A medieval dialect
The official languages in Valais are French (from Sierre down the Rhone river to St-Gingloph and German (from Sierre up the Rhone to Gletsch). English is very common in the major tourist centres such as Zermatt, Saas-Fee and Verbier.
Through contact with their many international guests, the Valaisans generally have a good ear for foreign languages. The approximately 80,000 German-speaking people of Upper Valais, however, are particularly proud of their local dialect, “Walliserdeutsch”, or Walliser German. Older than most of the other Swiss dialects, Walliser German is a form of Highest Alemannic and features a number of French loan words due to its proximity to Francophone regions. This can all lead to comprehension problems outside the canton. However, the most successful dialect singer in Switzerland, Sina, sings in Walliser German. The dialect’s difficulty may well be precisely what makes it so fascinating.