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Old 09.05.2021, 20:59
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German as a mother tongue?

Hey!

I've come across of a job posting where they were asking for a native speaker of German (German as a mother tongue "Deutsch Muttersprache").

I'm wondering, out of curiosity, if this isn't plain discrimination and if this is legally allowed. I'm wondering specially if you are a "native swiss" citizen, but you are from a French speaking region… they are discriminating you, even if you speak German almost like a native.

I totally understand that they can look for someone with a really good level of german… no accent or so. And even, I can understand that they can decide not to choose you if you don't have the right accent after they hear it on a interview or phone interview or whatever.

The weird thing for me is… that phrase on a job listing.

Sorry if the question is weird too… but I'm curious.

Thanks!
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Old 09.05.2021, 21:11
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Re: German as a mother tongue?

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Hey!

I've come across of a job posting where they were asking for a native speaker of German (German as a mother tongue "Deutsch Muttersprache").

I'm wondering, out of curiosity, if this isn't plain discrimination and if this is legally allowed. I'm wondering specially if you are a "native swiss" citizen, but you are from a French speaking region… they are discriminating you, even if you speak German almost like a native.

I totally understand that they can look for someone with a really good level of german… no accent or so. And even, I can understand that they can decide not to choose you if you don't have the right accent after they hear it on a interview or phone interview or whatever.

The weird thing for me is… that phrase on a job listing.

Sorry if the question is weird too… but I'm curious.

Thanks!
I don't know the legal answer to this, but I prefer a honest list of requirements so that I don't waste my time applying.
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Old 09.05.2021, 21:38
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Re: German as a mother tongue?

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I don't know the legal answer to this, but I prefer a honest list of requirements so that I don't waste my time applying.
FTFY

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I don't know the legal answer to this, but I prefer a honest REAL list of requirements THAT ARE LEGAL so that I don't waste my time applying
I would like make an emphasis on the REAL since sometimes they are asking for things that are quite difficult, but I guess the mindset is… "what do you lose for asking?".

Anyhow I would prefer do not digress… I would like to know if that is legal to ask.
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Old 09.05.2021, 21:38
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Re: German as a mother tongue?

I don't think it's discriminatory or illegal. The employer can still choose to hire someone who is not a native speaker, but who has the skills they seek. To me, they're clearly indicating applicants need a high level due to what the job entails so that they avoid applications from people who won't be up to the task. I don't think it's related to accents.

As an example, I think a professional translator or interpreter job "requires" mother tongue of the language into which documents/speeches/etc. are being translated.
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Old 09.05.2021, 21:48
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Re: German as a mother tongue?

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FTFY



I would like make an emphasis on the REAL since sometimes they are asking for things that are quite difficult, but I guess the mindset is… "what do you lose for asking?".

Anyhow I would prefer do not digress… I would like to know if that is legal to ask.
A friend once applied to a job with such a requirement. In the very last stage of the application process, the company actually checked with the parents and it turned out that the mother didn't speak German at all.
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Old 09.05.2021, 21:57
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Re: German as a mother tongue?

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I'm wondering, out of curiosity, if this isn't plain discrimination and if this is legally allowed. I'm wondering specially if you are a "native swiss" citizen, but you are from a French speaking region… they are discriminating you, even if you speak German almost like a native.
Do you really think for a second that if they want a Swiss, they are going to take anyone else....

It's probably not the place you'd want to be in.
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Old 09.05.2021, 22:09
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Re: German as a mother tongue?

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I would like to know if that is legal to ask.
Why on earth would it NOT be legal?

Tp,
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Old 09.05.2021, 22:39
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Re: German as a mother tongue?

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As an example, I think a professional translator or interpreter job "requires" mother tongue of the language into which documents/speeches/etc. are being translated.
I don't agree. What is more, usually natives don't really know how to translate. You really need to study translation to really translate properly.

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A friend once applied to a job with such a requirement. In the very last stage of the application process, the company actually checked with the parents and it turned out that the mother didn't speak German at all.
You are kidding me, right?

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Do you really think for a second that if they want a Swiss, they are going to take anyone else....

It's probably not the place you'd want to be in.
Yeah yeah. But I'm wondering about the legality of that. Of course I don't want to even apply to that position.

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Why on earth would it NOT be legal?

Tp,
Because you aren't asking for a technical ability… of even if you have or not a work permit… but for a background you can't choose or improve. Unless you are born on a German speaking country you can have as mother tongue German. It's not fair. Again, I can understand that you can ask for a certain level of German or even perfect German. I can't understand mother tongue. For me it's like… they were saying, we require your skin color to be white. Or be a natural redhead. You can't change that or improve.
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Old 09.05.2021, 22:52
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Re: German as a mother tongue?

For some tasks, such a translating into German, the requisite education must be there (or at least, the job is much more likely to be done at a high standard if the person is qualified), but also German as mother-tongue. It is, in such a context, a tecnical ability.

Not all persons with German mother-tongue will know how to translate properly into German. That's true. But 3Wishes is right that, for a proper translation into German, it takes someone of German mother tongue.

Even outside of translation, sometimes it's about communicating. I knew a man who sold farm equipment. He was hired because he spoke Swiss German and used to be a farmer. When he travelled from one farm to the next, he did what no non-Swiss-German mother-tonguer, and no non-farmer could do: he got alongside those farmers and helped them with their tasks, while talking to them about the equipment they already had, and listening to their concerns, before trying to sell them anything. When they did need something, they called him.
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Old 09.05.2021, 23:05
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Re: German as a mother tongue?

Totally legal. Here is a link to a Tagesanzeiger article where a law professor from Zurich explains the current situation: http://www.altersdiskriminierung.ch/...nzeiger.ch.pdf

Bottom line: it’s legal to write anything you want into a job ad. In Switzerland can discrimination only start if a person applies and doesn’t get a job for some reason... but getting legal proof that you are discriminated against is basically impossible.
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Old 09.05.2021, 23:09
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Re: German as a mother tongue?

I can write in the ad that I'm looking for 168cm man or 159cm woman - it's nothing to do with 'legal' or not .

Whenever it's morally correct - that is the question and reading requirements as I listed above I'd expect nobody with sense of integrity to replay.

The way I read "native speaker" is person with indistinguishable language quality to native speakers same with understanding of idioms, common interpretation of etc etc ..

And don't forget that employer gets best what is available at given (limited) time on the market to do the job at best price he could imagine - and almost never gets what is in the job description .

I had once person that meet all requirements with only one missing thing - we couldn't agree on salary which was 2x above the budget.

some requirements are make or break - others are just 'would be great' and 'let's set the bar high so we not getting 1000s or CVs to go over - your friendly HR"


Now, should you believe your German is at great level - why don't you give a guy a call and question his motives and have open discussion when you can convince him it's mistake what he just put our there ?
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Old 09.05.2021, 23:59
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Re: German as a mother tongue?

When I see 'mother tongue' I assume they want culture as well, not language alone.
Otherwise they'd ask for C1 or C2, which I also saw.

And your average native speaker oftentimes isn't C2 at all, especially if they don't hold university diploma, since then they probably didn't have to learn grammar nuances or vocabulary that you have to do for C1/C2 language degree.

But native speaker brings something else to the table which might be perfectly logical to have for some positions.
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Old 10.05.2021, 02:33
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Re: German as a mother tongue?

Maybe the requirement is not understood correctly.

I have not met a Swiss German person who takes the literal meaning of "Deutsch Muttersprache" as the mother must speak German. It simply means, speaks German as a first language. I’ve had various interesting discussions about this with Swiss German friends, and I’ve come to the conclusion that “mother tounge” is only taken literally in some Anglo Saxon context.

If your German is good i.e. as good as if it was your first language, then you should not let it stop you applying.
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Old 10.05.2021, 05:23
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Re: German as a mother tongue?

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I can't understand mother tongue. For me it's like… they were saying, we require your skin color to be white. Or be a natural redhead. You can't change that or improve.
Don’t confuse logic with the law and particularly in civil law jurisdictions. The law is written in terms of what you can’t do not what you can do. So unless there is a law saying you can’t filter for only people born on weekends, you can, legal drafters can’t think of every dumb idea people are going to come up with.

Last edited by Ace1; 10.05.2021 at 09:58. Reason: Fixing your accidental second "can't" to "can"
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Old 10.05.2021, 05:34
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Re: German as a mother tongue?

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I’ve had various interesting discussions about this with Swiss German friends, and I’ve come to the conclusion that “mother tounge” is only taken literally in some Anglo Saxon context.
Personal experience does not work here because the Swiss people who are inclined to form friendships with foreigners are unlikely to engage in this kind of activity in the first place.
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Old 10.05.2021, 05:41
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Re: German as a mother tongue?

And then there is the commercial reality....

High German is not the native language and many people prefer avoid speaking it especially in front of native German speakers. Not a good way to start a sales pitch.
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Old 10.05.2021, 07:03
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Re: German as a mother tongue?

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Personal experience does not work here because the Swiss people who are inclined to form friendships with foreigners are unlikely to engage in this kind of activity in the first place.
Well, how many Swiss people are pure bred Swiss? There are lots of secondos here with neither parent Swiss German speaking, or with non- Swiss German family language, yet they consider themselves to have mother tongue Swiss German. Mother tongue in Switzerland simply means first language.

In the area I am working in, the head of the department at my competitors jokes that he locks himself in the office and sends his sales team out because he "comes from Germany”. You can see why someone like him would advertise for people who speaks mother tounge Swiss German.
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Old 10.05.2021, 07:44
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Re: German as a mother tongue?

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When I see 'mother tongue' I assume they want culture as well, not language alone.
Otherwise they'd ask for C1 or C2, which I also saw.

And your average native speaker oftentimes isn't C2 at all, especially if they don't hold university diploma, since then they probably didn't have to learn grammar nuances or vocabulary that you have to do for C1/C2 language degree.

But native speaker brings something else to the table which might be perfectly logical to have for some positions.
I assume they want someone who's been educated/grew up here. I know plenty of people who are perfectly bilingual yet they would (usually) call "mother tongue" only one, the one they spoke at home.





If the employer wants a Swiss, there's nothing that can prevent them from selecting one. Fair enough. Yes, don't argue with me, it is practiced in your native countries too.........@OP

There are plenty of employers who don't have anything against working with non-Swiss/non-Germans, so things do get balanced after all.

Plus networking always function better if you ask me.
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Old 10.05.2021, 07:46
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Re: German as a mother tongue?

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A friend once applied to a job with such a requirement. In the very last stage of the application process, the company actually checked with the parents and it turned out that the mother didn't speak German at all.
I remember that. His dad spoke German but it wasn't good enough.

And to the OP - if they stipulate such things at the advertising stage, is this an employer you really want to work for?
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Old 10.05.2021, 07:53
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Re: German as a mother tongue?

German as mother tongue is not the same as looking for a Swiss citizen.

You can be German, Austrian, or just somebody who speaks German as his/her mother tongue.

This is not discriminatory towards foreigners.

As a Swiss coming from another region, it's annoying, but it is what it is, in a tiny country with 4 official languages (and where German is very much the dominant one).
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