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Old 27.06.2020, 13:30
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West Swiss & Talking French

Probably a very old theme here but it was on my mind…
This year there seems to be many people who are holidaying within CH and in our area we have many French-Swiss tourists at the moment.

I used to work in a service role where they generally demand to speak French and then act bewildered when someone can’t.

Why is it that many of them refuse to speak/learn German yet expect everyone else to speak French?
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Old 27.06.2020, 13:44
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Re: West Swiss & Talking French

When my wife goes to Zurich, she expects Everyone to speak Italian, her rationale being: "I'm Swiss, Italian is a Swiss language, and f..k anyone who is to stupid to speak it!"

Oddly enough, she is leagally Swiss-German from Zuri-Oberland (Fischenthal), but speaks no German.

Similar when zucchini's come here.

Tom
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Old 27.06.2020, 13:51
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Re: West Swiss & Talking French

Your profile says you're in Bern. Technically Bern is a dual-language canton but practically speaking I almost never hear French. Swiss German, German and English are the languages I hear most in the Bern area.

I imagine your customers' thoughts are similar to those of Tom's wife - French is an official language so I should be able to speak it wherever I am in CH!
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Old 27.06.2020, 14:18
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Re: West Swiss & Talking French

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Why is it that many of them refuse to speak/learn German yet expect everyone else to speak French?
French is a much nicer language perhaps?
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Old 27.06.2020, 14:39
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Re: West Swiss & Talking French

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Your profile says you're in Bern. Technically Bern is a dual-language canton but practically speaking I almost never hear French. Swiss German, German and English are the languages I hear most in the Bern area.

I imagine your customers' thoughts are similar to those of Tom's wife - French is an official language so I should be able to speak it wherever I am in CH!
The canton as a hole is. Bern is not.
French is spoken in Bernese Jura und in Biel (and it's agglomeration). Only Biel and it's close environment is officially bilingual (afaIk every street name is in two languages), which I find pretty cool actually.
People from Jura traditionally don't like Bern and probably avoid going there so you won't likely run into them.

As to the Swiss-French insisting on French. They got that from their neighbours probably.
And the French extremely protect their language. As far as I know, they still don't have computers and work strictly with ordinateurs. When I hear the kind of German people speak around here sometimes, I begin to wonder if that's such a bad thing.
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Old 27.06.2020, 14:51
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Re: West Swiss & Talking French

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And the French extremely protect their language. As far as I know, they still don't have computers and work strictly with ordinateurs.
Err, in what way is that "protecting the language"? They have a perfectly good word that's been in use for that meaning for fifty-odd years, so why on earth would they want to change it?

Mind you, I'm always disappointed to see language changing, such German words that I learnt at school such as Fernsehenapparat, or Photoapparat more recently, no longer in common use. Still, at least they had the disadvantage of being difficult to say and write, so I can see some reason to move away from them.
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Old 27.06.2020, 15:12
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Re: West Swiss & Talking French

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Probably a very old theme here but it was on my mind…
This year there seems to be many people who are holidaying within CH and in our area we have many French-Swiss tourists at the moment.

I used to work in a service role where they generally demand to speak French and then act bewildered when someone can’t.

Why is it that many of them refuse to speak/learn German yet expect everyone else to speak French?
Probably for the same reason you expect them to know German.

Iirc a study a few years back found that very few Swiss French speakers crossed the invisible language barrier when travelling and even fewer Swiss Germans did. This despite the fact that they should know French/German since they learnt the other language at school.

Sometimes makes me think Switzerland would come together as a country more if they scrapped all the languages and just went with English. Would cut down on a lot of communication problems, not to mention the extra paper generated to cover 3-4 languages all the time.
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Old 27.06.2020, 15:48
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Re: West Swiss & Talking French

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The canton as a hole is. Bern is not.
French is spoken in Bernese Jura und in Biel (and it's agglomeration). Only Biel and it's close environment is officially bilingual (afaIk every street name is in two languages), which I find pretty cool actually.
People from Jura traditionally don't like Bern and probably avoid going there so you won't likely run into them.
That’s not a very nice way to describe Bern.

There are actually quite a few places in the canton which are exclusively french speaking, mostly to the west of the lac de Bienne.


As to the OP’s question I think it comes down to the dialect thing. The Swiss french all learn German at school but only high German which actually doesn’t get you very far in Bern.
I speak fluent french and passable German but whenever I’ve tried to speak German in Bern they’ve chosen to switch to English rather than continue in high German.
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Old 27.06.2020, 15:52
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Re: West Swiss & Talking French

I am working with a lot of Swiss French tourists at the mo. I kind of like that they only speak French... because it means I get to speak French with them without worrying about how shit my French is (because my French is better than their German/English). When I’m working with the German speakers I always feel lousy about my language skills (or lack of).
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Old 27.06.2020, 16:04
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Re: West Swiss & Talking French

When I travel east I am constantly amazed as to how little French is used. Go to the Hallenstadium (sp) and look for an exit, or a toilet. Try and use a machine to buy a ticket, or pay for parking. Little things, I admit, but we are a multilingual country and people from other regions should feel at home.

I am not saying that the French side is any better, it isn’t.

But both, or all four, should make more of an effort.
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Old 27.06.2020, 17:33
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Re: West Swiss & Talking French

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they still don't have computers and work strictly with ordinateurs
The also have materiel, rather than hardware, on which runs the logiciel, rather than software.

Tom
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Old 27.06.2020, 17:41
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Re: West Swiss & Talking French

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Err, in what way is that "protecting the language"? They have a perfectly good word that's been in use for that meaning for fifty-odd years, so why on earth would they want to change it?

Mind you, I'm always disappointed to see language changing, such German words that I learnt at school such as Fernsehenapparat, or Photoapparat more recently, no longer in common use. Still, at least they had the disadvantage of being difficult to say and write, so I can see some reason to move away from them.
yeah, had you quoted my entire bit to that subject ..... or read it at all probably ....

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That’s not a very nice way to describe Bern.

There are actually quite a few places in the canton which are exclusively french speaking, mostly to the west of the lac de Bienne.
No that wasn't. I'll have search within me if that was a Freudian?

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The also have materiel, rather than hardware, on which runs the logiciel, rather than software.

Tom
I didn't know that but I like it.
Checked the dictionary for software in German and it came up with "Computerprogramme".
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Old 27.06.2020, 17:53
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Re: West Swiss & Talking French

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As to the OP’s question I think it comes down to the dialect thing. The Swiss french all learn German at school but only high German which actually doesn’t get you very far in Bern.
I speak fluent french and passable German but whenever I’ve tried to speak German in Bern they’ve chosen to switch to English rather than continue in high German.
My experience exactly. Each time I’ve been in the Swiss German parts, people couldn’t or wouldn’t speak High German with me. They’d rather speak French or English.

Us Frenchies spend years learning high german at school on the pretext that it’s a national language, only to find that it’s totally useless when we go to said part of the nation.
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Old 27.06.2020, 18:47
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Re: West Swiss & Talking French

Perhaps if they put in some effort to unify the dialects it wouldn’t be so difficult. I believe that was this was what was done with Romansch sometime ago.

French speaking Swiss is understood by even the Parisiennes. Although they refuse to accept it.
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Old 27.06.2020, 18:48
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Re: West Swiss & Talking French

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My experience exactly. Each time I’ve been in the Swiss German parts, people couldn’t or wouldn’t speak High German with me. They’d rather speak French or English.
Never run into that myself, they seem to like my crap German (described by a former girlfirend as "schriftdeutsch with a Swiss accent"), but I can understand most Swiss German dialects, so maybe that's why.

Tom

Last edited by st2lemans; 27.06.2020 at 20:28.
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Old 27.06.2020, 18:51
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Re: West Swiss & Talking French

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Perhaps if they put in some effort to unify the dialects it wouldn’t be so difficult. I believe that was this was what was done with Romansch sometime ago.
It was tried.

It failed.

There are still 5 real Rumantsch versions, plus the fake one that everyone hates.

Tom
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Old 27.06.2020, 18:58
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Re: West Swiss & Talking French

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Never run into that myself, they seem to like my crap German (described by a former girlfirend as "schriftdeutsch with a Swaa accent"), but I can understand most Swiss German dialects, so maybe that's why.

Tom
A fate you share with 95% of the people who had to learn their German in the German part of Switzerland.
I take it that was meant to be Swiss - or what would be Swaa be?
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Old 27.06.2020, 19:00
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Re: West Swiss & Talking French

A perfect agreement is when everyone is unhappy.
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Old 27.06.2020, 19:44
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Re: West Swiss & Talking French

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My experience exactly. Each time I’ve been in the Swiss German parts, people couldn’t or wouldn’t speak High German with me. They’d rather speak French or English.

Us Frenchies spend years learning high german at school on the pretext that it’s a national language, only to find that it’s totally useless when we go to said part of the nation.
It is not. I just don't switch even when they try to change to Eng/Fr and my Hoch Deutch it is. Why lose the opportunity to practice.

Last edited by MusicChick; 28.06.2020 at 05:33.
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Old 27.06.2020, 19:54
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Re: West Swiss & Talking French

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It is not. I just don't switch even when try to change to Eng/Fr and Hoch Deutch it is. Why lose the opportunity to practice.
I concur. Those who think that speaking only Hochdeutsch is useless are clearly not living in the same country as you and I. Yes, it helps if you have some ear for local dialects, but I've never had anyone suggest that they couldn't understand me because I was only speaking HD. Speaking it not very well, certainly, but I've never met anyone who would expect a foreigner, by which I mean anyone from another area, to be fluent in their local dialect of Swiss.

As for the OP's question, I don't think it's a question of refusing to try German, but if they first try speaking French and the other person can speak it then what's the problem?
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