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Old 05.10.2010, 17:06
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English as an Official Language

I work in a company where the Offical Language is English, and hear a lot reasons why people shouldn't speak English, and also people in my company complaining that a Swiss Company has English as an official language.

I know there are many large companies that have English as an official language, CS, UBS, Swiss Re, Zürich, Novartis?, Roche?, and others.

I wonder if therein lies the argument for English to become an official language if not in terms of number of employees that speak it officially in Switzerland, or maybe the size of the economy in Zurich that relies on English Speakers.

Controversial maybe......but just a twist on this subject that may need a new thread?

Last edited by CS_owns_Zurich_n_me; 05.10.2010 at 18:57. Reason: Oh the Irony of spelling Language wrong twice :)
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Old 05.10.2010, 18:49
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Re: English as an Official Language

Forget it. It's just wishful thinking that fuels the odd fringe debate from time to time. If global companies in Switzerland choose English as their corporate language - that's a commercial decision. To make English an Official language - that's a political decision. Remember not all Swiss work in multinational companies. And for those that do, there's a world of difference between a language used purely for professional reasons and one that somebody feels totally at home with and uses for every day communication. Don't kid yourself. For most English speaking Swiss, English is a language of convenience - a tool. It's not part of the national and cultural identity.
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Old 05.10.2010, 18:54
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Re: English as an Official Language

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Forget it. It's just wishful thinking that fuels the odd fringe debate from time to time. If global companies in Switzerland choose English as their corporate language - that's a commercial decision. To make English an Official language - that's a political decision. Remember not all Swiss work in multinational companies. And for those that do, there's a world of difference between a language used purely for professional reasons and one that somebody feels totally at home with and uses for every day communication. Don't kid yourself. For most English speaking Swiss, English is a language of convenience - a tool. It's not part of the national and cultural identity.
Forget the "global companies", it is enough if a company is "pan-Swiss". As Romands generally speak much better English than German, and German-Swiss much better English than French, English very often is the compromise language on which most people happily agree. And if it helps to spare you the pain to listen to German-language torturings by English speaking expats the better it is
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Old 05.10.2010, 19:02
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Re: English as an Official Language

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Forget it. It's just wishful thinking that fuels the odd fringe debate from time to time. If global companies in Switzerland choose English as their corporate language - that's a commercial decision. To make English an Official language - that's a political decision. Remember not all Swiss work in multinational companies. And for those that do, there's a world of difference between a language used purely for professional reasons and one that somebody feels totally at home with and uses for every day communication. Don't kid yourself. For most English speaking Swiss, English is a language of convenience - a tool. It's not part of the national and cultural identity.
Thanks for that, and I agree in terms of the Swiss themselves. I guess in terms of making life easier for the 'adopted' business folk they attract here that only speak English and come for some time. I guess the ease of English being 'Official' as a working language would mean that the forms you have to fill out for all kinds of things would be in English too. Not sure that more people would use it for 'fun' or 'cultural' aspects than they do already.

I guess I mean it as a recognition of the amount of foreigners here that need it and use it as a language to function, and therefore may require the Governmental forms in English, and actually a bit of patience with the local crew who get upset at newbies here that don't speak that language.
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Old 05.10.2010, 19:02
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Re: English as an Official Language

Parts of the reason why some Swiss in professional environment prefer to speak English with Swiss from another language group is that they are all equal in English, nobody's mother tongue means also nobody's superiority. That can mean quite a lot to Romands when going to German speaking part. And at the receiving end, Swiss Germans may find it strange to face a Romand speaking excellent high German making him sound less "urban". That can also mean quite a lot to a Swiss German when talking to that kind of Romands.
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Old 05.10.2010, 19:18
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Re: English as an Official Language

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I guess I mean it as a recognition of the amount of foreigners here that need it and use it as a language to function, and therefore may require the Governmental forms in English, and actually a bit of patience with the local crew who get upset at newbies here that don't speak that language.
So what about the Kosovans, Albanians and Portuguese who probably make up the majority of foreigners here? The Government's not going to make English an offical language just to make life easier for a those English only speaking expats who come and stay here for a few years then leave. No doubt it would make their life easier but won't fly on political and economic grounds. There's lots they can and are doing to make life for English speakers easier without going as far as making the language Official.
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Old 05.10.2010, 19:37
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Re: English as an Official Language

english is made to be official so that the company has no obligation to pay for your migrosklubschule german course.
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Old 05.10.2010, 20:29
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Re: English as an Official Language

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Thanks for that, and I agree in terms of the Swiss themselves. I guess in terms of making life easier for the 'adopted' business folk they attract here that only speak English and come for some time. I guess the ease of English being 'Official' as a working language would mean that the forms you have to fill out for all kinds of things would be in English too. Not sure that more people would use it for 'fun' or 'cultural' aspects than they do already.

I guess I mean it as a recognition of the amount of foreigners here that need it and use it as a language to function, and therefore may require the Governmental forms in English, and actually a bit of patience with the local crew who get upset at newbies here that don't speak that language.
You have to see that the "official language status" differs. While the confederation has three fully official languages (D/F/I) and one semi-official language (Romansh) Appenzell IR + AR, St. Gallen, Thurgau, Schaffhausen, Zürich, Zug, Luzern, Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden (both half-cantons), Glarus, Aargau, Solothurn, and Basel (both half cantons) only half German as official language, the Cantons of Bern, Fribourg/Freiburg and Valais/Wallis have German+French as official languages, but Jura, Neuchâtel (Neuenburg), Vaud (Waadtland) and Geneva only have French as official language, leaving only one Canton which is tri-lingual, Graubünden where the official languages are German, Romansh and Italian. And among the German speakers, only the parliaments (City and Canton) of Schaffhausen have their meetings conducted in Standard German and not in dialect.

Inofficially however, many places issue written information in other languages, Zürich for instance in Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian, Albanian, Greek, Turkish, Arabic, Tamil and English.
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Old 05.10.2010, 20:32
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Re: English as an Official Language

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english is made to be official so that the company has no obligation to pay for your migrosklubschule german course.
Yes, as soon as Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian, Albanian, Greek, Turkish, Arabic and Tamil are made official languages in Zurich
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Old 05.10.2010, 20:41
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Re: English as an Official Language

We can't, there is no space left on the Tetra Packs.
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Old 06.10.2010, 01:34
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Re: English as an Official Language

Pardon me if this sounds a bit like the old "chicken and the egg" question...

Does Canton Bern have French and German as official languages because it contains the capital, or was Bern chosen as the capital city because it already had both French and German speakers within its canton?
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Old 06.10.2010, 01:46
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Re: English as an Official Language

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Pardon me if this sounds a bit like the old "chicken and the egg" question...

Does Canton Bern have French and German as official languages because it contains the capital, or was Bern chosen as the capital city because it already had both French and German speakers within its canton?
Zuerich is the capital city,the rest of Switzerland just dos`t know it yet
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Old 06.10.2010, 01:47
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Re: English as an Official Language

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Pardon me if this sounds a bit like the old "chicken and the egg" question...

Does Canton Bern have French and German as official languages because it contains the capital, or was Bern chosen as the capital city because it already had both French and German speakers within its canton?
Neither way. Bern in the pre-1800 centuries gradually conquered what later became the Cantons of Jura and Vaud and Western Aargau (Eastern Aargau belonged to Zurich, so that Zurich and Bern for centuries were allied neighbours). Bern liberated allied Geneva. But when after 1815, Vaud became an independent Canton, the Bernois reacted by accepting French as their second language. And when Jura became independent, the protestant South-Jurassiens voted in favour of staying with protestant Bern instead of joining predominantly Catholic Jura. Their preference of course would have been to join protestant Neuchâtel

Bern became Capital
- because Luzern had lost the war
- because it was the only (other) major city far away from a border
- because it was German speaking but in the West of the country
-
- because Basel, then the largest city of CH, was ON the border
- because Geneva, in spite of having contributed the victorious
war General Henri Dufour to the union, also was ON the border

************************************************** *********************

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Zuerich is the capital city,the rest of Switzerland just dos`t know it yet
When Zurich lost the vote in the fateful decision in Solothurn in 1848, a certain Alfred von Escher stormed out of the assembly, promising everybody "I will make Zurich the defacto Capital of Switzerland" and kept word !

YES, it is the man you can see on the Bahnhofplatz, overlooking HIS city !
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Old 06.10.2010, 02:00
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Re: English as an Official Language

Thanks! I did check Wikipedia, but it only said that Bern was chosen as the Swiss capital in 1848---not WHY.

For all the reasons given in this thread, I think English will continue in it's role as an "unofficial official" language of Switzerland---less than de jure but in several ways de facto.
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Old 06.10.2010, 02:32
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Re: English as an Official Language

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Yes, as soon as Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian, Albanian, Greek, Turkish, Arabic and Tamil are made official languages in Zurich
Italian IS an official language.
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Old 06.10.2010, 07:20
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Re: English as an Official Language

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Italian IS an official language.
not in Zürich as he points out.
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Old 06.10.2010, 07:31
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Re: English as an Official Language

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I work in a company where the Offical Language is English, and hear a lot reasons why people shouldn't speak English, and also people in my company complaining that a Swiss Company has English as an official language.

I know there are many large companies that have English as an official language, CS, UBS, Swiss Re, Zürich, Novartis?, Roche?, and others.

I wonder if therein lies the argument for English to become an official language if not in terms of number of employees that speak it officially in Switzerland, or maybe the size of the economy in Zurich that relies on English Speakers.

Controversial maybe......but just a twist on this subject that may need a new thread?
I nearly fell of my chair reading this.
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Old 06.10.2010, 07:33
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Re: English as an Official Language

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not in Zürich as he points out.
it is an official language for the whole of Switzerland.
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Old 06.10.2010, 07:57
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Re: English as an Official Language

I think English-speakers are very blinkered. People will work in whichever language is most effective for the participants collaborating together.

If it's a bunch of German-speakers, should we force them to work together in English?

I work in English and German in a company with English as it's Business Language.

The underlying message is that one language spoken and/or written is no longer sufficient. Thankfully, where we're all at, people tend to be fluent in two languages and able to get by in one or two more.

OP - does that describe you?

............thought not
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Old 06.10.2010, 16:50
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Re: English as an Official Language

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not in Zürich as he points out.
Yes. I missed the "in Zurich" part of the sentence.
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