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Old 24.01.2007, 21:21
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German now - SwissGerman later?

Does knowing german help in learning swiss-german? Actually I don't know a single word from both but since i still have around 2 months before i get to zurich and start learning swiss-german, i thought to get some tapes and books and start learning german on my own?

what do u think?
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  #2  
Old 25.01.2007, 09:29
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Re: German now - SwissGerman later?

There's lots of info on this subject that has already been posted on this forum. The best way to find it all is probably to just look through the threads in the "Language Corner" section of the forum, click here to go to the index of that section.
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Old 25.01.2007, 09:33
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Re: German now - SwissGerman later?

as this thread was posted in that forum, I'd say aathingybob might've looked.

Personally, I absolutely would not learn Swiss-German until I've mastered high German. You don't want to be proficient in a language that you can only use in one region of one small country
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Old 25.01.2007, 16:16
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Re: German now - SwissGerman later?

I would suggest buying the book "Hoi - Your Swiss German Survival Guide". It's more specific to Zurich dialect too, which will be helpful for you. I guess I'm not sure if I agree with the other posts (yet!)... still a friendly 'undecided'. There are ups and downs to learning Swiss and not High German. I pretty much only speak Swiss German here in the Engadin and wasn't really accepted by the locals till I did, but Zurich is a great place if you're English. At first I thought I would get by with High German but can't express how difficult it was for me to communicate and be understood. Mind you, I don't live in Zurich... I do think it's important to learn their language tho, if you are intending to be here and take on the Swiss lifestyle...
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Old 25.01.2007, 16:23
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Re: German now - SwissGerman later?

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Personally, I absolutely would not learn Swiss-German until I've mastered high German. You don't want to be proficient in a language that you can only use in one region of one small country
I see what you are saying but in reality it is so hard not to let Swiss-German creep into my vocabullary. It is especially difficult as I have a 5 year old who in the 14 months we have been back in Switzerland has become fluent in Swiss-German and quite happily tells me I'm pronuncing words wrongly in High German, he then tells me the "correct" way to say them .
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Old 25.01.2007, 16:26
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Re: German now - SwissGerman later?

Concentrate on speaking High German, but spend time trying to listen and understand Swiss-German. That way you will understand, and be understood, in nearly all situations.
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Old 19.02.2007, 13:55
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Re: German now - SwissGerman later?

I'm for learning High German first, but with the twist of learning a smattering of SwissGerman phrases (basically, greetings, conversation openers, excuses, thanks, conversation enders) to smooth the transition.

The reasoning behind it: German and SG grammar are pretty similar (there ARE differences), gender of the words are the same so by learning the official language you're also laying the foundation for the spoken language.
With the smattering of SG, you convey that you're making the effort (engenders goodwill) but are not there yet "so can we continue in HG bitte?".

You'll charm their pants off!

BTW, that "Hoi! Your Swiss German Survival Guide" is really good.
I can tell, I'm a native SG speaker
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Old 19.02.2007, 14:17
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Re: German now - SwissGerman later?

Swiss German would be great for chatting and fitting in - especially if you plan to stay long term.

But all the writing and reading that you would do here - is all in High German. So if you want to be able to 'read and write' I'd suggest go for High German.

Enjoy the experience
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Old 19.02.2007, 14:34
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Re: German now - SwissGerman later?

Quote:
Swiss German would be great for chatting and fitting in - especially if you plan to stay long term.

But all the writing and reading that you would do here - is all in High German. So if you want to be able to 'read and write' I'd suggest go for High German.

Enjoy the experience
Totally agree.

Have spent the last 13 years speaking High German in Germany, and now that we are living in the Zürich area, now are learning some Swiss German which helps us to blend in with the locals etc. This way seems to work pretty well, for us and our kids too.
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Old 19.02.2007, 14:50
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Re: German now - SwissGerman later?

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gender of the words are the same
Of the words, possibly*, but not necessarily of things. I can think of three different words for bread roll for example: one male, one female, and one neutral, depending on dialect

But yes, I agree, learn the language first and then the dialect (oh but the Swissies are going to hate me for that!).

* And to be honest I'm not even sure about that.
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Old 19.02.2007, 14:57
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Re: German now - SwissGerman later?

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Of the words, possibly*, but not necessarily of things. I can think of three different words for bread roll for example: one male, one female, and one neutral, depending on dialect

But yes, I agree, learn the language first and then the dialect (oh but the Swissies are going to hate me for that!).

* And to be honest I'm not even sure about that.
The genders are not always the same. Words such as butter, sms and email have different ones in Swiss "High" German than in German "High" German.
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Old 19.02.2007, 15:34
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Re: German now - SwissGerman later?

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The genders are not always the same. Words such as butter, sms and email have different ones in Swiss "High" German than in German "High" German.
Oh dear! There's a difference between Swiss 'High' German and German 'High' German too?!
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Old 19.02.2007, 15:43
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Re: German now - SwissGerman later?

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Oh dear! There's a difference between Swiss 'High' German and German 'High' German too?!
Yes, there are quite a few differences between Swiss High German and German High German. Dialect, unique words and foreign languages flow into Swiss High German

The Germans actually make fun of this. There was a really funny skit by Bully & Rick, where Rick plays a Swiss working in advertising. About every third or fourth word out of his mouth was in English, and at one point Bully's character turns to him and says (in German) "This just does not exist in the German language," when Rick tries to manipulate a verb into a comparative. Was rather funny. Part one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUp1x_ZLILg

One small comment: I would not say that the differences, though, are *that* significant. You just have to watch out. die Butter (DE) or der Butter (CH)?
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Old 19.02.2007, 15:55
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Re: German now - SwissGerman later?

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Oh dear! There's a difference between Swiss 'High' German and German 'High' German too?!
There is no "Swiss High German". Hoch Deutsch, or High German, is the German you learn in school and is what is normally spoken in Germany. Swiss German is the term used a collection of dialects spoken in Switzerland.
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Old 19.02.2007, 15:58
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Re: German now - SwissGerman later?

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There is no "Swiss High German". Hoch Deutsch, or High German, is the German you learn in school and is what is normally spoken in Germany. Swiss German is the term used a collection of dialects spoken in Switzerland.
No, there is a Swiss High German in my opinion. They might be extremely similar, but the Swiss are sometimes prone to use words that are not used in Germany, and occasionally change genders. This is not done intentionally. I would consider it to be a difference much more on par with American and British English. Nevertheless, the difference exists.

I might as well make a late edit instead of flooding the post. I know what the difference between "High German" and "Swiss German" is. I am just saying that the Swiss carry some of this over into their version of High German, whether or not this is grammatically correct. In addition, they use a lot of foreign words (French and English, for instance) which are not used in proper High German, but function perfectly well here. Oh: and the ß was also abolished here.

Last edited by spmull06; 19.02.2007 at 16:15.
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Old 19.02.2007, 16:01
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Re: German now - SwissGerman later?

Quote:
The genders are not always the same. Words such as butter, sms and email have different ones
Oh, wonderful Actually I can't even get the Germans to agree on the gender for email (never asked about sms), so that one at least isn't a surprise.
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Old 19.02.2007, 16:09
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Re: German now - SwissGerman later?

I would have to agree with you on that one - there definitely IS a difference. I learnt High German for 6 years and also lived in Germany back in the 90s, so I thought I wouldn't have a problem understanding Swiss German. Nope! It has taken me over a year, but I am now able to speak SG and understand the locals where I live. Some grammar structure is different, word order, vocab - who knew Karotten would be Rübli?!
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Old 19.02.2007, 16:22
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Re: German now - SwissGerman later?

Quote:
I would have to agree with you on that one - there definitely IS a difference. I learnt High German for 6 years and also lived in Germany back in the 90s, so I thought I wouldn't have a problem understanding Swiss German. Nope! It has taken me over a year, but I am now able to speak SG and understand the locals where I live. Some grammar structure is different, word order, vocab - who knew Karotten would be Rübli?!
And Chile for Kirche (church)....

When we were househunting around here, we were wondering why on earth why there´s a "Chileweg" in practically every village, and why there was this connection to this South American country.....but yeah, it dawned on us in the end.
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Old 16.04.2007, 01:53
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Re: German now - SwissGerman later?

As you can't learn Swiss German anywhere else but Switzerland, learning whatever German you can learn before you get there will be better than nothing. Or better than showing up in Zurich speaking French....with the above as an excuse.
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Old 16.04.2007, 04:01
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Re: German now - SwissGerman later?

I am in a similar situation of trying to learn a little of the language before I move to Switzerland. I have five years of German under my belt, although I have never yet been in the position to use it in everyday situations.

That being said, I am currently trying to refresh my German whilst simultaneously learning as much Swiss German as possible. Ho boy! It's a different language alright! The Swiss German is messing up my High German and vice versa. Every time I try to speak in one, the other comes out, and since I only have a smattering of Swiss, I finish sentences and phrases in High German.

My advice based on this experience is to focus on one or the other, rather than learning High German and hoping to pick up SG in Zurich. They're similar enough to get REALLY confusing if learning both.

Also, if you want to get a jump-start on learning Swiss German, there are some good learning aides that you can get relatively easily. Pimsleur makes a Swiss German audio set. I also bought a copy of Dr Chly Prinz direct from the translator and have been reading it alongside the English translation (The Little Prince). My personal favorite is a book that is made to go along with the Swiss-made movie Die Schweizermacher (which you can get by googling the movie title). That one is good because the movie itself is a parody of Swiss culture.
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