Daily Prompt: Sound Right – if you know what you are talking about

This is clearly subjective, but some words really sound like the thing they describe (personal favorites: puffin; bulbous; fidgeting). Do you have an example of such a word (or, alternatively, of a word that sounds like the exact opposite of what it refers to)? What do you think creates this effect?

Big brother is watching 24 hours a day (by video)

Gottfried Stutz everyone must see that this is an important notice, otherwise there would not be an exclamation mark at the end. Who was Gottfried Stutz? Not even the Swiss know that exactly but his name is applied when you are excited and want to emphasise your words. Gottfried Stutz, close the door it is draughty. Gottfriend Stutz, what is the matter? It is not exactly swearing although it seems everything beginning with the prefix “Gott” could lead to a controversial issue in Swiss German or even high German. Oh and the notice just says that the parking house is constantly observed by video, so do not even think about stealing a car.

It is not what you say/write but the way that you say/write it. We had a neighbour, a very nice young lady and had two children. Her mother tongue was French, but also spoke and understood perfect Swiss German. Her husband was Swiss German and the kids grew up in two worlds of language, but she had words that could be continuously used in both languages. “That is genial” whether they had bought a new car, the kids had new clothes or she noticed I had a new plant in the garden. We were constantly “genial”, a useful word with an international meaning.

In my mish-mash of languages I really no longer care. If you understand me OK, if not that is your problem. I do not allow words to interrupt my line of thought when I am writing one of my super perfect blogs. They are all super (I love that word). Of course it could be that a fragmentose collubrication of pommel chackles might golumph the flossing of my trumbs, but do not despair. Now and again I have a conversation with Lewis Carroll in my dreams. We have various ideas about how the Jabberwock walked, what he ate and whether he had a punker hairdo or just a normal crew cut and of course we carry on our conversations in Jabberwock, a language containing references to the frumerous bandersnatch and the jubjub bird, although I often throw a few words of my own in the sentences. It is a secret language, a shangle of golobrious brams, changling on the paths of nonsense, but Lewis and I know what we mean.

“Du Schätz, wo isch der shopping list?” – a small sample of Angloswiss language when talking to Mr. Swiss (where is the shopping list).

“Chei Arnig” no idea is the answer from Mr. Swiss. He very rarely mixes languages and stays with Swiss German, so I have all the problems of simultaneous translation in my internal interpreting system.

Es cha mangisch scho e chli frustrierend si wänn mir zwei Sprache rede – oh sorry, you see it can happen so easily. What I wanted to say was that it can often be frustrating when we speak two languages (original was in Swiss German). I must often cast a glance in my online German-english dictionary to find the correct word. I have to go a step further. My brain thinks it in Swiss German, I have to process the thought into proper German and then if I am lucky I will find a suitable English text, although I can usually do it all by myself.

I do not really care if I put my “I” before “e” except after “c”, because the main thing is that you understand what I want to say, although to be quite honest I often do not understand it myself. I remember the first time that Mr. Swiss was confronted with a cockney discussion when he met my relatives. “What did he say” he would constantly ask, although Mr. Swiss speaks very good English, but not cockney. He eventually gave up and just nodded to be polite. Over the years he has got accustomed to the various dialects of the English language and to be quite honest if I watch an American film, I often have a problem with some of the expressions.

So do not ask me for examples of words, otherwise my nonsense plonks will trampiful pits of clongs and the plankle bird will appear and gulp it all down.

I am a little late today, as a call at the docs was necessary. I was again having golden oldie aches and pains in my rear parts, this time they took over a complete leg almost, causing a sleepless night. However the doc cured it all with an injection in a very tender part and a packet of tablets. I got a second packet of tablets to coat my stomach in preparation for the other packet of tablets. This is all very complicated. She found it should do the trick, but has made an appointment at the hospital to have the internal workings of my hip joint photographed from the inside, one of those interesting photos full of bones and tissues. Oh, what fun, I am again important and will leave my mark on medical history. I told her I was not keen on having a hip replacement, but she really cheered me up when she said I was too young for that.

Have fun everyone. I have a garden to water and a book to read. See you all on the flip side tomorrow, if my hip is still moving.

Daily Prompt: Sound Right – if you know what you are talking about

Daily Prompt: Verbal Tricks : an introduction to Swiss German

Is there a word or a phrase you use (or overuse) all the time, and are seemingly unable to get rid of? If not, what’s the one that drives you crazy when others use it?

Market Party Solothurn 2007

We all do it really, use the same words, the same expressions: sometimes I am aware of it and sometimes it is just me. Without my boring constant expressions, I would not be me. By the way of you think I have moved to another country and have now settled in Hawaii, do not worry I am still somewhere in Switzerland, yodelling my way along. Our town of Solothurn becomes Honolulu during the carnival season. This is a year old tradition and as I cannot illustrate words, I found this photo in my carnival collection. This was a sign on a bar especially constructed for the occasion.

Now to the words which are generally overused. I must lead you into the corridors of Swiss German, as I only hear this language every day. Of course, I can still speak English, but when in England I really only hear cockney – you know where they “ain’t got nuffing”, drop their ‘aches at the beginning of the word and the general greeting is “’allo mate ‘ow are ya” or when wanting to read the newspaper “can I ‘ave a butchers at the black and white”, so work that out for yourself.

There are words and phrases that do not actually annoy me in Swiss German, but you hear them constantly according to where you live. My first two years in Switzerland were spent in Zürich and they have their own little ticks. Sitting on a tram I hear two men having a conversation “luege e mal” (have a look) constantly being said as if they are worried that they miss something out on their tram journey, or every sentence ending with the word “oder” (or). I can tell you this “or” thing really gets on your nerves. “I think I will buy some apples – or?”, “we could go to the cinema – or?”, “I will cook some sausages for lunch – or”, yes it can get rather monotonous at times.

Then we have the “quasi” people. This word is even international, but the Swiss discovered it and absorbed it as a daily word into their language. “He was quasi good at his job, “weissch  was ig meine” (you know what I mean – another wonderful phrase) and for good measure if you are in Zürich you can add an “oder” (or) at the end of the sentence.

Of course the younger generation in Switzerland that have learnt English, have their favourite phrases. Ask them a question, even in Swiss German and the answer nine times out of ten is “no problem” in english, even if they cannot speak the language. “Can you lend me that newspaper?” answer : “No problem”.

I remember one of the bosses where I was working. Now and again he would give a lecture, an explanation about something new in the manufacturing programme. “It is a new development, it can do everything and “Weiss dr gugga was” (what that actually means I never found out and I believe it is not even translation possible, but it goes in the direction of “anything you can think of”: not exactly a sign of high intelligence, but I did not like the bloke in any case – he was a show off).

Just a moment Mr. Swiss has asked me a question. I will give him one of my super intelligent answers which speak volumes “Chei Arnig” meaning I have not got a clue. I love those two little words, they always guarantee a short conversation.

And now I will come to a close. I bought eight lovely blue balloon flowers this morning at the supermarket. I had been waiting for them to come onto the market. They last for ever, are small when planted, but grow quite tall the following years. I planted them and discovered that eight were not enough, so I sent Mr. Swiss to buy another four. He is a lovely person, he volunteered immediately. That was an hour ago and I have not seen him since. Did he perhaps seize the chance to escape from my clutches? Did he need a rest at the supermarket café for a mental relaxation? Chei Arnig – oder. And if you did not understand the last three words, you have not been following my elementary beginner’s lesson in Swiss German, oder?

Daily Prompt: Verbal Ticks: an Introduction to Swiss German

Daily Prompt: Non-Regional Diction

Write about whatever you’d like, but write using regional slang, your dialect, or in your accent.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us LOCAL.


Was – ig glaube es nit. Ig soll uf schwiizertütsch öppis schriebe. Dash isch nit ernscht. Es würde nieme verstah u ig bi sicher es wäre langwielig.

What more or less says “Huh, I don’t believe it. I should write something in Swiss German. That cannot be serious. No-one would understand and I am sure it would be boring.” OK I might even have a few mistakes in the written Swiss German, but written Swiss German does not really exist as such. Everyone writes in their own way, but following the German way of doing it. One author comes to mind that wrote in dialect, Jeremias Gotthelf. He was a priest in a place called Lützelflüh and wrote about the local yokels, some of his stories were filmed (naturally in original Swiss German) and they are really good.

Swiss German is what is spoken in the German speaking part of Switzerland – logical really. But there are as many dialects as places almost. We can start with hello – where I live in Solothurn “Gruessech”, in Zürich “Gruetzi”. Saying goodbye is easier, “ciao” has become quite Swissified in all language regions, after all it is Italian. Wait a minute, some say “adieu” but that comes from the French influence. Of course the people living in the Kanton (State) of Graubünden would say “Sta bain” as a farewell, but they have their own language with about six different dialects. So you take a walk along a street in a village in Graubünden and meet someone, they greet you with “Allegra”.

I think I had better keep with English, as this Swiss German stuff with its over one hundred dialects and four languages is going to confuse everyone. Me – I have been living in Switzerland for 46 years, 44 of which I have been married to a native, so if you cannot beat them, just join them.

Nah let me talk in cockney. That was me lingo where I grew up, dahn in the East End of London, Befnal Green to be exact. I ain’t gonna explain all the rhyming slang, as that gits more complicated as the years go by. At one time me dad would talk about “ ‘aving a dekker at the black and white” and “gimme mi bins”. Eesy peesy ‘e just want to ‘ave a look at the newspaper and needs ‘is glasses.

Of course that cockney stuff is getting more modern every day. Like they now talk about a “Bobby Moore” ya know, that was a footballer dahn in West Ham, but these days a Bobby Moore ‘as become a door. Ya can also talk abaht a Gordon and Gotch – easy – a watch. And so it goes on wiv all that new stuff. In my days it was just dahn the apples and pears (like the stairs), or go dahn the frog and toad (the road). We don’t really talk that way so much any more, but it ain’t wot you say it’s the way that you say it I suppose. The first cockney rule is drop your ‘aches. You know that letter that comes after “g” and before “I” in the alphabet. It just don’t exist east of the City of London. We don’t need it. Have becomes “ave” and a real advanced  word would be “ain’t” but that for the clever ones cos it means “have not” in the Queen’s language. Nah it even goes furver like “you ain’t got nuffing”. Nah that really need some finking, like exhausting the old brain cells. If you ain’t not nuffing you got somefing, but dahn in my part of London it don’t mean that, cos it means you got somefing. Just a matter of knowing wot you talking abaht.

So that’s enuf for now. I ‘ad a look in YouTube and fahnd a little film where they had a cockney crew in Star Trek, so let’s see if ya can understand it.

‘ave fun.

Daily Prompt: Non-Regional Diction

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Weekly Writing Challenge: A Manner of Speaking

This is right up me street mate. Yer see I was born a cockney. Now I ain’t going to write all that rhymin’ slang cos ya won’t understand it, I can’t be bovvered to explain it all and you probably won’t get it all any’ow. The fing is you ‘ave to drop all your aches. You know that letter in the alphabet, comes after g and before i. I don’t mean it makes a crash bang and lands on the floor, it just don’t exist in cockney, don’t need ‘em, so frow ‘em away. Like we live in a ‘ouse. Somefing else, we luv doing two no’s when we talk. Like I ain’t got nuffing, see. If you ain’t got nuffing, then you ‘ave to ‘ave somefing, but you don’t ‘ave somefing cos you’ve already said that you ain’t got nuffing. Simple ain’t it.

Nah I was ‘appy wiv all this way to talk. Me mum understood me, me dad knew wot I was talking about, and so did me aunts and uncles. Of course it weren’t the proper Kings English was it? At least I don’t fink that Queen Elizabeff talked like that. She was more in the way of talking wiv an apple in her gob.

Then I got older, like wasn’t a cockney sparra any more, but grew up and ‘ad to go to a posh school, like ‘igh school and they wanted us all to talk proper. We were all from the East End of London and cockneys, some more than ovvers. I was a bit more. All the same I ’ad to learn to speak proper, so if you can’t beat ‘em you join ‘em and I was quite good wiv me vowels and consonents. I even started to use me aches.

And then something remarkable happened. I threw all this cockney behind me and left England to work in Switzerland, thinking that I would get by with my English language and my elementary German. Wrong! If you think that German does not have any dialects or accents, then forget it. The Swiss invented the dialect. No-one speaks good German at home, on the streets or in the supermarkets. They invented the dialect. First of all they have four languages. German in the East, French in the West, Italian in the South and sandwiched between all of this somewhere in the mountains in the east they speak Romansh which is a language descending from Vulgar Latin. That would be complicated enough, but dialect being the mother of invention in Switzerland Romansch is also split into roughly four dialects.

The German language in Switzerland has more than 30 dialects, varying according to which village or town you live in. What the French do with their language I am not sure, but I do know it can vary with the way things are said, and the French find the Swiss French quite amusing. Italian is spoken in a sing-song sort of way.

I would add that in the Swiss German schools, so-called high German is spoken, otherwise the Swiss children would grow up speaking a dialect that only the Swiss would understand. Switzerland is a small country with approximately seven million population, so the Swiss would be quite isolated with their strange guttural dialect(s). Broadcasting language is also basically high German the news and the weather forecast also, but the rest is a mixture. They seem to speak what they feel like speaking.

So there I was, a simple cockney sitting in Zürich with two years high German confronted with everyone speaking their own dialect. I decided to move from Zürich to another town, perhaps hoping that the dialect choice would be restricted. No, I was a sucker for punishment. Not only did they speak differently in Solothurn, where I arrived, but I even married one of them, my Mr. Swiss.

I have now been living in Switzerland for forty-six years, forty-four of which I have been married to a Swiss and even possess a Swiss passport. Mr. Swiss brought two Swiss children into the marriage, who could speak basically only Swiss German. I myself made a contribution of two children, who grew up in Switzerland speak Swiss German as their mother tongue. What choice did I have?

So that the story of a cockney in Switzerland. Not that I ‘ave forgot me cockney. Oh yea, I can still speak it if I want to, trouble being that no-one would understand it. Mr. Swiss can understand it, ‘e ‘ad to, ovverwise we would ‘ave ‘ad problems. The kids sort of understand it, me youngest best of all. ‘E likes to frow a few cockney words in when ‘e’s speaking English, but I fink ‘es just showing off a bit.

And now I will close down this bit of blog stuff. Life ain’t easy when you are surrounded by a lot of foreigners all speaking their own stuff, I just ‘ad to learn it meself. No problem, but when I see me dad in England ‘e sometimes asks wot language I’m speaking. See I get a bit mixed up now and again, but you can’t blame me can you.

Weekly Challeng: A Manner of speaking

Daily Prompt: Dear Leader

If your government (local or national) accomplishes one thing in 2013, what would you like that to be?

View of the Bernese Alps from Feldbrunnen

I live in Switzerland, you know the place that for most people is not even noticed. If you travel from North to South, you have to go through a few tunnels to stay in a direct straight line, but you can do it in four to five hours, perhaps even faster. West to East and vice versa is a bit longer. Let’s say six to eight hours, according to a smooth journey on the motorway. You can pass through Switzerland, travelling to another country, and perhaps not even realise that you have been there. We share four languages. French in the West, Swiss German in the East, Italian in the South and in between somewhere in the East Romantsch. Notice I said Swiss German, which is my local patois. Children have to learn proper “high” German at school, otherwise no-one would understand them in Germany which is one of our biggest neighbouring countries. The problem with Swiss German is perhaps, that sometimes even the Swiss do not understand each other. There are over one hundred dialiects, according to the town, even villages, where you live. Swiss German in Zürich is different to Swiss German in Bern, and those in Basel also speak in their own way. That was now just a quick summary to let you know what it is all about.

Now to the state of the nation. I could start with the motorway. The curse of all tourists that want to visit with their car. We have a motorway ticket, permit or whatever. For year 2013 it will cost forty Swiss francs, which every Swiss citizen pays with a feeling that it is worth it. Tourists arrive clueless on the border, wanting to enjoy our hospitality and that is where they meet with their first disappointment. Pay, stick it on your window, and show that you now have a right to drive on our super motorways. It could be that you will encounter a few obstacles if you visit in Summer. It is the best time of the year to do the repair work, caused by the snow and ice in Winter. So let’s get rid of this financial burden for the motorists. Of course, an alternative is the train. Swiss trains are perfect, always on time, but are very very expensive. So dear Leader, let’s do something about that.

But I am jumping the crossbow, as William Tell said. Just imagine a country with only seven million citizens, a government with seven ministers which are revoted once a year in December. Even our president is only president for a year. At the end of the year a different minister is chosen for the job. So, dear Leader, whoever you might be this year, next year you will not even be our leader. Although one positive development perhaps, we now have women in the government. On 7th February 1971 women were given the right to vote in Switzerland – on a national level. (I bet that is a shock to some of us in other countries). They had to wait a few years longer until they could vote in their own Kantons (states) but even that happened. Of course it was the men that voted yes to give us women the right.

We are Federal, so like the states, what we agree to in Geneva, might not be agreed to in Zürich. Over the years women dared to become members of parliment, senators etc. and even manage to achieve a majority amongst the seven ministers, or at least fifty percent. Dear Leader woman, now is the time to tone it down a bit. I am feminine, and like to see women treated equally in life of course, but you can go too far. The situation in Switzerland is gradually losing the balance. Women are being chosen for promotion in their area of work, over men, although they probably do not do the job better. You should be judged on your qualities and not on statistics. Some men have given up the hope of ever being able to progress in their working life, because there is now a thing about making sure the women are considered and chosen.

Otherwise living in a perfect country, which could originate in fairyland, everything seems to run ok. We have unemployed but how many no-one really knows. Of course they are supported if they are not earning, but after a few years of being unemployed you are contracted out of the system meaning that we might have a few thousand officially unemployed, but there a a few thousand more which no longer exist on paper. They have to get their support from their local governments. That way we keep the mount of unemployed at a nice comfortable amount.

We have a perfect health system, and I mean that in a positive way. OK, we have to pay for it with a private insurance, but it works. No waiting for hours in the emergency or for an operation. Hospitals are basically well run (nothing îs perfect anywhere), but you do get the see the surgeon privately that will be operating, you do not have to wait for months for the operation, and the comfort in the hospital can be compared with a five star hotel. It also costs as much, but according to your insurance, it is covered. I grew up in England, visit once a year, do not want to talk about the english NHS, but knowing the system, this has made me a happy Swiss (I have two nationalities).

We vote a lot, about once every 2-3 months according to how many signatures have been collected for this that or the other. A referendum system. We were even stupid to vote for an increase in the VAT, or said yes to increasing the retirement age for women. So I cannot always blame the government, sometimes it is our own fault.

This is a short summary on life in the country of banks, Zürich gnomes, alps, and skiing. I have been living here now for 46 years, 44 as a Swiss. My life in England is more or less a thing of the past, and I would not dare to criticise the English government – they have their own problems.

Daily Prompt: Dear Leader