Spaß mit Deutsch

Okay, Glampers. You know that when you are out in the woods, the rangers tell you that you are now in the bears’ home and must treat it as such. So, we are now in the home of the Swiss and must adapt. In our daily goal to fit into life here, this is our first “Fun with German”post.

The American Women’s Club of Zürich (AWCZ) has a group that meets on Fridays to practice speaking German. Upon inquiry, I discovered that they prefer if you can string a few words together into rudimentary sentences. I’ve been doing a little more than that this past year, but I thought it would be good for me. Then I learned that another group with more German experience meets on another day, complete with “awful American accents” (their words). So I took my very own “awful American accent” to the Migros restaurant across from the Opera House to meet with not only three American expats, but also a Swiss native for 90 minutes of chat.

Yesterday’s subjects ranged from high school to college in both the US and Europe, best art museums in Switzerland, a little about politics/world events, and a restaurant recommendation and a few other topics I don’t remember. I followed along pretty well with their conversation, adding bits of my own. I plan to meet with this group regularly.

Some interesting things I’ve learned about languages in Switzerland to date:

  1. I heard one train conductor say, Merci vielmal. (French and German are just two of Switzerland’s official languages.)
  2. When a train conductor asks you a question when you show your pass, it means, “Where did this train journey start for you?” It does not mean 1) Where is your home? 2) Where are you going? I will know better the third time around.
  3. Some people are very kind when you start speaking in German and they reply in Hoch Deutsch. Some ask, “English?”
    Some reply in Swiss German (this is not very helpful for us).
  4. Saying Schönen Tag at the end of an exchange will often elicit a smile and the response, Gleichfalls. (“Nice day to you.” “Likewise.”)
  5. The main greeting is Grüetzi (to one person) or Grüetzi Mitenand (to more than one). In St. Gallen one person said Grüß Gott to me which took me back to my Austria days.
  6. Swiss German, though mostly incomprehensible to me, has a more lyrical sound than High German. 
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