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Old 05.10.2011, 10:16
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Swiss German isn't a language...

(spin-off from another thread)

Why isn't Swiss-German a language?! It ought to be. I know there are different words in different regions - but when I say pants I don't necessarily mean what you mean, and English is still a language. Likewise "coger" in Spanish (to catch/ to shag) and "pistolet" in French (small gun/sandwich bread).
I also know there are different spellings (like standardised and standardized?) and different grammar rules possibly, something like when Americans say "If I had of known" - which drives me up the wall because it's "if I had known"! And of course, different pronunciations - anyone been to Glasgow recently? My English family found my husband hard to understand when they first met him, and he's only from Leeds!

Does anyone seriously think language has to be controlled by a central agency? Anyone apart from the Académie Française, that is?

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! 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. 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. 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.

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.

I love hearing/reading Swiss-German, even though after 7 years here I still only understand about 5-10%. It gets right up my nose when people dismiss it as just some dialect. I wish the Swiss would say "right, this is our language, with a wide range of local variants, let's ditch the High German, standardise the spelling a tad, and all speak what we actually speak." And I wish they would teach it at language schools without requiring you to speak High German first. I would have started classes several years ago, instead of having to wait to get to B1 and signing up come January.

Sure this has all been said before, probably with greater brevity, but it is one of the things that really annoys me here. If I ever get Swiss nationality...

</rant>
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Old 05.10.2011, 10:45
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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.
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Old 05.10.2011, 10:48
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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Why isn't Swiss-German a language?!
Because it sounds like chainsaws making love.
Because it's a dialect.
Because there is no standardized way of writing Swiss German.
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Old 05.10.2011, 10:50
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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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"!
Where were these "Americans" from which you heard utter such a thing? I've never heard any say it that way. "Axe" instead of "Ask" yes... "could care less" instead of "couldn't care less" sure... but "had of known"? That would drive me nuts as well.


Meanwhile, Swiss German "not" a language? I don't think that's so... not a "written" language according to most, that is true enough, kinda.

I think the problem is that Swiss German is not spoken in ALL of Switzerland, so since there was a "standardized" German already, when whomever did the decision making about using a standardized version for broadcast communication (whether TV or in print), they probably figured that was easy-peasy to take on.

Meanwhile, if there had been some sort of decision to be made whether to use Bernerdüütsch or Baslerdüütsch or Zuridüütsch as the "official" language, well, we'd probably have gone back to actual warring factions.
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Old 05.10.2011, 10:54
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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Why isn't Swiss-German a language?!
Because it's just a name for a group of alemanic dialects spoken in Switzerland. Alemanic dialects are also spoken in France (Alsace), Austria, and the South-west of Germany. Between ALL German dialects (not only the Alemanic ones), there's a continuum, so no language borders.
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Old 05.10.2011, 10:55
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

The thread is more about the definition of "language" than it is about Swiss German and as such...I can't invest in it, I'm out.

(Obsessed with Dragons Den at the moment)
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Old 05.10.2011, 11:02
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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Where were these "Americans" from which you heard utter such a thing? I've never heard any say it that way. "Axe" instead of "Ask" yes... "could care less" instead of "couldn't care less" sure... but "had of known"? That would drive me nuts as well.
Me, too! Maybe she means "If I would have known" ... ("woulda known"). I say both -- If I "would have known" and "had known."
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Old 05.10.2011, 11:03
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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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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Where were these "Americans" from which you heard utter such a thing? I've never heard any say it that way.
Often "of" is mistakenly used in place of have:

".... if I had have known ....." ....followed by: ".... I would have ....."(past conditional)
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Old 05.10.2011, 11:32
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

If I had have known is probably perfectly correct...
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Old 05.10.2011, 11:35
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

I just think the Swiss should do what the Dutch did 500 years or so ago, and what Luxembourg did in the 20th century and
- decide that their German dialect is no longer a dialect, but a language
- standardize grammar and vocab (it could be done for Romansh, so it can be done for Swiss German).
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Old 05.10.2011, 11:41
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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Because it's just a name for a group of alemanic dialects spoken in Switzerland. Alemanic dialects are also spoken in France (Alsace), Austria, and the South-west of Germany. Between ALL German dialects (not only the Alemanic ones), there's a continuum, so no language borders.
I guess there might be a case for a slightly more formalised definition of 'Alemanic', although I suspect that the variations within this range are a) too wide, such as the Alsace tendency to mix French and German words at will, and to use French-style word order, and b) too fluid, with changes happening so fast and so locally that it would be impossible to keep up with them.
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Old 05.10.2011, 11:47
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

So OP are you saying Glaswegian isn't English but should be considered a separate language per se?

Same with Geordie, Brummie Scouse? Are they all separate languages instead of English.

Swiss-german is German, fact. Just badly pronounced.

Just like a wee man up north is a titchy geeza down souf.
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Old 05.10.2011, 11:51
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger

let's see swiss-german with the diversity point of view.
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Old 05.10.2011, 11:57
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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"...
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Old 05.10.2011, 12:00
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

It would be almost impossible to have a standardized 'swiss-german' language.

Even between Oberaegeri and Unteraegeri they use different words for the same thing.

cheers
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Old 05.10.2011, 12:02
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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.
..and what a strength that is. Does it fall under the category of being difficult weirdos for no apparent reason?
..and judging by the recent diaspora of Germans working in Switzerland, it doesn't seem to be all that big of a task to break the seemingly unbreakable enigma of understanding Swiss German (since it's based on German).
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Old 05.10.2011, 12:04
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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.
Just like a guy in Oxford wouldn't understand a guy in Glasgow it is still ultimately the same language in a different dialect
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Old 05.10.2011, 12:16
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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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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Where were these "Americans" from which you heard utter such a thing?
I hear it all the time, but not only from Americans -- Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, all sorts of native English speakers who are too lazy to speak properly; almost never from people who speak English as a second (or more) language, though. Seeing it in writing (which also happens all too often) is even more annoying. It's a bit like formalising some incomprehensible patois vaguely based on a recognised language.

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... when whomever did the decision making about using a standardized version for broadcast communication (whether TV or in print), they probably figured that was easy-peasy to take on.
That drives me nuts, too.

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If I had have known is probably perfectly correct...
Absolutely not. Never.
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Old 05.10.2011, 12:21
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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..and what a strength that is. Does it fall under the category of being difficult weirdos for no apparent reason?
..and judging by the recent diaspora of Germans working in Switzerland, it doesn't seem to be all that big of a task to break the seemingly unbreakable enigma of understanding Swiss German (since it's based on German).
It is a difficult concept for English speakers, especially Americans from a continent that has the same hand-writing, let alone the same language, to understand. Basques and those from Quebec would relate to it though.

Language, and to a lesser extent accents within a language, define a person. Thus the more Germans that arrive in Switzerland, the stronger and more important Swiss-German will come to the Swiss...
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Old 05.10.2011, 12:25
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Re: Swiss German isn't a language...

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It is a difficult concept for English speakers, especially Americans from a continent that has the same hand-writing, let alone the same language, to understand. Basques and those from Quebec would relate to it though.

Language, and to a lesser extent accents within a language, define a person. Thus the more Germans that arrive in Switzerland, the stronger and more important Swiss-German will come to the Swiss...
Well, in case you didn't know, there are vast regional differences by the way people speak in the US and many words hold different meanings therefore, I am afraid, your comparison doesn't quite make sense. Also, why do you bring in Americans into this discussion to begin with...?
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