Switzerland has four languages, but most of the population is fluent in only one of them. When politicians gather in Bern, they are generally their mother, assuming that others in attendance understand them, even if they cannot speak the language that is actually spoken. I speak in Japanese. This week, RTS reporter Pierre Nebel investigated the level of understanding of French among non-French speakers in the Federal Palace.
The most widely spoken languages in Switzerland are German and local dialects. The written language used in official documents is standard German. See Swiss German Studies. German and its Swiss dialect are the local languages of 63% of the population. French (23%), Italian (8%) and Romansh (1%) are far behind.
Swiss language law guarantees that each language group has the right to communicate in its own language. However, this does not guarantee that they will be understood.
This week, Pierre Nebel roamed the government building in Bern to see how well French was understood.
His first observation was the use of German by some French speakers. Both Roger Nordmann (Socialist Party) and Olivier Ferrer (PLR / FDP) use German for political exchanges in Bern. When asked why, Feller explained that the use of German helped convince two German speakers of the Swiss People’s Party (UDC / SVP) to support the wine sector in his area. did. Roger Nordmann said he would switch to German if a German-speaking person felt he didn’t understand him.
When asked if German-speaking politicians always understood French, Balthasar Glättli, a member of the bilingual Greens, immediately replied “non”. Another Pierre Andre Page explained how French-speaking federal councilor Guy Parmelin almost always speaks German among the German-speaking majority of the seven Swiss executives.
Nebel then confronted many German speakers in the Commonwealth (Federal Council / Federal Council) corridor to test his understanding of French. The two he spoke in French both hesitated before replying in German.
Another French-speaking person hesitated when asked if he needed to switch languages and said it was definitely an advantage. Another Secretary of State, Marianne Male, of the Bilingual State of Valais, recommended speaking slowly and choosing simple words before saying that he would never switch to German.
It has not been investigated how well French speakers understand German. It also does not mention the possibility of using translators and headsets, as in Brussels, or facilitating school language exchange to improve mutual understanding among future generations of Swiss federal politicians. Hmm.
More about this:
RTS article (French) – Take the 5 minute French test now
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