need to verify german language spoken...

Old Sep 8th, 2004, 04:52 AM
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jfm
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need to verify german language spoken...

i've been told that german is the language to bone up on for a switz / germany / austria trip as all 3 countries speak german. seems to simple. can anyone confirm?
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Old Sep 8th, 2004, 04:58 AM
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yes for Germany and Austria (obviously), but with Swtizerland it depends on which part of the country you're in - some parts speak French or Italian rather than German.

But I really wouldn't worry about it to much - you'll come across many English speakers in these countries.
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Old Sep 8th, 2004, 04:59 AM
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Hi jfm,

Are you asking if they do speak German in Germany, Austria and Switzerland?

Yes, they do.
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Old Sep 8th, 2004, 05:04 AM
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jfm
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one other inquiry if i may...do you think we'd have difficulties with only rudimentary german capability?
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Old Sep 8th, 2004, 05:07 AM
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I went to Germany and Austria and don't speak any German, and I didn't have what I would call "difficulties". A few challenges here and there, but you could usually find people who spoke English eventually, if you got really stuck.

Karen
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Old Sep 8th, 2004, 05:09 AM
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excellent, good news...thanks all for your replies...best, jfm.
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Old Sep 8th, 2004, 05:13 AM
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Hi jfm,

Even rudimentary German and a smile will prevent most "difficulties".
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Old Sep 8th, 2004, 05:21 AM
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When visiting any country, learn the following words/phrases: "Hello," "goodbye," "please," "thank you," "do you have menus in English?" and most importantly, "where is the bathroom?" It won't take long to learn these important terms, and if you say it with a smile, you should have no problems at all.
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Old Sep 8th, 2004, 05:34 AM
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"excuse me" is a good one to know, also.
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Old Sep 8th, 2004, 05:41 AM
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Fortunately, 'bitte' (usually with 'schön') will do for 'please', 'excuse me' and indeed 'you're welcome'.

Germans and particularly Austrians can be very formal, so it would be wise to start almost any conversation with 'Guten morgen/tag/abend' (depending on the time of day) and, once you have been acknowledged, 'Bitte schön, sprechen sie Englisch?'; and don't forget your 'Vielen Dank' or 'Danke schön' at the end..
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Old Sep 8th, 2004, 05:46 AM
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Another thought - spoken German in Austria and Switzerland will be in a very different accent from northern Germany. Signposts and other written material will be the same, but the rhythm and intonation of the spoken language will sound different (as different from each other as what you'd hear in Glasgow and New Orleans), so try and get into English a.s.a.p!
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Old Sep 8th, 2004, 06:01 AM
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English is very widely spken in all 3 countries. I would very much doubt if you will find a restaurant or hotel where speaking only english is a problem.

That said, if you will be traveling by car - or in a lot of small towns - I would reco getting one of those tiny toutist translation books. You know the kind - with sections for At the hotel, At the Garage etc. (When trying to get gas at a tiny station in a small town on Sunday evening a little German is better than sign language!) Also, if anything goes wrong with the car, it helps to at least be able to explain what it is (traveliong in Spain once we ere really happy to be able to discuss the frenos - since the Avis mechanic had no english at all).
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Old Sep 8th, 2004, 06:08 AM
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As mentioned parts of Switzerland are French or Italian speaking (it's pretty easy to figure out which and where by looking at the names of the towns on a map).

My most used phrase I practiced (in French) was "I'm sorry. I don't speak French." (said with an apologetic smile) In smaller places I did not find English widely spoken (at the open air markets for instance) but everyone was friendly and helpful and we figured it out.
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Old Sep 8th, 2004, 06:34 AM
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Hi jfm.

German is spoken by the greatest number of people in Switzerland, followed by French, Italian and Romansch (a very old language). Many people in Switzerland do speak English, especially in the large towns. Often in the smaller, more rural areas, only the language of the region is spoken. Usually sign language will get you through. I live in the German speaking part of Switzerland and spoke hardly any German when I got here but got by ok. However what I did want to warn you about is that the German, German and Austrian people speak is very different to the German Swiss people speak. Yes, there are different accents in Germany and Austria but Switzerland has a different dialect, Swiss German. Almost everybody can also speak High German as this is the written language used but until people hear you speak high german they will start speaking Swiss German to you. I just wanted to prepare you so you weren't surprised!
Opening conversations start with Guten Tag in Germany, Gruss Gott in Austria and Grüezi in Switzerland.

Cheers, Lynn
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Old Sep 8th, 2004, 06:37 AM
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you will find most young people are eager to either cut to the chase with english, wanting to practice their knowledge,or say they speak a little but (are embarassed) but do very well any way.the culture shock is not what it used to be say 40 years agoin those counties.speak for you own fun and practice
 
Old Sep 8th, 2004, 06:48 AM
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Hmm... isn't German the primary language spoken in Zurich?
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Old Sep 8th, 2004, 07:23 AM
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I agree with the others who have recommended learning some basic words/ phrases. You could certainly get by without doing so, but I think that it will make your experience more pleasant. It's fun to learn a bit of a new language and try it out with native speakers. And a little goes a long way- Most people really appreciate being addressed in their native tongue- wouldn't you?

Your library should have some Conversational German Lesson tapes or C.D's that you can listen to in the car or around the house.
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Old Sep 8th, 2004, 08:06 AM
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If you venture out of the tourist areas, there are many restaurants and smaller lodgings where no one speaks English. But some rudimentary German, a phrase book, sign language, drawings and smiles will get you through. But you might not get exactly what you thought you ordered at dinner.
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Old Sep 8th, 2004, 08:23 AM
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<<Hmm... isn't German the primary language spoken in Zurich?>>

Yes, Zurich is in (predominantly)German-speaking Switzerland. About 70-80% of the country is.

Why the "Hmmm..."? - - did something that someone said above indicate otherwise to you?

Maybe I missed something.

Best wishes,

Rex

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Old Sep 8th, 2004, 08:35 AM
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I live in Zurich, and have to clarify some of the above. Swiss people are taught to speak and read/write high German in school, but generally do NOT speak it to one another. In homes, businesss, shops and among Swiss German friends, they speak Swiss German. They even write in Swiss German, although most newspapers and road signs, etc are in high German. In Swiss German, certain of the numbers are pronounced differently, "merci" is generally used instead of "danke", and there are other subtle differences. If you speak high German to them, they will generally respond to you in English (at least that is my experinece) because they can tell from your accent that you are not German. So learning German phrases is nice, but will not really help you a whole lot in the German speaking parts of Switzlerland. Fortunately, most everyone in Zurich and in touristed areas of eastern Switzerland speak English, so it is not an issue. You will usually, but not always, find an English menu in restaurants, but can also usually find someone to intepret for you.
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