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Best language to focus on for Switzerland trip in 2009

Best language to focus on for Switzerland trip in 2009

Old Jan 2nd 2007, 12:14 am
  #1  
-Steve G
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Posts: n/a
Default Best language to focus on for Switzerland trip in 2009

My wife and I are obsessive long-term planners, so as soon as we get
back from La France Sud in March 2007, we're going to start planning
our 2009 vacation. We're thinking about doing an Italy/Switzerland
thing. Land in Rome, up through Tuscany, cross country to Venezia, over
the mountains to Switzerland, do some stuff there (it's bretty vague,
though I do want to visit Wagner's house at Tribschen and some of
Nietzsche's old haunts at Sils Maria and Basel), then drive back over
the Alps into Piemonte, and drink our way back down to Rome and fly
home. I just discovered that Switzerland has FOUR official languages.
My question: which one should we focus on over the next two years? I'm
intermediate with French, my wife is advanced beginner in French. I
took 2 years of German in college, but long ago forgot most of it
except "Mein deutsche is schlecht." We have no Italian at all. Will
French get it done for us? If we go with German, I understand the Swiss
speak several dialects of "Swiss German" that is not at all like "high
German," so how much use will a couple of courses in "official" German
do us? Or, since we're already going to learn a dusting of Italian for
the Italian leg of our trip, will Italian be a usable language in
Switzerland?

Thanks in advance as always for any info.
 
Old Jan 2nd 2007, 12:19 am
  #2  
-Magda
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: Best language to focus on for Switzerland trip in 2009

On 2 Jan 2007 05:14:08 -0800, in rec.travel.europe, "Steve G" <[email protected]>
arranged some electrons, so they looked like this:

... My wife and I are obsessive long-term planners, so as soon as we get
... back from La France Sud in March 2007, we're going to start planning
... our 2009 vacation. We're thinking about doing an Italy/Switzerland
... thing. Land in Rome, up through Tuscany, cross country to Venezia, over
... the mountains to Switzerland, do some stuff there (it's bretty vague,
... though I do want to visit Wagner's house at Tribschen and some of
... Nietzsche's old haunts at Sils Maria and Basel), then drive back over
... the Alps into Piemonte, and drink our way back down to Rome and fly
... home. I just discovered that Switzerland has FOUR official languages.
... My question: which one should we focus on over the next two years? I'm
... intermediate with French,

An "intermediate" would not say "La France Sud".

my wife is advanced beginner in French. I
... took 2 years of German in college, but long ago forgot most of it
... except "Mein deutsche is schlecht." We have no Italian at all. Will
... French get it done for us? If we go with German, I understand the Swiss
... speak several dialects of "Swiss German" that is not at all like "high
... German," so how much use will a couple of courses in "official" German
... do us? Or, since we're already going to learn a dusting of Italian for
... the Italian leg of our trip, will Italian be a usable language in
... Switzerland?

Yes.
 
Old Jan 2nd 2007, 12:47 am
  #3  
Wierd Travelers
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Best language to focus on for Switzerland trip in 2009

The main language you will use is English, you can go almost anywhere
in Switzerland and english will be used in advertisements and by the
people; in larger cities and tourist places more then the smaller off
the map places.

If you want to go with an official language then it would be dependant
on the area you are traveling. Focusing on the southern part of
Switzerland more italian is used, german has the most coverage overall
with French along the border with France. In the majority of the
tourist areas and bigger cities most stuff is in German and then
English.

As for Romansh I am not even sure if that is used much, a quick search
says that its use is quickly decreaseing and is used only in a very few
areas. Some Swiss newpaper article even mentioned that the government
is having problems because of lack of writers/speakers of it, since it
is an official language citizen can contact the government in Romansh
and expect to get a responce in Romansh and with the few speaker they
are having problems with finding people to handled the correspondence.



Steve G wrote:
> My wife and I are obsessive long-term planners, so as soon as we get
> back from La France Sud in March 2007, we're going to start planning
> our 2009 vacation. We're thinking about doing an Italy/Switzerland
> thing. Land in Rome, up through Tuscany, cross country to Venezia, over
> the mountains to Switzerland, do some stuff there (it's bretty vague,
> though I do want to visit Wagner's house at Tribschen and some of
> Nietzsche's old haunts at Sils Maria and Basel), then drive back over
> the Alps into Piemonte, and drink our way back down to Rome and fly
> home. I just discovered that Switzerland has FOUR official languages.
> My question: which one should we focus on over the next two years? I'm
> intermediate with French, my wife is advanced beginner in French. I
> took 2 years of German in college, but long ago forgot most of it
> except "Mein deutsche is schlecht." We have no Italian at all. Will
> French get it done for us? If we go with German, I understand the Swiss
> speak several dialects of "Swiss German" that is not at all like "high
> German," so how much use will a couple of courses in "official" German
> do us? Or, since we're already going to learn a dusting of Italian for
> the Italian leg of our trip, will Italian be a usable language in
> Switzerland?
>
> Thanks in advance as always for any info.
 
Old Jan 2nd 2007, 1:14 am
  #4  
Giovanni Drogo
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: Best language to focus on for Switzerland trip in 2009

On Tue, 2 Jan 2007, Steve G wrote:

> home. I just discovered that Switzerland has FOUR official languages.

I am not really sure that Romantsch has exactly the same standing as the
other three. Anyhow it is spoken (and written too) only in limited
areas, and with wide local variations.

> French get it done for us? If we go with German, I understand the Swiss
> speak several dialects of "Swiss German" that is not at all like "high
> German," so how much use will a couple of courses in "official" German

With my background in standard German (courses when I was a student, and
living a couple of years in Germany), I find spoken "Swiss German" not
understandable. But for announcement on trains, and in writing, standard
German is used. So I would be tempted to use that as my first choice at
least in places like Luzern, Bern, Schaffhausen, Zuerich, and switch to
English if they would not understand. Since I read but do not speak
French, I would be tempted to use German or English also in places like
Geneva or Lausanne.

> the Italian leg of our trip, will Italian be a usable language in
> Switzerland?

Since Italian is my mother language, I will surely use it in Ticino and
also at least in some part of the Graubunden. In Poschiavo and up to the
Bernina pass it looks to be the first choice. In other areas (e.g.
Zernez) it is understood although Rumantsch is the local language.

I am not sure if Swiss people are taugth and practice all the national
languages or just a couple of them. I had a Swiss colleague from Geneva
who spoke French as mother tongue, excellent German (and English) and
acceptable Italian, but I'm not sure what applies to an astronomer
applies also to a mountain shepherd.

I remember that on the Jungfrau mountain railway announcements were
given in German, French, English and Japanese (no Italian). On the other
hand on normal trains announcements are usually in at least two
languages depending on the termini of the train, but I guess the staff
will speak all three main national languages and English. I somehow
expect average tourist office and hotel staff to speak more English in
Switzerland than here in Italy.


--
----------------------------------------------------------------------
[email protected] is a newsreading account used by more persons to
avoid unwanted spam. Any mail returning to this address will be rejected.
Users can disclose their e-mail address in the article if they wish so.
 
Old Jan 2nd 2007, 2:02 am
  #5  
-Steve G
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Best language to focus on for Switzerland trip in 2009

Many thanks. Since it looks like much of the Swiss leg of our trip will
be the northern half (near Germany) I'll take the to-do of resurrecting
my once-acceptable German and have my wife learn enough Italian to get
us up over the Alps and on the road to Zurich. :-)

Giovanni Drogo wrote:
> On Tue, 2 Jan 2007, Steve G wrote:
>
> > home. I just discovered that Switzerland has FOUR official languages.
>
> I am not really sure that Romantsch has exactly the same standing as the
> other three. Anyhow it is spoken (and written too) only in limited
> areas, and with wide local variations.
>
> > French get it done for us? If we go with German, I understand the Swiss
> > speak several dialects of "Swiss German" that is not at all like "high
> > German," so how much use will a couple of courses in "official" German
>
> With my background in standard German (courses when I was a student, and
> living a couple of years in Germany), I find spoken "Swiss German" not
> understandable. But for announcement on trains, and in writing, standard
> German is used. So I would be tempted to use that as my first choice at
> least in places like Luzern, Bern, Schaffhausen, Zuerich, and switch to
> English if they would not understand. Since I read but do not speak
> French, I would be tempted to use German or English also in places like
> Geneva or Lausanne.
>
> > the Italian leg of our trip, will Italian be a usable language in
> > Switzerland?
>
> Since Italian is my mother language, I will surely use it in Ticino and
> also at least in some part of the Graubunden. In Poschiavo and up to the
> Bernina pass it looks to be the first choice. In other areas (e.g.
> Zernez) it is understood although Rumantsch is the local language.
>
> I am not sure if Swiss people are taugth and practice all the national
> languages or just a couple of them. I had a Swiss colleague from Geneva
> who spoke French as mother tongue, excellent German (and English) and
> acceptable Italian, but I'm not sure what applies to an astronomer
> applies also to a mountain shepherd.
>
> I remember that on the Jungfrau mountain railway announcements were
> given in German, French, English and Japanese (no Italian). On the other
> hand on normal trains announcements are usually in at least two
> languages depending on the termini of the train, but I guess the staff
> will speak all three main national languages and English. I somehow
> expect average tourist office and hotel staff to speak more English in
> Switzerland than here in Italy.
>
>
> --
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> [email protected] is a newsreading account used by more persons to
> avoid unwanted spam. Any mail returning to this address will be rejected.
> Users can disclose their e-mail address in the article if they wish so.
 
Old Jan 2nd 2007, 2:04 am
  #6  
-Steve G
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Best language to focus on for Switzerland trip in 2009

>>An "intermediate" would not say "La France Sud".

Why not? I have friends who are native French who are from there and
that's
what they call it. Am I missing something?


Magda wrote:
> On 2 Jan 2007 05:14:08 -0800, in rec.travel.europe, "Steve G" <[email protected]>
> arranged some electrons, so they looked like this:
>
> ... My wife and I are obsessive long-term planners, so as soon as we get
> ... back from La France Sud in March 2007, we're going to start planning
> ... our 2009 vacation. We're thinking about doing an Italy/Switzerland
> ... thing. Land in Rome, up through Tuscany, cross country to Venezia, over
> ... the mountains to Switzerland, do some stuff there (it's bretty vague,
> ... though I do want to visit Wagner's house at Tribschen and some of
> ... Nietzsche's old haunts at Sils Maria and Basel), then drive back over
> ... the Alps into Piemonte, and drink our way back down to Rome and fly
> ... home. I just discovered that Switzerland has FOUR official languages.
> ... My question: which one should we focus on over the next two years? I'm
> ... intermediate with French,
>
> An "intermediate" would not say "La France Sud".
>
> my wife is advanced beginner in French. I
> ... took 2 years of German in college, but long ago forgot most of it
> ... except "Mein deutsche is schlecht." We have no Italian at all. Will
> ... French get it done for us? If we go with German, I understand the Swiss
> ... speak several dialects of "Swiss German" that is not at all like "high
> ... German," so how much use will a couple of courses in "official" German
> ... do us? Or, since we're already going to learn a dusting of Italian for
> ... the Italian leg of our trip, will Italian be a usable language in
> ... Switzerland?
>
> Yes.
 
Old Jan 2nd 2007, 2:10 am
  #7  
-Magda
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Best language to focus on for Switzerland trip in 2009

On 2 Jan 2007 07:04:51 -0800, in rec.travel.europe, "Steve G" <[email protected]>
arranged some electrons, so they looked like this:

... >>An "intermediate" would not say "La France Sud".
...
... Why not? I have friends who are native French who are from there and
... that's
... what they call it.

You have got to be kidding me.

Am I missing something?

A word or two, maybe. Try "Le Sud de la France".
 
Old Jan 2nd 2007, 2:12 am
  #8  
-Martin
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Best language to focus on for Switzerland trip in 2009

On 2 Jan 2007 07:04:51 -0800, "Steve G" <[email protected]> wrote:

>>>An "intermediate" would not say "La France Sud".
>
>Why not? I have friends who are native French who are from there and
>that's
>what they call it. Am I missing something?

What they really call it.


La sud de la France.

Le Midi.

Can you bottom post?
--

Martin
 
Old Jan 2nd 2007, 2:15 am
  #9  
-Martin
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Best language to focus on for Switzerland trip in 2009

On Tue, 02 Jan 2007 16:12:15 +0100, Martin <[email protected]> wrote:

>On 2 Jan 2007 07:04:51 -0800, "Steve G" <[email protected]> wrote:
>
>>>>An "intermediate" would not say "La France Sud".
>>
>>Why not? I have friends who are native French who are from there and
>>that's
>>what they call it. Am I missing something?
>
>What they really call it.
>
>
>La sud de la France.

DuH!
Le sud de La France
--

Martin
 
Old Jan 2nd 2007, 2:28 am
  #10  
Wolfgang Schwanke
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Best language to focus on for Switzerland trip in 2009

"Steve G" <[email protected]> wrote in
news:[email protected] ups.com:

> My wife and I are obsessive long-term planners, so as soon as we get
> back from La France Sud in March 2007, we're going to start planning
> our 2009 vacation.

What about 2008?

> I just discovered that Switzerland has FOUR official languages.
> My question: which one should we focus on over the next two years?

Statistically speaking, approx 65% of the Swiss are native German
speakers. Also, in the Romontsch part, German is really the defacto
everyday language. Of course that knowledge doesn't help if you're not
staying in the German speaking regions at all. I don't know enough
Swiss geography to tell from your itinerary what language regions
you'll be in, but here's a map so you can find out yourself:

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bild:Sprachen_CH_2000.png

> Will French get it done for us?

For the German and Italian speakers, French is just a foreign language
they learn at school. The same is true for Italian respectively. I
think all Swiss are supposed to learn each other's languages, but they
don't necessarily mean they speak them well enough. At least that's
what Swiss people tell.

> If we go with German, I understand the Swiss
> speak several dialects of "Swiss German" that is not at all like "high
> German,"

True, but that is true for any dialect. The crucial difference in
Switzerland is that they use dialect even in formal situations (radio,
television, school etc) where it wouldn't be used in other German
speaking countries. The dialect(s) are nearly incomprehensible even for
native speakers of standard German, even more so for foreign learners.

OTOH anything written (signs, menus, newspapers) is in standard German
with a few different spellings and word usages (similar to British vs
American English). Also, all Swiss German speakers are capable of
speaking standard German and will automatically do so if they realise
they're talking to a foreigner. They speak it with an accent though,
but that is easy to get used to. French and Italian speakers who learn
German as a foreign language will speak standard German.

> so how much use will a couple of courses in "official" German
> do us?

I think you should learn standard German, but choose a course which
contains lessons about "helvetisms".

> Or, since we're already going to learn a dusting of Italian for
> the Italian leg of our trip, will Italian be a usable language in
> Switzerland?

In the Italian part, sure. Elsewhere, I don't think so.

Regards

--
Die Frau als solche ist aus unserer Gesellschaft kaum mehr wegzudenken

http://www.wschwanke.de/ usenet_20031215 (AT) wschwanke (DOT) de
 
Old Jan 2nd 2007, 2:37 am
  #11  
Tom Peel
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Best language to focus on for Switzerland trip in 2009

Steve G schrieb:
> My wife and I are obsessive long-term planners, so as soon as we get
> back from La France Sud in March 2007, we're going to start planning
> our 2009 vacation. We're thinking about doing an Italy/Switzerland
> thing. Land in Rome, up through Tuscany, cross country to Venezia, over
> the mountains to Switzerland, do some stuff there (it's bretty vague,
> though I do want to visit Wagner's house at Tribschen and some of
> Nietzsche's old haunts at Sils Maria and Basel), then drive back over
> the Alps into Piemonte, and drink our way back down to Rome and fly
> home. I just discovered that Switzerland has FOUR official languages.
> My question: which one should we focus on over the next two years? I'm
> intermediate with French, my wife is advanced beginner in French. I
> took 2 years of German in college, but long ago forgot most of it
> except "Mein deutsche is schlecht." We have no Italian at all. Will
> French get it done for us? If we go with German, I understand the Swiss
> speak several dialects of "Swiss German" that is not at all like "high
> German," so how much use will a couple of courses in "official" German
> do us? Or, since we're already going to learn a dusting of Italian for
> the Italian leg of our trip, will Italian be a usable language in
> Switzerland?
>
> Thanks in advance as always for any info.
>
For Basel, Sils and Tribschen (Lucerne) German should cover your needs.
From Lucerne over the Gotthard you drive through Ticino, which is
Italian speaking, and an understanding of Italian will help you there.
The french language area of Switzerland is roughly Fribourg - Lausanne
- Geneva down to the Italian border at Grand St Bernard. French is very
useful if you are planning this route to enter the Piemonte region.

Romansch is confined to isolated areas in the Alps, and nobody will
expect you to either speak or understand it.

Bear in mind that although written German is more or less identical
everywhere, the spoken Swiss German language is very different from High
German as spoken in Germany. Educated Swiss will speak and understand
High German, but you will have great difficulties in understanding
everyday spoken Swiss German.

T.
 
Old Jan 2nd 2007, 2:41 am
  #12  
-Magda
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Best language to focus on for Switzerland trip in 2009

On Tue, 02 Jan 2007 16:15:41 +0100, in rec.travel.europe, Martin <[email protected]> arranged
some electrons, so they looked like this:

... On Tue, 02 Jan 2007 16:12:15 +0100, Martin <[email protected]> wrote:
...
... >On 2 Jan 2007 07:04:51 -0800, "Steve G" <[email protected]> wrote:
... >
... >>>>An "intermediate" would not say "La France Sud".
... >>
... >>Why not? I have friends who are native French who are from there and
... >>that's
... >>what they call it. Am I missing something?
... >
... >What they really call it.
... >
... >
... >La sud de la France.
...
... DuH!
... Le sud de La France

Tu commences bien l'ann�e...
 
Old Jan 2nd 2007, 2:45 am
  #13  
Zubenelgenubi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Best language to focus on for Switzerland trip in 2009

Magda is quick to pounce on the grammer and syntax errors of others but
offers the world little else. The last time Magda pounced on a man she
squashed him and was arrested for assault.
 
Old Jan 2nd 2007, 3:14 am
  #14  
-Martin
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Best language to focus on for Switzerland trip in 2009

On Tue, 02 Jan 2007 16:41:07 +0100, Magda <[email protected]> wrote:

>On Tue, 02 Jan 2007 16:15:41 +0100, in rec.travel.europe, Martin <[email protected]> arranged
>some electrons, so they looked like this:
>
> ... On Tue, 02 Jan 2007 16:12:15 +0100, Martin <[email protected]> wrote:
> ...
> ... >On 2 Jan 2007 07:04:51 -0800, "Steve G" <[email protected]> wrote:
> ... >
> ... >>>>An "intermediate" would not say "La France Sud".
> ... >>
> ... >>Why not? I have friends who are native French who are from there and
> ... >>that's
> ... >>what they call it. Am I missing something?
> ... >
> ... >What they really call it.
> ... >
> ... >
> ... >La sud de la France.
> ...
> ... DuH!
> ... Le sud de La France
>
>Tu commences bien l'ann�e...

It was a typo, 'onest. :-)
--

Martin
 
Old Jan 2nd 2007, 3:36 am
  #15  
B Vaughan
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Best language to focus on for Switzerland trip in 2009

On 2 Jan 2007 05:14:08 -0800, "Steve G" <[email protected]>
wrote:

>My wife and I are obsessive long-term planners, so as soon as we get
>back from La France Sud in March 2007, we're going to start planning
>our 2009 vacation. We're thinking about doing an Italy/Switzerland
>thing. [snip].. I just discovered that Switzerland has FOUR official languages.
>My question: which one should we focus on over the next two years? I'm
>intermediate with French, my wife is advanced beginner in French. I
>took 2 years of German in college, but long ago forgot most of it
>except "Mein deutsche is schlecht." We have no Italian at all. Will
>French get it done for us? If we go with German, I understand the Swiss
>speak several dialects of "Swiss German" that is not at all like "high
>German," so how much use will a couple of courses in "official" German
>do us? Or, since we're already going to learn a dusting of Italian for
>the Italian leg of our trip, will Italian be a usable language in
>Switzerland?

First of all, no one can become fluent in another language in 2 years,
so what you are aiming for is to learn some polite phrases, including
such things as, "Good morning/afternoon/evening", "Please", "Thank
you", "Where's the bathroom?", "How much?" and "May I speak
English?".Even if you manage to ask a much more complicated question
like, "Where is the bus station?", there's a good chance you won't
understand the answer.

Given your limited goals, there's no reason why you can't learn this
much in the three languages that would be most useful: German, French
and Italian. It doesn't matter that the Swiss speak a variant of
German. Almost all of them will understand the German variety.

If you want to spend extra time on one language, maybe it should be
Italian, for three reasons: 1) between you and your wife, you seem to
already have the rudiments of German and French; 2) you seem to be
spending more time in Italy than in Switzerland; 3) the Italians may
be somewhat less likely to understand English than the Swiss.
--
Barbara Vaughan
My email address is my first initial followed by my surname at libero dot it
I answer travel questions only in the newsgroup
 

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