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  #241  
Old 22.11.2010, 12:42
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

You would think that wouldn't you but I once worked with a guy in Geneva who had been there over 20 years & could not (or would not) speak a word of French.

I do the osmosis thing with Swiss German, I started it after watching that was how my little guy was learning to speak.

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I don't know how anyone can not absorb the language around them. The brain is a sponge, innit?
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  #242  
Old 22.11.2010, 12:50
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?
yes: if you are in switzerland and the language is swiss german.
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  #243  
Old 22.11.2010, 13:57
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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I'm sure it's possible. I personally find writing the most difficult. But I can see how it might be easier. You don't have to worry so much about messed up pronunciation.
Certainly languages that are similar to languages you already are easier when written. I am fairly fluent in French and get by in Spanish. I have never learnt any Italian but find written Italian generally comprehensible and can read newspaper articles by only looking up relatively few words, whereas in spoken Italian even some very simple sentences baffle me.
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  #244  
Old 22.11.2010, 22:39
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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With regards to the original question of whether there is a good excuse for not learning the language and more specifically Swiss German. I have to say that there is.

Swiss German is a language that can make the most gifted person sound retarded.
I'm sure English sounds just as "retarded" to many non-native speakers.
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  #245  
Old 23.11.2010, 00:01
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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I do the osmosis thing with Swiss German.
I do the phimosis thing: I don't pull it out. (attempt of a joke)
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  #246  
Old 23.11.2010, 00:10
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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I'm sure English sounds just as "retarded" to many non-native speakers.
You wait till you hear Bernerduutsch, Eddie.
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  #247  
Old 23.11.2010, 01:03
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I am not sure about the level of absorption being stable at all ages, sometimes I doubt. But definitely hearing more makes me soak it up faster than reading more. I think that's why little kids learn it so fast, they can't read yet, they just function through hearing and not trouble themselves with rules.

Besides, learning languages is a fine prevention against premature dementia.
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  #248  
Old 23.11.2010, 01:51
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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You wait till you hear Bernerduutsch, Eddie.
My friend from Frutigen phoned the accomodation that I was staying at in Interlaken. They are only about 12 miles away in a straight line. The staff there struggled to understand her dialect.
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  #249  
Old 23.11.2010, 02:15
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I think you have two main opinions here :
Type A :
says that everyone speaks English and then lists a whole bunch of excuses, one of them being the sound of German, then there is the big war and its traumatising affect (" whatever you do dont talk about the war" F. towers ) then there is the great" why cant the swiss speak English?" it is beyond my comprehension, then there is the lets not mingle with the locals snobbish excuse and finally there is the "i dont want to learn it really " but actually " i cant be bothered because well, i am lazy "

then there are the type B: ones who are eager to learn, to adapt to the locals, yes, you know who i mean, the ones who have diligently slaved over swiss German and speak it like a native making the rest of us feel so stupid not being able to compete, the ones who actually have themselves and others convinced that swiss german is THE language, the cat´s meow and have an UBER the grenzen love of the language , who know the slang and can pass for a native, some of these actually date or even marry a swiss before or after learning the language, because it is one more step to mingling with the locals and feeling oh, so swiss, and the "i was born in the wrong nation" syndrom, " i really wished i was born swiss" and like those people who claim to have been born in the wrong gender, they will get that operation one day, the passport , the spouse , the swiss family robinson, the whole deal, and then just try telling them you have been here for x amount of years and dont always understand the local language
they will laugh you out of luzern, beat you out of bern, zink you out of zurich ---
Guess which type i am ?
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  #250  
Old 23.11.2010, 10:43
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Besides, learning languages is a fine prevention against premature dementia.
oops, too late, it's already started
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  #251  
Old 23.11.2010, 14:40
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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You wait till you hear Bernerduutsch, Eddie.
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My friend from Frutigen phoned the accomodation that I was staying at in Interlaken. They are only about 12 miles away in a straight line. The staff there struggled to understand her dialect.
OT: The explanation for this is that there is not one bernese dialect, but actually (depending on the definition) 3 or 4.

Bernese: The higher alemanic dialect spoken by (the vast majority of bernese) people living in the cities of Bern and Biel and the surrounding villages and towns.

Emmental: Also a higher alemanic, with quite a rural vocabulary. Example: Bernese: "weisch" (do you know) emmentaler: "weesch".

These dialects belong to the same group as most of the other swiss-german dialects, so misunderstandings mainly result from differences in the vocabulary.

The highest alemanic dialects spoken exclusivley in the Oberland, with a clear distinction between "oberländisch" and "haslitalerisch".

These dialects belong to the same group as the dialects spoken in the upper Wallis, Freiburg, Glaurs, Ob- and Nidwalden and parts of Schwyz etc. They are considered to be the closest to old german.

So, funnily enough, the difference between my dialect (bern) and and a friend of mine from Luzern is actually smaller than the difference between my dialect and the dialect spoken by someone from the Berner Oberland.

Last edited by SamWeiseVielleicht; 23.11.2010 at 16:24.
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  #252  
Old 24.11.2010, 13:44
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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OT:
The highest alemanic dialects spoken exclusivley in the Oberland, with a clear distinction between "oberländisch" and "haslitalerisch".
Don't forget the one in between: "Brienzer-Tietsch", a language in itself and not even close to oberländisch or haslitalerisch
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  #253  
Old 13.12.2010, 08:57
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I started learning (French) 3 months before my arrival and was very enthusiastic about it. Here I feel very much demotivated, I just can't make myself learn it. When I start speaking people enjoy telling me they don't understand me, especially when I try to make them do smth that they don't want to
Example: The guy at the garage charged CHF500 for replacing a window, didn't do it accurately and when I tried to make him fix it, he ended up telling me he doesn't understand. I managed to make him understand though.

So I just gave up. I can somehow explain myself and I think that's enough for me not to get lost etc. But not any further. I find it quite sad though....

PS. I can't think of any other country which would demand foreigners living there to learn the language... really
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  #254  
Old 13.12.2010, 10:10
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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I can't think of any other country which would demand foreigners living there to learn the languages... really
When you have finally mastered the language and come over to the german part speaking your flawless french some people will not (want to) understand you and think you are some lazy Romand who doesn’t bother trying to speak german to them. So, welcome to Switzerland

Maybe use little standard phrase to tell people you are still learning the language and are trying your best to start with. Don’t feel bad to make errors or to make a fool of yourself. You just need some patience and regular practice and the rest will come. Of course the listener should show some understanding of the situation too, but not everyone is nice to everyone all the time and if they really do not understand, what should they do, just nod and say oui oui?

You are on the right track. You started with no french and are now able to explain yourself, why stop now?

There are other countries?
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  #255  
Old 13.12.2010, 17:09
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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PS. I can't think of any other country which would demand foreigners living there to learn the language... really
I understand your discouragement, but this sentence is very unreasonnable. Everybody likes to be talked to in his/her own language - why do you thing they have translated the lyrics of Mama Mia music show?
Some country may be more articulated about this demand, though.
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  #256  
Old 13.12.2010, 17:14
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Are you really saying the Brits do not expect Pakistanis to learn English, or the Americans do not expect hispanics to learn American?
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  #257  
Old 13.12.2010, 17:21
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Are you really saying the Brits do not expect Pakistanis to learn English, or the Americans do not expect hispanics to learn American?
Zut! I am going to the US and I don't speak american, I hope english will be ok....

If you go to Canada in the french part, outside Montreal where the majority of the population speak just french, they will expect you to learn it. BUT they will be very cool about it and will help you a lot! You'll always find someone to talk to you with drawings, signs, actually anything to help them understand you.
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  #258  
Old 13.12.2010, 17:58
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Getting back to the question of the "good excuse"....

My own experience / opinion.

Australia; single national language, country with no border as such
I´m 5th generation, no 2nd language within the family.
No second language taught at primary school
I tried to learn Japanese for 2 years in high school, but retained nothing.
I don´t even remember learning to speak English (I mean grammatical theory)

At the age of 25 I came to Switzerland for a 6 month stay, picked up a few words & phrases; grosses bier bitte

Went back to Oz with in the intention of returning to CH so I took some private lessons, but without hearing the language outside of the lessons, virtually no progress...

The first 2 years since returning to CH saw very little development, I work in an English-speaking job, friends are ex-pats, everyone who knew me just spoke to me in English. I took lessons for 6 months, but couldn´t string a sentence together...

In the 3rd year I took some more lessons, but lost interest...

In the 4th year I decided that I couldn´t have been here for this long, and not be able to speak "the language" so i went back to lessons.

Sometime in the 4th year, there was a tipping point where i suddenly started to talk, not well, but with some sort of confidence.

Just 4 weeks ago got my B1 certificate...but i´m still not anywhere near fluent...

After more than 5 years in the country, my German (with a little SD) is adequate at best, but i guess that´s not so bad considering my background.

It frustrates the hell out of me when i meet Swiss who are fluent in 5x different languages...i might have been so brilliant, if i had the right environment as a kid...

Cheers.
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  #259  
Old 13.12.2010, 18:27
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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I can't think of any other country which would demand foreigners living there to learn the language... really
I can think of many that are nowhere near as accommodating to non-local language speakers as Switzerland.

Try going to rural S/West France, were many of the old folks speak a patois so thick it could be Klingon even to the French, and any official will turn you away if you cannot converse in French or have an interpreter... and don't get me started on running a business there.

Honestly, people coming here without one of the 4 local languages don't know how good they have it, learning the language (if practicable) makes it easier none the less

EDIT: A little more water in the Pastis I think.... talking patios... LOL
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  #260  
Old 13.12.2010, 18:39
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

If they speak patios I definitely won't understand.
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