The Swiss are very different from their German neighbours and even have their own dialect. So, when it comes to translating from Swiss German into English (or vice versa), do translators need a Swiss connection?
Well, it depends on which way the languages are being combined.
Swiss German into English
Let’s start by looking at translating Swiss German into English. The Swiss actually use High German for their writing – the dialect is just a spoken thing. The simple answer then would be no, a translator does not need a Swiss connection.
But nothing in life is ever simple. And the Swiss have their own writing style. This extends to sentence structure, some uses of grammar, expressions and even the spelling of words. The result is that a translator with no Swiss connection could translate from Swiss German into English. Without that connection however, they run the risk of missing nuances in the source text.
English into Swiss German
Translating from English into Swiss German is a different matter. So much so, that yes, a translator does need a Swiss connection.
The problem stems from that style mentioned above. It’s one thing to be able to understand the German, it’s another to replicate the style. Without the Swiss connection, it is impossible to know what sentence structure and other nuances need to be used.
Although the Swiss understand proper High German, they much prefer their own style. A text in proper High German can even feel a bit foreign to them and may not engage with them as a result. So, for informative texts, proper High German will be fine. But for anything marketing-related, you need to speak to their hearts – and that means using Swiss High German.
In a nutshell
If you’re translating Swiss German into English, there’s generally no link required. Any German translator should be able to do the job. But if they have a Swiss connection, the end translation will probably capture the meaning that little bit better. However, if you need a translation from English into Swiss German, you’ll definitely want a translator with a Swiss connection.
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