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  #181  
Old 18.11.2010, 22:46
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

If you study the history of the Jura Canton, you will understand why there is quite a bit of resistance to German there! German was imposed in the region, its schools and institutions (+ protestant religion) - and despite the Canton winning its independence again fairly recently, memories endure. (End of Napoleonic era and wars, Congrès de Vienne - the Jura is annexed to Bern without the people being consulted- in exchange for Vaud and Argau (if memories correct).

Last edited by Odile; 18.11.2010 at 22:51. Reason: +info
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  #182  
Old 18.11.2010, 23:05
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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This is funny, I could quote an article on language policy laws and history of this in CH past few decades that I just submitted for publishing back home, but A. that would be kinda cheating here and I don't want to sound like a lame lecturer B. I have no time to actually translate those bits.
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I'd love to read it. Send it on over! Oh, well, not if it's in Czech...
I'm not learning that.
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  #183  
Old 18.11.2010, 23:10
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I know one Czech word. No idea about spelling though 'jezevetz' - one of my favourite animals!
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  #184  
Old 18.11.2010, 23:13
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Yes, Odile, exactly my point. I just did not want to sound pretentious. The allergy against German in Romandie ist the strongest in Jura, and I see adult Jurassiens brushing up their German in Basel for exactly that reasn. The final point being that I do not think that the Romands are especially monolingual, as I see quite a few working on their German (in Basel but also many many in Bern) and you know that quite many are all right in English. Add the immigrants and the one who just happen to like italian, and you end up with a Romand population that is language shy but by no means language ignorant.
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  #185  
Old 18.11.2010, 23:30
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Not everyone is "living" here.

Some of us are just passing by.
Hence the disclaimer.
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  #186  
Old 19.11.2010, 12:52
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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No, because there is a higher possibility when speaking a foreign language you are going to be casting around for odd bits of vocab you don't know and use words from your own mother-tongue to fill the gaps.

If you are speaking your own mother-tongue with someone of the same mother-tongue, why on earth would you randomly need to slip in foreign words?
So if two Swiss are speaking Swiss German to each other, and slip in some foreign words (English), that is different from two English speakers slipping in some German words?
I don't see the difference

Maybe for some that is the first steps in learning a language.
English is quite often used intermittently in foreign languages.
Isn't the Zurich city slogan "love it live it" even. I find it strange that they would use English and not German for their slogan
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  #187  
Old 19.11.2010, 13:08
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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So if two Swiss are speaking Swiss German to each other, and slip in some foreign words (English), that is different from two English speakers slipping in some German words?
I don't see the difference
There is no difference. Why would two Swiss suddenly start sticking everyday words in English randomly in their conversation? "Kannst du the cupboard öffnen?"

Yes, there are English-isms here which have been adopted into the local language. Yes, there are words and phrases which quintessentially describe something much better in German than in English and vice versa but that's not what I'm talking about.

More simply, would you go back to your home country and, during a conversation with your mum, ask her if she can pass you a plate from the "Schrank"?

If the answer is no, then why would you do it over here with someone with English as a mother-tongue?
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  #188  
Old 19.11.2010, 13:12
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

If 2 Swiss who have both lived in the UK speak together, say in French, they will slip in English words that do not have a good equivalent here. Like 'A'levels', 'Yorkshire pudding', 'cream tea' - because there are NO words or expressions that will accurately describe them. Cream tea is defo not tea with cream in it, is it? (what I wouldn't give for a good cream tea just now - mind you if you make your own scones, buy some Gruyères cream and that will do nicely) or even some proverbs or colloquialisms.

Of course, well educated (some pretentious) people in the UK have always enjoyed using French/German/Latin words and sentences. Like 'laisser-faire attitude', 'Schadenfreude', 'Home Sweet Home', etc. My favourite 'bete noire' is 'genrE'. Or as Bush said 'the French have no word for 'entrepreneur''.
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  #189  
Old 19.11.2010, 13:19
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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I am not sure these norms he is trying to teach you, do you think his ways really represent what locals are? Sounds pretty...ignorant. Most people I met here were so far from this, it's true the humor is rather crass, so he is being funny?
Yes actually, I do think his ways represent what locals are. They do come across as a bit xenophobic and politically incorrect and snob'ish. They might not be, so I said they come across as.

I have not heard so many racist and sexist jokes anywhere else in the world.

Yes I think he was trying to be funny.
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  #190  
Old 19.11.2010, 13:22
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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There is no difference. Why would two Swiss suddenly start sticking everyday words in English randomly in their conversation? "Kannst du the cupboard öffnen?"

Yes, there are English-isms here which have been adopted into the local language. Yes, there are words and phrases which quintessentially describe something much better in German than in English and vice versa but that's not what I'm talking about.

More simply, would you go back to your home country and, during a conversation with your mum, ask her if she can pass you a plate from the "Schrank"?

If the answer is no, then why would you do it over here with someone with English as a mother-tongue?
I hear swiss kids interject English all the time. It's part of learning the language.

Because one is exposed to more German here, then one would be in the US or the UK
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  #191  
Old 19.11.2010, 13:26
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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If 2 Swiss who have both lived in the UK speak together, say in French, they will slip in English words that do not have a good equivalent here. Like 'A'levels', 'Yorkshire pudding', 'cream tea' - because there are NO words or expressions that will accurately describe them. Cream tea is defo not tea with cream in it, is it? (what I wouldn't give for a good cream tea just now - mind you if you make your own scones, buy some Gruyères cream and that will do nicely) or even some proverbs or colloquialisms.

Of course, well educated (some pretentious) people in the UK have always enjoyed using French/German/Latin words and sentences. Like 'laisser-faire attitude', 'Schadenfreude', 'Home Sweet Home', etc. My favourite 'bete noire' is 'genrE'. Or as Bush said 'the French have no word for 'entrepreneur''.
Home Sweet Home . French/German/Latin??
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  #192  
Old 19.11.2010, 13:56
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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If the answer is no, then why would you do it over here with someone with English as a mother-tongue?
Because sometimes I've forgotten the word in english but I remember the french word

Thats what you get from listening to broken english, and them listening to your broken German/French ... bad habits!
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  #193  
Old 19.11.2010, 14:28
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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You can't help but pick up a smattering of a language even if you aren't consciously learning it. Sitting on a train or tram or shopping in the supermarket you either hear it or read words which gradually start to make sense and build context.

Can you imagine staying 6 months in the US or the UK and barely being able to say "please" or "thank you". You'd go under within a week.
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I'd like to point out that if you actually take a step back and don't let it stereotype itself Swiss German is actually easier then High German! There are far less rules, the article can often be dropped and there are so many dialects people can often not tell if you make a mistake.
I couldnt agree more with these two statements.

A very good example is my husband and me. He gets German lessons from his company. After two years here, he is able to read the newspapers and understand what someone's saying if its in High German. Very impressive seeing that his work is in English and we speak English at home. He is however very apprehensive to open his mouth and practice. I, like economisto (in his other thread), personally dont see the need in learning High German as I dont see any immediate need in the future where I'll be moving to anywhere else where the language is needed so I just concentrate on soaking up all the (free) Swiss German around me.

I am also much more shameless in opening my mouth to attempt Swiss German. I dont care about getting my grammar right - i usually just focus on making sure that the verb is correct and bulldoze my way through I dont care if its super bad, as long as I am understood. I usually ask what is the correct way to say it if they draw a blank on my first attempt. After two years, with zero foundation in high German, it is functional - I cant write or read but I can understand what is being asked of me or being said. If they get carried away, I simply say that my German is not good and to "langsam, bitte!"

Most people are more than happy to slow down when requested (like I am a retard sometimes) and when they switch to English, I insist that they dont. I definitely find that I get warmer reception and smiles when I dont use English (even more on Bahnhofstrasse where they think I am an Asian tourist with loads of cash to spare ). Sure, you get the odd impatient person who doesnt but I am happy to say that the Swiss are really very warm, patient and happy to do so (compared to the Nederlands where I lived previously, where the Dutch pride themselves as being fluent in English and Dutch but scoff when you try practicing yourr Dutch with them - sorry Dutchies) - especially here in Zurich where alot of them are fluent in English but are too modest to admit it. "Bitzeli" my behind!
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  #194  
Old 19.11.2010, 15:29
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Another thing I've noticed is, when the Swiss girls speak English, they blink a bit too much. Sometimes even closing their eyes for a few secs?!

Is it just me or anyone else has noticed the same?
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  #195  
Old 19.11.2010, 15:29
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Hi,

in answer to the original question, there is no excuse not to learn some of the language of the country you are living in.

When I came here over 20 years ago I had to decide whether to learn high german or dialect.

I decided to learn high german for a number of reasons, one of them being that with German I could be understood in a number of countries and not just one.

Over the years I have spoken a lot of German and been able to understand a lot of Baseldeutsch but I never speak it. I just find it difficult to speak and pronounce. I find I can relax and have fun when I hear German but when I am hearing dialect it is much more difficult.

Whenever, I listen to dialect I find myself trying to translate into German and if I try to speak it sounds to me like I am being scarcastic.

In the end it does not matter which one your learn---just don't muddle the two "languages up".

Have fun

Martin
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  #196  
Old 19.11.2010, 15:54
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I had to start with the high German path because I need to do a lot of reading, and sometimes writing, plus the company paid for my courses. I find reading the best way of building vocabulary, and what I find most troublesome with mundart is the lack of reading material. It works for everday and official use here, though casual conversations tend to weave in dialekt with high German.

At work, meetings attempt to start with high German, but when someone realizes that everyone is Swiss, then the Mundart comes out and things get a little more relaxed. But one sentence spoken in English, it turns the meeting language into English. So in the course of one meeting, we may weave in and out of all three ways of speaking. So it is practical to have some exposure to high German and Mundart.

I find that each mode of communication has a tone of its own. Swiss German is somewhat conducive to relaxed conversation. High German tends to be more pointed and exact. English, as far as I am concerned, is more freeform and experimental in the ideas being discussed.
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  #197  
Old 19.11.2010, 15:58
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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There is no difference. Why would two Swiss suddenly start sticking everyday words in English randomly in their conversation? "Kannst du the cupboard öffnen?"

Yes, there are English-isms here which have been adopted into the local language. Yes, there are words and phrases which quintessentially describe something much better in German than in English and vice versa but that's not what I'm talking about.

More simply, would you go back to your home country and, during a conversation with your mum, ask her if she can pass you a plate from the "Schrank"?

If the answer is no, then why would you do it over here with someone with English as a mother-tongue?
Yes, I totally agree. It's one thing to use expressions like - déjà vu, à la carte, per se, de facto, de jure..and a totally different thing to "pretend" you don't remember basic words from your mother tongue just out of snobism and to imply how fluent you've become in other language that you started mixing them up..
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  #198  
Old 19.11.2010, 15:58
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Another thing I've noticed is, when the Swiss girls speak English, they blink a bit too much. Sometimes even closing their eyes for a few secs?!

Is it just me or anyone else has noticed the same?
Doesn't it make them cuter that way?
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  #199  
Old 19.11.2010, 16:03
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

there's no need for an 'excuse' to learn german. it's not as if you should learn it unless there's a reason not to.

it's a simple choice based on a few cost/benefit analyses.

frankly, if you don't have something better to do with your time than learn swiss german, then you probably don't have much of a life.

now, there are some good reasons to learn german e.g. you need it for a job or to get by socially. i always consider what else i can do with my time and other things have always taken priority - including memorising parts of the zurich public transport network.
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Old 19.11.2010, 16:12
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not trying to learn the language?

I think it's about time to change the thread title.

Computers, no problem, cobol, mainframes, unix, oracle etc etc - learn anything new in a flash. Mechanics - self taught, can do anything to an engine inc. complete strip down and rebuild. Farming? Got a degree in it. Teaching and training - I'm a bally expert.

But languages. I do try, but when it comes to languages I'm simply a bit thick. Got an German exam in 2 weeks too . Chance of passing quite low.
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