At the beginning I was a Londoner, a genuine cockney from the East End of London where we all spoke cockney. Not exactly the queen’s english, but if you were a cockney in the wrong place, your language was found to be strange and not so correct. Perhaps it was a good preparation for my later life.
I arrived in Switzerland 52 years ago and I had a knowledge of basic German. At least I thought I did, but no-one told me that in the German speaking part of Switzerland people spoke Swiss German, a dialect which even the Germans do not always understand. My first experience was registering in the government offices in Zürich. Luckily the Swiss german speaking wife of my boss went with me, because I did not understand a word. I even tried with my german to show I can speak the language as well, but to no avail.
Somehow I managed to survive my first two years in Zürich and then I changed my job and went to Solothurn, where they also speak Swiss German, but this time something similar to Bernese German, which was again different to Zürich German. Yes, the Swiss are very clever, they have a dialect for every area, sometimes every town, and now and again every village. I was not being teased, I was being lingually tortured. Eventually I got a Swiss husband, who also speaks perfect english. As the months passed I was getting Swiss German answers to my english conversation. I was mixing with the Swiss daily and had a Swiss mother-in-law who spoke basically only Swiss German, with a touch of some French like most Swiss and absolutely no english.
Oh and I got two Swiss German speaking step children when I married my Mr. Swiss. As the years passed, I also had two children, and they grew up speaking Swiss German as their first language. Do not ask me, I do not know how it happened. These things sort of infect you and today I speak basically Swiss German every day, unless there is someone who needs english.
And yes, my Swiss German, or even German, is not perfect. I get mixed up with the pronunciation of the two little dots on top of the u like ü which makes the pronunciation of certain german words sound a little amusing. At least I always got peals of laughter when I said these words, and still do.
My sons can speak english, but why should they. Their mum has an amusing accent when when she speaks Swiss German.