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  #21  
Old 04.10.2011, 12:23
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Re: What About Swiss People's High German?

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Swiss High German is perfectly fine. Local specificities are normal, and it's not any different in High German north of the Rhine (and of Schafhausen).

Frankly, one hears usually quite clearly when a German comes from Schleswig or an old Hamburg fellow. They also have their own High German sometimes.
Seems like you are clearly stating that throughout Germany even their own High German has regional accents that are quite distinguishable to determine from where someone comes. I think I have heard my German friends making similar observances. I just wanted to check your reference to Schafhausen to see if you meant that in Schafhausen, their High German is perhaps slightly more standard with less of an accent than other parts of Switzerland? Would they also be more likely to speak High German in every day situations in shops or restaurants, etc., or is that not going to happen even in that area?
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Old 04.10.2011, 14:10
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Re: What About Swiss People's High German?

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I just wanted to check your reference to Schafhausen to see if you meant that in Schafhausen, their High German is perhaps slightly more standard with less of an accent than other parts of Switzerland? Would they also be more likely to speak High German in every day situations in shops or restaurants, etc., or is that not going to happen even in that area?
The Basel high society (called "Taig") uses to speak French rather than German. Even in regions close to the German border you will hear their specific accent when they speak High German, for them, too, it's a foreign language. And Germans close to the Swiss border have their own accent as well... As mentioned in one of the posts above it's more a question of education - although higher education does not guarantee a better High German as I can say from own experience...

By the way: If somebody is interested in Swiss German you may want to check this site: http://eldrid.ch/switzerland.htm. It's a quick guide to Swiss German by a lady from Norway.
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  #23  
Old 04.10.2011, 14:18
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Re: What About Swiss People's High German?

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Seems like you are clearly stating that throughout Germany even their own High German has regional accents that are quite distinguishable to determine from where someone comes.
It's not just CH or D, but Italy and France as well (and probably every country).

Tom
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Old 04.10.2011, 14:40
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Re: What About Swiss People's High German?

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although higher education does not guarantee a better High German as I can say from own experience...
I forgot to mention that the Students Assosiation at Zurich University complaint concerning professors from Germany that it's not possible to speak Swiss German to them during the readings breaks...

And there was an initiative in the canton of Zurich to make Swiss German the standard language at kindergarten even High German was obligatory only during 1/3 of the time before. The voters except the ones in the city of Zurich said yes. So High German is banned from kindergarten by now...

Many Swiss - maybe especially but not only the older ones - have a kind of aversion to High German - and Germans
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Old 04.10.2011, 14:44
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Re: What About Swiss People's High German?

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Seems like you are clearly stating that throughout Germany even their own High German has regional accents that are quite distinguishable to determine from where someone comes. I think I have heard my German friends making similar observances. I just wanted to check your reference to Schafhausen to see if you meant that in Schafhausen, their High German is perhaps slightly more standard with less of an accent than other parts of Switzerland? Would they also be more likely to speak High German in every day situations in shops or restaurants, etc., or is that not going to happen even in that area?
The German even in the very southern part of the country is closer to High German than Swiss German is. My German FIL speaks only dialect, but he is a dying breed, and the younger "dialect" speakers have what I would call an accent but are not speaking full-out dialect. I know this because I understood the younger people years before the older people (and those younger people are now quite middle-aged as well) . There's just no denying that there is a large sound shift as soon as you cross the border. The accent changes are much more gradual within Germany.

If your goal is to learn textbook High German, it will go faster in Germany. If your goal is to immerse yourself in Swiss culture and slowly learn German mixed with Swiss German, then you will definitely enjoy Switzerland. If you want to be on the border but more immersed in High German, how about Konstanz? You'll get the best of both worlds.

Now I'm curious ... what kind of situation are you in that you can decide where to live regardless of permits, relative expense, etc.?
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  #26  
Old 04.10.2011, 14:51
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Re: What About Swiss People's High German?

Just saw that you are a U.S. citizen, like me. If that's the case, unless you only want to stay 3 months, you will need to find a job or uni placement first. It's been my experience that CH is more restrictive than DE for living/working permits for Americans. That's the place to start.
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  #27  
Old 04.10.2011, 18:23
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Re: What About Swiss People's High German?

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It's not just CH or D, but Italy and France as well (and probably every country).

Tom
I've heard it's very clear in Italy. France is different, because too many people tried for too long to speak school educated French so that it is not sure that you can hear where people come from even if you sense a certain coloring different than yours. Some place have though kept a very distinctive accent: large part of south-ouest is extreem, Côte d'Azur, the two Savoies.

In Germany, you find out very quickly where people are from, it be they have trained accent-free Hochdeutsch. There are people that just have a neutral tone to their German. The northern Germans can sound just "northern", and that's a large area. Dialects are less an obsession than in Switzerland, High German is "coloured" or "flavoured" but real hard core dialect speakers are getting older. The dialects per se are as far off in wilderness as Swiss German. I challenge you to understand spoken deep Hessisch or country side Eastern Franconian, linguistically supposed to be close to High German.
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  #28  
Old 04.10.2011, 20:24
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Re: What About Swiss Ppl's High German?

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Faltrad: That is great news to learn about this! Thank-you for your swift reply.

By the way, will you make an estimate on what percentages of the population can speak decent high German? Is it something about education? For example, maybe older people weren't required 40 years to learn High German, or someone that didn't study well, or they are older and haven't learned in along time?

What about by region? Is for example Schaffhausen or Basel having a higher percentage of the population having no troubles with High German and perhaps in a secluded valley far from the border with German the percentage that speaks High German with no trouble stats to get lower?
Swiss people in the German speaking region had to learn High German always. Schaffhausen btw. is the only Canton where they in the Cantonal parliament speak High German

In the Canton of Zurich, the guidelines for schools about High German in the 1950ies and 60ies were very strict, with dialect only allowed for gymnastics and on excursions but not during the lessons. This became a bit neglected later on, but two years ago, the Zurich Cantonal government stiffened the rules back again. And do not forget that
- newspapers
- magazines
- books
- business letters
- private letters
- even private notes
- instruction manuals
- advertisements
- the declaration on any kind of merchandise
- info about events
is all done in High German

************************************************** *****************

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The German even in the very southern part of the country is closer to High German than Swiss German is. My German FIL speaks only dialect, but he is a dying breed, and the younger "dialect" speakers have what I would call an accent but are not speaking full-out dialect. I know this because I understood the younger people years before the older people (and those younger people are now quite middle-aged as well) . There's just no denying that there is a large sound shift as soon as you cross the border. The accent changes are much more gradual within Germany.

If your goal is to learn textbook High German, it will go faster in Germany. If your goal is to immerse yourself in Swiss culture and slowly learn German mixed with Swiss German, then you will definitely enjoy Switzerland. If you want to be on the border but more immersed in High German, how about Konstanz? You'll get the best of both worlds.

Now I'm curious ... what kind of situation are you in that you can decide where to live regardless of permits, relative expense, etc.?
If you cross the border from Schaffhausen into neighbouring German areas, the sounds and accents remain fairly similar. When you travel between Stein-am-Rhein you will meet a rich variety of local dialects on both sides of the border. If you travel along the Rhine from the Bodensee (Lake of Constance) upwards you can see that the St. Galler Rheintalerisch and the Vorarlbergisch are almost the same.

Last edited by Wollishofener; 09.10.2011 at 00:51.
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  #29  
Old 04.10.2011, 22:37
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Re: What About Swiss People's High German?

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I've heard it's very clear in Italy. France is different, because too many people tried for too long to speak school educated French so that it is not sure that you can hear where people come from even if you sense a certain coloring different than yours. Some place have though kept a very distinctive accent: large part of south-ouest is extreem, Côte d'Azur, the two Savoies.

In Germany, you find out very quickly where people are from, it be they have trained accent-free Hochdeutsch. There are people that just have a neutral tone to their German. The northern Germans can sound just "northern", and that's a large area. Dialects are less an obsession than in Switzerland, High German is "coloured" or "flavoured" but real hard core dialect speakers are getting older. The dialects per se are as far off in wilderness as Swiss German. I challenge you to understand spoken deep Hessisch or country side Eastern Franconian, linguistically supposed to be close to High German.
Meanwhile, Ticino has never been a problem.

At the Migros up the road, they speak local dialect, I speak Italian, no problem. At the local Denner, most speak Italian, some speak various dialects. My wife speaks either, depending on her mood, as did her mother.

Meanwhile, on a business trip to Sweden a decade or so ago, I asked my colleagues why they were speaking Italian to each other (when not speaking French with me, as my Italian sucked back then). They said it was because they couldn't understand each other's dialect, so they stuck with Italian. Now they've moved to Ticinese dialect (basically, generic Lombardian), but most rarely speak their local one.

Different strokes.

Tom
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  #30  
Old 04.10.2011, 23:53
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Re: What About Swiss Ppl's High German?

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So you need to decide if you want to live in Switzerland so much that you will deal with some significant obstacles to learning German. If your goal is to learn Hochdeutsch, it will go much faster in Germany.
Strongly agree. A big part of the obstacle is that you won't hear all that much high german, in groups or when you start to speak fluently swiss german speakers will naturally switch back to their dialects, so you'll also pick up a good passive understanding of swiss german. On the plus side, you'll find some good courses here, look for Volkshochschule, the written language is essentially the same, it's a nice place and Germany is not far away.
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  #31  
Old 05.10.2011, 00:15
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Re: What About Swiss People's High German?

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Meanwhile, Ticino has never been a problem.

At the Migros up the road, they speak local dialect, I speak Italian, no problem. At the local Denner, most speak Italian, some speak various dialects. My wife speaks either, depending on her mood, as did her mother.

Meanwhile, on a business trip to Sweden a decade or so ago, I asked my colleagues why they were speaking Italian to each other (when not speaking French with me, as my Italian sucked back then). They said it was because they couldn't understand each other's dialect, so they stuck with Italian. Now they've moved to Ticinese dialect (basically, generic Lombardian), but most rarely speak their local one.

Different strokes.

Tom
Interesting. Let's see that most Germans and Italians in their languages speak whatever kind of dialect/Mundart/accent. Nobody would call the dialects of Roma or Berlin "High-...." whatever. In France, while there are regional accents/patois/dialects, the Academie Française sets the standards and the Français Parisien IS the "real" French. Amazing only to see that certain geographical names (for example in connection with wines) reveal their Provençal or Languedoc origins and similar terms up north, for example in the Picardie and Champagne their Flemish origins and such ones in the Bretagne of course their Celtic origins. In Germany, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg and Southern Hessen and parts of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate) form the South with the Taunus as the cultural and linguistic border between them and the North Germans
-
the political map of the German Empire, incorporating the Kingdom of Prussia amazingly shows the full picture, with Sachsen/Saxonia part of the South


interesting is to see that the old state of Hohenzollern, origin of the Prussian kings and German emperors of course was linked to Prussia
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  #32  
Old 05.10.2011, 10:43
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Re: What About Swiss People's High German?

Personally I quite like the "Swiss High-German". I hardly speak any Swiss German, but when I speak Hochdeutsch (at an intermediate level) I like pronouncing things the Swiss way and almost do it deliberately at times

For example, the hard 'r', the hard 'ch', 'kh' instead of 'k' etc...
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  #33  
Old 07.10.2011, 23:22
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Re: What About Swiss People's High German?

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Personally I quite like the "Swiss High-German". I hardly speak any Swiss German, but when I speak Hochdeutsch (at an intermediate level) I like pronouncing things the Swiss way and almost do it deliberately at times

For example, the hard 'r', the hard 'ch', 'kh' instead of 'k' etc...
When speaking High German you have to make your mind UP, whether you pronounce things the Zurich way, the Basel way, the München way, the Berlin way, the Stuttgart way or the Hamburg way. German is NOT centralized
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  #34  
Old 07.10.2011, 23:57
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Re: What About Swiss People's High German?

Living in Northern Ireland for the school year, my son has been having high-german lessons from a lovely German teacher. However, it has taken my son and I a while to get use to her crisp pronunciation of words and her fast talk speed; she also has become use to our high-german Zürich accent/ pronunciation and slower speed..

I think she thought she was making progress with my 7 year old last school year until he spent the Summer in Zürich playing with his Swiss friends - methinks she'll have to beat it out of him

Me, I'm strictly Zürich speak and too auld to change
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  #35  
Old 08.10.2011, 10:33
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Re: What About Swiss People's High German?

Study your high German, practice your speaking skills and listening comprehension. And then accept you are wading into a linguistic adventure.

High German really is a foreign language for the Swiss. It's a relatively straightforward one for them, as the underlying grammatical structure is very similar, but it is still their second language, and one spoken with a widely varied accent. I am reminded of this every time I go on a business trip into Germany, especially a major city, and I suddenly find everyone MUCH easier to understand. That said - I CAN understand the Swiss speaking High German, but it took me a few weeks to get it. The hard part is when they are speaking Swiss German, and you think it should be High German and your brain is struggling to parse it.

Swiss German is simply hopeless to learn from where you are. You need to live in whichever town your going to live, and immerse yourself with the local dialect to have any hope. Just focus on getting very good at what you are studying, it will help you, and there will be an adaptation. But it's eminently doable.
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  #36  
Old 09.10.2011, 01:04
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Re: What About Swiss People's High German?

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Study your high German, practice your speaking skills and listening comprehension. And then accept you are wading into a linguistic adventure.

High German really is a foreign language for the Swiss. It's a relatively straightforward one for them, as the underlying grammatical structure is very similar, but it is still their second language, and one spoken with a widely varied accent. I am reminded of this every time I go on a business trip into Germany, especially a major city, and I suddenly find everyone MUCH easier to understand. That said - I CAN understand the Swiss speaking High German, but it took me a few weeks to get it. The hard part is when they are speaking Swiss German, and you think it should be High German and your brain is struggling to parse it.

Swiss German is simply hopeless to learn from where you are. You need to live in whichever town your going to live, and immerse yourself with the local dialect to have any hope. Just focus on getting very good at what you are studying, it will help you, and there will be an adaptation. But it's eminently doable.
"High German" is NOT a foreign language for the Swiss German speakers but is their written language (Schriftdeutsch) and the compromise if people of too different dialects meet.

Admitted, it may be irritating for you that somebody makes the following notes on a sheet of paper
- Kostenloser Service
- Aktuelle Menus
- Büro- und Hauslieferung
and when you ask about will repeat it as
- än choschteloose Särviss
- aktuelli Menüs
- Büro- und Huusliferig
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  #37  
Old 09.10.2011, 09:08
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Re: What About Swiss People's High German?

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Admitted, it may be irritating for you that somebody makes the following notes on a sheet of paper
- Kostenloser Service
- Aktuelle Menus
- Büro- und Hauslieferung
and when you ask about will repeat it as
- än choschteloose Särviss
- aktuelli Menüs
- Büro- und Huusliferig
I don't actually find it irritating at all. The Swiss are how they are, and I never expected them to do things the way I learned in school in Virginia. I always assume the failure is on my part, since I am working on my second language.

What I meant by comment was reflected more by my employees were telling me about how hard the High German is for them, as they implore me to work more on my Swiss German. But those are the production guys, many of whom don't even have passports - so they rarely speak High German at all. The point I'm making is that one shouldn't think of Swiss German as some sort of secret treehouse invented lingo. It's an honest, seaparate language, and speaking High German doesn't just "come with" being Swiss. It something they worked on, and it's not their normal preference if it's their choice.
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  #38  
Old 09.10.2011, 13:54
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Re: What About Swiss People's High German?

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I don't actually find it irritating at all. The Swiss are how they are, and I never expected them to do things the way I learned in school in Virginia. I always assume the failure is on my part, since I am working on my second language.

What I meant by comment was reflected more by my employees were telling me about how hard the High German is for them, as they implore me to work more on my Swiss German. But those are the production guys, many of whom don't even have passports - so they rarely speak High German at all. The point I'm making is that one shouldn't think of Swiss German as some sort of secret treehouse invented lingo. It's an honest, seaparate language, and speaking High German doesn't just "come with" being Swiss. It something they worked on, and it's not their normal preference if it's their choice.
Swiss German not only is NOT a language, it is a group of fairly different dialects, and a group also used in Vorarlberg, Lörrach and Haute-Alsace/Ober-Elsass. If you are "Swiss" in the German speaking majority areas, you not only have High German in school, where during lessons, dialect-speaking is NOT allowed, you have it in everything written. If "they" do not speak High German at all, they most likely simply are NOT Swiss, as High German DOES "come with being Swiss".

Back to schools. Everything starts with Swiss German in Primary Class 1, but is gradually turned over into High German. And everything is changed into High German already in the first year, and up from the first day of the 2nd Primary Class, you are not allowed to speak dialect during ALL lessons.

So, WHERE were your "production people" in school-times ?

To have it with Queen Victoria "I do not feeling amused". Your theory of Swiss German being a kind of whatever languageS, you deny Switzerland of speaking "German" and so rob Switzerland of an important part of its national identity, and this is not acceptable, sorry
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Old 09.10.2011, 15:55
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Re: What About Swiss People's High German?

I have lived in switzerland all my life, before moving to a german school. The students there didn't notice I was Swiss until I told them about it.
First, I think most teachers (and all german teachers) I had had a barely recognizable accent when speaking high german, and second, it really depends how long you learn german, as the longer you learn it, the more you get the hang of it.
Point is, I think you'll have a slight english accent rather than a swiss accent when speaking german, as the accent really depends on your native language
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Old 09.10.2011, 23:01
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Re: What About Swiss People's High German?

OP, I agree with others who have said that you are likely to find it slower going here because you don't hear the High German around you all the time. I speak several foreign languages, all of which I've picked up mostly by osmosis. Living here has been my first ever experience of not being able to do that, and it was a massive shock. So if you prefer to learn by just hearing and speaking, I would definitely recommend going for an area where you will hear something closer to High German in the streets and shops. I'm sure someone will be able to suggest the best places.

Wollishofener, I've had the same experience as dmay, of some Swiss people refusing to speak High German or struggling to speak it with me, probably because they actually haven't spoken it since their school days. At our parents' evening the teacher spoke in High German for my sake, as did most of the parents bar two men, who did their bit in Swiss-German despite knowing that at least one person present did not understand it because the teacher had said so at the start. Either they can't speak Hochdeutsch well/confidently, or they feel that foreigners like myself shouldn't be pandered to. In this case, given our backwoods area, I suspect both . But 2 people was ten percent of those present, and they certainly didn't seem to feel that High German was part of their national identity.

Some of the Swiss on this forum have also mentioned that they have to think before opening their mouths in High German, and I've had other Swiss people tell me that they don't feel at all comfortable with it despite doing it at school. This absolutely makes sense to me as a linguist: being able to read and write something doesn't mean you can necessarily speak it, as I'm sure you have experienced yourself at some point in the past with English. It's a question of passive versus active vocabulary. Being able to read government letters and newspapers and fill in tax forms in High German you learnt at school doesn't mean it's (as good as) a first language to you. I can do all those things quite happily in German, but still don't speak with anything like the same fluency I read with. In fact, I was schooled entirely in French from age 7 (it's not my mother-tongue) and was perfectly fluent with excellent spelling - exactly like a Swiss kid being schooled in High German - but when I come to speak it now, only 7 years since I last lived in that environment, I find it's rusty. It isn't impossible, but it's not my mother-tongue, I'm not 100% fluent any more, there are many words and turns of phrase I have forgotten. The same can be true for any one of your compatriots, if they don't need to use High German regularly, and many of them don't, at least in my area which is mostly farmers. As you have said yourself, even the cantonal parliaments don't use High German (except Schaffhausen). My Swiss friend gets furious about it, she agrees with you that all Germanic Swiss should be able and willing to speak High German whenever called upon, and should not consider it a foreign language, and should not use Schwiizertütsch to exclude foreigners, but no matter how nice that would be, it really doesn't seem to be the real situation for everyone, even if it is for 80 or 90% of the locals including yourself.

Sorry for the off-topic, OP.

ETA: I agree with rayd3m about the accent. Either an English one, or an unplaceable "foreign" one if you already speak several other foreign languages fairly well, as they will also influence your pronunciation in German.

Last edited by Swissoconnors; 09.10.2011 at 23:04. Reason: had another thought
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