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Old 07.08.2015, 15:22
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English + swiss accent

I called the Kreis buro office to get info about some things. The women on the phone was asking for a reference number and she was saying something about giving the first three letters of the family name. I start spelling, she starts yelling "no no, I need the number" and then I ask her kindly to repeat which number she is looking for because couldn't understand the humming.

Her response: You either learn German or English and call back, or just find someone to speak for you.

There goes my faith in swiss kindness.
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Old 07.08.2015, 15:31
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Re: English + swiss accent

Maybe she really could not understand you? Not that this is an excuse for bad behavior or bad customer service, but not being able to understand someone is especially troublesome while talking on the phone; it sounds like you yourself were unclear about what exactly she was asking, so maybe she was unclear as well.

While it can certainly be a PITA to have to go somewhere in person, I always found that talking to people in person was preferable over speaking on the phone when there was any sort of language issue. The ability to gesture and see the other party's facial expressions seemed helpful in dealing with situations like this.
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Old 07.08.2015, 15:35
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Re: English + swiss accent

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Her response: You either learn German or English ...
Is that a sign that English is slowly becoming the second "cantonal language" in ZH?
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Old 07.08.2015, 15:45
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Re: English + swiss accent

That's surprising, I've had plenty of trouble spelling my name and some understandable frustration from the other side but have never had a nasty response like that.

Not applicable to this case where it sounds like she was the one not being clear, but it's worth remembering the phonetic alphabet. I'm lucky as my surname is understandable to German speakers using the international version, but the German (and Swiss!) versions are listed here:

http://german.about.com/library/blfunkabc.htm
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Old 07.08.2015, 16:20
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Re: English + swiss accent

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I called the Kreis buro office to get info about some things. The women on the phone was asking for a reference number and she was saying something about giving the first three letters of the family name. I start spelling, she starts yelling "no no, I need the number" and then I ask her kindly to repeat which number she is looking for because couldn't understand the humming.

Her response: You either learn German or English and call back, or just find someone to speak for you.

There goes my faith in swiss kindness.
She was being kind already by trying english.

Write if you want an answer, that eliminates the problem of phone (see Textoch above) and unfamiliar accents.
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Old 07.08.2015, 16:24
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Re: English + swiss accent

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There goes my faith in swiss kindness.
Since when was warmth and kindness a standard trait in all Swiss? or any nation, for that matter?
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Old 07.08.2015, 16:41
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Re: English + swiss accent

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but the German (and Swiss!) versions are listed here:
http://german.about.com/library/blfunkabc.htm
Thanks! I was always using some randomly chosen words
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Old 07.08.2015, 16:46
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Re: English + swiss accent

I was also kind to ask if it was fine to speak in English in the first place. Even if you consider someone speaking in English as being kind, it doesn't mean she has to be impolite or impatient.
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Old 07.08.2015, 17:01
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Re: English + swiss accent

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Since when was warmth and kindness a standard trait in all Swiss? or any nation, for that matter?
Of course, not at all. However, I must say that this woman was an outlier for me in Switzerland.
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Old 07.08.2015, 17:51
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Re: English + swiss accent

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I called the Kreis buro office to get info about some things. The women on the phone was asking for a reference number and she was saying something about giving the first three letters of the family name. I start spelling, she starts yelling "no no, I need the number" and then I ask her kindly to repeat which number she is looking for because couldn't understand the humming.

Her response: You either learn German or English and call back, or just find someone to speak for you.

There goes my faith in swiss kindness.
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Of course, not at all. However, I must say that this woman was an outlier for me in Switzerland.
I can understand some of your frustration, I have an impossible surname to spell and pronounce as far as most french-speakers are concerned, and occasionally problems with understanding some numbers, especially the compound ones.
It really is better if you try to do some of the official stuff face-to-face if possible to avoid confusion, then if you (or they) don't understand somethingyou can usually ask them to repeat it without anyone getting cross.

However, you've used two terms that I (as a born and breed english speaker) don't understand in your quotes, are they possibly just spell-check corrections as your meaning isn't really clear in either phrase.
What does 'understand the humming', and 'outlier' mean?
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Old 19.08.2015, 10:45
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Re: English + swiss accent

I've found that emailing gets better results, sometimes just spelling your name creates problems, as the vowels in German are pronounce different to English.
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Old 19.08.2015, 10:51
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Re: English + swiss accent

'outlier' https://www.schneier.com/books/liars_and_outliers/

A person not according to the (perceived) norm.

Considering the many other threads (http://www.englishforum.ch/complaints-corner/) such 'outliers' are quite the norm and OP is an outlier by themselves for not having experienced "usual" Swiss costumer service so far.
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Old 19.08.2015, 11:47
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Re: English + swiss accent

I always thought an Outlier was a Statistical term for a bit of data or a result that was outside the norm...


Humming is something you do as you stroll along the Seine.
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Old 19.08.2015, 12:50
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Re: English + swiss accent

Cannot help with the rudeness, but I also have an unfamiliar/unpronouncable name. When I move to a new country I memorize the coding of my name using cities from that country for phone conversations (in case they are not familiar with the phonetic alphabet). Makes it way less painful.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...in_Switzerland
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Old 24.08.2015, 09:43
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Re: English + swiss accent

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Cannot help with the rudeness, but I also have an unfamiliar/unpronouncable name. When I move to a new country I memorize the coding of my name using cities from that country for phone conversations (in case they are not familiar with the phonetic alphabet). Makes it way less painful.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...in_Switzerland
Good luck with that:

Birsfelden
Le Locle
Oftringen
Chêne-Bougeries
Herisau
Ecublens
Rüti,

Chur
Horgen
Regensdorf
Illnau-Effretikon
Spreitenbach
Thônex
Oberwil
Plan-les-Ouates
Herisau
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Old 24.08.2015, 09:55
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Re: English + swiss accent

A lot easier to give the post code surely, rather than spell name of town/village- they will get straight to it.
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Old 24.08.2015, 10:18
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Re: English + swiss accent

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A lot easier to give the post code surely, rather than spell name of town/village- they will get straight to it.

Easier, but more risky as there's less redundancy in a four digit postcode than a typical town name.


The listening hearing 8041 instead of 8049 is likely to make more of a difference to the process than hearing Zurith for Zurich.
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Old 24.08.2015, 10:22
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Re: English + swiss accent

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I called the Kreis buro office to get info about some things. The women on the phone was asking for a reference number and she was saying something about giving the first three letters of the family name. I start spelling, she starts yelling "no no, I need the number" and then I ask her kindly to repeat which number she is looking for because couldn't understand the humming.

Her response: You either learn German or English and call back, or just find someone to speak for you.

There goes my faith in swiss kindness.


It sounds to me like you were dealing with a very naughty humming bird!
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Old 24.08.2015, 10:58
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Re: English + swiss accent

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A lot easier to give the post code surely, rather than spell name of town/village- they will get straight to it.
That doesn't work if you're using the town names as a means of spelling your surname though which is what the previous poster was suggesting.

So for Odile for example they would say

Oerlikon dietikon Ittigen luzern erlenbach.

Sounds overly complicated to me but if it works for him that's good. I am fortunate in having a short easily pronounced and spelled surname but the French speakers come up with some weird and wonderful variations on my first name.
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Old 24.08.2015, 11:01
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Re: English + swiss accent

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I am fortunate in having a short easily pronounced and spelled surname but the French speakers come up with some weird and wonderful variations on my first name.

Esquilandorandella Zog?
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