The Confederation’s language promotion is based primarily on the Language Act of 5 October 2007 (LPA) and the Language Ordinance of 4 June 2010 (LDA), which implement the constitutional mandate to promote Switzerland’s quadrilingualism. (Source)
Switzerland is a multilingual country (see 2.5.4). It has four official national languages – German, French, Italian and Romansh; other languages make up a share of 9%. The latter figure reflects the percentage of foreign nationals (around 25%) living in Switzerland. The Federal Act on the National Languages and Understanding between Linguistic Communities (Languages Act 2010) is an important tool for achieving the key objectives of Swiss cultural policy, including the fostering of cultural diversity (with quadrilingualism as one of Switzerland’s fundamental characteristics), the improvement of access to culture, and cultural exchange both within Switzerland and with countries abroad.
According to the Federal Office for Statistics, “between 1970 and 2017, the number of people having indicated German (or Swiss German) as the main language(s) has slightly diminished, from 66% to 63%. Italian and Romansh have also diminished respectively from 11% to 8%, and 0,8% to 0.5%. On the other hand, French as main language has increased from 18% to 23% in the same period. The section of the population having indicated a non-national language as their main language has increased significantly from 4% to 23%, mainly because from 2010 it was possible to indicate various main languages.”
In administrative units of the Confederation, including e.g. the Federal Office of Culture as the central organ of the Confederation’s cultural policy, the representation of the linguistic communities must aim for certain ranges along the four official national languages: German: 68.5 – 70.5%; French: 21.5 – 23.5%; Italian: 6.5 – 8.5% and Romansh: 0.5 – 1.0% (Art. 7 LangO; Art. 20 para. 2 LangA and Art. 4 para. 2 let. e FPA).
The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SRG SSR) – under the Radio and Television Act (2006) – produces seven television programmes in all national languages. The federal government pays particular attention to the integration of the Romansh culture into these programmes. Additional funds are forwarded to the SRG for French and Italian-language broadcasts. The strong emergence of the dual-channel sound system is also enabling more and more broadcasting in English.
The film industry has a similar language commitment to uphold. For instance, companies can only exploit the theatrical release of a film if they own the rights for the entire national territory in the original version and for the versions in all national languages.
Federal Act on the National Languages and Understanding between the Linguistic Communities (Languages Act, LangA)
Ordinance on the National Languages and Understanding between the Linguistic Communities (Languages Ordinance, LangO)