As a preface, I am a pretty awful writer and have never found much enjoyment in trying to write anything that others would deem “well-written”. There is a certain comfort however, in having somewhere to get thoughts out of your head and onto something concrete. This is not to say that I plan on writing much about myself on this blog. In fact, I don’t really have a plan for it at all (good start right? I know. Pretty much the story of my life).
For the time being, I think I will try to use this blog/website thing as a platform to try and post about my current big project: learning Swiss German.
Why are you learning Swiss German you may ask? (haha I don’t know who I am referring to when I say “you” but I guess maybe on the off chance that someone will stumble across this and decide to read it, don’t really know why… but cool stuff, hi)
Sorry, back to the topic on hand. Before I can answer that question, let me give you a bit of background. Swiss German AKA the language of what seems to be infinite different dialects and no actual written component, just so happens to be the language of the country that completely invaded my life recently (haha get it, invaded, because Swiss are known for being neutral and peaceful… okay I will stop now). Up until last summer, I had never really had much exposure to outside of the city. I was definitely not by any means some sort of preppy, girly-girl. I very much enjoy camping trips in the summer, hikes and getting dirty. However, my closest experience to farm-life was riding those ponies at school fairs (my later realization that I was allergic to horses explained a lot about my dissatisfaction of the rides). Anyways, last summer, following a hellish semester of uni filled with biochemistry and memorization, I decided that I wanted to get away from the constant pressure of “only doing activities that will improve my CV” and go move out to the city and work on a farm. It was a crazy experience but I will leave it at that for now. The main reason I brought it up was that the owner of the farm was Swiss. In addition, one of my coworkers was also Swiss. This in turn led to me meeting a bunch of Swiss people and developing somewhat of an interest in Switzerland.
My plan as of when I am writing this is to go work on a farm in the East of Switzerland this summer. I agree that it’s kind of a crazy decision to go from working on a “Swiss farm” one summer to actually moving to Switzerland to farm the following summer. I guess am kind of crazy sometimes.
So, to get back to the question, I hope to be able to learn some Swiss German in time for my trip this summer (note, all the Swiss people that I know live/are from the German part of Switzerland. This is unfortunate as I am fluent in French so going to the French part of Switzerland would have been much easier).
Next, in regards to the common question why learn Swiss German instead of high German. I think my reasons are pretty simple, but first I should note: I understand very well (from many, many hours of reading online forums and talking to my Swiss friends) that essentially all Swiss Germans know high German and so learning high German is much more useful in the long run as you will also be able to communicate with people in places like Germany. I am also completely aware of the fact that learning high German is much “easier” due to the fact that it is more standardized and has a writing system i.e. 10000x more resources that help you to learn the language. Trust me, I am so aware of the fact that there are so few resources to learn CH. I have scoured the Internet long and hard to find the few resources I have now.
Okay so onto the reasons why I chose Swiss German over high German despite the convincing arguments above. My main reason is that I want to be able to really immerse myself in the culture. I understand that Swiss people can speak German and will gladly switch for you when talking to you but that doesn’t mean that they will not switch back to CH when they go back to talking with their friends. The second and more obvious reason (things will all start to make sense now) is because of a this guy who was visiting from Switzerland that I met last year. I would very much like to be able to understand him when he talks in his first language (yeah, I know, kind of cheesy).
So to sum it all up, I left the city to work on a farm last summer, so logically, the next step is learn Swiss German and travel half way across the world to test it out. I decided to try out blogging because hey, if I am going to try new unexpected things (for me at least, I never in a million years imagined myself blogging), why not go all out and start a blog. I also realize that there are next to no real resources for learning Swiss German so why not try and do my best to help out and share whatever I figure out with any other poor souls trying to go through the same process.
Anyways, that’s it for now! I’m off to do some more learning.
**It might be obvious but as a disclaimer, I can’t promise that all of or any information that I post is correct. I’m just doing my best to figure things out as I go. If you are also trying to learn Swiss German, feel free to use anything I post to your heart’s content but be weary, as in a very literal sense, you would be learning Swiss German with me (anything I write would have been from me trying to figure that same material out). Another disclaimer: I don’t reread what I write (for example, this post) so I apologize for any sentences that sound stupid. Reading my own writing makes me cringe, maybe other will find less pain in reading it (by the way, kudos to you if you read this whole thing, I commend you).