We’ve been living in Zurich/ Switzerland for quite a while now, so my husband and I decided that it might be time to give Swiss German a try, to be able to connect better with the people here. We both are German so one might think that it would not be too difficult for us since it the languages must be similar, right?
Ok, in some ways it is easy and I am already quite good at understanding, but speaking Swiss German is a whole other story. The pronunciation and accentuation of words as well as the Grammar is very distinct from German. In our first class we learned some enlightening facts. For example the people that live in different regions of the country all speak a different version of the language. Sometimes even so diverse that people from various cantons can’t understand each other. I think that is excellent news for me – the foreigner. Learning this language will be a piece of cake then.
Another interesting fact is that Swiss German is only a spoken language so there is no right or wrong way to write. At first I was thrilled since it meant that there would be no spelling problems. It did not take long for me to realize how this could be a disadvantage for learners. We are supposed to learn Zuerituetsch (the Version that is spoken in the Zurich area) but the authors that wrote the exercise book came from different cantons. So our teacher (which by the way is a very nice, friendly and patient woman) keeps telling us “In Zurich we say it a bit differently…” Which has made the learning material more confusing than helpful more often than once.
Last but not least our teacher advises us to practise often with Swiss people but since I do not know anybody yet I rarely have the opportunity to use our learning sentences. Just imagine this lively conversation with a stranger: “Excuse me, what is your zip code?” – “8049 and yours?” – “8003” – “Is this a book?” -“No this is not a book, this is a house.” – “What is the name of your mother” …
What a great way to make new friends.