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TomasTomas 31.05.2017 10:37

Language question
 
Hello
If you live in the German-speaking part of Switzerland is it possible to navigate successful with English or with other official languages in Switzerland(french and Italian).
I am wondering for the first 3-4 months ,because we are studying german now but we will need some time to learn it.
My question is about:
-speaking with people
-shopping
-job
-working with institutions

How is the situation ?

fatmanfilms 31.05.2017 10:41

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TomasTomas (Post 2793614)
Hello
If you live in the German-speaking part of Switzerland is it possible to navigate successful with English or with other official languages in Switzerland(french and Italian).
I am wondering for the first 3-4 months ,because we are studying german now but we will need some time to learn it.
My question is about:
-speaking with people
-shopping
-job
-working with institutions

How is the situation ?

Yes, Possibly
Probably
Who knows if you have been given a job & they know you don't speak German then Yes & Yes

koblenz 31.05.2017 10:43

Re: Language question
 
Not uncommon for me to quickly switch into Italian for example if the person I am interacting with speaks Italian, simply because there are many speakers of Italian in the German speaking regions.
I would say it happens with French and English (for me) to a far lesser extent. Maybe because I don't have an English sounding surname or a typical English speaker's accent.

fatmanfilms 31.05.2017 10:45

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by koblenz (Post 2793619)
Not uncommon for me to quickly switch into Italian for example if the person I am interacting with speaks Italian, simply because there are many speakers of Italian in the German speaking regions.
I would say it happens with French and English (for me) to a far lesser extent. Maybe because I don't have an English sounding surname or a typical English speaker's accent.

I have been asked in English if I speak French, this was in Bahnhofstrasse Zurich :D

birhan 31.05.2017 10:46

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TomasTomas (Post 2793614)
Hello
If you live in the German-speaking part of Switzerland is it possible to navigate successful with English or with other official languages in Switzerland(french and Italian).
I am wondering for the first 3-4 months ,because we are studying german now but we will need some time to learn it.
My question is about:
-speaking with people
-shopping
-job
-working with institutions

How is the situation ?

As an English and French speaker, I have not had any problems for shopping, chatting with people and as a bilingual canton you can get most of the services in French at different offices. Working institutions depends on where you work. For example at research institutes, you can easily communicate in English of course short coffee break conversations and some speeches might be in German.

JagWaugh 31.05.2017 10:56

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TomasTomas (Post 2793614)
Hello
If you live in the German-speaking part of Switzerland is it possible to navigate successful with English or with other official languages in Switzerland(french and Italian).
I am wondering for the first 3-4 months ,because we are studying german now but we will need some time to learn it.
My question is about:
-speaking with people
-shopping
-job
-working with institutions

How is the situation ?

You'll probably find that you can use English for almost everything.

In fact, you'll find it frustrating when you are trying to work on your German and everyone keeps switching to English.

TomasTomas 31.05.2017 10:57

Re: Language question
 
So you can successfully navigated with English and French even in the German part-including in the government offices ?
I suppose that only at work can be a little different(except if it is not a English employer or English is the main required language).
And bye the way,now i am learning German(yes it is not easy :mad:) but i found this(some differences between german and Swiss German)
http://www.eldrid.ch/swgerman.htm
Is there so big difference between them and can i navigate with german in the german part...........or to start to learn directly Swiss German(if i find online courses somewhere) ?

TomasTomas 31.05.2017 10:59

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JagWaugh (Post 2793633)
You'll probably find that you can use English for almost everything.

In fact, you'll find it frustrating when you are trying to work on your German and everyone keeps switching to English.

You make me the happiest man in the world :D
I am now struggle to learn German.......
Or may be i will use this strategy-i will start to speak German,all will be piss off with my german and they voluntary will switch to english :D

JagWaugh 31.05.2017 11:07

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TomasTomas (Post 2793635)
Is there so big difference between them and can i navigate with german in the german part...........or to start to learn directly Swiss German(if i find online courses somewhere) ?

I found that Swiss German pronunciation is so close to Standard German that I quickly learned to translate on the fly (Uuswiis=Ausweis, Ufa=Auf etc).

I took formal courses for Standard German, Swiss German just sort of happened in the 20h of the day that I was outside of the class (for the first 3 months).

They're different, but so closely related that (to a native English speaker who isn't confused by the differences between UK and US English) you'll probably hear them more like two dialects, rather than two separate languages.

You'll get them mixed up every now and then, but after about a year or so that will be rare.

My advice would be learn Standard German first. If you (or the Swiss who you interact with) feel the need for a Swiss German course after a year or two, then take one.

hannah'sauntie 31.05.2017 11:14

Re: Language question
 
When we first moved here neither of us spoke any German, apart from the usual " sorry I don't understand", "my German is not good" and " do you speak English", "yes" "no" and "thank you".
Most people were very helpful, many spoke English.
Now that we speak more German however, life is much easier.

JagWaugh 31.05.2017 11:23

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TomasTomas (Post 2793637)
You make me the happiest man in the world :D
I am now struggle to learn German.......
Or may be i will use this strategy-i will start to speak German,all will be piss off with my german and they voluntary will switch to english :D

You'll find that you get a certain number of "goodwill" credits, and that people will make an effort to switch to English.

But at work or in social settings, once you've used up your credits people will eventually just revert back to the local language. You will feel isolated and disliked, which is not a place you want to be while you are getting used to a new world.

The more effort you make to learn German the faster you will feel "at home", even if the milk and eggs taste funny, things are expensive, fridges are too small, and people tailgate on the highway.

Amongst other things, when you learn enough German to ask "Why is this so?" and understand the response, you'll find it a lot easier to get through daily life.

meloncollie 31.05.2017 13:17

Re: Language question
 
For a view from the other side...

While you can likely get by with only English in urban areas, if you were to move out to many smaller towns or villages you might not be so lucky.

For instance, here in my village, 45 minutes outside Zürich with a growing Auslander population, it's generally German only. Especially if you do not speak any German.

People might be offended if you show that you do not at least have a few words auf Deutsch, if only 'Please excuse my lack of German, I'm still learning' before launching into English. Many will want to impress upon you how important it is to recognize that the onus is on you to integrate. Little mercy is shown to those who stick to English only.

However, if you show that you are learning the approach relaxes a bit. Be aware that some people here may be proficient in English, but do not wish to speak it. This can sometimes largely be an issue of local pride/politics. In such cases, while you are learning as long as you are comfortable with a 2 language conversation, you in whatever German you have sprinkled with English to fill the gaps, the other person in Dialekt, you'd be OK.

Local bureaucracy is generally German only, so if yours is insufficient bring a translator. An exception is the tax department. They seem to be happy to speak English with any good tax payer.

The local doctor does not offer consultations in English. He understands some, but you need enough German to get through an appointment. Or seek treatment elsewhere.

Shops and business are mixed, but assume German only, especially if you are trying to find an emergency plumber.

The general rule in my area: If they need you, English might be possible. If you need them, German only.

As always, YMMV. But if you are worried about lack of German impacting your ability to settle in, you likely want to stay in a more urban area at first.

I purposely chose to live in a village when I first moved here, though, because I knew that would be the best motivator for me to learn functional (if inelegant) German.

Good luck as you settle in!

TomasTomas 31.05.2017 14:41

Re: Language question
 
Yes,you are totally right.
Learning the local language is essential and it is a word "must".
I was curious about first 3-4 months until i learn it well to speak at least the basic conversation(or better).
And yes if you know the basic 40-50 sentences (in the local language) at least you will earn the local's sympathy.
But are there many differences between German and Swiss German -for example they have 300-500 hundred different word...........or plenty more ?
For example if i said:
Mir ist kalt/Ich been kalt(i am cold) they will understand me or they will understand only the swiss phrase "Ich ha chalt"
If i use Sonntag(sunday) they will understand me or they will understand only Sunntig(Swiss phrase) ?

aSwissInTheUS 31.05.2017 14:58

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TomasTomas (Post 2793812)
For example if i said:
Mir ist kalt/Ich been kalt(i am cold) they will understand me or they will understand only the swiss phrase "Ich ha chalt"
If i use Sonntag(sunday) they will understand me or they will understand only Sunntig(Swiss phrase) ?

Swiss know and will understand (nearly) all of the German words, phrases, and Gramar structures. Just have a look at one of the most read "newspaper" http://www.20min.ch/

You have to distinct between: Swiss German (part of the Allemanic language), the Swiss Standard German (the High German as it is written in Switzerland, but only spoken in official context such as School, Parliament, with people not understanding Swiss German, and the News), and German Standard German.

Swiss Standard German is sometimes erroneously recognized as Swiss German as it itself may be spoken with a very distinct dialect. Swiss Standard German uses some particular idioms which are not used in the German Standard German (same goes for Austrian Standard German).

Swiss German itself has in various dialects which sometimes also uses different idioms.

People living in the German speaking part of Switzerland are very used to the fact that X may be named Y but actually pronounced Z or W. PS: This is all good until you go to the "German" speaking part of Canton Valais.

TomasTomas 31.05.2017 15:21

Re: Language question
 
And one last question.
If i go to the french part-how is the situation there-will they speak and understand English and the german will be useful as well.............or only french.

möpp 31.05.2017 15:22

Re: Language question
 
Hi Tomas
Chill - everybody in the German-speaking part of Switzerland understands so-called "written German" (Schriftdeutsch). All newspapapers, the news programs on TV, all TV films etc. are in regular German. It's only when interacting directly and orally with the indigenous population that you may possibly (probably) stumble across those who pretend they can't understand you. Learn regular German first for everyday use, and then slowly progress (if you can call it that) to the local dialect.

möpp 31.05.2017 15:27

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TomasTomas (Post 2793840)
And one last question.
If i go to the french part-how is the situation there-will they speak and understand English and the german will be useful as well.............or only french.


Not sure about the French part; IIRC they'll probably be more willing to speak English to you than German, but only in the larger towns (Geneva, Lausanne, Montreux, Vevey etc. where there are international companies, tourists etc.). Once you're out in the sticks, it'll probably be French only, but with enough hand-signing, face-making and pointing at things, you'll get by

fatmanfilms 31.05.2017 15:41

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TomasTomas (Post 2793840)
And one last question.
If i go to the french part-how is the situation there-will they speak and understand English and the german will be useful as well.............or only french.

German is hopeless in the French part. English will usually work in the centre of Geneva, but outside you will need some basic French.
Where MONEY is involved in CH, English will work 99% of the time :D , shopping for 67 CHF does not count.

st2lemans 31.05.2017 15:50

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by aSwissInTheUS (Post 2793829)
Swiss know and will understand (nearly) all of the German words, phrases, and Gramar structures.

However, the opposite isn't true. :eek:

Like wise for Italians understanding Swiss Italian! :p

Tom

st2lemans 31.05.2017 15:52

Re: Language question
 
I lived/worked in Zurich for four years using French mostly, especially for anything official. :eek:

My wife ONLY uses Italian in Zurich. :p

Tom

JagWaugh 31.05.2017 16:08

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by aSwissInTheUS (Post 2793829)
People living in the German speaking part of Switzerland are very used to the fact that X may be named Y but actually pronounced Z or W. PS: This is all good until you go to the "German" speaking part of Canton Valais.

LOL.

For the first few years I was here I thought that the reason I had trouble understanding the Walliser was that they weren't speaking their mother tongue! One day at work I had a meeting with a Walliser and I said "I wish my French was good enough that we could work in your mother tongue." The guy laughed so hard I thought I was going to have to call an ambulance, then once he caught his breath he explained that the way he spoke German was his mother tongue. For years afterwards whenever we were both in a meeting he would say "My French is crap, but if you wanna try it... we could speak French."

Sbrinz 31.05.2017 16:20

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TomasTomas (Post 2793812)
For example if i said:
Mir ist kalt/Ich been kalt(i am cold) they will understand me ?

Probably... but be very careful.

Do NOT say to anyone "ich bin heiss", or worse, "ich bin warm" these phrases have sexual implications!

Also wrong, "ich bin kalt" - it means you are frigid, but nobody will be offended.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I think in the beginning you need a certain amount of luck, many people will close their minds if they don't like your accent.

I had worked in a country area south of Frankfurt for 18 months, and knew some German, but problems were waiting for me in the Munich bakery:

Conversation in German:

me: Do you have a doughnut please? ............. (My mistake, I had used the Frankfurt word, not the Munich word for a doughnut, Kreppel vs Krapfen)
lady: Huh ?
me: a doughnut, it is round like a bread roll, it is fried in oil, covered in sugar, and has jam in the middle.
lady: yes we have bread rolls...
.
.

Jim2007 31.05.2017 16:23

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by fatmanfilms (Post 2793621)
I have been asked in English if I speak French, this was in Bahnhofstrasse Zurich :D

Most amusing one I've seen is two Italians as work trying to speak German to each other. Took them about 10 minutes to realise they could use Italian!

st2lemans 31.05.2017 16:33

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sbrinz (Post 2793878)
me: Do you have a doughnut please? ............. (My mistake, I had used the Frankfurt word, not the Munich word for a doughnut, Kreppel vs Krapfen)
lady: Huh ?
me: a doughnut, it is round like a bread roll, it is fried in oil, covered in sugar, and has jam in the middle.
lady: yes we have bread rolls...

The correct word is Berliner. ;)

Tom

Sbrinz 31.05.2017 16:34

Re: Language question
 
Hee hee, yes I had the same experience in Lausanne, with French.

amogles 31.05.2017 16:34

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JagWaugh (Post 2793643)
I found that Swiss German pronunciation is so close to Standard German that I quickly learned to translate on the fly (Uuswiis=Ausweis, Ufa=Auf etc).

I took formal courses for Standard German, Swiss German just sort of happened in the 20h of the day that I was outside of the class (for the first 3 months).

They're different, but so closely related that (to a native English speaker who isn't confused by the differences between UK and US English) you'll probably hear them more like two dialects, rather than two separate languages.

You'll get them mixed up every now and then, but after about a year or so that will be rare.

My advice would be learn Standard German first. If you (or the Swiss who you interact with) feel the need for a Swiss German course after a year or two, then take one.

I learnt standard German before coming to Switzerland and learnt Swiss German here.

The other day, my OH, who is German, made fun of me for using the word absitzen in a German conversation in Germany. This shows to what extent Switzzerland has poluuted my German.

amogles 31.05.2017 16:36

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by st2lemans (Post 2793886)
The correct word is Berliner. ;)

Tom

President Kennedy will always be remembered for that one.

What a pity that Obama didn't build on that fame and go to Budapest and hold a speech saying "Barack vagyok" (I am a peach)

Sbrinz 31.05.2017 16:37

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by st2lemans (Post 2793886)
The correct word is Berliner. ;)

Tom

In Bavaria, the correct word is Krapfen.

Alan.

fatmanfilms 31.05.2017 16:43

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Jim2007 (Post 2793880)
Most amusing one I've seen is two Italians as work trying to speak German to each other. Took them about 10 minutes to realise they could use Italian!

A good friend spent 5 minutes speaking to a car rental company in French, eventually they realised they were both English, happens all the time.

TomasTomas 01.06.2017 09:53

Re: Language question
 
Thanks for all reply
If we summarize all the population of Switzerland by language the picture will be like this :
60 % speak german
30 % speak french
10 % speak italian
And also
40-50 % speak English(mainly in the urban areas)
Is this correct ?

Capo 01.06.2017 15:07

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TomasTomas (Post 2794171)
Thanks for all reply
If we summarize all the population of Switzerland by language the picture will be like this :
60 % speak german
30 % speak french
10 % speak italian
And also
40-50 % speak English(mainly in the urban areas)
Is this correct ?

Very roughly yes, but in my experience there are lot of people in Ticino who also speaks German but not so much in the Romandie. So in fact if you take into account the those who speak German fluently also as a second language, than it is more skewed towards German. I might be wrong but at least it is my perception.

koblenz 01.06.2017 16:55

Re: Language question
 
And aren't there more speakers of Italian actually in all of the other cantons put together than there are in TI and GR?

Meerkat33 01.06.2017 21:31

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by koblenz (Post 2794409)
And aren't there more speakers of Italian actually in all of the other cantons put together than there are in TI and GR?

There's a spectrum of italian speakers outside of TI/GR, there are new immigrants who speak perfect italian, but there are a lot who speak some italian learnt from their parents who maybe speak only third elementary level sourthern italian from 40 years ago. I am an italian speaker and I think many of them especially the younger generations really struggle, and they intercalate with swiss german words. I think only maybe 20% speak italian like a true bilingual, and in general they prefer swiss german.

TomasTomas 02.06.2017 10:44

Re: Language question
 
Thanks
So learning German is the key :)
I am now studying it hard and yesterday i make an online A1 test
I have a 60 % success so for a one month and a half is not so bad :)
Would you recommend me some sites about learning German.
Now i am using this:
https://www.duolingo.com/
and this
https://app.supermemo.com/#/learn/317

Is this enough and would you recommend me other sites ?

st2lemans 02.06.2017 11:10

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by koblenz (Post 2794409)
And aren't there more speakers of Italian actually in all of the other cantons put together than there are in TI and GR?

No. 350k in TI/GR, 545k nationwide.

Tom

JagWaugh 02.06.2017 11:10

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TomasTomas (Post 2794692)
Thanks
So learning German is the key :)
I am now studying it hard and yesterday i make an online A1 test
I have a 60 % success so for a one month and a half is not so bad :)
Would you recommend me some sites about learning German.
Now i am using this:
https://www.duolingo.com/
and this
https://app.supermemo.com/#/learn/317

Is this enough and would you recommend me other sites ?

Learning German is indeed the key.

Online resources and tests have some value, but the litmus test is walking up to a random stranger and asking a random question, and being able to figure out what their answer is.

And the way to interpret the results of that test is:

The more trepidation and preparation you experience before approaching and asking a question, the more you need to work on yourself, and your German.

The longer it takes for the random stranger to respond (and the more consternation their facial expression reveals), the more you need to work on your German (but you're past the "I can't open my mouth until my German is perfect" personal inhibition.)

The longer it takes you to interpret the answer the more you need to work on your German (or you've reached the point where you're asking philosophical questions which by their nature require interpretation).

Just get out there and do it. It is very rare for people who speak funny to be sold off into the slave trade. The more you speak funny, the less funny you will speak.

You will probably go through various stages, some of mine were:
  1. Prepare every sentence, translating from English to German, initially on paper, later in your head.
  2. Carry a dictionary to lookup specific words.
  3. Stop carrying your dictionary.
  4. Notice that people seem to misunderstand you only very rarely.
  5. You only rarely need to explain a joke you made in German.
  6. You visit Italy or France, and instinctively try to speak German, rather than your mother tongue or the local language.
  7. You start slipping into German when you're tired and talking to people who don't speak German.
  8. Native German speakers get your jokes in German all of the time.
  9. You go to an English speaking country and you have to translate (in your head) from German to English for the first couple of days you're there.

EDIT: That list should include: "You join EF because you realise that your English has started to sound like the dialogue from a '50s cowboy movie"

koblenz 02.06.2017 11:16

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by st2lemans (Post 2794714)
No.

Tom

Oh, I was told that there were.

I assume it is because most Italian speaking immigrants nowadays identify themselves (and put themselves down on the census principally as speakers of German.

TomasTomas 02.06.2017 11:35

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JagWaugh (Post 2794715)
Learning German is indeed the key.

Online resources and tests have some value, but the litmus test is walking up to a random stranger and asking a random question, and being able to figure out what their answer is.

And the way to interpret the results of that test is:

The more trepidation and preparation you experience before approaching and asking a question, the more you need to work on yourself, and your German.

The longer it takes for the random stranger to respond (and the more consternation their facial expression reveals), the more you need to work on your German (but you're past the "I can't open my mouth until my German is perfect" personal inhibition.)

The longer it takes you to interpret the answer the more you need to work on your German (or you've reached the point where you're asking philosophical questions which by their nature require interpretation).

Just get out there and do it. It is very rare for people who speak funny to be sold off into the slave trade. The more you speak funny, the less funny you will speak.

You will probably go through various stages, some of mine were:
  1. Prepare every sentence, translating from English to German, initially on paper, later in your head.
  2. Carry a dictionary to lookup specific words.
  3. Stop carrying your dictionary.
  4. Notice that people seem to misunderstand you only very rarely.
  5. You only rarely need to explain a joke you made in German.
  6. You visit Italy or France, and instinctively try to speak German, rather than your mother tongue or the local language.
  7. You start slipping into German when you're tired and talking to people who don't speak German.
  8. Native German speakers get your jokes in German all of the time.
  9. You go to an English speaking country and you have to translate (in your head) from German to English for the first couple of days you're there.

EDIT: That list should include: "You join EF because you realise that your English has started to sound like the dialogue from a '50s cowboy movie"

Yes,in the real life this test dont count so much.
If i speak frankly the German is no easy(i dont think that i make a huge discovery :))
But what is your best effective strategy/tactics to learn the language ?
For me is to learn whole sentences with the most important/most used phrases
And some technical question.
For example
Wir werden den Flughafen erweitern (We will expand the airport ) why the places of Flughafen(airport) and erweitern(expand) are changed
If we translate it directly it will be "We will the airport expand"
Same with this:
Ich werde ihn einstellen(We will hire him)
The direct translation will be "We will him hire "
Same with this:
Sie wird das Zimmer sehen(She will see the room)
Direct translation will be "she will the room see"
Or
Ich werde dich in meinem Zimmer erwarten(I will expect you in my room)
Direct translation "I will you in my room expect"
From where it comes this changing of words ?
P.S
I am very sorry if my question look stupid.

JagWaugh 02.06.2017 11:52

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TomasTomas (Post 2794740)
Yes,in the real life this test dont count so much.
If i speak frankly the German is no easy(i dont think that i make a huge discovery :))
But what is your best effective strategy/tactics to learn the language ?
For me is to learn whole sentences with the most important/most used phrases
And some technical question.
For example
Wir werden den Flughafen erweitern (We will expand the airport ) why the places of Flughafen(airport) and erweitern(expand) are changed
If we translate it directly it will be "We will the airport expand"
Same with this:
Ich werde ihn einstellen(We will hire him)
The direct translation will be "We will him hire "
Same with this:
Sie wird das Zimmer sehen(She will see the room)
Direct translation will be "she will the room see"
Or
Ich werde dich in meinem Zimmer erwarten(I will expect you in my room)
Direct translation "I will you in my room expect"
From where it comes this changing of words ?
P.S
I am very sorry if my question look stupid.

Part of the syntax of German is to shuffle the verb to the end of the sentence. Think of it as a sort of built in parity check: Listen until you've heard a verb, the sentence is now complete.

The rule isn't universal.

You're still in the "Translate" phase. In a certain sense you're not learning German yet, you're learning how to recognize the difference between German and English. (This isn't a criticism, we all went through it.)

Once you stop comparing everything to English you've started properly learning German. (What does a child compare language to when they are learning their mother tongue?)

German isn't any more difficult to learn than any other language, once you get past the "translate" phase. You can't force this, but the more you get out and use a language the better your progress will be.

Harrap's "German Grammar" is a good technical resource to help you decode German constructions, but you have to understand enough about grammar to make sense of it.

Urs Max 02.06.2017 12:45

Re: Language question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by st2lemans (Post 2794714)
No. 350k in TI/GR, 545k nationwide.

Tom

The question is what should be called "Italian speaker", just native speakers or should it include those who use it often (at least once a week, though at what level is unknown)? In the latter case 15-17% of the population count. See "regelmässig verwendete Sprachen" on this official statistics.


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