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Thread: Swiss German?

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    Завсегдатай rockzmom's Avatar
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    Swiss German?

    This came to me via one of the list-serves I'm on and I did a double-take... Swiss German?
    We are in need of Swiss German to English transcription and translation services for approximately 12 hours of footage.
    Or, are you fluent in both Swiss German and Final Cut Pro? Please contact us!
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    Maybe German speakers there have a strong "swiss" accent, so they need someone who can understand it? *dunno*
    But it does sound a little funny. And I would laugh really hard if someone'd have looked for a person who knows "Ukrainian Russian".

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    Завсегдатай sperk's Avatar
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    I don't know how much they differ in structure, vocab etc but Swiss German sounds noticeably different from German German, much smoother.
    Кому - нары, кому - Канары.

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    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
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    Much smoother? Don't make me laugh. Swiss German sounds like continually clearing your throat. You may be thinking of Austrian German.

    Swiss German is so far from actual German (by which I mean "High German", the artificial language used in media and taught to non-native speakers in school) that TV interviews or reports which are in Swiss German are subtitled in German when broadcast in Germany. Otherwise there's next to no hope for a native speaker of German to understand it.

    The same, incidentally, is true for many of the stronger dialects within Germany, too. If a speaker of a certain dialect, say, Saxon, Swabian or Bavarian, really lets it get away with him or just talks to someone from the very same area, then an outsider from more than a hundred kilometers away will usually fail to understand it.

    I sometimes have problems trying to understand such people even when they talk High German, because their dialect has a strong influence on the way they speak the "standard" version.

    Here's a video on the subject:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=If8H3-FsVjQ

    The caption at the end says "Over 80 million Germans do not know Swiss German". And I have to say that the version spoken in the video is sanitized so that it is possible to understand it mostly. Though the sign shown within the video would have me baffled as well.
    Спасибо за исправления!

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    When I was a teenager I decided to learn German. It did not last, because I got freaked out reading the first chapter of my self-teaching book, in which all the dialects were described. It gave an impression that even if I would learn everything that was said in this book nobody would understand me anyway except of a few dozens of people in a certain area. It was really discouraging, especially for a Russian native speaker, who is not used to the idea of many dialects.

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    Завсегдатай rockzmom's Avatar
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    Robin!

    Thanks so much for, as always , the detailed explanation.

    I started to send you a PM asking you and then thought... everyone on here already knows I am language ignorant so if it was a stupid question who cares and if it wasn't then maybe a few of us could learn something.

    I wonder if they teach the "non native" German at The German School (it starts at pre-school and goes thru high school). The principal is from Kassel, Germany.
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    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gRomoZeka View Post
    When I was a teenager I decided to learn German. It did not last, because I got freaked out reading the first chapter of my self-teaching book, in which all the dialects were described. It gave an impression that even if I would learn everything that was said in this book nobody would understand me anyway except of a few dozens of people in a certain area. It was really discouraging, especially for a Russian native speaker, who is not used to the idea of many dialects.
    Oh, we would easily understand you. You would learn High German, and we all understand that. It's just that most people do not actually speak it. There are just a few areas where they actually speak something very close to High German, and these areas are areas where the local dialect has simply died out. In contrast to other countries, where the dialect of the court or of the capital city became the standard, in Germany it was a conglomerate of southern dialects based on the Lutheran Bible; and Luther used words and grammar from a number of dialects. The north, which had different dialects (modern English is a Northern German dialect by way of some Danish and a lot of French), practically had to learn a new language. That's why northern dialects almost died out. For example, I live just above the demarcation line of north and south as far as dialects are concerned. Our local dialect is ailing, only very few people actually speak it. I can't even understand it myself, though I can read it.

    But as a foreigner, the High German you learn will be understood and people will try to speak in what they think is High German, too. You'll get by. After all, High German is used in the media, so everyone who has a TV set or a radio in Germany knows the language.
    Спасибо за исправления!

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    Quote Originally Posted by rockzmom View Post
    Robin!

    Thanks so much for, as always , the detailed explanation.

    I started to send you a PM asking you and then thought... everyone on here already knows I am language ignorant so if it was a stupid question who cares and if it wasn't then maybe a few of us could learn something.

    I wonder if they teach the "non native" German at The German School (it starts at pre-school and goes thru high school). The principal is from Kassel, Germany.
    I'm sure what they teach is High German, the German of the media, dictionaries and grammar books. But a person from Kassel might have a noticable Hessian accent. You can tell a New Yorker from a Texan, and likewise you can tell a Hessian from a Swabian even if they both try to speak High German.

    For example, in everyday speech I use the structures of High German, but I say "dat" and "wat" instead of "das" and "was" (which you might easily recognize as the English "that" and "what"). Go further north, and people start to say "water" instead of "Wasser" for (you guessed it) English "water", though the first consonant is what you would know as a "v" and not an English "w".

    For those who are interested, you probably all know some version of the Lord's Prayer. Here is a collection of the same prayer in various German dialects, which a German from a different place can mostly read and understand and even usually place locally, but you can see that they are very different. The top one is High German, and that's what you'd learn and something which everyone within Germany and Austria should understand. I'm not so sure about Switzerland and Luxemburg (Letzeburg) respectively.

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    Спасибо за исправления!

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