A sketch with the best-known Swiss tongue twister

philip chastney via Unicode unicode at unicode.org
Sat Mar 10 05:26:42 CST 2018

it is not clear whether you are quoting from some agreed standard, quoting from some other authority, or constructing a classification of your own

whatever the classification, it should be descriptive, and it is best not to be too pedantic, because practice can vary from region to region, from individual to individual with the same region, and from context to context for an individual

I would make the following observations on terminology in practice:

-- the newspapers in Zurich advertised courses in "Schweizerdeutsch", meaning the contemporary spoken language

-- in Wengen (pronounced with a [w] not a [v]), I tried to explain to the man behind the counter that my ski binding needed fixing, using my best High German (with a Stuttgart accent, according to my tutor - he came from Hannover, so I don't think it was intended as a compliment)
    with a muttered "momenta", the owner dived into the back of the shop, to fetch the technician, whose skills included conversation in High German  --  I told him my problem, he told me it wasn't worth fixing, and I said, "Oh, bugger"
    at this point, they realised I was a Brit, and (at their request) we switched to English ("so much easier", the owner said)  --  for all 3 of us, High German was a foreign language

-- in Romansch-speaking St. Moritz, the hotels claim to be able to accomodate those who speak High German, as well as those who speak Swiss German (because the two languages are not always mutually intelligible)

-- the newspapers in Zurich advertised courses in "Hoch Deutsch", for those who needed to deal with foreigners

-- when I lived that way, the French-speaking population of Nancy referred to the language of their German-speaking compatriots as "platt deutsch" (the way they used the term, it did not extend any further east than Alsace)

-- in Luxemburg, the same language was referred to as Luxemburgish (or Letzeburgesch, which is Luxemburgish for "Luxemburgish ") 
    (I forget what the Belgians called the language spoken in Ostbelgien)

-- I was assured by a Luxemburgish-speaking car mechanic, with a Swiss German speaking wife, that the two languages (dialects?) were practically identical, except for the names of some household items

in short, there seems little point in making distinctions which cannot be precisely identified in practice

there appear to be significant differences between between High German and (what the natives call) Swiss German

there are far fewer significant differences between Swiss German and the other spoken Germanic languages found on the borders of Germany


On Fri, 9/3/18, Philippe Verdy via Unicode <unicode at unicode.org> wrote:

 Subject: Re: A sketch with the best-known Swiss tongue twister
 To: "Mark Davis ☕️" <mark at macchiato.com>
 Cc: "Tom Gewecke" <tom at bluesky.org>, "unicode Unicode Discussion" <unicode at unicode.org>
 Date: Friday, 9 March, 2018, 2:52 PM
 In summary you do not object the fact that unqualified "gsw" language code is not (and should not be) named "Swiss German" (as it is only for "gsw-CH", not for any other non-Swiss variants of Alemannic).

The addition of "High" is optional, unneeded in fact, as it does not remove any ambiguity, in Germany for "de-DE", or in Switzerland for "de-CH", or in Italian South Tyrol for "de-IT", or in Austria for "de-AT", or even for "Standard German" (de)
 Note also that Alsatian itself ("gsw-FR") is considered part of the "High German" branch of Germanic languages !
 "High German" refers to the group that includes Standard German and its national variants ("de", "de-DE",
 "de-CH", "de-AT", "de-CH", "de-IT") as well as the Alemannic group ( "gsw" , "gsw-FR", "gsw-CH"), possibly extended (this is discutable) to Schwäbish in Germany and Hungary.
 My opinion is that even the Swiss variants should be preferably named "Swiss Alemannic" collectively, and not
 "Swiss German" which causes constant confusion between "de-CH" and "gsw-CH".

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