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Grüezi is the most common greeting in Switzerland. However, each canton has its own dialect making verbal speech (and local spellings) different in different parts of the country.

In central Switzerland near Thunersee, I was often greeted with "Grüezach" instead of Grüezi. What explains this pronounciation or intonation on the last syllable? Pretty sure they'd even spell it "Grüezagg" or "Grüezegg" since my spelling above was only a guess.

How is Grüezi spoken and spelled in other parts of Switzerland?

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  • unfortunately only in German: de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gr%C3%BCezi
    – Bodo
    Oct 24, 2022 at 20:28
  • The title of your post is a very different question from the question you state in inside the post. Please help others help you and clarify what is it exactly that you would like to know.
    – Jonathan Herrera
    Oct 24, 2022 at 23:00
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    It's Grüß euch. That euch becomes i, ach or egg depending on dialect.
    – Janka
    Oct 24, 2022 at 23:58
  • @janka could u form an answer with meaning of euch here, and alternative pronounciations
    – user610620
    Oct 25, 2022 at 4:24

2 Answers 2

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Edit Updated answer, to remove the obviously wrong reference pointed out in the other answer.

Janka has given the correct hint: It's actually Grüss Euch, which is pronounced short as Grüssech. In some regions of Switzerland (mainly near Berne, but also towards Basel) people do not Siezen but Ihrzen. The formal address is not Sie (third person plural), but Ihr/Euch (second person plural), which makes the term understandable.

Example: Instead of saying

Ich werde Sie anrufen

one says

Ich werde Euch anrufen.

Note that this is still about a single person, addressed formally, not a group. The difference works in Swiss German, too.

Since Swiss German is not used as formal written language, there are no official rules about it's spelling, too. Everyone basically writes how he thinks it should be (and since the dialects differ significantly from place to place, there are a lot of different spellings)

The boundaries between the dialects and hence the pronunciations are floating. Almost every word has different pronunciations across Switzerland, some of which can be found on this page (selected: the different pronunciations of "Euch"). As you can see on those different maps, the borders don't line up with any political borders and differ from word to word. In fact, while "Gruessech" is used in all of Berne, it's only the southern part (and Wallis) that commonly uses the "iir" form.

If you enter a set of phrases in your local dialect, that website will tell you very precisely where you originate from.

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  • are you aware of the specific differences on how gruess euch is pronounced per canton? If so, edit it in above. And is the Swiss usage of euch in this context viewed as non-standard by high Germans?
    – user610620
    Oct 25, 2022 at 8:30
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    @user610620 Updated. Found a good website indicating the wide range of different dialect forms in Switzerland.
    – PMF
    Oct 25, 2022 at 10:36
  • they say "Grueziir" in the south? didn't stay long enough there to even notice
    – user610620
    Oct 25, 2022 at 22:24
  • @user610620 the dialect in the (German part of) Wallis is hardly understandable to anyone...
    – PMF
    Oct 26, 2022 at 16:11
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    I am afraid this explanation is wrong. The difference between «grüessech» and «grüezi» has nothing to do with use of Ihrzen or Siezen. Both words correspond to standard German grüss Euch.
    – mach
    Oct 29, 2022 at 9:13
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Both «grüezi» and «grüessech» have the exact same etymology. They both correspond to standard German grüess Euch. There are two reasons for their different forms:

  1. In western Swiss German, the verb ‘to greet’ is pronounced with a fortis /sː/ as /ɡ̊ryə̯sːə/ («grüesse»), but in eastern Swiss German, it is (originally) pronounced with an affricate /ts/ as /ɡ̊ryə̯tsə/ («grüeze»).
  2. In western Swiss German, the second person plural accusative or dative pronoun (standard German «euch») ends with a fricative /x/ as /øi̯x/ or /əx/ («euch»/«ech»), but in eastern Swiss German, there is no fricative: /oi̯/ or /i/ («eu»/«i»).

This means that standard German «grüss Euch» corresponds to «grüess Ech» in western Swiss German, but to «grüez I» in eastern Swiss German.

There are two complications:

  • The dialect that is known best for using «grüessech», Bernese German, is also known for using the second person plural as honorific («Ihr/Euch», hence Ihrzen), whereas the dialects that use «grüezi» typically use the third person plural as honorific («Si» or standard German «Sie», hence Siezen). This leads to a common folk etymology whereby the difference between «grüezi» and «grüessech» has to do with the use of the third or second person plural as honorific. By that folk etymology, «grüezi» corresponds to standard German grüss Sie, but «grüessech» corresponds to standard German grüss Euch. That folk etymology is mistaken. Both «grüessech» and «grüezi» correspond to standard German grüss Euch (cf. Grüezi - Schweizerisches Idiotikon). The use of the second or third person plural as honorific (Ihrzen or Siezen) has nothing to do with the difference between «grüessech» and «grüezi».
  • The original eastern Swiss German form «grüeze» with an affricate is often being replaced by a form with a fricative «grüesse». The reason is probably the influence from standard German «grüssen». Since the form «grüeze» is no longer familiar to many speakers, the word «grüezi» is no longer etymologically transparent to them.
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  • Thanks for clarification, I really fell for this one. I removed that reference from my answer, the rest still holds, I believe.
    – PMF
    Oct 29, 2022 at 16:57
  • Could either of you recommend a standard text (and slightly technical) on exact Swiss dialect annunciations, covering all Swiss-german speaking cantons? A thorough audio guide of any medium to accompany selected writings would be great. The answer here must've come from a resplendent source(s) I'm guessing. unless it is only the idiotikon linked.
    – user610620
    Oct 30, 2022 at 3:06
  • @PMF: The bulk of your answer still discusses topics like Siezen/Ihrzen that are completely unrelated to Grüessech vs. Grüezi. Also, while you explain that Grüessech corresponds to standard German «grüss euch», you omit that Grüezi also corresponds to standard German «grüss euch».
    – mach
    Oct 30, 2022 at 21:14
  • @user610620: The Idiotikon is one of the very best resources on Swiss German, and certainly the most comprehensive, being a 17-volume dictionary with about 150.000 entries.
    – mach
    Oct 30, 2022 at 21:15

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