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  #21  
Old 05.02.2012, 01:32
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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I know that the the subject has been discussed over and over again but what are your thoughts about this?

http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/politics...l?cid=32065104
It really depends, it's not "black & white" as usual, if you are here on contract for 1-2 years, there is no need for you to learn the language, because it usually takes that long to start using it and profit from it...

I don't believe in enforcement but encouragement, e.g. 2-4 hours / week on company time and where you work would be the solution, imo....

Learning the language though is the biggest asset you have if you decide to stay in Switzerland, you will miss out on A LOT by not learning the local language...myself I couldn't stand not knowing what people are talking about (behind my back ) etc...
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  #22  
Old 05.02.2012, 01:40
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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I know that the the subject has been discussed over and over again but what are your thoughts about this?

http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/politics...l?cid=32065104

Let's have a look at HER first. She is out of one of the three to five top influential Ticino family clans but grew up in German speaking Switzerland. She is citizen of Lugano and of Eggiwil in the Emmental in the Canton of Berne and had her young years in Sins/Aargau near Zug and Luzern. She got educated a pianist in Luzern, in California and in Roma. She studied Anglistics and Romanistics at Fribourg University. She so is fairly perfect in Italian, German, English and French. She has learnt how important it is to understand also the surrounding of you. She has shown a good understanding of the cultural needs of both top-brass folks and of simple workers.

I even on holidays (stays of between 2 days and 20 days) tried to get a few (additional) words of Spanish, Portuguese, Flemish and Greek, and even if much of all the stuff is long ago forgotten it helped me in contacts with locals and helped me to understand local realities a bit better.

Already my grandfather, when being on holidays up in the Alps, met tourists from Britain, France and Italy, and sat together with them talking in English, French and Italian. Not only did HE learn and hear a lot, but also could tell the visitors lots about things overhere. Grandmum, who knew precisely well that he was not out with some girls, supported his endeavours quite heavily

As Mrs Sommaruga outlined, the problem is not only a failure of some expats from a dozen countries, but to quite an extent also of the CH locals. Progress sometimes goes strange ways. The French in a presidential election ousted Valery Giscard d'Estaing (known for talking English with Helmut Schmidt and for encouraging young French) in favour of MONOlingual François Mitterand but later voted in favour of former exchange student (universities of Newcastle-on-theTyne/GB and of Boston/USA) Jacques Chirac.

All in all, I think Mrs Sommaruga is splendid in every way
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Old 05.02.2012, 01:47
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Re: swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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Ms. Sommaruga was talking about foreigners who are high earners (CEO etc.). Not the kind of people who are usually insulted.

Will she do anything about it ? highly unlikely. Just another sound bite
THIS intentionally was a kind of "sound bite". Launched in order to hear the echos. She however will do something within one or two years. She since taking office had to adjust her methods a bit since her days at the "Konsumenten-Schutz".
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Old 05.02.2012, 02:00
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Re: swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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Heathens, they should be punished.

In German, or French, or Italian.. Wait, we can´t make up our minds...

For a mild comparison, what help is a command of Tamil in Bombay or Delhi or Ahmedabad or Amritsar ? or a bit Punjabi in Madras ?

you may realize why Pandit J. Nehru took over some constitutional ideas from Switzerland in spite of the undeniable differences in size
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Old 05.02.2012, 02:20
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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not everybody who is willing to pay corporate income tax in Switzerland wants to learn one of the languages. those multi-national companies don't want to be Swiss any more than they want to be American, British or Chinese, they only want to make money. this article is a lot like ****ing in the wind.

that said, we come across more than our share of other gringos who seemingly go out of their way to ignore the local language and customs. it becomes almost a source of pride for them to behave as if they still live 30 minutes outside NYC. somewhere there is a middle ground, where Switzerland continues to benefit from its well-earned reputation as tax haven while us nasty Uslanders learn to respect Switzerland's history and languages. as I try to tell the folks who feel compelled to echo the sentiment in the article when I meet them on the street:

ob möchtet si mir wüssä, müend si mir lährä.
The multinational companies you mention are NOT family shops ! Nobody expects a multinational company to be Swiss (that anyway would be the concern of Bundesrat Schneider-Ammann) and the topic was not about taxes (this would be a matter for Bundesrat Mrs Widmer-Schlumpf). The topic is people from abroad living in Switzerland, and the idea is that BOTH the rich (spoilt and arrogant ) member of the top-brass and the low-level worker might profit of A) being a bit in command of the local language and B) being a tiny bit informed about local realities
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Old 05.02.2012, 02:21
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

As an original Chinese and a graduate student, English is my 2nd language, and now German. It is not easy at the beginning...
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Old 05.02.2012, 02:37
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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As an original Chinese and a graduate student, English is my 2nd language, and now German. It is not easy at the beginning...
I am so sorry to tell you that it will not be easy later either not less so in a country with some rather extreme dialects
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  #28  
Old 05.02.2012, 02:40
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

I think everyone should make an effort to learn the national language spoken in the place where one lives. I don't understand all the managers I saw in Geneva who were there long term (20+ years) who could still only order a beer in French. I've only been in Zurich for a few months and this not being able to communicate shizz is on my last nerve, I can't learn German fast enough!

There is one thing I agree with Ms. Sommaruga on- people need to learn how things are done in Switzerland. Before I lived in Lausanne, I lived in France, and it is amazing to me how many French people come over here and think that because they speak the same language (vigesimal, saying adieu for hello etc aside) they are in the same d*mn country. One of the reasons I left Lausanne wasn't because of Lausanne, but because of French people. They're taking over and ruining the "Swissness" of Lausanne.
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Old 05.02.2012, 03:02
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

On a light-hearted note, I know someone whose only initial incentive to learn the language ie Swiss-German (not High German), was because she wanted to know what Swiss guys were saying about her!

To her credit, she learnt fast and now speaks it very well although she ended up settling down with a German guy. Luckily for her, he is totally fluent in Swiss-German!

On a more serious note, I agree. It is important, if one can, to learn at least the very basics of the language(s) of your host country if you intend staying. It makes for so much more of an easier life/transition/integration when you can understand and be understood by the vast majority of people you interact with as you go about your normal every day activities. Actually, even if you're not planning to stay, it still helps a great deal with general every day living. It's also a tremendous confidence booster.
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Old 05.02.2012, 03:13
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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I think everyone should make an effort to learn the national language spoken in the place where one lives. I don't understand all the managers I saw in Geneva who were there long term (20+ years) who could still only order a beer in French. I've only been in Zurich for a few months and this not being able to communicate shizz is on my last nerve, I can't learn German fast enough!

There is one thing I agree with Ms. Sommaruga on- people need to learn how things are done in Switzerland. Before I lived in Lausanne, I lived in France, and it is amazing to me how many French people come over here and think that because they speak the same language (vigesimal, saying adieu for hello etc aside) they are in the same d*mn country. One of the reasons I left Lausanne wasn't because of Lausanne, but because of French people. They're taking over and ruining the "Swissness" of Lausanne.
Interesting, and a bit surprising. I always over decades regarded the Swissness of Lausanne unbelievable. While Geneva always was "French" by nature and mentality, Lausanne was more "Swiss" than Berne. As I find the various Patois Vaudois rather a bit of a challenge, the new influence might be good, except that most French are centralists by nature and do not really understand the federalist concept

And in fact, Lausanne is most in my memory of Augst 1958, when my brother and me were "deposited" at an uncle and an aunt in Lausanne during the Geneva visit of US relatives. Uncle Albert was 50/50 but of course at work during the day, but aunt Ida was 100% Romand with a minimal knowledge of German and so I at age 8 (my brother refused "Ausländisch" and left such things to his younger brother always/everywhere/always) had to try to understand things. And out of this I never really saw any Swissness in Lausanne until ages later.

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Old 05.02.2012, 03:37
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

I won't tell people what to do in life. But I must admit that I found it rude when a woman stopped me in the street of Basel once and asked me her question directly in English without any thought spent on the language situation. To this woman, the world speaks English and basta. Frankly, I responded in a very German way: stared at her and went on walking. To me, at that moment, honestly, she was just wrong, not only rude, just wrong. Sorry if that shocks you, but that was my honest, spontaneous gut feeling reaction.
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Old 05.02.2012, 03:52
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Re: swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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For a mild comparison, what help is a command of Tamil in Bombay or Delhi or Ahmedabad or Amritsar ? or a bit Punjabi in Madras ?

you may realize why Pandit J. Nehru took over some constitutional ideas from Switzerland in spite of the undeniable differences in size
and this is why English is an official language all over India, and particularly at the federal level.

now maybe the Swiss could take an idea or two from India
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  #33  
Old 05.02.2012, 03:56
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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I won't tell people what to do in life. But I must admit that I found it rude when a woman stopped me in the street of Basel once and asked me her question directly in English without any thought spent on the language situation. To this woman, the world speaks English and basta. Frankly, I responded in a very German way: stared at her and went on walking. To me, at that moment, honestly, she was just wrong, not only rude, just wrong. Sorry if that shocks you, but that was my honest, spontaneous gut feeling reaction.
There's also the possibility that she just forgot and did it instinctively? I know I have done so on occasion and then immediately reverted to German on realizing this error or being made to realize by the person I'm addressing.

Also reminds me of a time when I was looking in a shop window whilst on holiday in Turkey and a Turkish family came up and immediately started speaking in their language to me. I didn't take offence although the startled look on my face and my saying "sorry but" was enough for them to realize their error and they then proceeded to speak to me in English. Was kind of cool to learn from them that there were Turkish people of my complexion etc from a certain region there, hence their assumption.
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Old 05.02.2012, 04:12
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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There's also the possibility that she just forgot and did it instinctively? I know I have done so on occasion and then immediately reverted to German on realizing this error or being made to realize by the person I'm addressing.

Also reminds me of a time when I was looking in a shop window whilst on holiday in Turkey and a Turkish family came up and immediately started speaking in their language to me. I didn't take offence although the startled look on my face and my saying "sorry but" was enough for them to realize their error and they then proceeded to speak to me in English. Was kind of cool to learn from them that there were Turkish people of my complexion etc from a certain region there, hence their assumption.
That is part of the problem when people think that "because they don't speak the language" others who do speak the language must go out of their way for them. I have found the majority of expats quite arrogant and rude to be honest. And the woman most likely "didn't forget and spoke English spontaneously" she was actually expecting an answer in English. The Swiss are feeling this arrogance and as I stated in a thread some time ago, it will become more difficult for foreigners, expats...whatever to stay here unless they begin to "respect" their host country. Some expats are OK, but very few.
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Old 05.02.2012, 04:39
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Last time I checked it were the Swiss the ones who didn't do any effort to integrate us, and not the opposite as the article suggests.
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  #36  
Old 05.02.2012, 04:41
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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That is part of the problem when people think that "because they don't speak the language" others who do speak the language must go out of their way for them. I have found the majority of expats quite arrogant and rude to be honest. And the woman most likely "didn't forget and spoke English spontaneously" she was actually expecting an answer in English. The Swiss are feeling this arrogance and as I stated in a thread some time ago, it will become more difficult for foreigners, expats...whatever to stay here unless they begin to "respect" their host country. Some expats are OK, but very few.
Personally, I always like to give people the benefit of the doubt and which is why I said perhaps she forgot. After all, we are all human and do make mistakes. As I said, I've done it at times without even realizing until a short while later. I guess, luckily for me, to date no-one has taken offence and sometimes we've even ended up laughing over it. The power of the smile and humour can work wonders I find regardless of language issues.

Sure there are those who are arrogant enough to think wherever they go in the world that others must go out of their way to understand them and which I absolutely do not agree with at all.
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Old 05.02.2012, 05:31
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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That is part of the problem when people think that "because they don't speak the language" others who do speak the language must go out of their way for them. I have found the majority of expats quite arrogant and rude to be honest. And the woman most likely "didn't forget and spoke English spontaneously" she was actually expecting an answer in English. The Swiss are feeling this arrogance and as I stated in a thread some time ago, it will become more difficult for foreigners, expats...whatever to stay here unless they begin to "respect" their host country. Some expats are OK, but very few.
Do you think that the majority of expats are arrogant or, like me, nervous to use a language they don't know in a place with which they are not familiar? I've been working on German since I found out we're moving to Switzerland (about 2 months or so) but it is a difficult language which is proving slow for me to learn. I think the thing that scares me more than anything is being seen as the "stupid American" who can't speak German well when I finally arrive in Switzerland in 3 weeks. So, interpret my silence as arrogance, or talk about the fact that my children and I speak English to each other in the grocery store, but don't assume that I'm not trying to learn German and that I don't "respect" Switzerland and the Swiss just because you don't hear it. Because I guarantee it's going to take me a fair amount of time to become comfortable with the local language. And it's not going to be any faster if I think the locals believe that the majority of expats are arrogant and rude...
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Old 05.02.2012, 06:03
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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Do you think that the majority of expats are arrogant or, like me, nervous to use a language they don't know in a place with which they are not familiar? I've been working on German since I found out we're moving to Switzerland (about 2 months or so) but it is a difficult language which is proving slow for me to learn. I think the thing that scares me more than anything is being seen as the "stupid American" who can't speak German well when I finally arrive in Switzerland in 3 weeks. So, interpret my silence as arrogance, or talk about the fact that my children and I speak English to each other in the grocery store, but don't assume that I'm not trying to learn German and that I don't "respect" Switzerland and the Swiss just because you don't hear it. Because I guarantee it's going to take me a fair amount of time to become comfortable with the local language. And it's not going to be any faster if I think the locals believe that the majority of expats are arrogant and rude...
Love your nickname.

Don't worry at all and well done on learning German before you move over. That's a great start.

I agree. German is not an easy language to learn for many people, including myself. In the beginning, I remember being petrified to even say "Danke" for fear of being laughed at. Yes, seriously.

What goes a long way in my humble opinion, is one's willingness to at least try. Many Swiss people speak very good to fluent English and will help you out when the going gets tough and revert, in yours and my case, to English.

Everyone learns and picks up stuff at a different pace. I guess your kids will get familiar with the language pretty quickly as kids generally do. One of my teenage nephews in the UK loves German and is already fluent in it. I would so love for him to come and spend the school Summer holidays with me so we could go to football (soccer to you) matches together but then I digress.

Just keeping an open mind and maintaining a willingness to do your best in your new surroundings I think is the most important thing.
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Old 05.02.2012, 06:21
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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Love your nickname.

Just keeping an open mind and maintaining a willingness to do your best in your new surroundings I think is the most important thing.
Thanks! Now, sign language was easy for me to learn--no accent to perfect

I am definitely coming into this with an open mind--wouldn't have started learning German if I wasn't open to the experience. As a matter of fact, the kids and I are really ready to get to Switzerland in a few weeks. We're jealous that my OH has been there enjoying the country without us for a month!
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Old 05.02.2012, 10:55
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

I had an experience similar to Isha's last week.

I'd just finished work, was deep in thought and realized I'd forgot to pick up my drink when I was in the Que for the buffet. Without thinking I went back to choose one and said to the two ladies in front of the cabinet"excuse me please I forgot to get my drink" as I turned to go they said in a rather annoyed manner in Swiss/German, "imagine if we just expected people to understand us when we were in London". I turned and apologized in Swiss/German and explained my state of deep thought and we all ended up laughing together. I think they were dumbfounded that I actually understood them and took the time to apologize.

A little goes a long way.
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