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  #141  
Old 07.02.2012, 02:04
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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Although it's extremely unlikely, if Kosovo were to join the Swiss Confederation, it would mean the native language spoken by the majority of non-Swiss will finally become an official Swiss language. I'm referring of course to Serbo-Croatian, not English.
True, except that the language of the Kosovari is NOT Serbian or Croatian but ALBANIAN
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  #142  
Old 07.02.2012, 05:36
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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True, except that the language of the Kosovari is NOT Serbian or Croatian but ALBANIAN
Today Albanian, tomorrow Serbo-Croatian!
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  #143  
Old 07.02.2012, 12:11
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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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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Having spent time with ex-pats who have been here a long time and still don't speak the language, I am amazed at the things they miss out on because of their limited knowledge of the country, people, and their poor communication skills in the relevant language.
Yes, of course you can get by, and I suppose it doesn't really matter if you live/work in an English-speaking community.
But it's a shame to miss out on the finer things of the host country.
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Precisely...It's the effort or attempt at learning the local language that endears you to the locals...
I think that learning even a bit and making an effort with the local language is a very positive thing - and I agree with the "should learn a local language" approach ("should", not "must"!). Not so much because some government person says so, but because, as Isha and Leni put it, it makes a world of difference (for the better) in how you interact with your environment, and how you are able to participate in/appreciate the local community. Of course, as someone said, it might be the case that you are not interested at all in integrating, for various reasons, and that is ok also. Nobody should be forced to so something they don't want.

But for me, learning the local language is improving exponentially my quality of life in Zurich. I don't know if I'll be here for another month or for another 50 years, but not understanding at all what was going on around me was a major source of frustration, and even if "everybody speaks English", I always felt excluded somehow.

While I am far from being fluent, I am learning a bit more German everyday, and this is giving me great satisfaction and a bit more confidence. Now, in interacting with locals, after the greetings, I always start with German, and only when the waters get muddy, we switch to another language (which may or may not be English, depending on whom I am talking to). Notable exceptions for me at this point, since I am only at the A2 level, are situations where there can be no experiments and all must be 100% clear immediately- medical stuff, highly technical work stuff, tax/bank/financial stuff, etc. I hope this will change as my German improves.

While I have always found helpful people during my time here (in any language), the niceness and helpfulness of the locals has increased greatly as they see that I make the effort. Plus, the feeling of being able to say stuff that makes sense in a new (to me) foreign language is a huge confidence booster and a wonderful feeling that I had forgotten - the last foreign language I learned was, ehm, a few years ago...

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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 am sure you will do great! Don't be nervous - my mom always told me, you need to be shameless with languages. For personal experience, I see that people greatly prefer "bad German" to "no German at all". Cheers and good luck with your move!

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It's not a question of not remembering, it's a question of distaste!
Sorry, but I truly dislike high German...
Really? I generally find HG a really elegant language. I still have some issues with the sound of certain words - e.g. mein Schatz (my sweetheart) - which sound to me like something very bad (), but there are plenty of other languages which might be more "ear friendly" to express such words of endearment!

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Meanwhile, my wife used to do real-time translation of her mother (Varese dialect) until I pointed out that I understood her perfectly well!
That's so funny, it happened to my brother's wife who is learning Italian, and I would say she is fairly fluent. At a family gathering, while my grandma was speaking with her brothers and sisters in dialect, she was so puzzled that she could understand nothing, and she seriously thought she hadn't learned anything so far! Then we reassured her, and I told her that that's how I felt 99.9% of the time when I heard Swiss German - now I know it's not me, it's them, and hopefully one day I will be able to understand them too!

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Most likely she is from Zurigo, one of the most popolous 40 "Italian" cities around everywhere
I love that...to be honest, German or no German, I love it when the random person on the street in Zurich, Italian or not, speaks to me in Italian! It's like being home in a way....
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  #144  
Old 07.02.2012, 14:47
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

Perfectly said Federica, thank you
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  #145  
Old 07.02.2012, 21:38
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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Today Albanian, tomorrow Serbo-Croatian!
And this is another point. Serbo-Croatian WAS one language, but in the meantime has broken up into THREE languages, Serbian and Croatian and Bosnian. And NO, I do not believe that Albania and Kosovo get conquered by Serbia. More likely the two countries unite earlier or later. Albanian speaking West-Macedonia may join them, and the main parts of Macedonia may join Bulgaria.
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  #146  
Old 07.02.2012, 21:58
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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Serbo-Croatian WAS one language, but in the meantime has broken up into THREE languages, Serbian and Croatian and Bosnian.
Serbo-croatian always had "side forms" to suit everybody. The split in three does not follow the dialect isoglosses. You can have muslim Bosnian writing in latin alphabet ekavian forms like in Serbia even if for most of it, the so called Bosnian is just Croatian with a couple of vocab difference introduced and built up artificially during and after the wars. Big deal...
I must admit that depending on whom you ask, you get very different answers. They are all swimming in political and nationalistic non-sense.

As for the idea of matching the language borders with national borders... that's an extremely non-balkanic concept. Forget it. Grossalbanien was Madelein Albright's dream, but that would mean another war. And you want to unite Bulgaria and Makedonia? You should talk to Macedonian about it... don't forget you helmet.
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  #147  
Old 07.02.2012, 23:59
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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Serbo-croatian always had "side forms" to suit everybody. The split in three does not follow the dialect isoglosses. You can have muslim Bosnian writing in latin alphabet ekavian forms like in Serbia even if for most of it, the so called Bosnian is just Croatian with a couple of vocab difference introduced and built up artificially during and after the wars. Big deal...
I must admit that depending on whom you ask, you get very different answers. They are all swimming in political and nationalistic non-sense.

As for the idea of matching the language borders with national borders... that's an extremely non-balkanic concept. Forget it. Grossalbanien was Madelein Albright's dream, but that would mean another war. And you want to unite Bulgaria and Makedonia? You should talk to Macedonian about it... don't forget you helmet.
To separate Serbian and Croatian was the concept of the leaderships in post-Yugoslavia Serbia and Croatia. It is now at least two languages

I do not believe that Kosovo and Albania merging would result in another war. As it would or will simply be a merger of two independent countries into one.

When you talk with Macedonians, you fairly swiftly realize that what they FEAR are two scenarious, first that the Albanian minority in their country would try to get out, and second that Bulgaria may want to expand
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  #148  
Old 08.02.2012, 23:26
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

“Because of the multiple languages in Switzerland, it has got to be one of the hardest countries for a busy foreigner to integrate into,” wrote a “former high earner” who is married to a Swiss.

swissinfo.ch has more about the interview of the minister of justice...interesting reading

http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/swiss_ne...l?cid=32090286
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  #149  
Old 09.02.2012, 00:00
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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
In my opinion this is just big political bs. No one really cares, neither Sommaruga I guess. The whole integration debate always ignites over daily life situations who are a source of friction between the swiss people and foreigners. The reproaches range from flooding the schools with non-German speakers, shop assistants who don't understand the language, higher violence acceptance, welfare fraud, street crimes, harassment and oppression of women etc. and they are usually addressed to working class immigrants who live within the swiss society (mostly former Yugoslavians, Turks, Africans et al.) and strongly supported by the SVP. We don't have to discuss if such accusations against entire groups are justified, the point is simply that international companies or private schools in which English is spoken are not part of the concerns of swiss people and therefore not part of the integration debate. It doesn't interfere with daily life of people not involved and isn't an issue here - at least in my perception.

So while I of course welcome any efforts to encourage people learning the language of the country they live in, I suspect this is just a political manoeuvre and part of the "all against the SVP and vice versa" game that is played here since quite some time. The SVP points the finger at working class immigrants from non-Western countries and therefore the socialist minister feels the need to point at "rich immigrants". Yawn.
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Old 09.02.2012, 00:24
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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So while I of course welcome any efforts to encourage people learning the language of the country they live in, I suspect this is just a political manoeuvre and part of the "all against the SVP and vice versa" game that is played here since quite some time. The SVP points the finger at working class immigrants from non-Western countries and therefore the socialist minister feels the need to point at "rich immigrants". Yawn.

Well it forces the right-wingers to admit that their position is acutely hypocrite.
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  #151  
Old 09.02.2012, 00:41
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

No one can be forced to learn a language. Some people find it a challenge, others just aren't interested. It's sad that politicians use language to divide people.
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  #152  
Old 09.02.2012, 12:05
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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No one can be forced to learn a language. Some people find it a challenge, others just aren't interested. It's sad that politicians use language to divide people.
Don't they do that everywhere, for every possible reason? It's their job!
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  #153  
Old 09.02.2012, 17:44
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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Well it forces the right-wingers to admit that their position is acutely hypocrite.
I can't see how and why this could happen.

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It's sad that politicians use language to divide people.
Maybe I don't understand you correctly, but if there's one thing that divides people, it's different languages. Sommaruga here is trying to do quite the opposite.
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  #154  
Old 09.02.2012, 18:06
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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I can't see how and why this could happen.


Maybe I don't understand you correctly, but if there's one thing that divides people, it's different languages. Sommaruga here is trying to do quite the opposite.
nobody is doing anything other than talking.

I would have no problem if Swiss authorities - or any of the individual cantons - made language study an integral part of the permitting/immigration process, and then made language study accessible. this is more or less what we do in the States, even though as a country we have no official language. English language study in the States is available for free in most communities, through various adult education programs, because it is candidly next to impossible to live in the States without at least being conversant in English.

this would be a significant improvement over the current situation, where I have to find and then pay for German lessons twice a week, and then rely on the limited online resources and the charity of friends and collegaues to try and figure out the local dialect (which is critical if you want to be able to laugh at the jokes in Die Schweizermacher). learning German, of course, is helpful for purposes of understanding traffic signs but only leads to upsetting most locals even more than my English. now, making me expend the effort and money to chase language lessons may simply be part of the Swiss "sink or swim" culture, which is fine, but then it is silly to complain when people who will only be here for a short time, i.e. who have no need to learn to swim, don't bother.
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  #155  
Old 09.02.2012, 18:06
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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It's sad that politicians use language to divide people.
I remember reading somewhere a while ago a politician whose theory was that the multiple languages spoken in Switzerland was a large part of the country's success. Since not everyone in government has the same mother-tongue, the priority is to speak plainly, make yourself understood and avoid misunderstandings due to people's varying competences in each of the official languages. When you see some of the verbal gymnastics and double-speak from politicians in places like the UK/USA/Aus you can appreciate the sentiment.

I like the theory. Switzerland's strength comes from its diversity of language.
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Old 09.02.2012, 18:37
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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No one can be forced to learn a language. Some people find it a challenge, others just aren't interested. It's sad that politicians use language to divide people.
Sorry but isn't it just the opposite. People who do not speak the local language do divide people.
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Old 09.02.2012, 18:41
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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Sorry but isn't it just the opposite. People who do not speak the local language do divide people.
Not necessarily. Countries like Australia and Canada are built on the influx of foreigners. Many of those first generation immigrants never learnt to speak the local language. Politicians often use them and their apparent lack of integration in a cynical attempt to win votes though.
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Old 10.02.2012, 02:03
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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In my opinion this is just big political bs. No one really cares, neither Sommaruga I guess. The whole integration debate always ignites over daily life situations who are a source of friction between the swiss people and foreigners. The reproaches range from flooding the schools with non-German speakers, shop assistants who don't understand the language, higher violence acceptance, welfare fraud, street crimes, harassment and oppression of women etc. and they are usually addressed to working class immigrants who live within the swiss society (mostly former Yugoslavians, Turks, Africans et al.) and strongly supported by the SVP. We don't have to discuss if such accusations against entire groups are justified, the point is simply that international companies or private schools in which English is spoken are not part of the concerns of swiss people and therefore not part of the integration debate. It doesn't interfere with daily life of people not involved and isn't an issue here - at least in my perception.

So while I of course welcome any efforts to encourage people learning the language of the country they live in, I suspect this is just a political manoeuvre and part of the "all against the SVP and vice versa" game that is played here since quite some time. The SVP points the finger at working class immigrants from non-Western countries and therefore the socialist minister feels the need to point at "rich immigrants". Yawn.
It of course is politics. Politicians DO make politics, as it is what they are paid for.

At the other hand, how can you encourage foreign workers to learn a "national language" when they can see that the top-brass chaps do NOT do so at all !

There was a Mr Jacobs from Hamburg, who came to Switzerland to live and work, and the man took intensive lessons in dialect. Not out of an urgent necessity but as he wanted to put an example of leadership, and a leader role for the employees of his group. While his company-group is now part(s) of Kraft-Jacobs-Suchard there still is the nice Jacobs Coffee Museum in Zürich-Seefeld

Mrs Sommaruga not only has done a nice act of politics, but now is in a position to speak to foreign workers about "integration".

If you prefer Mr Blocher and Mr Köppel, well becomes
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Old 10.02.2012, 02:12
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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No one can be forced to learn a language. Some people find it a challenge, others just aren't interested. It's sad that politicians use language to divide people.
A) Mrs Sommaruga did NOT say that people should be FORCED to learn a national language but that people should be encouraged to do so, and about giving incentives to do so
B) Mrs Sommaruga was NOT using language to divide people. To divide people however of course is the strategy of some SVP top-men

I am a bit astonished to hear such allegations as soon as a Social-Democrat or a Liberal is acting, but not at all when SVPlers are acting in their way !
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Old 10.02.2012, 15:39
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Re: Swiss justice Minister: Foreign residents should learn a Swiss language

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At the other hand, how can you encourage foreign workers to learn a "national language" when they can see that the top-brass chaps do NOT do so at all !
How can they see that - unless a minister feels the need to point that out - and why should they care? Problems with so-called "lack of integration" occur in daily life and they directly concern everyone involved in the particular situation. Here's an example to illustrate my point made in my first posting: An Albanian bricklayer who has settled in Switzerland has problems to understand his Swiss foreman. His son struggles in school because he's not fully able to follow classes held in German. The latters teacher calls for a meeting with the mother and wants her to encourage her son to go to the public library in his spare time and read German books. But as a cleaning lady with almost solely Albanian co-workers she never saw the need to learn German and doesn't get the point. More than half of the pupils in the class of her son are non-native German speakers, and in fear of a decline in standards, many Swiss parents are considering to take their children to private schools. And so on. But if an American CEO of the Swiss subsidiary of an American company speaks English at work, is "generally unconcerned about Swiss traditions" and sends his children to an international private school: Where exactly is there a problem? And how could this affect the views of the bricklayer and his family on their own situation? I don't see a need for getting Swissonized solely for the sake of Swissness in Switzerland.
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