Survey: some Swiss ‘never’ cross linguistic divide

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Survey: some Swiss ‘never’ cross linguistic divide
Bilingual Friboug straddles the Röstigraben. Photo: Stephan Engler/Swiss Tourism

The famed Röstigraben is alive and well in Switzerland in 2016, according to a new survey which shows that nearly a fifth of Swiss people have never crossed the cultural and language barrier.


Some 15 percent of people living in French-speaking Switzerland have never visited the country’s German-speaking region, while 14 percent of Swiss Germans have never travelled in the inverse direction.

Those Swiss Germans who do visit their French-speaking countrymen do so infrequently, with 49 percent only crossing the Röstigraben once a year.

The survey, carried out by research institute Sotomo on behalf of telecommunications company Swisscom, showed the figures to be highest in the northeastern city of St Gallen and the canton of Graubünden, where a quarter have never set foot over the Röstigraben.

And one in five people in Geneva have never visited German-speaking Switzerland, it found.

It also revealed the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino to be unpopular with French-speakers, with only half of those in Romandie having ever been there.

Published by Swiss media on the weekend, the survey of more than 14,000 people was carried out in February with the aim of examining how Swiss people connect with each other, whether through digital networking or other means.

Despite the linguistic barrier, there was no divide between networking behaviours across the country, it found.

In a statement, Swisscom said the survey showed there was “no networking gap between urban and rural areas, as is often maintained”.

Whether living in a city or the countryside, everyone would rather be without a car than an internet or mobile connection.

“The digital divide is therefore a myth – and digital networking has now become the most powerful social bond in Switzerland,” it said.

Around one in ten couples in committed relationships met online, the survey found, with that figure increasing to one in seven among 33 to 55-year-olds.

However online dating is far less popular in French-speaking Switzerland than on the other side of the Röstigraben.

Only six percent of relationships in Geneva began online, found the survey.


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