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Old 21.04.2017, 11:39
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Re: Female and Asian here in Switzerland

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As an English guy, this confused me too. If I meet someone that isn't from England and they speak English without an accent (or actually in an English accent) then I'm generally quite impressed and will often compliment them. This mostly follows me assuming they are English and then having apologised for my mistake.

I had no idea that this could be construed as racism... wow.
I believe it depends on how much the other person knows about you before they make this "compliment". If they are surprised purely because you don't look like a typical English person, that does feel like mild racism or at least ignorance.

I have a British accent from education myself but if someone I just met (therefore has no idea about my background) blurted out "wow you have no accent", it'd just make me want to ask back "so how exactly did you expect me to sound?"
If, on the other hand, someone who knew I have never lived in Britain made such a remark, I would be happy to elaborate and actually take it as a compliment.

For me this is definitely one of those border line stuff. Like when my dear colleague told me he was looking forward to meeting my kids because "he found kids with Chinese eyes very cute" while pulling said eyes himself in case I did not get it ...
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Old 21.04.2017, 11:44
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Re: Female and Asian here in Switzerland

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Being married to an Asian have I faced more than once people who think that I probably mail-ordered her...
Ugh, so ignorant.

You'd think most people would realise almost anything can be done online these days.
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  #63  
Old 21.04.2017, 11:55
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Re: Female and Asian here in Switzerland

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Ugh, so ignorant.

You'd think most people would realise almost anything can be done online these days.
Yeah, the days where the skin color is a surprise (due to black and white photos in the catalogue) are over...

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  #64  
Old 21.04.2017, 12:22
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Re: Female and Asian here in Switzerland

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I believe it depends on how much the other person knows about you before they make this "compliment". If they are surprised purely because you don't look like a typical English person, that does feel like mild racism or at least ignorance.

I have a British accent from education myself but if someone I just met (therefore has no idea about my background) blurted out "wow you have no accent", it'd just make me want to ask back "so how exactly did you expect me to sound?"
If, on the other hand, someone who knew I have never lived in Britain made such a remark, I would be happy to elaborate and actually take it as a compliment.

For me this is definitely one of those border line stuff. Like when my dear colleague told me he was looking forward to meeting my kids because "he found kids with Chinese eyes very cute" while pulling said eyes himself in case I did not get it ...
Perhaps this needs explaining. Most people that I meet here are not English and speak English with either a Swiss or American accent. Some have such strong American accents that I've even been fooled into thinking they are American only to find out they are Swiss. It's very rare that I meet anyone English here. Most Swiss go to America to learn their English (and I don't blame them weather-wise )

So I think it's not racist to assume that someone you meet here without an accent or an English accent might not be English, and it's fair I think to be impressed by that and go on to compliment it.

My first assumption when I meet someone here is that they are Swiss regardless of what they look like, so the default position of "wow, your English accent is great" is I think fair.

I honestly find your viewpoint quite bizarre in the context of where we all live.

edit: If we however all lived in England... then yes, it would be a borderline case of racism of course... but we don't... so....
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  #65  
Old 21.04.2017, 12:24
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Re: Female and Asian here in Switzerland

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As an English guy, this confused me too. If I meet someone that isn't from England and they speak English without an accent (or actually in an English accent) then I'm generally quite impressed and will often compliment them. This mostly follows me assuming they are English and then having apologised for my mistake.

I had no idea that this could be construed as racism... wow.
Yes, there are all sorts of reasons why anyone could be surprised or impressed by someone else's language skills.

And that works on quite convulted ways. Many of us who've been away from the country in which we learnt, or most used, a particular language have had the experience of visiting, only to be told how impressive/fluent/accent-free/quaint/old-fashioned our use of language is. It's a very odd feeling, when one is caught between a certain wish to squeal: "But it's my language, after all! I learnt it here, just like you did!" and the admission that time has moved on, and that there's a certain undeniable gap between my version of that language and the current one.

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Old 21.04.2017, 12:26
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Re: Female and Asian here in Switzerland

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Yes. And many of us who've been away from the country in which we learnt, or most used, a particular language have had the experience of visiting, only to be told how impressive/fluent/accent-free/quaint/old-fashioned our use of language is.

It's a very odd feeling, when one is caught between a certain wish to squeal: "But it's my language! I learnt it here, just like you did!" and the admission that time has moved on, and that there's a certain undeniable gap between my version of that language and the current one.
Good grief, I experienced this last Christmas. My sister told me that I say some things in a strange way, as if I was using German grammar.

I didn't know quite how to react, but it was indeed a very odd feeling
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Old 21.04.2017, 12:46
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Re: Female and Asian here in Switzerland

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Good grief, I experienced this last Christmas. My sister told me that I say some things in a strange way, as if I was using German grammar.

I didn't know quite how to react, but it was indeed a very odd feeling
That's really not as bad as trying to get Swiss German terms out of your head when you return to Germany... I must give people the impression that I have a mental condition when I am searching for basic words that are just different here.

(and don't get me started on the reactions you get when you order a Stange in a bar by mistake...)
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Old 21.04.2017, 12:49
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Re: Female and Asian here in Switzerland

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(and don't get me started on the reactions you get when you order a Stange in a bar by mistake...)
Been there, done that. Had a lot of workmen in the house this week and when not thinking falling into Swiss German instead of Berlinerisch. The look on their faces ware pretty funny though
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  #69  
Old 21.04.2017, 12:50
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Re: Female and Asian here in Switzerland

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I believe it depends on how much the other person knows about you before they make this "compliment". If they are surprised purely because you don't look like a typical English person, that does feel like mild racism or at least ignorance.

I have a British accent from education myself but if someone I just met (therefore has no idea about my background) blurted out "wow you have no accent", it'd just make me want to ask back "so how exactly did you expect me to sound?"
@YellowBirdie,
Although I haven't felt hurt or offended about people commenting on my language skills, and therefore I can't quite say I feel as you do, I do understand that it can be discriminatory to pseudo-compliment someone based on the category I've slapped them into.

It is not a compliment, in my view, to tells someone that they are an exception from the rest of their type. Not okay to say: "Oh, wow, for a member of group X, you really can do Y exceptionally well", if the overall message is that X-ers are, across the board, unable/disqualified/stupid etc., and only this particular one is a remarkable exception.

It can certainly be insulting to say:
Wow, given that...
  • you're a woman, you actually presented that argument logically!
  • you're a man, you actually managed to change that nappy!

On the other hand, it takes only a slight degree of change for such a compliment to be fine:
  • Unfortunately, the partners in the business rarely employ women, and I enjoyed watching their reactions while you present everything to them with such impecable logic.
  • I always found it sad that my father and grandfather had so little to do with their children. Great to see that you take such good care of your baby.

Then again, it's worth guarding oneself against the phenomenon of "listening with angry ears", i.e. not cultivating a readiness to hear discrimination and rejection in all sorts of passing remarks of no great import or application.

https://youtu.be/DahkwAsth-o

Last edited by doropfiz; 21.04.2017 at 12:58. Reason: adding link
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Old 21.04.2017, 12:57
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Re: Female and Asian here in Switzerland

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That's really not as bad as trying to get Swiss German terms out of your head when you return to Germany... I must give people the impression that I have a mental condition when I am searching for basic words that are just different here.

(and don't get me started on the reactions you get when you order a Stange in a bar by mistake...)
I'm often surprised by just how much Swiss-German lingo is understood in Germany, even if you get strange looks.

The reverse is often more difficult, with many German colloqiualisms and regionalisms just evoking blank stares here in CH.
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Old 21.04.2017, 13:04
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Re: Female and Asian here in Switzerland

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Yeah, the days where the skin color is a surprise (due to black and white photos in the catalogue) are over...

Many years ago I read a piece, I think in Bild Zeitung or some similar garbage rag, about a German guy who had married a dark-skinned mail-order bride. When their baby turned out to be brown he assumed she had been sleeping out and in took a DNA test to convince him otherwise.
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Old 21.04.2017, 13:34
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Re: Female and Asian here in Switzerland

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Yeah, the days where the skin color is a surprise (due to black and white photos in the catalogue) are over...

Some explanation here: https://zulja.wordpress.com/2013/09/...ways-relevant/
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  #73  
Old 21.04.2017, 13:34
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Re: Female and Asian here in Switzerland

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My first assumption when I meet someone here is that they are Swiss regardless of what they look like, so the default position of "wow, your English accent is great" is I think fair.
Indeed. Every now and then I will spot someone here trying to figure something out and mumbling to themselves in English. I generally ask if I can be of assistance and end up translating some sign or or such for them. Quite often they will say "Your English is very good!", to which I respond "Yes, most Canadians speak it passably well".

I don't find it insulting.
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Old 21.04.2017, 13:38
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Re: Female and Asian here in Switzerland

Jokes are always so much funnier when explained.

Maybe its time to write a piece that in real life John Cleese is not actually nasty to Spanish waiters. Just in case somebody misunderstood.

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Old 21.04.2017, 14:19
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Re: Female and Asian here in Switzerland

One thing the author missed: "Mailing" is actually a suburb of Ingolstadt, small town bavaria...
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Old 21.04.2017, 14:42
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Re: Female and Asian here in Switzerland

Well, a few months ago I got a PM, the person actually trying to correct my German - down - to his level. And it ended with "but it's very nice that your are trying to learn".
I thought it was highly amusing.
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Old 21.04.2017, 14:46
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Re: Female and Asian here in Switzerland

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The reverse is often more difficult, with many German colloqiualisms and regionalisms just evoking blank stares here in CH.
I once won a bet with a Swiss colleague wether "Kokolores" is an actual word found in the Duden. (It is... and yes, I was telling him what he was producing...)
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Old 21.04.2017, 15:01
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Re: Female and Asian here in Switzerland

My main discomfort is the frequency this occurs! And not just from old people or from only men. I get these sort of comments from young females as well. Which makes me wonder if this is just "part of the culture" and I will after awhile be completely desensitized to it.

I've lived in Amsterdam, London, Sydney, granted there probably are a lot more Asians in these cities, but the frequency of these comments in Zurich, not some small homogeneous Swiss village mind you, just astonishes me.

Just in - while collecting laundry and having a chat around why I only ever send in my boyfriends' suits and not his shirts (I wash and iron them on my own cause he complains the buttons sometimes get damaged by laundromats). The lady said - "Asian women like you are the most submissive, that's why we're losing good Swiss men to them."

I guess washing and ironing my boyfriends shirts can rile up some feminists.... but this I believe has nothing to do with being Asian.
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Old 21.04.2017, 15:11
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Re: Female and Asian here in Switzerland

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Warnemünde is Germany ...... are the Lederhosen gonna come up next again?

Mmmmmmmm ! Should that be Down . After all it's about sexism
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Old 21.04.2017, 15:18
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Re: Female and Asian here in Switzerland

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My main discomfort is the frequency this occurs! And not just from old people or from only men. I get these sort of comments from young females as well. Which makes me wonder if this is just "part of the culture" and I will after awhile be completely desensitized to it.
The most severe comments on gender roles I witnessed in Switzerland were all done by Swiss women. As in "how can she be a good mother if she continues to work full time"... it's not you or your observations, it's the Swiss culture... sorry.


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I've lived in Amsterdam, London, Sydney, granted there probably are a lot more Asians in these cities, but the frequency of these comments in Zurich, not some small homogeneous Swiss village mind you, just astonishes me.
Well, these three cities have more in common than a large immigrant population: They are pretty famous for being extremley progressive and open societies. Switzerland? Not so much.


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Just in - while collecting laundry and having a chat around why I only ever send in my boyfriends' suits and not his shirts (I wash and iron them on my own cause he complains the buttons sometimes get damaged by laundromats). The lady said - "Asian women like you are the most submissive, that's why we're losing good Swiss men to them."
Next time just tell her that you found Swiss men so far to not be the quality you were expecting. (That's the exact sort of case not worth worrying about... if it wasn't the laundry but your work place was it a different story.)
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