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View Poll Results: Would you like Swiss German to become an official language, instead of High German?
Yes, I would 53 25.60%
No, I wouldn't 154 74.40%
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  #61  
Old 16.04.2007, 17:08
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Re: Would you like to have Swiss German as an official language in place of High Germ

Nope i'm used to it.
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  #62  
Old 16.04.2007, 17:24
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Re: Would you like to have Swiss German as an official language in place of High Germ

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I think there is a lot of misunderstanding of what Swiss-German is and what it means for its users. For a native English-speaker the concept is nearly impossible to understand.
The Old Scots language was just as far removed from English as Swiss German is from Hochdeutsch. But usage of Scots has shrunk dramatically over the decades and there are lots of words my Gran used in everyday speech which are rarely heard now. Gaelic has suffered an even worse fate.

By contrast, the various Swiss tongues appear to be alive and kicking and used in all sectors of society. The Swiss people have embraced international methods of communication such as English, Standard German and French but have also managed to cling passionately to their own unique dialects.

I admire them for that.
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  #63  
Old 16.04.2007, 18:35
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Re: Would you like to have Swiss German as an official language in place of High Germ

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The Old Scots language was just as far removed from English as Swiss German is from Hochdeutsch. But usage of Scots has shrunk dramatically over the decades and there are lots of words my Gran used in everyday speech which are rarely heard now. Gaelic has suffered an even worse fate.

By contrast, the various Swiss tongues appear to be alive and kicking and used in all sectors of society. The Swiss people have embraced international methods of communication such as English, Standard German and French but have also managed to cling passionately to their own unique dialects.

I admire them for that.
In Südtirol (Alto Adige, Italy) there's a small community of people who speak Ladin, a language that has common roots with Rumantsch and Friulan. They succeeded in having this language considered official, they study until the highes class of high school in this language and they have written official documents in this language...Well, I think this is more coherent and brave than what Swiss German do. As someone said before Swiss German is more than a dialect but kept artificially less than a language...This is the ambiguity that makes me extremely doubtful about it...
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  #64  
Old 17.04.2007, 00:33
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Re: Would you like to have Swiss German as an official language in place of High Germ

Hi

How are we going to learn High German and Swiss German speaking in English most of the time... Attending classes will help but own experience is that the only way to learn a language and become fluent is being immersed on it and culture for at least 2 to 4 years

A bit scary though... we'll see once in Switzerland but really it sounds quite difficult from what you're saying in this thread.

Hmmm

Bye
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  #65  
Old 17.04.2007, 08:12
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Re: Would you like to have Swiss German as an official language in place of High Germ

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How are we going to learn High German and Swiss German speaking in English most of the time...
The trick is to learn High German & not worry too much about the Swiss German until you have been here for a while. My wife is fluent in our locl dialect, but speaks High German pretty much all the time in shops, restaurants etc. A littlle different when she is with her friends ...

For me, who was completely new to the German language when I came here, the only solution I found workable was to get the basics down pat & practice as much as possible. Watching films in German language with English sub-titles is also a good traing method & vice-versa. At the end of the day, it's all down to common sense & effort (along with a little bit of courage) but you will be fine.
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  #66  
Old 17.04.2007, 12:38
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Re: Would you like to have Swiss German as an official language in place of High Germ

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As someone said before Swiss German is more than a dialect but kept artificially less than a language...
It's interesting how people regard Swedish, Danish and Norwegian as individual languages, yet citizens of those countries can easily understand each other.

On the other hand, Swiss German can be incomprehensible to people from Germany so I would be quite happy to class Swiss German as a separate language.
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  #67  
Old 17.04.2007, 13:30
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Re: Swiss German: just a dialect or almost a national language??

There's no single "Swiss German" language. There's a wide variety of different dialects. That's the only reason High German is chosen as the single German "language". Of course, High German is just an artificial construct as well - in Germany there are just as many different dialects, some equally incomprehensible as some Swiss German dialects.
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  #68  
Old 17.04.2007, 13:41
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Re: Swiss German: just a dialect or almost a national language??

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There's no single "Swiss German" language. There's a wide variety of different dialects. That's the only reason High German is chosen as the single German "language". Of course, High German is just an artificial construct as well - in Germany there are just as many different dialects, some equally incomprehensible as some Swiss German dialects.
Yes, all languages consist of a collection of dialects, although most countries have adopted a written standard.

If Swiss was to become an official language, a standard form would have to be agreed upon. How would you do this without provoking linguistic wars between neighbouring valleys?
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  #69  
Old 17.04.2007, 23:01
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Re: Would you like to have Swiss German as an official language in place of High Germ

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It's interesting how people regard Swedish, Danish and Norwegian as individual languages, yet citizens of those countries can easily understand each other.

On the other hand, Swiss German can be incomprehensible to people from Germany so I would be quite happy to class Swiss German as a separate language.

That's exactly the reason why I've started this thread!!
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  #70  
Old 17.04.2007, 23:02
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Re: Swiss German: just a dialect or almost a national language??

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There's no single "Swiss German" language. There's a wide variety of different dialects. That's the only reason High German is chosen as the single German "language". Of course, High German is just an artificial construct as well - in Germany there are just as many different dialects, some equally incomprehensible as some Swiss German dialects.
Ok, a common Swiss German doesn't exist...then why is it spoken on Swiss national TV programmes on SF?? Which Swiss dialect is spoken in those programme??
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  #71  
Old 20.05.2007, 06:20
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Re: Would you like to have Swiss German as an official language in place of High Germ

Sorry to ask, but what's the difference?
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  #72  
Old 20.05.2007, 23:41
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Re: Would you like to have Swiss German as an official language in place of High Germ

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Ok, a common Swiss German doesn't exist...then why is it spoken on Swiss national TV programmes on SF?? Which Swiss dialect is spoken in those programme??
In quiz shows etc. everybody talks in his local dialect.

In the news ect., the anchormen speak high German with some helvetisms and a couple of rougher "ch" than normal. I knew a guy from northern Germany who prepared himself for the Swiss dialect by listening to the Tagesschau - he was in for a surprise when he arrived in canton Berne

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Sorry to ask, but what's the difference?
The local Swiss dialects differ in both accents and vocabulary. There's a funny little dialect identifier for Swiss German speakers here:

http://dialects.from.ch
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  #73  
Old 14.06.2007, 13:10
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Re: Would you like to have Swiss German as an official language in place of High Germ

I think there should be a standardized Swiss German that all the foreigners could learn when they come to Switzerland and then pick up the local dialect from there. I would have been grateful if it existed when I arrived here.

I didn't want to learn a language which was not the local language (High German), my goal was the integration into the swiss culture and learning High German can help to reach that goal but if we could learn Swiss German directly it would be straight forward. If I have to make the swiss that are talking to me switch their own language to High German for me it's the same as making them switch to English.

Standardization of Swiss German doesn't mean that you have to pick a dialect and make it official, it's just bringing together all the common points of Swiss German that differentiate them from High German and make it a new standardized language. This is a job of linguists that I'm sure there are plenty of them in this country. Of course this doesn't mean that swiss people would be forced to change their local dialects or accents that they proudly speak but at the moment they would have to write a letter or an SMS (or a newspaper) they would have some rules which they could use to write "properly" their own language instead of having to use the language of the neighbour country.

This happens in many languages, for example the Spanish spoken in South America has many differences in accents and in words but when they write it they all use the standard Spanish ruled from the Real Academy of Spanish in Spain. The same happens to my mother tongue, Catalan, that has many varietals depending on the region spoken (Catalan from Mallorca sounds very different from the Catalan spoken in Barcelona or Valencia but it's all written the same way). Same happens with Basque that has many dialects depending on the valley where it is spoken but they have a standard that they can use to ensure communication among all Basque speaking communities regardless the dialect that they use at home.
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  #74  
Old 14.06.2007, 13:23
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Re: Would you like to have Swiss German as an official language in place of High Germ

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Standardization of Swiss German doesn't mean that you have to pick a dialect and make it official, it's just bringing together all the common points of Swiss German that differentiate them from High German and make it a new standardized language. This is a job of linguists that I'm sure there are plenty of them in this country.
At the rate the Germans are moving into Switzerland, Swiss German will eventually die out. And I don't mean that sarcastically - most people have absolutely no idea how much of the original Swiss-German vocabulary has already been lost in the last 100 or so years. I grew up in the canton of Thurgau on Lake Constance. My grandparents had a drastically different dialect than I do despite the fact that they grew up in the same area. Close to all specifically Thurgovian vocabulary has disappeared. My dialect seems to be so close to Southern German or High German that locals constantly start talking High German with me here in Basel even though I initiated the conversation in what I believed was Swiss German.

The same goes for the Allemanic dialect in Southern Germany which has all but disappeared. It can only be found in isolated areas and is spoken mainly by older generations.

Apart from that, I doubt that linguists (being one myself) are very keen on creating new artificial languages after what happened to Esperanto etc.
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  #75  
Old 14.06.2007, 13:39
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Re: Would you like to have Swiss German as an official language in place of High Germ

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At the rate the Germans are moving into Switzerland, Swiss German will eventually die out.
And isn't it sad that such a richness as a unique language just "dies out"? If the basques or catalans thought the same as you probably their languages would also have died out because of the pressure of more widely spoken languages such as Spanish.

Languages are one of the most precious cultural richnesses, I think it would be worth it to try to preserve them. If I were swiss I would surely fight for it.
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  #76  
Old 14.06.2007, 13:59
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Re: Would you like to have Swiss German as an official language in place of High Germ

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If the basques or catalans thought the same as you probably their languages would also have died out
uhm, I didn't intend to imply that I thought this was a good thing :-)
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  #77  
Old 14.06.2007, 14:23
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Re: Would you like to have Swiss German as an official language in place of High Germ

AbFab - Not to go off-topic, but what do you mean by this?

fduvall

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The USA has no class system so professors invent 'extensive on-going linguistic connotations to elaborate their distinctiveness'.
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  #78  
Old 14.06.2007, 14:25
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Re: Would you like to have Swiss German as an official language in place of High Germ

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uhm, I didn't intend to imply that I thought this was a good thing :-)
Sorry if it sounded that I was pointing to you personally, I meant "you" as the whole Swiss German speaking community. It's hard for me to understand that Swiss German speakers resign and just accept that their language is disappearing and they won't do anything about it.
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  #79  
Old 14.06.2007, 15:42
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Re: Would you like to have Swiss German as an official language in place of High Germ

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AbFab - Not to go off-topic, but what do you mean by this?

fduvall
I thought it was self explanatory. But...

Americans will 'flower up' their speech to prove their social position. The British do it with accents not extensive vocabulary.
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  #80  
Old 14.06.2007, 17:35
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Re: Would you like to have Swiss German as an official language in place of High Germ

As a native Swiss German speaker, I wonder how "high Swiss German" should sound like? Of course it could be done less artificially than Esperanto, but I for one don't know how the whole could become more than the sum of its parts.

There's already an artificial language for the Rhaeto-Romanic dialects. It's called Rumantsch Grischun and is both a written and spoken standard. So far it has got mixed receptions.

I firmly disagree with the opinion that Swiss German as a whole will die out. People with this opinion should maybe get in contact with German expats Inside Switzerland, the diversity in dialects might decrease, because of higher mobility. But many changes in the vocabulary come from the fact that the world has changed since our grand- and great-grandparent's time, and not all new words are the same as in High German.
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