Today, I’m going to help you with those Swiss French words that you will never learn in French class but that you will need to know if you would like to understand everything and act more local, while visiting the French part of Switzerland.
In Switzerland, a phrase we often say is « ça joue? », where we use the verb jouer, to play in English, to ask if someone or something is alright. For example, when making plans with someone, you can ask « ça joue pour toi? », literally translated to “does it play for you?”, but it actually means “is it alright for you?”
So you can see that us, Swiss people, tend to change the literal meaning of a word quite a lot.
Another example I can give you is with the word pire = worst in English.
But here in the French part of Switzerland, we use it with a positive connotation. You will hear young people say « C’était pire cool cette soirée! », or « Pire joli ton nouveau sac! », but they actually emphasize the adjective that follows by using this « pire ».
There’s another word that is used the same way – the word monstre. It’s taken from the noun monster, but used as an adverb to accentuate how big the thing we’re talking about is. « Mais c’est monstre bien! », « J’ai monstre envie de manger », I really, REALLY, want to eat something now.
But this one is used more in the country-side part of Switzerland, so you won’t hear it as much.
A thing that must be confusing for French people is that we also use the word adieu, which is used to say goodbye to someone if you’re not sure to ever see them again, when greeting a friend. « Adieu, comment tu vas? ». But honestly, if you ever come here and want to act cool, don’t use that! It is used mainly by the older generation, living in the mountains and not in the city, and nowadays, young people use it only to joke around.
My sister’s boyfriend, who is from Southern France (but lives here), once told me that he found it very weird when, in response to merci , we say service!, and not de rien, which is way more common. It actually comes from « À votre service! », which means at your service, but is very formal, and used more when talking to people of higher status, at work or to someone in power. So we shorten it to service.