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  #141  
Old 10.04.2011, 14:07
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Re: English as an official Swiss language

I would say that at the present time, the money that really talks in the world is the CHF - not the $

We are mixing 2 things here- there is a big difference between agreeing that English is fast becoming the World language of communication, is extremely useful in many ways- and agreeing that it should become the 5th national language of Switzerland. I totally agree with the first part, and totally disagree with the second.

I'd add ye olde imperialistic attitude of some Brits 'why should we bother to learn and adapt - 'they' can do that, not us' and the very basic issue of 'respect' for a host country and people. If YOU choose to go and live in another country, with another culture and another language - it is YOUR responsibility to adapt, and make every attempt to learn the local language (yes I know, it is not easy to learn Swiss German - so learn high german if you wish, then adapt with time if you can). NOT talking about formal, expensive, time consuming lessons - just a mindset and a bit of effort. I do find it incredibly hard to listen to people who say 'oh the Swiss are not friendly' and at the same time 'I won't even try to speak their language and communicate a bit'. I can just imagine how 'friendly' colleagues and other people would have been to me when I first went to UK, if I'd had the same attitude- or how friendly people would be to my British OH, if he'd said the same when we moved here to CH a couple of years ago. He has a strong British accent, makes loads of mistakes- but they all love him for his positive attitude and effort. They respect him for it, because he showed them respect by making a big effort from day one (despite him being a scientist with little natural ability for languages).

Last edited by Odile; 10.04.2011 at 14:26.
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  #142  
Old 10.04.2011, 14:16
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Re: English as an official Swiss language

Faltrad--> I would say your English is B2/C1. Not many English natives achieve the same level in a local language even after many years of living here.
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  #143  
Old 10.04.2011, 14:28
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Re: English as an official Swiss language

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And yet Switzerland ranks dead last in terms of integrating migrants... wonder why
As Teverus has pointed out, I'm just a U.S. meter reader who's an armchair tourist who has yet to visit Switzerland in person, so what I say may be wrong. But I suspect that if you had a talk with most of the migrants actually in Switzerland---the ones from Eastern Europe or the former Yugoslavia---and asked them why Switzerland had trouble integrating them, I don't think they'll say it's because Swiss people can't speak English.
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  #144  
Old 10.04.2011, 14:37
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Re: English as an official Swiss language

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The clerk at my local post office , cashier at the supermarket and many other people in shops speak to me in perfect English and actually enjoy to do so. However working in banking here I can quite clearly inform you in many areas the English is poor or simply non existent!

It would be interesting if all the expats left the financial insitutions together with their English language in tow and let the financial centres in Zurich and Geneva get on with trading with the rest of the world with their 4 languages and limited English speakers.

Just a thought ...............

I feel truly blessed to be a mother tongue English speaker.

God bless the Queen and our motherland!
A perfect illustration - CQFD
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  #145  
Old 10.04.2011, 14:43
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Re: English as an official Swiss language

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The trend is continuing, yes, but an official language it will not become as the share of Native English speakers among CH residents is very small and heavily surpassed by native Tamil/Albanian/Croatian/Turkish/Spanish/Portuguese speakers. And increasingly by native Arabic speakers .
I do not believe the number of Native English speakers is relevant. What is relevant is that English is increasingly used by pan-Swiss companies & organisations as their common language.
I do not see it becoming an official language anymore than Dialect will become an official language but I see English becoming the de-fact common language.
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  #146  
Old 10.04.2011, 15:34
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Re: English as an official Swiss language

Agreed. In CH, children have to learn a minimum of 2 foreign languages, the first one being one of the national languages - English (or another mod lang, national or not) coming second. The debate has been going on for some time, that this rule should be abolished, so English can be learnt first, as it perceived by many, to be more useful. Kids are also attracted to English because of music, internet + internet games, etc, more naturally. Personally I can see both sides of the argument.

However, it does not mean, imho, that English speaking immigrants can say
let them speak English' a bit like Marie-Antoinette said 'let them eat cake'.
Irrespective of whether your job is important or not, or conducted in English - the basic human respect to make some effort to adapt and learn basic communicative language, still applies, whoever and wherever you are - as an immigrant.
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  #147  
Old 10.04.2011, 15:38
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Re: English as an official Swiss language

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I would say that at the present time, the money that really talks in the world is the CHF - not the $
Global currency reserves as of 2010:
US dollar 61.4%
CHF 0.1%


Btw, not all Anglophones fail at learning new languages. Some succeed and even excel.

I know of 2 heavy weight scientists who were invited to CH by Swiss universities and one of the incentives was that "you can get along with people here speaking English''. When they came, Swiss people at the Gemeindeverwaltung started philosophising and what have you by telling them that maybe they should be looking at some German courses. These 2 aren't here to take your money or to learn your languages, they're here for very specific reasons and for a limited time only. They're working on a big project for the Swiss government...they're simply not immigrants! I'm sure that a good number of EFers are in their boat as well.
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  #148  
Old 10.04.2011, 15:45
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Re: English as an official Swiss language

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The one and only place people were forced by law to speak German was Alsace. And that worked extreamly well at that time, you can still profit from it in German in today's Alsace.
Then they were forced by law to speak French, and it worked extreamly well too, you can fully profit from it in French in today`s Alsace.
I apologize, I was naive to think the Nazis were insensitive to their slave-laborers thereby catering all services to them in their respective languages. Do forgive...
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  #149  
Old 10.04.2011, 15:51
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Re: English as an official Swiss language

Respect is respect, whatever your job and 'importance'. To intimate that if you are rich, important or have a prominent job- excludes you from making any effort to adapt and to learn basic language (unless for a short assignment) is truly arrogant.
And an immigrant is an immigrant- irrespective of above and whether 'invited' or not. Asians were invited in the UK, Turks into Germany, etc. The Swiss and UK health system relies heavily on immigrant workers, at the most Senior Level.
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  #150  
Old 10.04.2011, 15:53
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Re: English as an official Swiss language

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Respect is respect, whatever your job and 'importance'. And an immigrant is an immigrant- irrespective of above and whether 'invited' or not. Asians were invited in the UK, Turks into Germany, etc. The Swiss and UK health system relies heavily on immigrant workers, at the most Senior Level.
Odile, I am sorry but I don't see how it is disrespectful when one of the incentives to relocate to CH and work on a project for the SWiss government was that you do not need to speak a foreign language...
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  #151  
Old 10.04.2011, 15:59
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Re: English as an official Swiss language

Simple, you don't need to speak a foreign language for your research job. It is not a pre-requisite and research will be conducted in English. Fine - no problem with that whatsoever.

But as well as a VIP researcher, you (whoever) is here as a human being in another country - so the polite and respectful thing to do, if you are here for longer than a few months- is to try and understand the culture and the people a bit, and to try and learn to communicate at basic level. It just makes human sense. Voilà
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  #152  
Old 10.04.2011, 16:06
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Re: English as an official Swiss language

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But as well as a VIP researcher, you (whoever) is here as a human being in another country - so the polite and respectful thing to do, if you are here for longer than a few months- is to try and understand the culture and the people a bit, and to try and learn to communicate at basic level. It just makes human sense. Voilà
But then you'll start procrastinating on your actual research work and eventually get fired. Contre-offensive ?!? lol Je plaisante...mais bien sûr!
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  #153  
Old 10.04.2011, 16:55
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Re: English as an official Swiss language

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I know of 2 heavy weight scientists who were invited to CH by Swiss universities and one of the incentives was that "you can get along with people here speaking English''. When they came, Swiss people at the Gemeindeverwaltung started philosophising and what have you by telling them that maybe they should be looking at some German courses. These 2 aren't here to take your money or to learn your languages, they're here for very specific reasons and for a limited time only. They're working on a big project for the Swiss government...they're simply not immigrants! I'm sure that a good number of EFers are in their boat as well.
Those at the commune authorities are giving those scientists pretty good advice. Yes, one can "get along" with English (a misleading impression given by the university probably to recruit them), but then trying to "live" here and that's another story. I also know several scientists recruited by ETH and despite the wonderful research environment with English-speakers everywhere, they went back in a matter of a few months. Why? Learning another language and culture was hard on their families who bore the brunt of the integration burden.

I don't understand about arguing over a "theoretical" adoption of English as an official language. I can't think of a single example of this happening anywhere despite the fact that English is such an important language. Unless the country was under the British Empire...

The only way a country would adopt a new official language is by population demographics. So before Switzerland would ever declare English as another national language, the US would likely adopt Spanish...
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  #154  
Old 10.04.2011, 17:07
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Re: English as an official Swiss language

Odile, I don't think Lejoker is arguing (like rss) that as a native English speaker he shouldn't have the obligation to learn the native language of any country where he moves on an indefinite basis. But if the Swiss government recruited him to do a job for a limited time and specifically told him it is unnecessary to learn a language other than English, I believe they have an obligation to honour their agreement. If Lejoker is working eight or ten hours a day on this project, he might not have time for intensive German lessons.

From what I have read on this forum (keeping in mind you know more about Switzerland than me), I believe the expats who have the easier time learning the local language are the ones who work in native speaking environments rather than international oriented workplaces where English is only spoken. It may be in the best interest of companies who want to keep good English speaking workers on a long term basis to set aside time for German, French, or Italian lessons to ease their transition into Swiss life.
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  #155  
Old 10.04.2011, 17:15
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Re: English as an official Swiss language

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The only way a country would adopt a new official language is by population demographics. So before Switzerland would ever declare English as another national language, the US would likely adopt Spanish...
It is highly unlikely that CH would adopt English and recognize it as an official or naitonal language because there is no native speaking English community in CH that is Swiss. It would be like recognizing Latin :s The Brits here are mostly expats and their numbers are in the thousands only.
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Old 10.04.2011, 17:16
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Re: English as an official Swiss language

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I don't understand about arguing over a "theoretical" adoption of English as an official language. I can't think of a single example of this happening anywhere despite the fact that English is such an important language. Unless the country was under the British Empire...
The government of Rwanda voted to switch from French to English as their official language in 2008. They have never been part of the British empire, nor have they been colonized by Americans (like Liberia).

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008.../rwanda-france

This does not mean Switzerland has to follow their example.
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Old 10.04.2011, 17:25
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Re: English as an official Swiss language

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The government of Rwanda voted to switch from French to English as their official language in 2008. They have never been part of the British empire, nor have they been colonized by Americans (like Liberia).

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008.../rwanda-france

This does not mean Switzerland has to follow their example.
1st off, thanks for clarifying my stand on English in CH. You worded it better than I

Secondly, we cannot deny that French is becoming increasingly useless globally and its influence is waning even amongst the 3rd worlders (not to offend anybody)...Sorry, I too am Francophone but it is the truth ;(
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Old 10.04.2011, 17:40
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Re: English as an official Swiss language

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So before Switzerland would ever declare English as another national language, the US would likely adopt Spanish...
In my country, I believe Spanish is approaching what English is in Switzerland. Americans don't need to use Spanish as a lingua franca, and it isn't necessary for most high-paying jobs overseas. But it's become too big of a language to ignore, and more Americans are learning it.

Earlier in this thread, I said that I believe the major stumbling block to Chinese (Mandarin) becoming a major international language was the difficulty in learning the written language. Spanish does not have that obstacle and the spelling in that language is more phonetic than English. If Latin America ever got it's economic act together, Spanish has the potential to surpass English one day.
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Old 10.04.2011, 18:25
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Re: English as an official Swiss language

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The only way a country would adopt a new official language is by population demographics. So before Switzerland would ever declare English as another national language, the US would likely adopt Spanish...
The U.S has a population of over 300 million. There is NO "official" language in the U.S. Not English, not Spanish- none. It would require a constitutional amendment to have one.

However, as was pointed out elsewhere, Spanish is becoming increasingly important and therefore as an 'accommodation' many legal documents are also in Spanish.
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Old 10.04.2011, 18:30
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Re: English as an official Swiss language

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However, it does not mean, imho, that English speaking immigrants can say
let them speak English' a bit like Marie-Antoinette said 'let them eat cake'.
Irrespective of whether your job is important or not, or conducted in English - the basic human respect to make some effort to adapt and learn basic communicative language, still applies, whoever and wherever you are - as an immigrant.
Fully agree.
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