Swiss Italian

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Swiss Italian
dialetto svizzero
Native toSwitzerland
EthnicitySwiss Italians
Native speakers
720,000 (2019 census)[1]
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Suisse italiene.png

The Italian language in Switzerland or Swiss Italian (Italian: italiano svizzero) is the variety of the Italian language taught in the Italian-speaking area of Switzerland. Italian is spoken natively by about 720,000 people in the canton of Ticino, in the southern part of Graubünden (Canton Grigioni) and in the rest of the country. Furthermore, about 15.4% of Swiss population (1,310,000 people) speak it daily.[2]


The presence of calques from French and German means that there are some differences in vocabulary between the standard registers of the Italian language used in Italy and Switzerland. An example would be the words for driving licence: in Italy, it is called a patente di guida but in Swiss Italian, it becomes licenza di condurre, from the French permis de conduire. Another example is the interurban bus: in Italy it would be autobus or corriera but in Switzerland, it is the Autopostale or posta since nearly all interurban lines are run by a subsidiary of the Swiss Post.[citation needed]

Another notable difference is the use of the word germanico to refer to German people, instead of tedesco.[3] However, as in Italy, the word tedesco is used to refer to the German language.[4] In Italy, the word germanico is used in the same sense as the word "Germanic" in English, referring, for example, to Germanic languages in general.[5]

Radiotelevisione Svizzera di lingua Italiana is the main Swiss public broadcasting network in the Italian speaking regions of Switzerland. The University of Lugano is the major university of the Italian speaking part of Switzerland.


Some examples of Ticinese words that are different from Italian are:

Swiss Italian Italian English Translation Notes
azione promozione, offerta speciale special offer, sale from German Aktion
comandare ordinare to order (i.e. in a restaurant, bar, etc.) from French commander
evidente facile easy from French evident
grippe influenza flu, influenza from German Grippe
medicamento medicinale, farmaco drug, medicine from French médicament
licenziato laureato graduated (from a university) false friend: in Italian licenziato means dismissed from a job, fired
messa a giorno aggiornamento update from French mise à jour
nota voto grade (accomplishment in school) false friend: in Italian nota means school reprimand, notice or note (music)
pigione moderata equo canone rent control from French loyer modéré
riservare prenotare to reserve from French réserver
vignetta bollino, contrassegno tag (a label to exhibit, typically in a car) from French vignette

As may be seen from this table, as well as the case with the driving licence described above, Swiss Italian has fewer false friends with English than standard Italian does, as calques from French in Swiss Italian match Latin-origin words in English more often than the original Italian words do.[content ambiguous]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Discover Switzerland – Language – facts and figures
  2. ^ "Language – facts and figures". Retrieved 2021-07-18.
  3. ^ Donna morta a Muralto, un fermo, RSI, 9 April 2019
  4. ^ Lingue nazionali, si parla di meno in tedesco e italiano, La Regione, 28 March 2018
  5. ^ Tedesco o Germanico?, La Repubblica, 11 February 2016

External links[edit]