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Old 13.06.2015, 08:10
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Speaking swiss german in presence of non-Swiss

Hi all,

I don't know if you also have this problem with "some" Swiss colleagues at work. I've been working in a few countries, and meet nice people around the world who always try to include other foreigners in a conversation.

Just when I thought it's already a universal courtesy & good manners in 21st century, to speak a common language ( in this case English) in midst of your foreign colleagues, I am baffled by the behaviours of some immature colleagues who keep on babbling in Swiss German while in a close group conversations or even in a meeting, despite obvious hints!

I sometimes wonder if they were taught with a different code of manners here... just need to let out...
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Old 13.06.2015, 08:13
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Re: Speaking swiss german in presence of non-Swiss

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Hi all,

I don't know if you also have this problem with "some" Swiss colleagues at work. I've been working in a few countries, and meet nice people around the world who always try to include other foreigners in a conversation.

Just when I thought it's already a universal courtesy & good manners in 21st century, to speak a common language ( in this case English) in midst of your foreign colleagues, I am baffled by the behaviours of some immature colleagues who keep on babbling in Swiss German while in a close group conversations or even in a meeting, despite obvious hints!

I sometimes wonder if they were taught with a different code of manners here... just need to let out...
This is Switzerland, they speak Swiss German, get used to it.
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Old 13.06.2015, 08:38
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Re: Speaking swiss german in presence of non-Swiss

and they will be astounded when you understand, finally. And then have to stop talking about you
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Old 13.06.2015, 08:39
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Re: Speaking swiss german in presence of non-Swiss

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This is Switzerland, they speak Swiss German, get used to it.
I just found another bad-mannered person here

Nobody is stopping anybody from speaking their own languages. However, there is certain social etiquettes & manners about speaking the common language in a close group discussion.
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Old 13.06.2015, 08:44
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Re: Speaking swiss german in presence of non-Swiss

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I just found another bad-mannered person here

Nobody is stopping anybody from speaking their own languages. However, there is certain social etiquettes & manners about speaking the common language in a close group discussion.
I think what FMF is saying is that your social etiquette should mean you learn Swiss German

But you could take the hard line in meetings and a) either feign complete lack of understanding or b) walk out.
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Old 13.06.2015, 08:57
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Re: Speaking swiss german in presence of non-Swiss

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I think what FMF is saying is that your social etiquette should mean you learn Swiss German
That's a bit SCP ("Swiss" Chauvinistic ...), no? When it just takes you to speak English, a language you already know, to make people feel inclusive in a foreign land.

Anyway, just speaking also on behalf of the other foreigner colleagues too..

Gotcha on your 2nd line, but opening the floor for other constructive inputs now.
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Old 13.06.2015, 09:03
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Re: Speaking swiss german in presence of non-Swiss

If you hadn't noticed, many Swiss live in their own bubble - individually and collectively - completely oblivious to anything (or anyone) outside.
Sometimes you can find a way to slip-in and sometimes you may even to be able to pop it - but more often or not, you're just there looking in, squidging at it with your finger, hoping that you may get noticed.
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Old 13.06.2015, 09:12
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Re: Speaking swiss german in presence of non-Swiss

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Gotcha on your 2nd line, but opening the floor for other constructive inputs now.
Here you go then: stop feeling sorry for yourself and take it as an opportunity learn dialect. The "common language etiquette" bit is just an excuse so that you don't push yourself through the pain of learning.

Sometimes they'll speak dialect. Sometimes English. And rarely, they'll even speak high German. Listen to it all and try to learn.
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Old 13.06.2015, 09:58
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Re: Speaking swiss german in presence of non-Swiss

OP, this is not a universal experience. I was with some Swiss colleagues at a social event this week and they kept switching into English, even though they know I understand German. It was sweet, they kept catching themselves slipping into German and then switching back. Happens all the time in work and social situations, and even if I tell them no, go on in German they stick with English. Although this is probably one of the reasons my German hasn't improved since I've been here!
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Old 13.06.2015, 10:04
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Re: Speaking swiss german in presence of non-Swiss

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Hi all,

I don't know if you also have this problem with "some" Swiss colleagues at work. I've been working in a few countries, and meet nice people around the world who always try to include other foreigners in a conversation.

Just when I thought it's already a universal courtesy & good manners in 21st century, to speak a common language ( in this case English) in midst of your foreign colleagues, I am baffled by the behaviours of some immature colleagues who keep on babbling in Swiss German while in a close group conversations or even in a meeting, despite obvious hints!

I sometimes wonder if they were taught with a different code of manners here... just need to let out...

this is a special country full with special people. People here are very simple genetically and culturally but they have a lot of money and social security so they could care less about anything else other than themselves and maintaining their way. You will have to learn to ignore a loooot of nonsense people.

Here the quest is the one who must sacrifice and go out of his way. Quite opposite from the rest of the world where teh guest is treated like a king...
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Old 13.06.2015, 10:24
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Re: Speaking swiss german in presence of non-Swiss

This annoys me as well but as with a lot of things Swiss if you understand the reasons behind their actions then while it might be bad manners elsewhere it is easier to deal with. In the case of Sgerman depending on age this was taught as a separate language in schools so many Swiss people are not 150 % proficient in it be it written or spoken so there is a minute chance they may make a mistake or be misunderstood. And they hate making a mistake or being unclear so. .......
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Old 13.06.2015, 10:24
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Re: Speaking swiss german in presence of non-Swiss

Interestingly, according to the OP's profile, his native language is German, not English.
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Old 13.06.2015, 10:26
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Re: Speaking swiss german in presence of non-Swiss

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Hi all,

I don't know if you also have this problem with "some" Swiss colleagues at work. I've been working in a few countries, and meet nice people around the world who always try to include other foreigners in a conversation.

Just when I thought it's already a universal courtesy & good manners in 21st century, to speak a common language ( in this case English) in midst of your foreign colleagues, I am baffled by the behaviours of some immature colleagues who keep on babbling in Swiss German while in a close group conversations or even in a meeting, despite obvious hints!

I sometimes wonder if they were taught with a different code of manners here... just need to let out...
I had the same problem at my previous job but followed my Swiss friend's advice: ask them, loud and clear, to talk in High German. (frankly I was reluctant to do that because I felt like it's their right to speak in their own dialect, but my friend didn't agree at all...)
I speak German fluently though...Anyway, the point is you have to ask, not wait for them to realise they're making you feel uncomfortable.
They might be oblivious of this fact.
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Old 13.06.2015, 10:35
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Re: Speaking swiss german in presence of non-Swiss

You've got a great point. Tell them not to speak in dialect when you're around.

Of course what you'll actually be saying is "avoid me whenever possible".

It's much better to have several uncomfortable people, than just one. That's diversity. You stand up for your right to individuality.

Totally unrelated; have you ever wondered why the Swiss don't like Germans?
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Old 13.06.2015, 10:43
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Re: Speaking swiss german in presence of non-Swiss

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You've got a great point. Tell them not to speak in dialect when you're around.

Of course what you'll actually be saying is "avoid me whenever possible".

It's much better to have several uncomfortable people, than just one. That's diversity. You stand up for your right to individuality.

Totally unrelated; have you ever wondered why the Swiss don't like Germans?
I'm not a German and they actually realised I could't possibly understand all their babbling no matter how hard I tried. Yes, some are that understanding. Plus obviously I am not perfect in German so it's a different thing...context is everything. I don't doubt they are far from being as accommodating with ze Germans. On the other hand a native speaker can understand (mostly) different dialects without too much of an effort.
Anyway, whatever functions in a situation (work related, meetings etc) and for a person, might not function in other situations or for other people...so.

Last edited by greenmount; 13.06.2015 at 11:14.
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Old 13.06.2015, 10:50
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Re: Speaking swiss german in presence of non-Swiss

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Hi all,

I don't know if you also have this problem with "some" Swiss colleagues at work. I've been working in a few countries, and meet nice people around the world who always try to include other foreigners in a conversation.

Just when I thought it's already a universal courtesy & good manners in 21st century, to speak a common language ( in this case English) in midst of your foreign colleagues, I am baffled by the behaviours of some immature colleagues who keep on babbling in Swiss German while in a close group conversations or even in a meeting, despite obvious hints!

I sometimes wonder if they were taught with a different code of manners here... just need to let out...
I find that people always do their best to include people that they like and who matter to them. Furthermore, most people prefer to express themselves in their native language, so unless you matter greatly to them, they will have to constantly remind themselves to talk in a language that they don't really master. And if you are going to call them rude amd backward for that, you won't make friends - especially as it's more likely laziness. How long have you been here for? Are you taking language classes?
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Old 13.06.2015, 11:22
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Re: Speaking swiss german in presence of non-Swiss

Hell, this happens all the time at the dinner table, on several occasions we've had conversation in many as five languages at once!

Tom
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Old 13.06.2015, 11:34
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Re: Speaking swiss german in presence of non-Swiss

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Interestingly, according to the OP's profile, his native language is German, not English.
Exactly, they probably think that if his language is German, he may not be able to speak Swiss German, but certainly can understand it. Why would they speak English with a German person anyhow?
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Old 13.06.2015, 11:48
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Re: Speaking swiss german in presence of non-Swiss

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Exactly, they probably think that if his language is German, he may not be able to speak Swiss German, but certainly can understand it. Why would they speak English with a German person anyhow?
in my office, we used to routinely switch to English when colleagues from Germany came to visit, it became something of a running gag.

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Old 13.06.2015, 12:19
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Re: Speaking swiss german in presence of non-Swiss

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This is Switzerland, they speak Swiss German, get used to it.
I thought I'd also mention French and Italian and of course the other lingo.....

Swiss Germans prefer to speak Swiss German and would often rather speak English than Hochdeutsch
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