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Old 07.08.2015, 17:20
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Schwiizerdütsch vs Hochdeutsch

Swiss people, kindly advise...

I have been learning German for a couple of years now and I understand both Swiss German and Standard German used in everyday conversation. But I never know which one to use in informal situations as I don't want to sound like I was making fun or anything...

For example, when I walk my dog in the morning and a kind old lady starts asking questions regarding my dog's breed, age, or comments the weather, etc... I never know whether to reply in Swiss German or Standard German. I mean regardless of how I reply to her the lady will know immediately that I'm not a native German speaker, but would she appreciate my effort of trying to have the conversation in Swiss German or will it just sound weird to her?

So my question to Swiss people is, if you are having a conversation with someone who speaks German at a reasonable level, but you can clearly understand from this person's accent that they are neither Swiss nor German, would you prefer them to use Schwiizerdütsch or Hochdeutsch?
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Old 07.08.2015, 17:34
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Re: Schwiizerdütsch vs Hochdeutsch

I don't try to make any distinction - yes, I know I use a few words and expressions that aren't so normal in Germany, like 'tschuss', 'gruezi', 'merci viel mal', 'adieu mittenand' and so on, which are pretty much generic Swiss, but I struggle enough without trying to work out different ways of speaking depending on where I am.

For example, I know that in the mountains around us, and some other areas, there's a tendency to (mis-)promounce the 'ei' syllable, so white wine is 'vees veen', but I also know full well that the best way to avoid any possible misunderstanding throughout Switzerland is to stick with 'vice vine'.

Clearly I don't know which any given Swiss person would prefer, but at a guess I'd say they wouldn't really much care either way - as long as you make yourself understood and can understand them they'll be happy.
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Old 07.08.2015, 17:49
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Re: Schwiizerdütsch vs Hochdeutsch

Does this qualify as a 1st world problem?
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Old 07.08.2015, 18:03
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Re: Schwiizerdütsch vs Hochdeutsch

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I don't try to make any distinction - yes, I know I use a few words and expressions that aren't so normal in Germany, like 'tschuss', 'gruezi', 'merci viel mal', 'adieu mittenand' and so on, which are pretty much generic Swiss, but I struggle enough without trying to work out different ways of speaking depending on where I am.

For example, I know that in the mountains around us, and some other areas, there's a tendency to (mis-)promounce the 'ei' syllable, so white wine is 'vees veen', but I also know full well that the best way to avoid any possible misunderstanding throughout Switzerland is to stick with 'vice vine'.

Clearly I don't know which any given Swiss person would prefer, but at a guess I'd say they wouldn't really much care either way - as long as you make yourself understood and can understand them they'll be happy.
I do not believe one can give a generic answer, everybody is different and has different views.
My experience is that Swiss people are always grateful when they can speak Swiss to me and could care less how I reply.
Anyway like you I speak a mongrel language; High German laced with with Swiss words like lift, velo, poulet and also the ones you mention.
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Old 07.08.2015, 18:12
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Re: Schwiizerdütsch vs Hochdeutsch

Direct quote from a neighbor:

"It hurts my ears less to hear you mangle Schriftdeutsch than my beloved mother tongue."

Take from that what you will.
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Old 07.08.2015, 18:38
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Re: Schwiizerdütsch vs Hochdeutsch

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Swiss people, kindly advise...
I have been learning German for a couple of years now and I understand both Swiss German and Standard German used in everyday conversation. But I never know which one to use in informal situations as I don't want to sound like I was making fun or anything...
If after only 2 years, you are sufficiently fluent in High German and Swiss German, such that you can use both with equal ease in a conversation, you've done better than the most of us already.
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Old 07.08.2015, 19:00
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Re: Schwiizerdütsch vs Hochdeutsch

Asking Swiss folks what they would prefer is probably to give you tons of personalised views. .

If I were conversant in the local language, I'd use it, until someone kindly asks me to stop murdering their mother tongue
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Old 07.08.2015, 19:10
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Re: Schwiizerdütsch vs Hochdeutsch

if you speak both and can tell the difference, why not simply respond in whichever one you are addressed in?

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Old 08.08.2015, 00:38
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Re: Schwiizerdütsch vs Hochdeutsch

Most swiss people will love it if you make the effort to speak swiss german, except if you are german.

song in schwiizertüütsch from 0:43 on with lovely accent

Last edited by prof. taratonga; 08.08.2015 at 00:40. Reason: wrong youtube link
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Old 08.08.2015, 09:57
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Re: Schwiizerdütsch vs Hochdeutsch

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Direct quote from a neighbor:

"It hurts my ears less to hear you mangle Schriftdeutsch than my beloved mother tongue."

Take from that what you will.
A Swiss neighbour with a sense of humour
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Old 08.08.2015, 12:22
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Re: Schwiizerdütsch vs Hochdeutsch

Don't speak to the Swiss, just leave a note.
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Old 08.08.2015, 13:34
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Re: Schwiizerdütsch vs Hochdeutsch

As Marton said, most couldn't care less.

The important thing is to not be perceived as "you locals have to adapt and subjugate to my needs". The simple fact that you ask this question makes it highly unlikely for you to be perceived in such a manner.
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Old 08.08.2015, 14:05
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Re: Schwiizerdütsch vs Hochdeutsch

It's frustrating when you do use dootsche and get a reply in Hoch Deutsch, it is just not predictable, so depends entirely on who you are talking to . I always prefer to use dootsch and get a laugh when German speakers can't use dootsch,
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Old 08.08.2015, 14:44
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Re: Schwiizerdütsch vs Hochdeutsch

After asking a native Swiss-German speaker: "Speak in whichever one you are best able to express yourself in. Usually for those who have learned German in an academic setting, this is Hochdeutsch, and that is perfectly fine! But if you are able to speak both, and even if it's with an accent, then do whatever is most comfortable for you!"
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Old 08.08.2015, 15:32
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Re: Schwiizerdütsch vs Hochdeutsch

Thank you all for your input! In the meantime I also asked my neighbour the same question and he said that when he hears an accent he automatically switches to Hochdeutsch (which is probably why he always talks Hochdeutsch with me ).

Maybe I should have mentioned this initially, but the main reason I'm asking this is because in Italy - where I lived for two years prior to moving to CH - a foreigner attempting to use a local dialect would often be laughed at (openly), which is not too pleasant and may be quite discouraging when trying to learn a language...
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Old 08.08.2015, 18:25
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Re: Schwiizerdütsch vs Hochdeutsch

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Thank you all for your input! In the meantime I also asked my neighbour the same question and he said that when he hears an accent he automatically switches to Hochdeutsch (which is probably why he always talks Hochdeutsch with me ).

Maybe I should have mentioned this initially, but the main reason I'm asking this is because in Italy - where I lived for two years prior to moving to CH - a foreigner attempting to use a local dialect would often be laughed at (openly), which is not too pleasant and may be quite discouraging when trying to learn a language...
I'm italian and never heard anybody who could master an italian dialect. Italian dialects as strong as the swiss ones, so they hugely change across regions and cities. I suppose that's the reason you've have been laughed at. In order to proper master dialiects one would have to be a native or having lived long enough in a given place. Then, there are the ones who believe they master them. I'm really surprised and happy for you that you can master a specific swiss dialect. If I knew one well enough I would stick with speaking it to locals.
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Old 10.08.2015, 10:29
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Re: Schwiizerdütsch vs Hochdeutsch

Speaking Dootsch doesnt require mastery, my kids still laugh at all my imperfections, but it feels more 'normal' than having a conversation in high German, which feels to me at least, a bit contrived and only emphasizes my 'outsider' status
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Old 10.08.2015, 11:30
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Re: Schwiizerdütsch vs Hochdeutsch

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. . . I always prefer to use dootsch and get a laugh when German speakers can't use dootsch,
Maybe a laugh because "dootsch" sounds like an intimate wash ?
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Old 10.08.2015, 11:50
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Re: Schwiizerdütsch vs Hochdeutsch

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I'm italian and never heard anybody who could master an italian dialect. Italian dialects as strong as the swiss ones, so they hugely change across regions and cities. I suppose that's the reason you've have been laughed at. In order to proper master dialiects one would have to be a native or having lived long enough in a given place. Then, there are the ones who believe they master them. I'm really surprised and happy for you that you can master a specific swiss dialect. If I knew one well enough I would stick with speaking it to locals.
I only lived in Ravenna for like 2 years or so and as you said, it's not even nearly enough time to learn Romagnolo. But a friend of mine, a girl from Ukraine, who has been living there for like 15 years and (married a proud Romagnolo) could understand the dialect perfectly. She was often laughed at for attempting to speak Romagnolo. I'm sure there must have been a Ukrainian accent in her Romagnolo but still, how can she assimilate and fit in 100% if she's not supposed to practice the local language?

I also heard Swiss people with a similar attitude (as meloncollie pointed out in his/her post) so I just wanted to get a feel whether that's the predominant Swiss stance or is it more of an exception.
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Old 10.08.2015, 15:40
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Re: Schwiizerdütsch vs Hochdeutsch

I'm trying very hard to learn Swiss German, but currently what I speak sounds more like bad Hochdeutsch with a Swiss accent and some Swiss words thrown in and some lapses back to Norwegian when I get out of my comfort zone grammar and vocabulary wise.

I remember when I moved to Norway in the late 90s. Foreigners were easily identified by their lack of dialect as they learned "normative" Norwegian at "immigrant school". Didn't really help integration. I learned Norwegian while living in a Norwegian family and going to school and thus went right to the local dialect. It really helped me "blend in" and feel at home where I lived, and even if people could hear that I was a foreignerm they usually commented positively on my use of dialect. Now mostly people from the place where I picked up my dialect can hear that I'm not from there, and even they don't alway get that I'm a foreigner.

In an ideal world, I would both speak and write Hochdeutsch and speak Swiss German fluently. For now, my immediate goal is to speak passable Swiss German, write understandable High German and understand both more or less fluently.
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