RDP Wednesday: Articulate

Marlise, Renata, Elena & Bettina

I grew up bilingual, cockney and english. Articulation does not exist in cockney, neither does grammar. My school did not exactly agree with me and I must admit I was not the best in the english class. As I progressed to high school I learned french and german. I attended Italian classes at evening school, but my english was still left hanging somewhere between Oxford and Cambridge and the East End of London. I passed all my examinations except for one – yes, the english test I failed. It did not really bother me so much, but it bothered the school. I was then in a commercial course for typing and shorthand, an ongoing secretary. Without english you were nothing. And so I attempted the examination again and passed – more luck than judgement.

And so life progressed and I decided to continue with my polyglot experiences. I moved to Switzerland where they have four national languages: german, french, italian and romansch (which no-one really speaks except for the Swiss).

And I met Mr. Swiss. Of course everyone speaks english in the world, at least that is the idea, but if they do not want to speak it, then you have a problem.

So there we were, an anglo and a Swiss. Somehow communication was a success but the Swiss side won. Slowly but surely I was learning this tongue breaking guttural language which was not really a language as such but a conglomeration of various dialects according to where you lived i Switzerland. My first two years were in Zürich, where they used words that other parts of Switzerland did not. I moved to the area around Solothurn and yes, they also used words that other parts of Switzerland did not.

50 years and two children later I think I have now got the hang of it. I found an advantage of Swiss German is that the endings of words either do not exist or disappear, which is a great advantage. The conjugation of words in their various cases (nominative, accusative, dative and genitive) are no longer so important – OK Mr. Swiss disagrees. On the other side of the language barrier, Mr. Swiss does have problems when watching a british TV soap known as East Enders where they all speak cockney, bombarding me with the permanent question “what did he say?”. I have no problem, it is quite clear to me.

By the way, I took the photo in an Italian course I attended – in Switzerland. I am not the only brit where I live and I have a few friends that have also been living here and married a Swiss. When we meet we talk english of course, although not quite. We have developed our own language, a sort of Swinglish: some words are german, others english. Who cares about articulation, we understand each other.

RDP Wednesday: Articulate

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