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Old 05.10.2011, 18:12
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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Let's just accept the diglossia as it is. Nothing wrong with it in the first place.
Now, there's a word you don't see every day - that's made my evening, that has!!!
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  #62  
Old 05.10.2011, 18:34
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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There doesn't seem to be any good, long-term, unchangeable reason why Swiss-German should continue to be thought of as "just" a dialect of German. I speak Dutch and Danish, and a lot of the time those seem to be as close to High German as Swiss German is. Norwegian is almost identical to Danish, and they all get proper language status. So does Faroese.
But this begs the question of what actually is this "language status" of which you speak? There is no hard-and-fast definition of the difference between a language and a dialect, and basically the division is political rather than linguistic. Countries sometimes like to insist that what they speak is a different language to further their own nationalistic interest, while others (like Switzerland) insist that their language is just a dialect to assist trade with other countries that speak the same language. At the end of the day, words mean what I say they mean.
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  #63  
Old 05.10.2011, 19:26
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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(spin-off from another thread)
Why isn't Swiss-German a language?!
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Because "it" or rather the 20 different dialects travelling under that umbrella are parts of the German language.
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And because what you call Swiss-German also is spoken in the Vorarlberg (Austria), in Büsingen (D) . in the Lörrach area (D) and in Ober-Elsass / Haute-Alsace (F). And in case you expect Zürcher people ever to speak Baaslerisch you better forget it. If you speak Schaffuserisch (the dialect of Schaffhausen) in the Innerschwiiz people often change into High German

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It ought to be.
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No, there is no reason to.
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Do not forget that not only the Swiss book trade depends onto sales into Germany and Austria but that newspapers like Tages Anzeiger and NZZ sell up to 3rd of their copies in Germany and Austria. Switzerland actually participates in the Duden Commission

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when Americans say "If I had of known" - which drives me up the wall because it's "if I had known"!
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and still, American English still is NOT a separate language


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Does anyone seriously think language has to be controlled by a central agency? Anyone apart from the Académie Française, that is?
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neither German nor English nor Arabic are controlled by a central agency


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Where we live, which is admittedly in darkest Nidwalden, there are plenty of signs up in Swiss German. We get adverts in Swiss through the door - not just from the SVP, either!
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Here around, only few signs are up in dialect, but quite many in Italian. We here get a few adverts in dialect, most in High German, lots in Italian and some in Albanian

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Sermons at our church were in Swiss-German until friends of ours asked for them to be in High German for our sake. This involves some sighing when visiting preachers are informed of the fact.
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Sermons in churches here, both Protestant and Catholic ones, are in High German and always have been.

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Songs at church and at Kindergarten are roughly 50% local and the kindergarten teacher spoke in Swiss-German for the entire parents' evening last year. This year she spoke High German after asking me first - most but not all of the other parents followed suit.
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Songs in the Kindergarten of course are in dialect and a few church songs also, but most church songs and almost all songs in schools are in High German


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Swiss-German is available in (very small!) dictionary form, there are books teaching it, the Bible has been at least partially translated into it, and there are classes you can take if you have at least B1 in Hochdeutsch. From where I'm standing, that's pretty much a language.
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American English is available in very sizeable dictionary forms, and there are many books teaching it. The Zwingli Bible is in High German. Again it is not a language but a group of dialects of German



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There doesn't seem to be any good, long-term, unchangeable reason why Swiss-German should continue to be thought of as "just" a dialect of German. I speak Dutch and Danish, and a lot of the time those seem to be as close to High German as Swiss German is.
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Dutch in fact IS a group of a few German dialects, but the Dutch decided to develop this group into a separate language. How many Germans in Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Köln, Hannover and Hamburg read those Dutch newspapers ? But 10'000s read both T-A and NZZ.

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I love hearing/reading Swiss-German, even though after 7 years here I still only understand about 5-10%.
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Getting out from Dutch you would understand far more if being in Schaffhausen or St. Gallen or Thurgau or Graubünden than with thouse weird mountaineers
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  #64  
Old 05.10.2011, 19:30
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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I also think Swiss German is a different language...It will become official at some point, but till then I would be very happy if Swiss people were a little bit more willing to speak High German.
They, I mean the CH dialects, will NOT become languageS. High German in CH is called Schrift-Deutsch which means Written German, which says it all. Swiss people are most exceedingly willing to speak High German when on holidays, for instance in the Mediterranean, not least if together with Germans and Austrians But generally do not feel like when being inside CH
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Old 05.10.2011, 19:33
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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Of course Swiss German in a language. From a Swiss perspective it's biggest strength is that It is NOT German and Germans don't understand it.

The second biggest advantage for the German-speaking Swiss is that each area has it's own version. The language says to the Swiss "we are Swiss"...
Germans from south of the Taunus line understand it fairly well and those in their "Deep South" even very well indeed. And German is the official language nr 1 in Switzerland, not least as a working compromise between the various dialects.
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Old 05.10.2011, 19:36
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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Swiss-German is High German. Hence with 2nd consonant shift.
High German and Swiss-German have the 2nd consonant shift in commun an Dutch does not.
That's a biggy.
Luxembourghish is High German (with 2nd consonant shift), and Yiddish arguably is as well. So there already are several High German languages. One more wouldn't hurt.

I appreciate that the Swiss are not ready to take that step just yet. I just like to tell them what to do (some payback for all that no-PET-washing-liquid-bottles-in-the-PET-collection telling off) .
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  #67  
Old 05.10.2011, 19:40
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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No, there is not only one dialect in English and as a matter of fact, you'll immediately know when you're talking to somebody from NY versus somebody from LA. Not only do they phonetically sound completely different but they also use different vocabulary and sentence structure. Whether the difference between Basel and Züritüütsch is greater than NY English vs. Los Angeles English is debatable.
Also, there also various pidgin dialects in respect to the geographical location the speaker is from. Not sure what you're trying to get at here.
There are people who tell me that Texan and Carolinan are accents. So it may be, I do not argue about the beard hairs of the Prophet. But to me, Texan, South Louisianan, Georgian and Carolinan ARE dialects and will remain so
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Old 05.10.2011, 19:43
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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..but those are precisely dialects...and there are ample examples to support this. The differences are not only displayed within the black community but also crosses socio-economic boundaries and are about as vast as in Switzerland. Butter for instance in Bern, they'd call it "anke"...in Zurich and Basel "Butter". On the east coast, if you order a soda you'll get a soft drink...you order a soda on the west coast you'll get sparkling water.
And if you can "mitriite" in Schaffhausen it means that the other has a horse while in Bern it means that the other has a car. And if a Schaffuuser states "äs luftet" you have to translate it as "äs ziähht"
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  #69  
Old 05.10.2011, 19:43
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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Luxembourghish is High German (with 2nd consonant shift), and Yiddish arguably is as well. So there already are several High German languages. One more wouldn't hurt.
You were talking about Dutch, I answered about Dutch. To me, it's logic.

One more High German language would hurt the Swiss. If you don't believe them, then you are the one refusing facing reality. I don't see why Swiss would have to care. But the Luxemburger are probalby happy that you support their efforts.
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Old 05.10.2011, 20:15
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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Luxembourghish is High German (with 2nd consonant shift), and Yiddish arguably is as well. So there already are several High German languages. One more wouldn't hurt.

I appreciate that the Swiss are not ready to take that step just yet. I just like to tell them what to do (some payback for all that no-PET-washing-liquid-bottles-in-the-PET-collection telling off) .
Lechteburgisch is NOT High-German but a very distinct dialect. I learnt this from a Luxemburger already in 1969/70 and still believe him, even if the good man now most likely no longer is among us . And I am not sure about Yiddish, but "Sie wärn jo meschugge wenn Sie Yiddish als Hoch-Deutsch näme würden"
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Old 05.10.2011, 20:33
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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Lechteburgisch is NOT High-German but a very distinct dialect.
We mean it differently:
Lëtzebuergisch is Mitteldeutsch, with partial zweite Lautverschiebung, but not "High German" as "Hochdeutsch/Schriftdeutsch". No doubt about that.
Sorry for the vocab mix-up.
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  #72  
Old 05.10.2011, 23:48
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

I've gotten burned on this subject before, so I'm just going to offer this observation. I think think there are more Swiss citizens in favour of making English an official (de jure) language of Switzerland than standardizing any one dialect of Swiss-German.
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Old 06.10.2011, 05:31
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

This is about the tenth time this discussion comes up (at least). And it's always amusing to see how emotional some people argue who don't even speak German - but love to believe whatever they were told by their mates is true.

England is an Island, so the language had a natural border for many centuries. Let's compare German with French or Italian instead: All three languages had up to a century ago so strong accents that people could not communicate with each other. None of my Swiss friends would have understand my grandmother - while she lived in Germany speaking another German dialect. Dialects all over Europe are declining - mainly thanks to national television and radio. The Swiss consider Swiss German a national heritage and it gives them a feeling of belonging - which i think is an entirely postive thing - but it does not make Swiss German an own language. In the late 19th century were all languages standardized - and for the last time: Standard German was FIRST accepted by the Swiss and then by the Germans - because they had so many local dialect did they find the idea of a standard language even more appealing than say Northern Germans.

I am sorry to disappoint all of you who want to be special by speaking some words of Swiss German - it is not a language - if it was, I'd have to learn it. As a matter of fact did I just need to get used to the pronounciation and then I managed to understand it perfectly. It would take me easily the same effort to get along in Munich or Dresden with some old locals as it was in Zurich.

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Ah so interesting - so when a High German speaker says "Guten Appetit" and a Swiss says "en guerte" this is only pronunciation?
Actually yes. Perfect example: "En guete" means "Einen guten" leaving the noun out - Appetit. It is exactly the same saying.

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or for other examples of pronunciation fahrad/velo, poulet/huhn, &&&&
Swiss German has some french words. My local German dialect as well since I grew up at the western border. But just because I never say Geldbeutel but Portmonnaie doesn't mean that I do not speak German.
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Old 06.10.2011, 13:22
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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...
England is an Island
...
Is it, by Jove?!?!? I guess I better invest in a new road atlas post haste, lest I plunge off the edge of Scotland and drown in the sea on my doomed attempt to drive to Wales
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  #75  
Old 06.10.2011, 14:24
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

How on earth do you know who does or doesn't speak German? *intrigued* Are you secretly a wizard?

I also wonder how you know who might pick a language to learn because it makes them "feel special". Rather a deprecating thing to say, don't you think? Can't imagine that that would top (or even figure on) anyone's list of reasons to learn a language, and I know quite a few linguists of various types. Impresses the girls/lads, maybe; impresses other interpreters/prospective employers, fine, that's on my list too; helps me understand wth is going on around here, definitely; gets me tenure in the conference interpreting DG at the EU, absolutely. But makes me feel special? Pffft.

@eddiejc, I think most Nidwaldners would explode if they were told English was now an official language. I know for certain the CEO of my husband's company would. Could be amusing, if messy.

Wollishofener, I refer you to all my posts above, because I can't be bothered to rewrite them all yet again just because you missed the point and/or are merely being deliberately obtuse. Here's a brief summary though: our church is a Protestant church and it speaks Mundart the vast majority of the time. Strange though it may seem, I can in fact tell the difference between High German and the Swiss sort, much like I can tell the difference between Swedish and Danish, Spanish and Italian, Dutch and Gaelic, or French and Gobbledegook. I will be happy to take you along and demonstrate if you are still unconvinced.
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Old 06.10.2011, 15:28
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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I can in fact tell the difference between High German and the Swiss sort,
That's not the question. The question is if you find the dialects of e.g. Lörrach and Basel so distinct that you would argue that the people in Basel speak a different language.
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  #77  
Old 06.10.2011, 15:52
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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Because it sounds like chainsaws making love.
Because it's a dialect.
Because there is no standardized way of writing Swiss German.
If Dutch can be a language then so can Swiss, as far as I'm concerned.
They're both dialects of German when it all comes down to brass tacks.
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  #78  
Old 06.10.2011, 15:55
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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If Dutch can be a language then so can Swiss, as far as I'm concerned.
They're both dialects of German when it all comes down to brass tacks.
How do you say "Aromat" in Dutch?
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Old 06.10.2011, 16:05
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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How on earth do you know who does or doesn't speak German? *intrigued* Are you secretly a wizard?
No, I am not. I am a pretty normal person that lived seven years in Zurich, not Tibet or whatever mountain valley you are in. I have therefore met quite some of the EF crowd in person at various drinks - including some who write in this thread.

Simple example: Golfprostew. He speaks German good enough to teach golf, arrived here and easily adapted in some weeks to teach Swiss. If Swiss German was a language, this wasn't possible. End of.

Last edited by Treverus; 07.10.2011 at 17:23.
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Old 06.10.2011, 16:14
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

Languages and dialects are very hard if not impossible to distinguish on the basis of structural differences. I’ll just repeat what I quoted earlier: “Language is a dialect with an army and navy.”
Swiss German will never get the official status of a language because it comes in too many forms and shapes, and not because it is (allegedly) too similar to High German. Similarity has nothing to do with it.
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