Go Back   English Forum Switzerland > Living in Switzerland > Daily life  
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 08.05.2019, 02:32
Newbie 1st class
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Bubendorf
Posts: 14
Groaned at 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanked 5 Times in 2 Posts
dianaburcea has no particular reputation at present
Speaking Swiss German

Hi everyone!

I wanted to share with you some thoughts and also ask your opinions about the topic.

So, I am trying to speak Swiss German at the moment and really giving it all my best! :-)
However I keep hearing over and over, that if you don't speak in the Kantons Dialekt or even very good Swiss German you should just give up and speak HighGerman instead, because apparently many many Swiss think it's funny if a foreigner speaks Swiss German...

I find this so sad and it really makes me wonder why is it like this? I mean, I bet Swiss don't speak perfect English or French or any other language, and I also bet that when they do speak another language, nobody tells them "oh better don't speak at all if you don't pronounce it correctly!"

Anyone that has been in a similar situation?

Cheers
Diana
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 08.05.2019, 03:20
Jim2007's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Kt. Bern
Posts: 5,311
Groaned at 316 Times in 238 Posts
Thanked 8,685 Times in 3,821 Posts
Jim2007 has a reputation beyond reputeJim2007 has a reputation beyond reputeJim2007 has a reputation beyond reputeJim2007 has a reputation beyond reputeJim2007 has a reputation beyond reputeJim2007 has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Speaking Swiss German

Quote:
View Post
However I keep hearing over and over, that if you don't speak in the Kantons Dialekt or even very good Swiss German you should just give up and speak HighGerman instead, because apparently many many Swiss think it's funny if a foreigner speaks Swiss German...
I have been here almost thirty years and I have never heard this. So what do you mean by hearing it over and over? Have you heard it from many Swiss people? Sounds like something made up by a bunch of expats as excuse for not bothering TBH

It is true that some Swiss people prefer not to speak High German and back when I worked I was often asked to meetings instead of my team lead because she was German and they did not want to have to speak High German. I also had a Swiss colleague who would walk past four desks occupied by Germans to get to me and the start the conversation with: Tell the Germans.....
__________________
"There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living." - Nelson Mandela
Reply With Quote
The following 6 users would like to thank Jim2007 for this useful post:
  #3  
Old 08.05.2019, 05:34
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Speaking Swiss German

Hi OP,

I have found just the opposite! I am often approached by locals who converse in Swiss German as they think I am Swiss - in part, I think because I have a very cute yellow lab whom I walk often (and they perhaps think I am a local as I own a dog?)

I studied Russian and high German in college and did an intensive Dutch course for 2 years while living in Amsterdam. I mention this as I think I had a good enough background to try and learn Swiss German when we moved here 2 years ago. The dialect in Zurich sounded much more like Dutch to me than high German so I figured why not?

I am okay at getting around in restaurants and shops etc... Most respond in Swiss German to me but do not try to engage me in anything complicated as I tend to speak a mix of Swiss German, German and Dutch...lol! Not sure whether it is my very cute lab or my primitive attempts to try and speak, but I have found most Swiss whom I have met have been very nice and genuinely surprised I am trying to learn the dialect.

My advice, keep trying! The more one speaks the easier it gets and I think the locals will appreciate your effort to speak their dialect. If engaged in a conversation and I lose the plot of what they are saying, I tell them I am trying to learn and want to learn

Good luck to you!
Reply With Quote
The following 5 users would like to thank for this useful post:
  #4  
Old 08.05.2019, 06:49
Banned
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: CH
Posts: 10,970
Groaned at 2,032 Times in 1,120 Posts
Thanked 5,139 Times in 3,246 Posts
omtatsat omtatsat omtatsat omtatsat omtatsat
Re: Speaking Swiss German

Quote:
View Post
Hi everyone!

I wanted to share with you some thoughts and also ask your opinions about the topic.

So, I am trying to speak Swiss German at the moment and really giving it all my best! :-)
However I keep hearing over and over, that if you don't speak in the Kantons Dialekt or even very good Swiss German you should just give up and speak HighGerman instead, because apparently many many Swiss think it's funny if a foreigner speaks Swiss German...

I find this so sad and it really makes me wonder why is it like this? I mean, I bet Swiss don't speak perfect English or French or any other language, and I also bet that when they do speak another language, nobody tells them "oh better don't speak at all if you don't pronounce it correctly!"

Anyone that has been in a similar situation?

Cheers
Diana
First master High German. Later you can work on Swiss German. Who gives a f... what the others think about speaking Swiss German
Reply With Quote
The following 5 users would like to thank omtatsat for this useful post:
  #5  
Old 08.05.2019, 07:07
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Risch
Posts: 791
Groaned at 39 Times in 24 Posts
Thanked 864 Times in 446 Posts
KiwiSteve has a reputation beyond reputeKiwiSteve has a reputation beyond reputeKiwiSteve has a reputation beyond reputeKiwiSteve has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Speaking Swiss German

Quote:
View Post
First master High German. Later you can work on Swiss German.
No way. Go for Swiss-German, much more fun, endings can be slurred and adding -li to the end of an inappropriate word should raise a smile
Reply With Quote
The following 5 users would like to thank KiwiSteve for this useful post:
  #6  
Old 08.05.2019, 07:10
Banned
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: CH
Posts: 10,970
Groaned at 2,032 Times in 1,120 Posts
Thanked 5,139 Times in 3,246 Posts
omtatsat omtatsat omtatsat omtatsat omtatsat
Re: Speaking Swiss German

Quote:
View Post
No way. Go for Swiss-German, much more fun, endings can be slurred and adding -li to the end of an inappropriate word should raise a smile
Its a diminutive thing the swiss german. Bit like Switzerland. Its not a " mans " thing. Completely unnecessary if you already speak high german. As I said, first master High German

Attachment 136733

Last edited by Guest; 08.05.2019 at 10:54.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank omtatsat for this useful post:
  #7  
Old 08.05.2019, 07:30
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: na
Posts: 11,604
Groaned at 37 Times in 33 Posts
Thanked 27,764 Times in 8,540 Posts
meloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond reputemeloncollie has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Speaking Swiss German

Quote:
View Post
However I keep hearing over and over, that if you don't speak in the Kantons Dialekt or even very good Swiss German you should just give up and speak HighGerman instead, because apparently many many Swiss think it's funny if a foreigner speaks Swiss German...
Quote:
View Post
I have been here almost thirty years and I have never heard this.
Maybe it's a regional thing.

In the 15 years I have lived in a little village in Ausserschwyz, like Diana, I've heard similar comments. In the 5 years before that I lived on the ZH gold coast, and like Jim, found that people were by and large happy (or rather, amused) by any attempt at any form of German.

Here in my little Schwyzer village, Dialekt is somewhat sacred. People just don't take well to furriners' poor attempts that fall well short of the mark. As a friend once said, 'If you have to mangle a language, please do so in Schriftdeutsch - that's a foreign language for me too, it doesn't hurt my ears so much.' She was only sort of joking.

As to my experiences on the other side of the lake - it may well be that I was such a rank beginner then that I simply didn't notice subtle expressions of dismay at my blithe-but-bumbling efforts to speak.
Reply With Quote
The following 2 users would like to thank meloncollie for this useful post:
  #8  
Old 08.05.2019, 08:32
Banned
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: CH
Posts: 10,970
Groaned at 2,032 Times in 1,120 Posts
Thanked 5,139 Times in 3,246 Posts
omtatsat omtatsat omtatsat omtatsat omtatsat
Re: Speaking Swiss German

Quote:
View Post
Maybe it's a regional thing.

In the 15 years I have lived in a little village in Ausserschwyz, like Diana, I've heard similar comments. In the 5 years before that I lived on the ZH gold coast, and like Jim, found that people were by and large happy (or rather, amused) by any attempt at any form of German.

Here in my little Schwyzer village, Dialekt is somewhat sacred. People just don't take well to furriners' poor attempts that fall well short of the mark. As a friend once said, 'If you have to mangle a language, please do so in Schriftdeutsch - that's a foreign language for me too, it doesn't hurt my ears so much.' She was only sort of joking.

As to my experiences on the other side of the lake - it may well be that I was such a rank beginner then that I simply didn't notice subtle expressions of dismay at my blithe-but-bumbling efforts to speak.
Who gives a shit about what the others think. You could say that about learning every new language

Here in my little Schwyzer village people just don't take well to furriners'

Last edited by omtatsat; 08.05.2019 at 08:52.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank omtatsat for this useful post:
  #9  
Old 08.05.2019, 08:57
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Mies
Posts: 1,051
Groaned at 15 Times in 11 Posts
Thanked 788 Times in 445 Posts
catandmouse has an excellent reputationcatandmouse has an excellent reputationcatandmouse has an excellent reputationcatandmouse has an excellent reputation
Re: Speaking Swiss German

My wife's family is Swiss-German and I've always spoken broken Swiss-German with them. I speak high German pretty fluently but live in the Suisse-Romande and have little opportunity to speak Swiss-German, but over the years it's certainly improved. I think my in-laws genuinely appreciate the effort I make to speak dialect with them, couldn't care less about the mistakes and I feel assimilated. I reckon I understand most standard Swiss-German pretty fluently, though I have difficulty with some of the more exotic varieties (Hochwallis, Bündner for example).
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank catandmouse for this useful post:
  #10  
Old 08.05.2019, 09:10
Banned
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: CH
Posts: 10,970
Groaned at 2,032 Times in 1,120 Posts
Thanked 5,139 Times in 3,246 Posts
omtatsat omtatsat omtatsat omtatsat omtatsat
Re: Speaking Swiss German

Quote:
View Post
My wife's family is Swiss-German and I've always spoken broken Swiss-German with them. I speak high German pretty fluently but live in the Suisse-Romande and have little opportunity to speak Swiss-German, but over the years it's certainly improved. I think my in-laws genuinely appreciate the effort I make to speak dialect with them, couldn't care less about the mistakes and I feel assimilated. I reckon I understand most standard Swiss-German pretty fluently, though I have difficulty with some of the more exotic varieties (Hochwallis, Bündner for example).
In Zürich we have Züridüütsch and if you go to bern or wallis no one will understand you. So High German is best
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank omtatsat for this useful post:
  #11  
Old 08.05.2019, 09:19
Elu Elu is offline
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Olten
Posts: 629
Groaned at 22 Times in 21 Posts
Thanked 1,222 Times in 513 Posts
Elu has a reputation beyond reputeElu has a reputation beyond reputeElu has a reputation beyond reputeElu has a reputation beyond reputeElu has a reputation beyond reputeElu has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Speaking Swiss German

Quote:
View Post

So, I am trying to speak Swiss German at the moment and really giving it all my best! :-)
However I keep hearing over and over, that if you don't speak in the Kantons Dialekt or even very good Swiss German you should just give up and speak HighGerman instead, because apparently many many Swiss think it's funny if a foreigner speaks Swiss German...
Of course it can be funny if a foreigner tries to speak the local language, but I'm quite certain no one will be angry or laughing at you. Most will appreciate the effort.
What I heard and said myself is, that one is not expected to speak swiss german, even after 5 years. What I personally would expect from a colleague is that he has a basic level of german after 2 years and maybe understands swiss german after 4, so that I don't have to switch languages.

I once spent 3 weeks in thailand and had a similar experience though. We were touring around with some swiss/thai people and were asking how to speak thai to the locals. We were told to stick to "Thank you" and "please", otherwise we just butcher the language and might offfend them.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank Elu for this useful post:
  #12  
Old 08.05.2019, 10:14
Newbie 1st class
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Bubendorf
Posts: 14
Groaned at 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanked 5 Times in 2 Posts
dianaburcea has no particular reputation at present
Re: Speaking Swiss German

Good morning everyone!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and stories!

Yes, it could be a regional thing (I live in Basel-Land) and I've heard this not from expats but from Swiss locals themselves. I am a music teacher and am teaching early musical education. I give my best to learn nursery rhymes and songs in Swiss German, because I really enjoy it and like the language and it's important for me to teach this course in the local's language. With time I gathered some feedback and this is when I was surprised to hear that if I'm singing songs in Züridüütsch, better just don't sing at all in Swiss German :-)) I must mention that my pronounciation is not at all awful, it's just not swiss enough :-)

Anyway I'm so glad to read that this is not a general thing in Switzerland and I will keep learning to speak the language better (High German is no problem).

For sure I will meet other Swiss who will appreciate my efforts.

Have a great day everyone!
Diana
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 08.05.2019, 10:20
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Re: Speaking Swiss German

Quote:
View Post
Good morning everyone!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and stories!

Yes, it could be a regional thing (I live in Basel-Land) and I've heard this not from expats but from Swiss locals themselves. I am a music teacher and am teaching early musical education. I give my best to learn nursery rhymes and songs in Swiss German, because I really enjoy it and like the language and it's important for me to teach this course in the local's language. With time I gathered some feedback and this is when I was surprised to hear that if I'm singing songs in Züridüütsch, better just don't sing at all in Swiss German :-)) I must mention that my pronounciation is not at all awful, it's just not swiss enough :-)

Anyway I'm so glad to read that this is not a general thing in Switzerland and I will keep learning to speak the language better (High German is no problem).

For sure I will meet other Swiss who will appreciate my efforts.

Have a great day everyone!
Diana
I guess if you are teaching then it's better if you can get it at least sounding local but otherwise, I don't find it an issue when locals hear others speaking Swiss German, nor do they tend to comment over it. But, yes, I could see the issue if someone is teaching kids and the accent comes out a bit off.

Similarly, I used to work near a bilingual nursery and heard the kids all singing "Cheeeengle bells, cheeeengle bells, cheeeeengle all de waaayy!" around Christmas time because the member of staff teaching them the song was a native Spanish speaker.

Cringe and cute in equal measure...
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 08.05.2019, 11:53
Jim2007's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Kt. Bern
Posts: 5,311
Groaned at 316 Times in 238 Posts
Thanked 8,685 Times in 3,821 Posts
Jim2007 has a reputation beyond reputeJim2007 has a reputation beyond reputeJim2007 has a reputation beyond reputeJim2007 has a reputation beyond reputeJim2007 has a reputation beyond reputeJim2007 has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Speaking Swiss German

Quote:
View Post
In Zürich we have Züridüütsch and if you go to bern or wallis no one will understand you. So High German is best
High German is fine if all you want to do is be functional with people - do your shopping, talk to the car mechanic, deal with the officialdom etc... but you will always be on the outside. Perhaps that is enough for you... but most people want a bit more from their interactions with the people around them and you will not get that while you are forcing people to speak in a foreign language, no matter how many times you repeat “High German is best”
Reply With Quote
The following 2 users would like to thank Jim2007 for this useful post:
  #15  
Old 08.05.2019, 13:10
Newbie 1st class
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Bubendorf
Posts: 14
Groaned at 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanked 5 Times in 2 Posts
dianaburcea has no particular reputation at present
Re: Speaking Swiss German

Sandgrounder totally agree! In my case saying "drüü" (Züridüütsch) instead of "drei" (Baseldüütsch) was a bit of a problem :-D Anyway, it's good that I found out their honest opinions.

And lol, funny story with the cheeeengle bells!

Quote:
I guess if you are teaching then it's better if you can get it at least sounding local but otherwise, I don't find it an issue when locals hear others speaking Swiss German, nor do they tend to comment over it. But, yes, I could see the issue if someone is teaching kids and the accent comes out a bit off.

Similarly, I used to work near a bilingual nursery and heard the kids all singing "Cheeeengle bells, cheeeengle bells, cheeeeengle all de waaayy!" around Christmas time because the member of staff teaching them the song was a native Spanish speaker.

Cringe and cute in equal measure...
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 08.05.2019, 13:25
st2lemans's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Lugano
Posts: 32,799
Groaned at 2,650 Times in 1,883 Posts
Thanked 39,932 Times in 18,841 Posts
st2lemans has a reputation beyond reputest2lemans has a reputation beyond reputest2lemans has a reputation beyond reputest2lemans has a reputation beyond reputest2lemans has a reputation beyond reputest2lemans has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Speaking Swiss German

Quote:
View Post
most people want a bit more from their interactions with the people around them and you will not get that while you are forcing people to speak in a foreign language, no matter how many times you repeat “High German is best”
It is enough to understand it, which is the case of people from different Swiss German speaking areas speaking with each other, they don't speak each others' dialects, rather they understand them and speak their own.

I learned that years ago when I was in Sweden with a bunch of Ticinese for work, with whom I normally spoke French, and asked them why they spoke Italian to each other rather than dialect, to which they replied that they couldn't understand each others' dialects!

Later I noticed that only older Ticinese speak dialect to each other, and younger not, for just that reason.

Tom
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank st2lemans for this useful post:
  #17  
Old 08.05.2019, 13:53
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Mies
Posts: 1,051
Groaned at 15 Times in 11 Posts
Thanked 788 Times in 445 Posts
catandmouse has an excellent reputationcatandmouse has an excellent reputationcatandmouse has an excellent reputationcatandmouse has an excellent reputation
Re: Speaking Swiss German

I've never heard Swiss-Germans speaking high German with each other just because they come from different regions. They'll largely cope, each speaking in their own dialect, or at the worst, switching to standard Swiss-German, as on TV. On the whole Swiss-Germans don't like high German and will try to avoid it if at all possible, in other words, unless they're talking with Germans!
Reply With Quote
The following 4 users would like to thank catandmouse for this useful post:
  #18  
Old 08.05.2019, 15:01
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Zurich
Posts: 149
Groaned at 12 Times in 7 Posts
Thanked 157 Times in 73 Posts
Neilsan is considered knowledgeableNeilsan is considered knowledgeableNeilsan is considered knowledgeable
Re: Speaking Swiss German

Unless you are from a specific region, this is nonsense. Most people in any country are delighted to hear foreigners speak their language. Despite this, I would say stick to high german. I have a friend who has lived here many years, he speaks swiss german like a local but he cannot write because he never learned high german. Mastering high german and understanding swiss german is the best combination in my view.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank Neilsan for this useful post:
  #19  
Old 08.05.2019, 15:10
Banned
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: CH
Posts: 10,970
Groaned at 2,032 Times in 1,120 Posts
Thanked 5,139 Times in 3,246 Posts
omtatsat omtatsat omtatsat omtatsat omtatsat
Re: Speaking Swiss German

Quote:
View Post
I've never heard Swiss-Germans speaking high German with each other just because they come from different regions. They'll largely cope, each speaking in their own dialect, or at the worst, switching to standard Swiss-German, as on TV. On the whole Swiss-Germans don't like high German and will try to avoid it if at all possible, in other words, unless they're talking with Germans!
Yes. Because the grammar is so complicated.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 08.05.2019, 15:32
olygirl's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: d' Innerschwiiz
Posts: 7,780
Groaned at 418 Times in 282 Posts
Thanked 18,329 Times in 5,676 Posts
olygirl has a reputation beyond reputeolygirl has a reputation beyond reputeolygirl has a reputation beyond reputeolygirl has a reputation beyond reputeolygirl has a reputation beyond reputeolygirl has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Speaking Swiss German

Life has changed over the past 30 years. Before the influx of Germans, it was expected that expats learn Swiss German. Nowadays, most Swiss think it's better to learn high German simply because Swiss German is not a written language and you'll need to be able to read and write high German to live here.

I truly believe it's important to have a good grasp of high German before learning Swiss German simply because it will get you farther. Or, if you have an ear for languages and you are immersed in Swiss German, then learn both simultaneously.

Good luck!
__________________
Faith isn't about everything turning out okay. Faith is about being okay no matter how things turn out.

Last edited by olygirl; 08.05.2019 at 17:19.
Reply With Quote
The following 2 users would like to thank olygirl for this useful post:
Reply




Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Swiss German speaking children; Art Class ArtTeacher Language corner 0 09.10.2018 23:03
Moving to German speaking Switzerland with a 9 yo kid not speaking German ! Anahe Education 14 29.01.2017 16:52
Speaking swiss german in presence of non-Swiss echamp007 Complaints corner 172 26.06.2015 13:51
daughter only - predominantly - speaking swiss german irish_marmot Family matters/health 26 08.09.2011 23:24
Swiss/german speaking telephone intermediaries... Upthehatters2008 Business & entrepreneur 3 01.09.2010 17:57


All times are GMT +2. The time now is 23:36.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
LinkBacks Enabled by vBSEO 3.1.0