German speakers re-learn their language

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James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:35
Russian to English
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My experience with a Swiss transplant living in Germany Feb 24, 2016

I lived in Germany for three years back in the 1980s and learned to speak German on a very rudimentary level. Once, I was in a meeting with some Germans and a man born in Switzerland who spoke High German very clearly. When I commented on how easy he was to understand (unlike the Germans in the meaning, although I didn't say that), he responded that it was because he had learned High German as a foreign language.

[Edited at 2016-02-24 16:59 GMT]


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K Scarffe  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:35
German to English
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Fair dos to anyone with that much get up and go Mar 2, 2016

I was once in (an informal) business meeting in Austria where most participants were either German or Austrian. Suddenly a Swiss German spoke up, leaving everyone spellbound. There were smiles all round, and the speaker picked up on it, ramped it up, and visibly took great delight when the smiles turned to chuckles, and finally to open laughter. I had no problem understanding anyone else, but I did not really understand anything this chap said (even though I'm very familiar with a particular Bavarian dialect), and I too found it very amusing. The nicest aspect of it was how the Swiss gentleman, far from taking offence, was delighted to see that people were enjoying listening to him.

Getting back to the theme of the article, I suspect the perception that Swiss German sounds quite amusing to a native German is at least as big a barrier as the linguistic barrier itself. I cannot imagine many English speakers being willing to learn Highland Scots, for example - though perhaps if there were a booming economy up in the hills of the West Coast of Scotland there might be some interest. But it would still have more to do with fitting in than actually conducting business, it is safe to say.

Anyone willing to put themselves out to actually learn a dialect of their own language is showing a lot of respect to their adopted country and countrymen. The strange thing is, in the case in view they may eventually get a few smiles from visiting speakers of High German, and it would be very interesting to hear how that made them feel!

*'fair dos to' = 'give [the people in question] their due' (in Scouse)

[Edited at 2016-03-02 20:45 GMT]


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German speakers re-learn their language

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