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Do you speak the language where you live very well, and if so, can I ask you something?

(67 Posts)
Quintessing Fri 02-Dec-16 17:32:36

There seem to be MNetters living in many different locations, so I would love to pick your brains a little.

Could you please tell me where you live, and what language is spoken there?
Do the locals speak one language officially, such as administrative center/Council, Church, Uni/school, or the workplace, and a different in the local community, their home, with their families and social groups? Even dialects of the same? How many such languages are there?

For example, I am currently in Norway (where I grew up). Norway has bokmål and nynorsk as two norwegian standard languages, sami as a native language (which again has multiple variations), and I speak tromsøværing with my friends and family which is a lower form of the standard.

Whats it like where you are?

mumhum Fri 02-Dec-16 17:44:30

I live in a German speaking part of Switzerland. I learned Hochdeutsch (High German, formal, a bit like the Queen's English) at school/Uni and speak it fluently. The official language here (council, official documents, language taught in schools etc) is Hochdeutsch but the reality is that everyone speaks Swiss German. Swiss German is not a written language and is a mix of German, French, Italian and completely new words. So I can make myself understood as most people understand Hochdeutsch but they don't always speak it well. But I am getting there, I enjoy the regional variations.

KateInKorea Sat 03-Dec-16 06:21:12

I could have written Mumhum's post (except I only started to learn German here
So don't speak it fluently)

PinkPlastic Sat 03-Dec-16 10:33:03

I'm in Suisse Romande ( French speaking Switzerland ) we speak Swiss French, which is just like French French but our number system differs and a few words differ.

My French is ok, i get by, i have meetings with teachers in french and am fine but would struggle with full comprehension of a business meeting.

TanteRose Sat 03-Dec-16 10:40:04

In Japan - Japanese is the only official language.
However there are many regional dialects - some places in the north have accents that are difficult to understand (like a strong Glaswegian accent in Scotland).
The islands in the very south and very north, Okinawa and Hokkaido, have their own languages (Ryuku and Ainu languages) but they are not really used much and are preserved as culturally significant rather than practical languages, which is a shame.

fussychica Sat 03-Dec-16 18:08:32

We lived in Andalucia in Spain. They speak Castellano Spanish, though in our area it was very much like a rough version of Spanish, a bit lazy, regularly missing of the ends of words especially the "s" and running words into each other. My son is fluent and Spaniards always know in what part of Spain he was educated from his accent. English spoken by hardly anyone inland in our particular area, though much easier to get by on the coast because of tourism. Spain has a number of other languages like Catalan, Basque, Galician which are spoken in those regions and used for both official and informal purposes.

Mendingfences Sat 03-Dec-16 18:15:54

Hi quint,
Trøndersk here, dialect depends on which side of the tunnel you live on.....
University language policy dictates we should not speak english with other 'scandinavian' speakers which can be errm 'interesting'

Sadik Mon 05-Dec-16 20:56:55

Wales here. A quarter of the population of my county speak Welsh (as of last census), actually more in my area, but then historically less in my particular town (history gets a bit complicated around here ). Everybody also speaks English, including those who are first language Welsh. Officially you can use either language. In practice lots of people speak a mix of both languages simultaneously depending on what works best for what they're trying to express at that moment . . . Education is exclusively Welsh medium in this area up to 7 years, then they use some English, then you have the choice of language at secondary. (Or mix it up - in KS3 dd took humanities through Welsh, STEM subjects through English.)

I understand Welsh reasonably well both through lessons and hearing it spoken around me all the time, but can't speak much. It's quite hard to improve without real determination because it feels very artificial speaking a language where you're just a beginner to someone who speaks your own language just as well as you do.

I also used to live in Andalucia, and found learning Spanish a doddle by comparison. In fact I used to avoid speaking English with people (who wanted to practice on me) because it was very embarrasing when I couldn't understand them grin

Gwenhwyfar Mon 05-Dec-16 21:03:27

Grew up in Wales speaking Welsh and English.
Lived in Brussels. French is the main language, but Dutch is the native language and both are official. You also hear plenty of English, Arabic and many other languages.
Why are you asking Quintessing?

Quintessing Tue 06-Dec-16 12:47:50

Oh lovely to see so many replies!

I will come back and read properly later.

I have a module on sociolinguistic (studying English!) and find it fascinating how so many countries have so many additional dialects or vernaculars. Just curious to know whats it like your way.

TerrorAustralis Wed 07-Dec-16 03:30:02

I live in Singapore. There are four official languages: English, Mandarin, Bahasa Melayu and Tamil. Unofficially there is Singlish which is a mix of all four plus about three other Chinese dialects (Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese).

Most people speak English, but the usage, grammar and syntax is often quite different from 'proper' English. I've picked up a bit of the local way of speaking and some Singlish. But there's still a lot that is beyond me.

exexpat Wed 07-Dec-16 03:50:43

I'm in the UK now, but one of the places I used to live was Taiwan, which is quite interesting linguistically, due to the political history of the place.

The official language is Mandarin Chinese, which is used in schools and for all official purposes, but many people speak Taiwanese or other Chinese dialects as their first language - which one depends on whether they come from longstanding Taiwanese families or from people who fled to Taiwan from the Chinese mainland during the 1940s. My flatmates used to speak Mandarin to each other most of the time, but would slip into Taiwanese when arguments got heated...

Some older people, particularly in the countryside, who grew up under the Japanese occupation (ended in 1945), don't speak Mandarin, just their Chinese dialect plus Japanese, as the Japanese language was imposed in schools during the occupation.

I speak Japanese and Mandarin but no other Chinese dialects, so I can find a common language with most people there, but couldn't necessarily have a conversation with someone aged 75+ and their grandchildren at the same time (as they would share a dialect but might not both speak Mandarin/Japanese).

LiefieLiefie Wed 07-Dec-16 12:04:14

I live in South Africa where there are 11 official languages. Where we live, most white people speak Afrikaans and black people speak Sesotho. I can't speak Afrikaans but can follow the gist of a conversation, so reply in English.

I've picked up a bit of Sesotho to be able to greet someone properly and ask how are you, thank you etc. I also find myself speaking South African English fairly often.

ShanghaiDiva Sun 11-Dec-16 04:00:12

I used to live in Bavaria, but didn't speak Bavarian dialect, only Hochdeutsch. I found it really difficult to understand older people from the area and used to switch off in group conversations.
When we lived in Austria, I picked up lots of vocabulary that only the Austrians use, but always with my text book German accent!

Bobochic Sun 11-Dec-16 04:47:44

I spent my teens in Luxembourg where the native population speaks Luxembourgish (a Germanic dialect) but is educated mainly in German and French. All three of those languages could be used for daily interactions. In those days French was the language of officialdom but I'm not sure to what extent that still holds true and what role Luxembourgish has taken.

In Luxembourg I went to the European School which educated the children of EU officials in their mother tongue. The language spoken in the playground was often French though you could hear all the languages of the EU (at that time) spoken every day.

ErnesttheBavarian Sun 11-Dec-16 05:49:05

I used to live in German-speaking Switzerland. I knew no German when we moved there and i found it really doubly hard to learn, because in general, the Swiss do not like speaking Hochdeutsch, partly on principle, and partly because most of them are not actually that good at it! (My dh used to spot loads of mistakes in dc teachers' comments!)

Usually, the Swiss would automatically switch to English if they could, or if they couldn't they would speak in Swiss German. Btw I absolutely adore the sound of swiss German. My dc 2nd language was Swiss German. Then we moved to Bavaria and I had to basically re-learn the language as I has a real mixture of Swiss and High German. I still have some words of Swiss German that I cannot let go. I guess they were just so ingrained, and also have an emotional connection to when me dc were young and lovely and life was good smile

Swiss German at least gave me enough grounding to just about get by with Bavarian.... But my dc have forgotten all their SG now which is a shame.

Dafspunk Sun 11-Dec-16 06:14:36

Nothing to contribute unfortunately but this is so interesting - love a bit of linguistic chat! Thanks Quint!

allegretto Mon 12-Dec-16 12:39:51

I live in a part of Italy where dialect is not really spoken much (big city, lots of "newcomers") so everyone speaks Italian with a few local words mixed in.

trotzdem Mon 12-Dec-16 16:36:59

Also in Bavaria

Hochdeutsch and Bayrisch. Bayrisch is Bavarian dialect and it can be like a different language - some words are totally different, most are a bit different and the accent is totally different. Only older and farming people speak pure Bayrisch I think, most people mix it with high German.

I work in an old people's home and am getting more familiar with the spoken dialect (and use it sometimes especially as there are sounds in high GErman that I struggle to pronounce but which are pronounced in a way I find more natural in Bayrisch grin ) but to be honest it gets my back up when Kindergarten insist in writing parent communications in bayrisch - its an affectation IMO as it isn't really a written language, and I can't f*ing understand it written down even when I can spoken, neither can the other hand full of non local (German) parents! The children are encouraged to use Bayrisch, learn Bayrisch songs etc. at Kindergarten but at school they read and write in High German only. At the care home we have lots of song lyrics written out in Bayrisch but only about 70% of the residents are Bayrish and it does alienate those who are not and are cognitively aware of such things a bit.

Two separate primary school teachers have told me without a trace of irony my kids are at an advantage over the kids who speak Bayrisch at home when it comes to learning to write in High German (my kids understand Bayrisch but speak High German sprinkled with Bayrisch used like "slang" outside the home and with their friends - but we speak 90% English at home!

Gwenhwyfar Mon 12-Dec-16 22:55:37

"At the care home we have lots of song lyrics written out in Bayrisch but only about 70% of the residents are Bayrish and it does alienate those who are not and are cognitively aware of such things a bit."

I find that quite a bad attitude. Would you say of a care home in England that song lyrics in English alienate people who are not English?

allegretto Mon 12-Dec-16 23:04:36

Trotzdem - but if no-one uses it, it will die out.

trotzdem Tue 13-Dec-16 05:38:09

Sorry I didn't realise this was a special thought policed thread hmm

Comparing English (a language tohmm ) spoken in England to a dialect is ridiculous Gwen as you must be aware - the parallel to English is German in my example, the parallel to Bayrish is something like West Country dialect or Cockney! They are spoken dialects which is well and good, but write home/ school communication in them (not just a few dialect words but spelling altered to phonetically mirror accent rendering them incomprehensible even where words are similar to the official language) and people miss vital information, plan integration and enrichment activities for a vulnerable group and you purposely exclude part of the group.

Gweimui Tue 13-Dec-16 06:07:02

slip into Taiwanese

expat Surely you mean Hokkien?

exexpat Tue 13-Dec-16 08:02:13

Gweimui - Taiwanese is a variety of Hokkien, but people usually refer to it just as Taiwanese over there. I think it has been separate from the mainland/overseas Chinese versions long enough that there are a number of differences.

Beachcomber Tue 13-Dec-16 08:19:26

I live in France and obviously French is not only the official language but it is the most commonly spoken language. A lot of French dialects have died out although Breton is still spoken. France is very monolingual (although of course a significant proportion of the population speak Arabic).

I used to work in Switzerland and I loved the mix of languages and the fact that it was ok to sit round a table and have different conversations going on in different languages.

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