The Importance of Speaking Swiss

Have you ever wondered what language is spoken in Switzerland? Did you know we have four official languages? Three experts will talk about the language landscape in Switzerland.

Event Details


swissnex Boston
420 Broadway, Cambridge , Massachusetts 02138 United States



Free - RSVP required

Have you ever wondered what language is spoken in Switzerland? Did you know we have four official languages? And did you know that the most commonly spoken language in Switzerland is not one of those four?

On February 18th, three experts will talk about the language landscape in Switzerland, and will shed light on the current cultural situation. Even though German is one of the official languages in Switzerland, it is not actually used in daily conversations. Instead, people use Swiss German, a variant of German that is neither taught in schools nor has a uniform written standard.

The focus of this event will lie on Swiss German and its influence on the other three official languages in Switzerland, Italian, French and Rhaeto-Romanic. Professors from the University of Zurich and MIT, and a PhD student from the University of Bern will discuss the implications that this unique language situation has on Swiss culture and politics, and how it influences individual and national identity formation.

The discussion will highlight the importance of language and its influence on history, politics and society in general. After the discussion the floor will be open to your questions, and you’ll have the opportunity to speak with panelists and swissnex staff over a light reception.

Event Agenda

6:00 PM: Doors Open

6:30 PM: Words of Welcome

6:35 PM: Panel Discussion, followed by Networking Reception

8:30 PM: Doors Close

Speaker Bios

Prof. Dr. Elvira Glaser


Elvira Glaser is Professor for German philology at the German department at the University of Zurich. She is an authority on dialects and has focused on Swiss German in her recent research projects. Prof. Glaser also co-chairs one of the focus research groups at the University of Zurich entitled “Sprache und Raum,” which explores the connection between language, culture, and identity.




Dr. Kurt Fendt


Kurt Fendt is the Director of the HyperStudio at MIT, which explores the potential of new media technologies for the enhancement of research and education. He received his Ph.D. in modern German literature from the University of Bern, where he established the Media Learning Center for the Humanities.





Christa Schneider, M.A.

Christa Schneider is a Ph.D. student at the University of Bern. Her dissertation titled “Neuer Sprachatlas des Berner Mittellandes” looks at the development of the Bernese dialect. Her interests include dialectology, language policies and the relation between language and identity.



Angela Ferreira, M.A.


Angela Ferreira is Junior Project Manager for Academic Relations at swissnex Boston. Before coming to Boston she completed her Master of Arts in English Studies and Business Administration at the University of Zurich. Literature and languages are her passion, which inspired her to organize an event highlighting both Swiss achievement in the Humanities and the importance of language in Switzerland.