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Old 13.03.2012, 08:53
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Are there any "concepts" that the Swiss don't have in the language?

Mrs CC and I were recently discussing somebody's upcoming holiday and I asked "Is she looking forward to it?" - and she told me that this concept of being excited about something in the future does not exist for her and other Russians, that there is nothing in the language (apart from something archaic and never used) to explain this concept. This says lots about the dark and fatalistic nature of the Russian soul!

It made me wonder if there are similar things or concepts in the Swiss languages which don't exist in language because they don't exist in the psyche?

(Comedy and predictable answers like "customer service", "party" or "value for money" are of course expected but invalid)
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Old 13.03.2012, 09:07
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Re: Are there any "concepts" that the Swiss don't have in the language?

I recently re-read The Master and Margarita (Bulgakov) and it's an interesting one. Not that I'm suggesting this is a typical Russian mind-set, but from the translation it did, I thought, provide a view on the manner in which Russians think and behave.

You make an intriguing point here.

I suppose language does divide us and defines a way of thinking that provides for different insights. If you can't understand it, then the nature of the speaker's not going to be affected by external events as much.

My partner's Hungarian, and my opinion is that, with as impenetrable a language as that, their national character is different than it might be if we knew what they were all up to.

Same would apply to Russian(s) possibly, to them perfectly logical behaviour might appear odd to us given that we don't think in the same way.

Language and the manner in which that defines ones method of thinking, and thus, that country's perceived character.... as I say, it's an interesting one.

Certainly, your suggestion that they don't have a way of expressing pleasure in an event yet to occur does kind of chime with my perception of them as a nation. I don't mean that in a negative way you understand.

Got me thinking anyway. Thanks for your post.
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Old 13.03.2012, 09:39
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Re: Are there any "concepts" that the Swiss don't have in the language?

Lots and vice versa.

Schnuppertag:
Just today I looked up the word "Schnuppertag" and was disappointed with the translation "trial day" or "tasting day". It just doesn't have the same connotation to it.

Frech:
The Swiss use it all the time. Cheeky is as close as it gets to translating it but it still doesn't capture the spirit.

Vermitteln:
Fantastic word and very hard to translate in one word.
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Old 13.03.2012, 10:01
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Re: Are there any "concepts" that the Swiss don't have in the language?

Six vacation weeks a year.

And viceversa my favourite: Schadenfreude
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Old 13.03.2012, 10:10
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Re: Are there any "concepts" that the Swiss don't have in the language?

I watched a really interesting show that talked about how language influences behaviour. They were showing an African tribe that used absolute direction as a reference point, but had no concept of left-and-right.

So you'd ask your neighbour to pass you the salt in his north hand, unless of course he was sitting on the other side of the table, in which case the exact same hand became his south hand.

The most remarkable part of all of this is that the tribe, even when removed from their normal surroundings, all had an inate sense of direction and knew without any conscious thought the relative direction of everything they saw. It was amazing to watch.

Although it's more French than Swiss, I think the concept of terroir is very difficult to translate -- particularly as it applies beyond the stricter definition in winemaking, and more to the greater sense of something being local.
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Old 13.03.2012, 10:49
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Re: Are there any "concepts" that the Swiss don't have in the language?

When I first came here and before I had completely modified my English expressions so as to be understandable to the Swiss people I knew, there were a few times when on, being asked to borrow or use something of mine, if I said "help yourself" or, "go for it", there was real confusion.

Help yourself comes across as "selbst bedienen", and just didn't translate well as to my meaning. Almost like "do it yourself". I think they found it a little aggressive or even a bit rude on my part.

On the other side of the coin, "moll" and "doch", don't have any real English equivelent either. Well, certainly not in one word anyway.
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Old 13.03.2012, 10:55
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Re: Are there any "concepts" that the Swiss don't have in the language?

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Help yourself comes across as "selbst bedienen", and just didn't translate well as to my meaning. Almost like "do it yourself". I think they found it a little aggressive or even a bit rude on my part.
Selbstbedienung = self service, nothing tricky there really

The fact that English speakers always seem to subconsciously throw in "you know" into a conversation, when a simple pause would suffice, annoys me. The Swiss German version of "weisch" (wissen) is almost as deplorable as it is asking a question but expects no answer. Very similar to the Yanks asking how you are without understanding the concept of the question.
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Old 13.03.2012, 10:58
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Re: Are there any "concepts" that the Swiss don't have in the language?

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Selbstbedienung = self service, nothing tricky there really

The fact that English speakers always seem to subconsciously throw in "you know" into a conversation, when a simple pause would suffice, annoys me. The Swiss German version of "weisch" (wissen) is almost as deplorable as it is asking a question but expects no answer. Very similar to the Yanks asking how you are without understanding the concept of the question.
I also know many German Germans who throw in a "ja?" at the end of the sentence.
Always reminds me of the somewhat sinister German exchange teacher in the League of Gentleman TV show
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Old 13.03.2012, 10:59
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Re: Are there any "concepts" that the Swiss don't have in the language?

Security and Safety is just Sicherheit.

The question if language influences how we think and see the world is a very interesting topic. See Sapir–Whorf hypothesis.
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Old 13.03.2012, 11:01
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Re: Are there any "concepts" that the Swiss don't have in the language?

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Selbstbedienung = self service, nothing tricky there really

The fact that English speakers always seem to subconsciously throw in "you know" into a conversation, when a simple pause would suffice, annoys me. The Swiss German version of "weisch" (wissen) is almost as deplorable as it is asking a question but expects no answer. Very similar to the Yanks asking how you are without understanding the concept of the question.
It's true, the literal translation is indeed as you say, it was the way they reacted and questioned what I meant.
At face value, it should have been clear what I meant, but they seemed to think I was telling them they should "selber luege", as in you should go and get your own. They were just unfamiliar with the expression/concept, that's all.
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Old 13.03.2012, 11:07
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Re: Are there any "concepts" that the Swiss don't have in the language?

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I also know many German Germans who throw in a "ja?" at the end of the sentence.
Always reminds me of the somewhat sinister German exchange teacher in the League of Gentleman TV show
You could also substitute with "oder?", "oder nöd?", "gäll?" For some people it is like a tic that they can not avoid and may not even be aware of.
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Old 13.03.2012, 11:09
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Re: Are there any "concepts" that the Swiss don't have in the language?

Borrow and lend: both mean "leihen", which explains why many times I have been asked if I can borrow them something.

Also the present continuous is missing here, I am walking = I walk = ich gehe

.

Last edited by Sbrinz; 13.03.2012 at 11:27.
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Old 13.03.2012, 11:13
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Re: Are there any "concepts" that the Swiss don't have in the language?

sarcasm doesn't translate well.
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Old 13.03.2012, 11:14
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Re: Are there any "concepts" that the Swiss don't have in the language?

Ah, the hypothesis of linguistic relativity. I have always been a fan of it. Different cultures do conceptualize their worlds differently, I believe.
I am looking forward to reading this thread. There are a lot of uniquely Swiss words that I love, for example Apero. From what I understand Swiss has a much less complicated system of tenses than High German.
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Old 13.03.2012, 11:18
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Re: Are there any "concepts" that the Swiss don't have in the language?

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sarcasm doesn't translate well.
Yes it does, Der Sarkasmus.
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Old 13.03.2012, 11:20
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Re: Are there any "concepts" that the Swiss don't have in the language?

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Borrow and lend: both mean "leihen", which explains why many times I have been asked if I can borrow them something.

Also the present continuous is missing here, I am going for a walk -> I walk.
Isn't present continuous "I am walking", and "going for a walk" simple future?
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Old 13.03.2012, 11:25
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Re: Are there any "concepts" that the Swiss don't have in the language?

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I watched a really interesting show that talked about how language influences behaviour. They were showing an African tribe that used absolute direction as a reference point, but had no concept of left-and-right.
Well, my memory wasn't quite right -- it was an Australian tribe, not an African tribe -- but they're mentioned on the Wikipedia page helpfully provided above.
For example the Australian language Guugu Yimithirr only uses absolute directions when describing spatial relations — the position of everything is described by using the cardinal directions. A speaker of Guugu yimithirr will define a person as being "north of the house", while a speaker of English may say that he is "in front of the house" or "to the left of the house" depending on the speaker's point of view. This difference makes Guugu yimithirr speakers better at performing some kinds of tasks, such as finding and describing locations in open terrain, whereas English speakers perform better in tasks regarding the positioning of objects relative to the speaker (for example telling someone to set a round table putting forks to the right of the plate and knives to the left would be extremely difficult in Guugu yimithirr).
Interesting stuff.
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Old 13.03.2012, 11:25
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Re: Are there any "concepts" that the Swiss don't have in the language?

I meant to write I am walking, sorry (I corrected the original)
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Old 13.03.2012, 11:26
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Re: Are there any "concepts" that the Swiss don't have in the language?

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Yes it does, Der Sarkasmus.
not the word, the concept and practice of it.
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Old 13.03.2012, 11:30
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Re: Are there any "concepts" that the Swiss don't have in the language?

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Borrow and lend: both mean "leihen", which explains why many times I have been asked if I can borrow them something.

Also the present continuous is missing here, I am going for a walk -> I walk.
borrow=ausleihen
lend=lenden

Also, "I am going for a walk" isn't really present continuous tense, that would be "I am walking". In German you could say "Ich bin am Gehen", but the use of this grammatical construction is restricted to spoken language.
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