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Old 06.03.2012, 20:15
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Tonto Dütsch (Swiss German)

as part of my never-ending quest to understand some of the shibboleth that is spoken in and around Zurich, I have been building a library of Swiss German. the local language is frankly very difficult (at least for me), made even more so by the variation in its pronunciation and vocabulary as well as its "limited" use in writing.

if any fellow native English speakers are interested in a copy I am happy to share, just shoot me a PM. the .pdf is about 21 pages, and includes some basic phrases, prepositions / adjectives / nouns / vocab, plus a list of typical verbs. it obviously comes free of warranty and full of disclaimers, and could never be a substitute for actually going out in public and humiliating yourself by trying the language with the natives (the pensioners at Migros especially like to be invited to "mached si nur").

P.S. the Tonto reference is to the horribly-stereotyped character from The Lone Ranger and his awful English, which is about what my cheat sheet is good for vis a vis Swiss German.
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Old 06.03.2012, 20:39
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Re: Tonto Dütsch (Swiss German)

I'd love to have a look at it. It's the strangest thing, but I feel it is easier for me to pick up Swiss German than High German: it just seems to be more intuitive for me.
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Old 06.03.2012, 21:31
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Re: Tonto Dütsch (Swiss German)

There is a book "Hoi Zäme" by Sergio J. Lievano & Nicole Egger, a kind of Swiss German survival guide. Is there anything in your document which can not be found in that book?
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Old 06.03.2012, 21:47
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Re: Tonto Dütsch (Swiss German)

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I'd love to have a look at it. It's the strangest thing, but I feel it is easier for me to pick up Swiss German than High German: it just seems to be more intuitive for me.
But there is no such thing as uniform Swiss German dialect. The language is spoken differently in different parts of Switzerland. How is it possible to learn it?
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Old 06.03.2012, 22:11
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Re: Tonto Dütsch (Swiss German)

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I'd love to have a look at it. It's the strangest thing, but I feel it is easier for me to pick up Swiss German than High German: it just seems to be more intuitive for me.
if you shoot me a PM with your e-mail addy I'll send it on over...
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Old 06.03.2012, 22:16
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Re: Tonto Dütsch (Swiss German)

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But there is no such thing as uniform Swiss German dialect. The language is spoken differently in different parts of Switzerland. How is it possible to learn it?
Learn one of the dialects? Most people pick one and (try to) stick to it. From the sounds of it, this pdf will be Zürich dialect.
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Old 06.03.2012, 22:27
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Re: Tonto Dütsch (Swiss German)

fyi, there are literally dozens of EF threads where folks who are so inclined can impress all of us with the results of their doctoral thesis on derivations of Allemannic, as well as debate whether or not what is spoken at the Migros on a Saturday afternoon is a "language" or "dialect". none of that stuff, however, will help me buy a 4-pack of Feldschloessli at the Coop, and is therefore irrelevant to me.

when I come across something that seems like it might be useful (written or spoken), I write it down. since there are always threads on EF from other poor hapless English-speakers like me looking for an acorn in the wilderness, I thought I would offer up a copy of the doc for those who would like it. if the doc is not helpful to folks, they have my apology and are of course free to simply delete.
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Old 06.03.2012, 22:36
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Re: Tonto Dütsch (Swiss German)

Sounds really useful!

You have mail (PM)
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Old 06.03.2012, 22:48
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Re: Tonto Dütsch (Swiss German)

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none of that stuff, however, will help me buy a 4-pack of Feldschloessli at the Coop, and is therefore irrelevant to me.
Sorry, but anything that enables me to buy Feldschlössli is irrelevant to me.
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Old 06.03.2012, 23:37
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Re: Tonto Dütsch (Swiss German)

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But there is no such thing as uniform Swiss German dialect. The language is spoken differently in different parts of Switzerland. How is it possible to learn it?
From High German...

First: Learn the correspondences High-alemanic / High German
- ptk are unvoiced unaspirated, it sounds like unvoiced bdg for a northern German
- k and ck shifted to ch in all positions
- n falls in all end-positions, not changing the vowel of the ending if it is an ending, elongating the vowel if it's in the stem.
- schwa is ä-like sound but in endings where it's -i
- No bavarian diphtonguasion (modern au, only the old au is there, otherwise uu)
- elision of -e- in monosyllabic prefixes, with assimilation before occlusives
- no early high German elongation of vowels in front of voiced occlusives
- rounded or unrounded phenomena depending on region (Basel unrounded, Zürich rounded, Skt Gallen rounded with vowel splitt etc.)

Second: Learn specifically Swiss German vocab and verb conjugation from two sources
- main media, more or less Zürich urban soft version, useful as all purpose language,
- your surroundings.

Third: introduce local specialties
- make sure you know the difference between niemer, nimmer and nümmer.
- short forms for verbs after fall of nasal consonant in stem or inherited from old short forms
- the -u endings in Wallis
- the vocalization of l in Bern German
- the aspirated occlusives in Graubünden/Grischun
- the declension patterns of your region
- and what ever you pick up around you...

When that's done, you take a holiday, you'll need it. And keep practicing when you come back from the beach.
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Old 06.03.2012, 23:55
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Re: Tonto Dütsch (Swiss German)

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P.S. the Tonto reference is to the horribly-stereotyped character from The Lone Ranger and his awful English, which is about what my cheat sheet is good for vis a vis Swiss German.
Don`t complain unless you talk Comanche or Apache language
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Old 06.03.2012, 23:56
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Re: Tonto Dütsch (Swiss German)

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From High German...
First: Learn the correspondences High-alemanic / High German
I find it quite interesting that despite Swiss German is often considered to be a rather homogeneous family of dialects of the German language, it actually includes different forms of alemanic dialects. In the Mittelland the dialects are generally High-Allemanic, but the dialect of Basel is part of the Low-Allemanic group and in the mountains they speak Highest-Allemanic.

From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_German

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Linguistically, Swiss German forms no unity. The linguistic division of Alemannic is rather into Low, High and Highest Alemannic, varieties of all of which are spoken both inside and outside of Switzerland. The reason "Swiss German" dialects constitute a special group is their almost unrestricted use as a spoken language in practically all situations of daily life, whereas the use of the Alemannic dialects in the other countries is restricted or even endangered.
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Old 07.03.2012, 00:00
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Re: Tonto Dütsch (Swiss German)

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Don`t complain unless you talk Comanche or Apache language
it's mostly Chippewa in Michigan these days, especially with the growth of the casinos.

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Old 07.03.2012, 00:04
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Re: Tonto Dütsch (Swiss German)

Ho im Aice! (sp).

Hit him!

Useful to shout during hockey games.

Just learn't that.

Lesson 1 of "Shouting Swiss German during Hockey Games." concluded.

Tomorrows lesson: "You ****ing **** ****.". Stay tuned!
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Old 07.03.2012, 00:08
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Re: Tonto Dütsch (Swiss German)

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I find it quite interesting that despite Swiss German is often considered to be a rather homogeneous family of dialects of the German language, it actually includes different forms of alemanic dialects.
Thank you but the correspondences listed above under "first" concern all high alemanic dialects and the debate about Baseldeutsch typology is far to complex to even be started here, as it also can be argued that Baselland and Sundgau in Alsace are high-alemanic. We can start a thread if you are up for it.

The differences are big to non-linguists. For linguists, it's a small family. The number of specialties (points "second" and "third") will be more numerous in Walliserdeutsch, but that's it, the ground floor is common for the whole building.

The variety of vocabulary have no influence on dialect classification. That makes two linguistically very close dialects look almost unrelated to non-linguists. I can live with that, but we all have to know that. And it's my job as a linguist to remind people of it.
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Old 07.03.2012, 00:09
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Re: Tonto Dütsch (Swiss German)

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In the Mittelland the dialects are generally High-Allemanic, but the dialect of Basel is part of the Low-Allemanic group and in the mountains they speak Highest-Allemanic.
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- rounded or unrounded phenomena depending on region (Basel unrounded, Zürich rounded, Skt Gallen rounded with vowel splitt etc.)
Maybe I've got tin ears and can't hear very well - but does anyone under the age of 50 in Basel still say scheen for schön or Keerpr for Körper?

It seems to me that Basel German used to be much closer to its Low Alemannic cousin Alsatian than it was to Zürich German - but these days with the influence of Swiss media I'm really not so sure.

A lot of the "distinctive features" listed in the wikipedia Basel German article and in Rudolf Suter's book I have never heard here, outside the Zeedeli at Fasnacht.
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Old 07.03.2012, 00:16
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Re: Tonto Dütsch (Swiss German)

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Maybe I've got tin ears and can't hear very well - but does anyone under the age of 50 in Basel still say scheen for schön or Keerpr for Körper?
Make that list... it's a long one. The last Baser saying "yysstyyge" with long /i:/ when getting off the tram is too old to get off a tram. (=aussteigen, get off)
Almost as bad is gsâgt or even gsogt that becomes more and more gseit (=gesagt, said)
I am not sure there are Basler in Gundeli saying zü instead of zu anymore.
lt's endless...

but city-dialect in Basel is a long debate we should have in another thread. Same kind of situation in Chur.
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Old 07.03.2012, 00:18
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Re: Tonto Dütsch (Swiss German)

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it's mostly Chippewa in Michigan these days, especially with the growth of the casinos.

So the lone ranger and his sidekick Tonto finally made it to Detroit Let me guess Tonto is on his way to Toronto
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Old 07.03.2012, 02:34
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Re: Tonto Dütsch (Swiss German)

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as part of my never-ending quest to understand some of the shibboleth that is spoken in and around Zurich, I have been building a library of Swiss German. the local language is frankly very difficult (at least for me), made even more so by the variation in its pronunciation and vocabulary as well as its "limited" use in writing.

if any fellow native English speakers are interested in a copy I am happy to share, just shoot me a PM. the .pdf is about 21 pages, and includes some basic phrases, prepositions / adjectives / nouns / vocab, plus a list of typical verbs. it obviously comes free of warranty and full of disclaimers, and could never be a substitute for actually going out in public and humiliating yourself by trying the language with the natives (the pensioners at Migros especially like to be invited to "mached si nur").

P.S. the Tonto reference is to the horribly-stereotyped character from The Lone Ranger and his awful English, which is about what my cheat sheet is good for vis a vis Swiss German.
What used to be "ZüriTüütsch" in the earlier 20th Century and was still celebrated by some "antiques" in the 1950ies and 60ies has become extinct. The Züritüütsch of today is a mix of a dozen dialects of Switzerland neighbouring areas of Austria and Germany plus a portion of Standard German.
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Old 07.03.2012, 08:33
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Re: Tonto Dütsch (Swiss German)

i am not too fussed on learning swiss german... i am having difficulty with the german part...

but when my son comes home and uses what I can only guess to be a profanity I start to wonder whether I should try to learn a bit more... and faster
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