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  #61  
Old 04.11.2015, 14:48
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Re: Switzerland falls behind in English skills...

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However the English use of 'commode' is more than a bit bizarre for the French- for instance. Plenty of other exemples too, like the use of 'endive' (for chircory, and vice versa) and plenty more.
Italians also interchange endive and chicory.

Tom
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  #62  
Old 04.11.2015, 14:54
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Re: Switzerland falls behind in English skills...

The seeming certainty of being right when actually being wrong - self righteousness of a special sort, is local. But it's not only in language use (because somebody told them once in a class, that truth must be carried on). Rigidity is cute, sometimes. Robust!

I wonder if policing communication semantically encourages casual exchanges, though. It's a bit of a talk stopper. Teachers do that, it's annoying. Or, how does one do it unintrusively?

We nag about locals not talking to us, because they are shy about their English competence...or what have you. Pointing out their vocab is faulty isn't gonna warm them up, lol. I do think personally that it's a good thing to correct, make ton of mistakes myself, but don't sweat it. Everybody is quite polite here, maybe it's better than being right.

I am glad people correct my French, makes the competence faster.
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  #63  
Old 04.11.2015, 15:25
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Re: Switzerland falls behind in English skills...

... and of course the key is that you DO speak French, mistakes and all- and are keen to learn - sadly too many expats are not. Most of you are in large/ish urban centres like Zurich or Geneva- where English is very important for so many- but where I live, unless for an 'academic elite' English has absolutely no value for most- but German still very much has.

I find it flabbergasting when expats in Switzerland who have been here for many years- expect the local plumber or electrician, hairdresser and cash till/shop worker, civil servant, etc, etc, etc - to speak English more or less fluently.
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  #64  
Old 04.11.2015, 15:34
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Re: Switzerland falls behind in English skills...

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One that gets me is when newspapers write "Die Polizei wurde alarmiert"

Wouldn't it have sufficed to inform them? Did you really have to alarm them?

But then we only have ourselves to blame with such signs as "this door is alarmed". Somebody needs to call the door psychologist or play some soothing door music.
Why does that get you? alarm comes from italian all'arme, get the weapons! you would alarm the village militia some centuries ago, now you alarm the police which will come to quell the threat guns blazing. If you inform the police you're just telling them what happened, but it doesn't say if they came, in italian it works like this and probably in german too.
Anyway from that came a verb and an adjective, and then the figurative meaning for the emotional fight-or-flight state.
The alarmed door also exists in italian porta allarmata, and it's just as weird, but it comes from the technical language and it's even in dictionaries now, in english too i see. This is the last expansion of this word i guess.
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  #65  
Old 04.11.2015, 15:41
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Re: Switzerland falls behind in English skills...

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I find it flabbergasting when expats in Switzerland who have been here for many years- expect the local plumber or electrician, hairdresser and cash till/shop worker, civil servant, etc, etc, etc - to speak English more or less fluently.
Here in ticino we find it flabbergasting when some arrogant zucchini expect everyone to speak german, or that lived here for like 20 years and don't speak one word of italian. There are some people who are just rigid, they think that because english/german is the most important language in the world/switzerland everyone should be able to speak it.
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  #66  
Old 04.11.2015, 16:45
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Re: Switzerland falls behind in English skills...

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Here in ticino we find it flabbergasting when some arrogant zucchini expect everyone to speak german, or that lived here for like 20 years and don't speak one word of italian. There are some people who are just rigid, they think that because english/german is the most important language in the world/switzerland everyone should be able to speak it.
While this point of view may be particularly prevalent among expats, who often have positions of power and thus are less in need to communicate with "common" locals on equal footing, you can find people with just minimal language skills in every part of the country, with most any mother tongue, from just about all traits of life.

I've known italians, spaniards, portuguese and macedonians who after decennials in CH speak barely any German (including Standard German).

People tend to flock with their likes, some more some less but all at least to a certain degree. Those who follow this tendency excessively have a huge handicap as well as much reduced incentive when it comes to learning the local language, whichever that may be.
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  #67  
Old 04.11.2015, 17:44
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Re: Switzerland falls behind in English skills...

Language is a bit like religion, everyone thinks theirs is the one that should be spoken.

To be honest, I hope one day we can get rid of the myriad of languages since they don't add any value apart from some superfluous "cultural heritage". Language is one more reason why person X should hate person Y. Why Ahmed should lop off Jim's head, or why Jim should cluster bomb Ahmed's house. One could argue that people will find any justification to be assholes, but I claim that having obvious reasons does not help.

I know 5 languages, and 3 of them are, for all practical purposes, utterly useless to me. Two of the useless ones could be considered the same language, and speaking one will allow you to understand the other. Except of course the natives who froth at the mouth with national pride and would never allow their precious language to be considered analogous to another.

The other one of the useless ones is my mother tongue. Apart from some backwater country that has been irrelevant in the last 50 years and the balance of chance is that it will stay irrelevant for the next 500, nobody speaks this language. I had to learn English to communicate with the rest of the world. Given the choice, I'd rather have English as my mother tongue and learn German/French as a secondary language instead.

You could call me cynical, I'd call it being practical. Along with the tribal concept of nations, the sooner we get rid of these things, the sooner we can transcend the petty conflicts and start working towards the betterment of the human race.
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  #68  
Old 04.11.2015, 17:45
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Re: Switzerland falls behind in English skills...

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Reminds me of Bush 'of course the French have no word for entrepreneur'- ahahahaha.
http://www.snopes.com/quotes/bush.asp


While I am no fan of GWB... This supposed Bush quote has been posted here on EF several times, and refuted several times, but it seems the meme sticks.

So once again, Snopes says 'nope'. There is no record of GWB saying that the ' French have no word for entrepreneur'.

From the Snopes entry:


"The source was Shirley Williams, also known as the Baroness Williams of Crosby, who claimed "my good friend Tony Blair" had recently regaled her with this anecdote in Brighton.

Lloyd Grove of The Washington Post was unable to reach Baroness Williams to gain her confirmation of the tale, but he did receive a call from Alastair Campbell, Blair's director of communications and strategy. "I can tell you that the prime minister never heard George Bush say that, and he certainly never told Shirley Williams that President Bush did say it," Campbell told The Post. "If she put this in a speech, it must have been a joke."
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  #69  
Old 04.11.2015, 17:51
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Re: Switzerland falls behind in English skills...

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Language is a bit like religion, everyone thinks theirs is the one that should be spoken.
Correction.

Some lazy anglos think their language should be universal and the rest don't matter.

Personally I think languages are a great and wonderful thing and surprisingly most of my Swiss friends share my view.

Langauge is part of identity and culture and sometimes they can also be useful when there are things that need to be said that are not supposed to be universally understood. Remember the Navajos in WW2?

I specifically like learning rare languages as they are portals to views and perspectives you don't otherwise get.

I actually think it is a tragedy that English has become what it is as I actually happen to think English is one of the most expressive and beautiful languages out there and I'd rather the bumbling internationalist fools vandalized something like Esperanto, which honestly I don't care about.
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Old 04.11.2015, 17:52
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Re: Switzerland falls behind in English skills...

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I've never met an American yet who could pronounce squirrel properly.
South "squirl"

Ne York/New Jersey "squoil"

San Francisco "Thquirl"

Montana "Stew"
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  #71  
Old 04.11.2015, 19:50
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Re: Switzerland falls behind in English skills...

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Montana "Stew"
Why stew them? They're much sweeter when tasted raw.
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  #72  
Old 04.11.2015, 20:12
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Re: Switzerland falls behind in English skills...

All Skandinavians I have had the pleasure of meeting were near-native English speakers.

Based on my own experience, I feel German and Swiss language education is predominately focussed on writing skills, rather than speaking.

Spent a few years in the Netherlands.. was very pleasantly surprised that every single person spoke very good English (next to French, German, Flemish..) From the bus driver, to the supermarket employee, each time I attempted to speak my (horribly broken, beginner's Dutch) they would kindly offer to talk in a language of my choice instead.
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  #73  
Old 04.11.2015, 20:17
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Re: Switzerland falls behind in English skills...

We should get rid of languages? Have just one? We could also limit and unify the vocabulary within that one language, no?

One haircut. How about just all of us just wearing jeans. And maybe have the same thoughts expressed in that one language.

Now - which one to choose..Hmmm. I vote for something with a Slavic flavor.
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  #74  
Old 04.11.2015, 20:37
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Re: Switzerland falls behind in English skills...

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All Skandinavians I have had the pleasure of meeting were near-native English speakers.

Based on my own experience, I feel German and Swiss language education is predominately focussed on writing skills, rather than speaking.

Spent a few years in the Netherlands.. was very pleasantly surprised that every single person spoke very good English (next to French, German, Flemish..) From the bus driver, to the supermarket employee, each time I attempted to speak my (horribly broken, beginner's Dutch) they would kindly offer to talk in a language of my choice instead.
I stated this on several threads already: The reason why Skandinavians and Dutch are better at speaking English is because the low number of native speakers of their own languages doesn't justify dubbing of English-spoken movies and TV productions. So they always hear the original sound track while following the subtitles in their own language.

That's a huge lot of daily immersion in English, a thing that is almost entirely missing in German speaking countries.
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  #75  
Old 04.11.2015, 21:00
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Re: Switzerland falls behind in English skills...

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With that said, there's no shortage of people happy to "practice" English or listen to a native English speaker speak.
Wife of a Swiss - as "practice" is used as a verb in the last sentence of your post, the correct spelling should be "happy to practise English".

I agree with your comments regarding learning other languages. My husband, a Dutch National, always considered having Dutch as his mother tongue a distinct advantage, as so few people speak the language. He was therefore obliged to learn English, French and German at school, all of which he spoke fluently, in order to converse with others. His knowledge of Italian wasn't bad either!
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  #76  
Old 04.11.2015, 21:03
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Re: Switzerland falls behind in English skills...

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I stated this on several threads already: The reason why Skandinavians and Dutch are better at speaking English is because the low number of native speakers of their own languages doesn't justify dubbing of English-spoken movies and TV productions. So they always hear the original sound track while following the subtitles in their own language.

That's a huge lot of daily immersion in English, a thing that is almost entirely missing in German speaking countries.

Greece, Cyprus and several Eastern European countries don't have dubbing either and they are not exactly on the top of the list...

The TV/Movies argument is very popular, but there are surely many other reasons that can be attributed to their excellent English skills, e.g. the quality of their education.
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  #77  
Old 04.11.2015, 21:05
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Re: Switzerland falls behind in English skills...

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Wife of a Swiss - as "practice" is used as a verb in the last sentence of your post, the correct spelling should be "happy to practise English".
The verb is spelled differently depending on where you're from:

BE: practise
AE: practice
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  #78  
Old 04.11.2015, 21:17
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Re: Switzerland falls behind in English skills...

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Greece, Cyprus and several Eastern European countries don't have dubbing either and they are not exactly on the top of the list...

The TV/Movies argument is very popular, but there are surely many other reasons that can be attributed to their excellent English skills, e.g. the quality of their education.
For what it's worth, I think a massive problem with the UK system is that languages are not introduced early enough, at say early to mid Primary education. Your average 11 year old starting "big school" with its assorted challenges can easily feel embarrassed and, sadly, learning new words and phrases and being required to say them out loud can quickly become a negative thing. That and a lot of their parents and grandparents have only one language and because they "never needed it", this negative attitude is passed on. I've also heard similar arguments as to why they shouldn't have to pursue English (in a UK school) either!
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Old 04.11.2015, 21:19
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Re: Switzerland falls behind in English skills...

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The verb is spelled differently depending on where you're from:

BE: practise
AE: practice
Taken alphabetically, noun comes before verb, C before S. Noun= practice, verb= practise.
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Old 04.11.2015, 21:21
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Re: Switzerland falls behind in English skills...

Not sure that 11 is too old to start a foreign language. It wasn't for me. Also, as far as I know Swedish kids start foreign language training in sixth grade, so they are 11 years old like British kids. Some kids may excel at foreign languages at an early age, while others still struggle with their own language. Therefore I think what is more important than the timing of the first foreign language is a thorough education that combines theory and practice and manages to spark an interest.

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For what it's worth, I think a massive problem with the UK system is that languages are not introduced early enough, at say early to mid Primary education. Your average 11 year old starting "big school" with its assorted challenges can easily feel embarrassed and, sadly, learning new words and phrases and being required to say them out loud can quickly become a negative thing. That and a lot of their parents and grandparents have only one language and because they "never needed it", this negative attitude is passed on. I've also heard similar arguments as to why they shouldn't have to pursue English (in a UK school) either!
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