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Should I learn Swiss German or German for Switzerland trip?

Should I learn Swiss German or German for Switzerland trip?

Old Jan 6th, 2016, 06:10 AM
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Should I learn Swiss German or German for Switzerland trip?

Taking a trip to Paris, Wengen Switzerland, and Munich this July. I speak French but not German. I realize people will say that most Swiss and Germans speak English, but I would like to try and learn the basics. I will be staying a week in Wengen and 3 days in Munich. If I learn German, will that suffice in Switzerland? Or should I try to learn Swiss German since I will have a longer stay in Wengen?
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 06:17 AM
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"Learn" German. Swiss German speakers will understand you and if they don't then will understand English. Plus, your Hoch Deutsch will be understood in Germany, as well as your English.

My 2 cents anyway.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 06:39 AM
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If you visit places in Switzerland frequented by foreign tourists such as Wengen, your need for the Swiss German would be limited to initial greetings which you can learn in the first minute. After that, they would rather talk to you in English to get things done.

Where I found German needed was when I visited a tiny villages in Erzgebirge in Germany. Hardly no one spoke English even those in their thirties. That is not the case for Munich or any other large German cities.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 06:52 AM
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don't learn Swiss German, as it just makes the Germans giggle. How are you Italian and Romansh(s)?

Last time I spent any time with some Swiss I struggled for some time with my French until they ran out of patience and moved into English with us and with Romansh and with each other.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 07:10 AM
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German, for sure, but don't expect to get much of a handle on it by July unless you do real immersion. It's way harder than French, IME. Still, well worth whatever effort you can devote to it.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 07:12 AM
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Schwyzerdütsch is almost impossible to learn.

On my frequent business trips to Switzerland, I often notice that people from the German-speaking and from the French-speaking part of Switzerland communicate in English.

I also notic that during the last two decades that Schwyzerdütsch is no spoken everywhere, even in official situations. Political speeces are delivered in Schwyzerdütsch, lectures, even serious negotiations are in Schwyzerdütsch. This is practically impossible to learn for Swiss citizens from the non-German speaking parts, because they may be able to learn Hochdeutsch, but never Schwyzerdütsch. Hence, the translate into English.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 07:13 AM
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BTW, most employees in the tourist business are immigrants, many from Germany. So, they speak Hochdeutsch. And English.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 07:17 AM
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German for sure. We were in the Appenzell region (in Wasserauen) and our inn keeper didn't speak English at all. So a few words in our next to nothing German were well used and understood. We know a bit and it's easier than learning something brand new (Swiss German) for the 2 days we were in that region. And as another poster said other Swiss, especially in the more touristed areas, will understand German if your pronunciation isn't terrible. Can't imagine really learning the language, as in being fluent, though.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 08:00 AM
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Definitely German. I live in Basel and while I know some of the more necessary bits of local dialect (like bebbi sagg) and some Bern dialect because the TV weather reports come from Bern, most of the time I speak in "regular" German. Our upstairs neighbor speaks to us only in Baseldytsch (aka Baslerdüütsch) and we're able to understand most of what he says, but we almost always reply in regular German (he doesn't speak English but does speak German).

Unless you plan to spend an extended time in one particular German speaking part of Switzerland, there's no real point to learning it. Each area has its own dialect.

"I often notice that people from the German-speaking and from the French-speaking part of Switzerland communicate in English." At work, this is true if there are native English speakers in the mix. Otherwise, the German speaking Swiss will plunge into speaking French. It goes the other way far less often. Of course, my French colleagues from St. Louis just over the border speak excellent German plus the local Alsace and Basel dialects.

At our most recent team meeting, words were flying around in English, French, German, Swiss German, a Hindi dialect and Ukrainian. And there were only 7 of us at the meeting!
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 08:21 AM
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Absolutely German. You won't be able learn much in the short time you have left before your trip, but I think anything you learn will be helpful.

You might see if you can find a DVD or a website on the internet where you can hear German pronounced.

Friends asked me to teach them some German before a trip they were planning, so I bought Rick Steves German Phrase Book and Dictionary and gave it to them.It has phonetic pronunciation of the words and phrases.

They were going to an out-of-the-way place in western Germany to find the site where the man's father had died when his plane crashed in WWII.

I don't know how much German they really learned, but they had a wonderful time and found the town and the site they wanted to see.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 04:19 PM
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Many thanks to all of you. German it is! I don't expect to be fluent by July, of course, but hoping to learn the basics. I've got Rosetta Stone so hopefully that will help.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 05:29 PM
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Just say GRÜEZI! in Wengen and you will be fine.

Tschüß

Thin
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 12:10 AM
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Michel Thomas will get you further faster, use the 8cd version.
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 12:13 AM
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Michel Thomas will get you further faster, use the 8cd version.

100% spot-on.
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 02:58 AM
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Should I learn Swiss German or German for Switzerland trip?

Neither. Spend 15 minutes learning how to say "hello" and "do you speak English". Anything beyond that, but short of actually learning the language, is a waste of time.

English language skills in Switzerland are decent. Not as good as Scandinavia, but decent. Certainly good enough for a tourist.
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 04:29 AM
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...anyway, don't expect to understand local people at Wengen if they speak their local dialect:
"Housi la d'Gisse uisi, d' Japse welle Gemscheni agugge"
means in good German
"Hans lass die Ziegen heraus, die Japaner moechten Gemsen sehen"
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 04:33 AM
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LOL, necker!
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 05:27 AM
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Learn High German, if anything. That's what the Swiss read and write, and speak too whenever the occasion arises.

But I'd also learn basic greetings in Swiss German.

"Schwyzerdütsch is almost impossible to learn."

Naaah. If that were the case, Swiss babies would have a certain failure rate, but in fact 100% of babies with Swiss German parents end up fluent in Swiss German.

It's a language like any other. Adult learners who fail to learn it well are often using High German written materials. If instead they just immersed themselves in spoken Schwyzerdütsch and learned it like the Swiss learn it as babies, they'd learn it. How to do that as an adult? Take a Swiss lover and make him/her happy. Work as a nanny and learn it from the kids. After 6 months you'd probably be speaking and understanding better than language-course enrollees.
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 05:49 AM
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A security expert from the Swiss Institute of Strategic Studies has suggested to speak Walliser Dialekt in the Parliament and write all important documents in Obwaldner Dialekt. Then, the U.S. NSA would have no chance to spy out Switzerland. It would be the same method as the Navajo Code Talkers in WWII.

http://www.blick.ch/news/schweiz/gut...id2493466.html
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 06:44 AM
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Hi, congrats on your attitude : learning a language to be able to interact with locals is just great.

However it would be stupid to learn a 'language' (more of a dialect to me) spoken by a mere 5 millions people.
Learning a language takes ages and it would be foolish to spend this energy for a language that nobody else will ever understand.

I've spent a decade learning Dutch, ended up speaking Flemish because I want to speak the language of my 5 M neighbours, but have some difficulty being understood by the Dutchs. And I don't understand AT ALL any Flemsih dialect - and will never bother to.

However the Flemish do understand the Dutchs (because as the Swiss, they read it, hear it on the telly etc), but not the other way round.

And this is valid for a 'few words' : Swiss will understand the German you'll have learnt. Which will be still quite basic I'm afraid, unless you take immersion courses.
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