi Miteinander"
Guten Abig or Guten Abig Zusammen/Miteinander
  • Pronunciation: [Goo-ten Ah-big] or [Goo-ten Ah-big Ztoo-tsah-men]

  • Meaning: Good evening! or with Zusammen or Miteinander, it is Good evening to you both

  • Best time to use: At night silly, or in the evening, to say good evening!

  • Answer: "Guten Abig" or simply "Abig"... or add the "Zusammen" or "Miteinander" if there is more than one person... getting the hang of that yet?
An Guete or just Guete
  • Pronunciation: [An-goit-eh] (it is funny because to remember this I think of the word 'goiter', hehe, hopefully that helps you too! it is said like that word but without the 'r' sound)

  • Meaning: Bon Appetite! or Guten Appetit! but the Swiss form

  • Best time to use: The Swiss use this a lot and it always throws me for a loop because I am not expecting it usually. If it is lunch time, people will greet eachother with this, and they most definately say this when you sit down to eat! It is not nearly as prolific as "Malzeit" in Austraia or Bavaria, but you will definitely hear it in the cantine!

  • Answer: "An Guete!" or simply "Guete"
Adieu. Schönes Wochenende.
  • Pronunciation: [Ah-doo. Sshueh-ness Wo-cken-end-eh]

  • Meaning: Bye! Have a nice weekend!

  • Best time to use: Friday, Saturday or Sunday... of anytime you are leaving someone before seeing them again for a week... I think, but probably not on Monday! :)

  • Answer: "Merci Gleichwals." This means, "Thank you! Likewise!" and I use it all the time at the grocery store. :) It is pronounced [Mer-ci Gleechk-walls]
Auf Wiederhoren
  • Pronunciation: [Aouf Vee-der-hor-en]

  • Meaning: Till we hear from eachother again. Till next time.

  • Best time to use: When you are about to hang up the phone... You can say "Auf Widersehen" if you see them at that moment, but if you cannot see them (like, say, they are on the phone... eh...?), you use this! Genius.

  • Answer: "Auf Wiederhoren. Adieu."
If I have missed any, please let me know. Good luck getting around with these greetings in and around Zurich, Switzerland!


Kathryn said...

Ooooh it's funny and interesting to see the varieties. Up here we typically have "Guten Morgen/Tag/Abend", or the abbreviated form of just "morgen, tag or abend" or "hallo". Hmmm, I guess that's it for hello. The Bavarians have more, but I guess the Berliners don't branch out much. My favorite is Ade´and adieu though. I guess I should move to Bavaria :O)

Adrian said...

Oops! You probably want to rephrase your first two pictures. Greutzi and Guetzi ibstead if Gruetzi. Or am I missing something

Feel free to delete my comment later on. I'm just to tired to dig up your email address and write an email. My graveyard shift was long.

Und Tschuess! :-)

Krissi Wyss said...

I'm being picky-but you are mixing Swiss German and high German. Gruetzi is definitely Swiss, as is Gruetzi Mitenand-but Gruetzi Miteinander is a mixing of Swiss-G. and German. Same with zusammen. If you are using the Swiss greeting of "Guten Abig- you cannot say the very German zusammen, one must say "zaeme". One of the worst things we do as non-Swiss is mix German and Swiss-German. Most Swiss would prefer straight high German to the confused mixing.
One other idea- en guete is definitely not "an" it is "en" and then gu-e-ta (never like goita).
As Adieu is French, the phonetic spelling for English is "a-dyoo" the "oo" as in look or book, but a bit more Frenchy sounding.
And back to the Swiss or high German thing-wiederhoren. Swiss never pronounce the last "n". It is "oof viedehura"-the word blends to almost one word with the f and v becoming like a swiss v, which for Americans is an f. Does that make sense? I like your courage to tackle the language. It is the complaint of most of the world that Americans won't learn a language when they move abroad. You are proving them wrong!

Lynx said...

How about goodbye ? I've heard Tschow (chow ?), Tschüss (chewce), Tschüssli . My personal favourite is the 3-kiss hello & goodbye. I've convinced so many Swiss girls, the beautiful ones that is, that the 2nd kiss (or even all 3 kisses)is on the lips.

Jessica said...

Thanks Adrian. I added the photos at the last minute and did not even double check them. hehe.

I cannot wait to check out your photo blog again soon. ;)

Krissi... thank you very much for the corrections. I have no doubt that you are right on all accounts! ;) I am still so confused about all the greetings but I will definately ask someone about the mixing of Swiss German and High German. I have to watch that! ;) Thanks for commenting!

Serowa Marzycielka said...


that "Guten Abig Zusammen" has just killed me! It sounds incredibly crazy to me, because I've learned German for some years, so now I'm... r.o.t.f.l. in the office ;)

Anyway, I'll surely come back to your post in the future, as it's very interesting for me.

Ciao ciao :)

Tanya said...

I moved here before taking German lessons, so I learned the greetings simply by listening to what other people said. It was months before I realized that "zaeme" was Swiss for "zusammen". I initially thought it just gave extra flair to the goodbye, because I usually heard it when people left a party, calling out enthusiastically "Tschuss zaeme!".

I started using "Hoi" with friends after I heard it a lot at our Treff. Then someone told me you can only say "Hoi" to children. But I definitely hear Swiss adults say "Hoi" so I'm confused.

Love the post.

Rechtsberatung said...


I think Switzerland is so beautiful country in this world and there are many people agree to it.

stacy said...

You can say Hoi to young people and to very close friends, otherwise it is considered rude - like walking up to a superior at work and say "Hey" instead of Hello. To group of young people or close friends you hear "Hoi Zäeme!" with the Z pronounced "Tz" of course.

I have to back up Krissi -- You're getting confused in some places - Grüezi Mitenand (no er) is Swiss, as is Gut Abig Zäeme. And I hear and say "Adé" more than Adieu. It is En Guete, not An. (And I love how random people say it to you when they pass by and you are having a bite to eat. So cute.)

I also love the swiss "Oof Weidehöra" for hear-you-later... so clever.

PS to adrian - don't confuse Grüetzi with Güetzli! The second one is cookies! Which would be pretty funny if you greeted some by saying "cookies!" haha

Good job on the Swiss! Now you have to tell your readers about adding "li" to make everything a diminuitive, and a hüüs for haus, and all the other little things I love about Schwyzer-tüütch... :-)

juanitatortilla said...

Oh great! Gruetzi Miteinander -- that puzzle is solved. Thanks!!! It's been bugging me for a while.


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