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Often you can hear expressions like "Danke [something] wohl", "ja, wohl" or "[other common greetings followed by] wohl" or it might be "voll".

What does this suffix mean, and why is it common everyday usage in Swiss German, but not for Germans? An exhaustive list of examples depicting its usage in Swiss German would be helpful.

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This is not specific to Swiss German, but also heard in many other regiolects such as Westphalian.

The word "wohl" is related to the English "well". It can mean "good", "healthy", but also "probably", "really" or, appended to sentences, "isn't it". In some regions the vowel is pronounced very short, making it sound like "woll".

Regarding your specific examples:

  • "Danke wohl" is an emphasized "danke" and could be translated as "thank you indeed". You find this also in the Dutch "dank u wel".
  • "Jawohl" is an emphasized form of "ja", often used to acknowledge reception of an order, like the English "yes, Sir". It is also often pronounced as "jawoll", especially if used in a joking way.
  • "Grüeziwohl" is an common extension of the Swiss greeting "grüezi". Since the "wohl" sylable is unstressed it may also sound like "woll".
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  • How does the English translation or intimation of Grüeziwohl compare to grüzi"? By the way, why are you spelling üe next to e, when ü=ue?
    – user610620
    Nov 4 '21 at 2:31
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    a) It depends on context and inflection. Often it really doesn't make a difference at all, but it may also convey a sense of pleasant surprise or estimation. Nov 4 '21 at 22:38
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    b) The "üe" tries to represent the diphthong character of the vowel in question which really glides from ü to e. Nov 4 '21 at 22:41
  • Thanks, any comments on voll vs. wohl? given what the other answers wrote
    – user610620
    Nov 5 '21 at 3:07
  • I don't really know what to make of that. Neither "ja voll" nor "danke voll" makes any sense to me. Nov 6 '21 at 17:20
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I took me a while to figure it out, but I think you heard different things as the same word. Here are my best guesses.

1. I assume what you heard is:

Danke vielmal(s)

Due to the pronunciation of "a" in most Swiss dialects, people unfamiliar with Alemmanic dialects might perceive it as "o". This is simply an idiomatic expression to say "thank you very much". "Merci vielmal(s)" is also very common.

2. There are multiple options. You could indeed have heard "Jawohl", which is a strong way of saying yes, but it's a bit like saying "Yes, Sir" in English. Thus I suspect you indeed heard:

Ja, voll

which simply translates to "Yes, totally". See also this entry in Duden. Neither of these two options are specific to Swiss German.

3. I'm pretty sure about this one:

Grüezi wohl

is simply another variation of "Grüezi", maybe slightly more formal, but it doesn't convey any other meaning. This is a fixed expression though. You can't add "wohl" to other greetings. "Salü wohl" or "Hoi wohl" make no sense.

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  • Danke vielmal vs. Vielen dank? Intonation/usage of these 2 in comparison, and which is more Swiss/what a German would never say
    – user610620
    Nov 5 '21 at 3:10
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    @user610620 This is really hard to answer as it depends a lot on the region, context (formality), and if the person you're talking to speaks dialect to you or not. Some observations: "Danke vielmals" (the s should be there in Standard German) is less common outside Switzerland. You can say "Vielen Dank" (also dialectal) but people in Switzerland often prefer "Besten Dank" in written communication (less common elsewhere). In spoken language "Merci" is appropriate in most situations, but note that it's not pronounced like in French. See: duden.de/rechtschreibung/merci
    – idmean
    Nov 5 '21 at 10:13
  • "Merci" is definitely the most Swiss thing to say (not used seriously outside Switzerland) in dialectal speech, but you wouldn't use it in written communication. Practical advice: Just speak Standard German as you learned it. You'll automatically learn which expression are appropriate and when in due time.
    – idmean
    Nov 5 '21 at 10:14
  • Would like to hear from more people who can speak more about the usage of "Danke Vielmal" in Switzerland. "Besten dank" is true what you said. "Merci" is used here and there, but really belongs in Romandie (the French-speaking 15% land area of the country). It's not any-German. This thread isn't about getting by in Switzerland with standard German. Really want to get hands-on understanding of practicable Swiss-German instead/Know why the Swiss say what they say.
    – user610620
    Nov 5 '21 at 20:24
  • @user610620 "Merci" is one of the idiomatic ways to say "thanks" in the Deutschschweiz. I live in Switzerland, so I think I should know. "Know why the Swiss say what they say" You can look at this linguistically (cf. zweite deutsche Lautverschiebung), but I'm not sure this will really help you. Swiss German has its own grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation, like any language. German native speakers coming to Switzerland often struggle for weeks to even understand it. But if you're really into this, there are courses offered in larger cities to learn the local dialect.
    – idmean
    Nov 5 '21 at 21:05
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(I am a German who has worked for a few years in eastern Switzerland, so I'm not exactly an expert for Swiss German.)

"Jawohl" is also used in Germany (but not very frequently) as an emphasized form of "ja". It can have a meaning like "yes, sure", "yes, absolutely", "as you wish" or "at your command".
See https://www.dwds.de/wb/jawohl or https://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/jawohl

In Swiss German I only know "Grüezi wohl" as a formal greeting to address more than one person.
See https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gr%C3%BCezi#Moderner_Gebrauch

I don't remember any other common greeting with "wohl". (But we mostly used informal greetings like "Hoi, [Name]".)
I only think of a very outdated farewell greeting "gehab[e] dich wohl".

Unfortunately nothing comes to my mind for "Danke [something] wohl". I would need examples for the "[something]".

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  • You're right, must've confused "Danke [something] wohl" for "Danke viel-mal"
    – user610620
    Nov 5 '21 at 20:33

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