Daily Prompt: Constantly Translating

language books

Name the language, and I have probably tried it. It just happens with me. I grew up speaking cockney. It was supposed to be english, but not really. Double negatives in the sentence “I ain’t (have not) got nuffing (nothing)”, and dropping your “h” which instead of a “hatche” became an “actch” made it all the more confusing for those that actually learned and spoke the Queen’s english. It was a wonder that Mr. Swiss and I actually understood each other, as he was also speaking a minoritiy language – Swiss German, although I am now fast forwarding, but I suppose actions speak louder than words – am now fast forwarding.

With time I added a knowledge of French, German and Italian – I always did like learning foreign languages. I crossed the english channel and for some unknown reason arrived in the german speaking part of Switzerland, where they actually could understand and speak proper German, but preferred to apply their own dialect – Swiss german – for daily conversation. How to speak Swiss German does not really exist because their various Kantons in Switzerland where it is spoken have their own way of saying things. This adds more confusion, but if you are a native you known immediately where your speaking companion originates. He is from Zürich, because he talks faster, must be from Bern with his slow articulation, now that person is from Aargau, somewhere between Zürich and Solothurn, roughly speaking of course. And complete not understanding if he comes from Kanton Vallis – at least for me. I am just a protective package of the whole thing.

Of course German speeaking Swiss speak real German,  otherwise no-one would actually understand them: for the same reason I can speak real englsh, as you cannot expect all english speakers to understand cockney. There are even some cockneys that do not understand cockney, it being a language of the minority. Probably if you come from Bethnal Green (pronouced Befnal Green) you might accentuate your words differently to someone from Bermondsey, although Bermondsey people (like Tommy Steel) are not real cockneys because they come from the other side of the water (River Thames) and were definitely not born within the sound of Bow Bells, which is a qualification for being a real cockney. I was also not born within the sound of Bow Bells, but that was a war problem. Mum was shifted out of London to a place called Hitchin for my birth because the maternity hospitals in East London were full of expecting mothers due to the return of the soldiers from the war.

And so cockney Mrs. Angloswiss, meets Swiss speaking Solothurn dialect Mr. Swiss – how did we get to know each other. Was it sign language, did we communicate by showing each other words in books – no, of course not. He made an effort to speak english (only at the beginning) and I made an effort to speak proper english, somehow we met in the middle.

This all happned 48 years ago. Today we converse in Swiss German dialect, my kids speak Swiss German with me, but we can all do it in english if we have to, but it seems no-one really wants  to. Even my autistic son can speak english, but I am in the Swiss German department of his autistic brain, so we leave that as it is.

Oh in the meanwhile I decided to learn Russian because I always wanted to and after 12 years I can read and write russian. I can even speak it, but due to lack of practice my vocabulary remains limited. I even did a year of learning arabic, but did not persevere. My brain was gradually becoming something resembling mashed potato.

It seems I even speak Swiss german in my sleep now and again. Today I am Polyglot I suppose. Do I get the languages mixed up? Yes, now and again, but there is always sign language when the going gets hard. In Facebook I notice that many Swiss write in the swiss german dialect to confuse matters for others, although the written language does not really exist as such. Aber au Ig ha chei Probläm mit däm, ig verstah alles, just write what you hear – gel.

Zürich Airport Take-off 11.07 (4)

Daily Prompt: Constantly Translating

4 thoughts on “Daily Prompt: Constantly Translating

    • I had to learn French at school as the first second language. I had a choice of adding German which I did, but only for two years, french was a five year thing. I just have an interesting in learning languages. I remember when Mr. Swiss and I were going to Portugal for a two week summer holiday. I bought myself a book on speaking Portuguese and did an intensive course a month at home before we went, just to get the basics. I had a turkish apprentice at work, so he helped me out on learning turkish, although I have now forgotten everything. It is just a hobby in between. And of course Italian, I found that one the easiest with the vocabulary. Just add an “o” or “a” to the english word – they understand. Of course I did a bit of filling in, but as it was a latin based language I was half way there with the french.


    • Although I would not venture in chinese or japanese, the alphabets are more like chemical forumulas. I think I have developed a bilingual brain. When I speak german it is tuned into German, and when speaking english it is an english brain. I am not bilingual, but the brain adapts. It has also happened that I have spoken german to english speakers and the other way round if I do not concentrate.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s