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Since I'm from South Africa (a former British colony) and attended a British school, I mostly write English in a British way. Given that there are also Americans in Switzerland, one also comes across American spellings in written text. This had me wonder which version of English would be "most standard" for use in Switzerland.

The country only has four official languages (German, French, Italian and Romansh) so English, as usual, is not prescriptively standardised. It means we need to select an appropriate sample of people and go for a more descriptive answer. Maybe what's most relevant is what kind of English spelling is taught in Swiss schools? Do Swiss schools tend to use textbooks from the UK or from the US? If a Swiss person were to read the Bible in English, which translation would they be most likely to choose?

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    In Switzerland (just like most places), the de facto standard is International English. The schools do not use textbooks from either the UK or from the US, they use textbooks from Switzerland. As to the Bible question, it's anybody's guess really. Most people are not even aware that in English there's a hundred different versions of the Bible (why would there be? how can there be?), and they wouldn't know which one to pick, so they'd just pick whichever. Or just give up on the idea altogether. (After all, not even the English themselves can be bothered to read the Bible in English.)
    – RegDwigнt
    Feb 19, 2020 at 14:31
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    I expect they would choose a modern-language translation, since non-native speakers don't have the sentimental attachment to the language of the 'King James' Bible that some of us still have. Beyond that I wouldn't like to hazard a guess. Feb 19, 2020 at 16:30
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    I don't know how authoritative this website is, but it says Swiss schools teach British English swissfamilyfun.com/swiss-school-language
    – Stuart F
    Feb 19, 2020 at 17:12
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is not about English language and usage and cannot really be "proven by reference" .
    – Lambie
    Feb 25, 2020 at 19:39
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    I’m voting to close this question because this is basically not about English.
    – Lambie
    Mar 2 at 21:38

3 Answers 3

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As a Swiss-American, with Swiss nieces and nephews in the Swiss school system, I can say that it is British English. Several of my nieces and nephews studied in America and were marked down when they used American English or spoke with American terms. I would imagine that it would vary in different areas, but my nieces and nephews live in different parts of Switzerland and one set goes to school in German and the other in French and it appears to be the same set of rules for both of them.

Most of the people with whom I speak in English in Switzerland have a light British accent. It is definitely not pronounced.

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  • So much for Swiss neutrality.
    – TimR
    Mar 2 at 12:05
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I teach English in primary school and I would say that the spelling is in British English. But when we listen to audio files they sound neither very British nor very American, as far as the accent goes, to me anyway.

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    When I was learning English myself, I had an American teacher the first two years and then a teacher (I think he was Swiss) that spoke British English for four years. They might have chosen the books accordingly.
    – Nadine
    Feb 25, 2020 at 18:53
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    It might be good to edit your answer to say that you teach English in a Swiss primary school.
    – nnnnnn
    Feb 25, 2020 at 20:52
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The Swiss people that I have talked with used the American Language. I have encountered them in several different venues, & they all were using perfect English.

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  • Hi James, welcome to ELU! What kind of venues? Were they representative of the English-speaking communities in Switzerland? In other words, can you tell us how circumstantial your experiences were?
    – Joachim
    Oct 27, 2023 at 0:17

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