Swiss etiquette - what not to do/do in Switzerland

Swiss etiquette - what not to do/do in Switzerland

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Posts: 105
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4738 posts
expert
Jul 9, 2018 - 2:07 PM in reply to Lucas

<<"Sprechen Sie English is perfect.">>

It sorely lacks the "please/bitte." Pretend you are Canadian and be very polite. ;-)

It asks for an answer in German.

I submit that it is better to start in English if you wish to continue in English:

"Please, may I speak with you in English."

Does your wife say " Ich" or "Isch"?

Certainly not JFK's "Ick bin ein Berliner." ;-)

Slowpoke

fredch
fredch
51 posts
active member
Jul 9, 2018 - 2:23 PM in reply to autumnz

Die Rechnung is German for "bill" or just hold your wallet/purse up. Bitte bezahlen is "please I will pay now".

Snowman
Snowman
140 posts
active member
Jul 9, 2018 - 2:39 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi Slowpoke,

< I frequently round up to the nearest whole CHF >

Well, let's say to the nearest whole 5 CHF. Waitress's wage may be fair, by international standards, they are still low.

fredch
fredch
51 posts
active member
Jul 9, 2018 - 2:58 PM

Tipping is an American social disease. It subsidizes the owner's business. "Trinkgeld" is included when "Service inbegriffen" is on the menu (always in my experience). That said, if service personnel have performed an additional service such as directions, etc. then a few coins left on the table is nice.

In the good old days, a service person might follow you out of a restaurant telling you that you had forgotten the coins and return them. Most service is not Swiss now, so a tip is kept. I suspect that a tip added to a bill never sees the intended person. Cold hard cash in hand is hard to beat.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4738 posts
expert
Jul 9, 2018 - 4:12 PM in reply to autumnz

<<"Question...how do you signal you are ready to pay the bill at a

restaurant?">>

I catch their eye and scribble on the palm of my hand with my finger(s). Works well.

<<"If you are in a bit of a hurry to meet a train, can you

mention this/ ask for the bill upon delivery of the meal?">>

I do that, and I also let them know that I'll be in a hurry when I sit down.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jul 9, 2018 - 4:12 PM by Slowpoke
Lucas
Lucas
7222 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 9, 2018 - 6:34 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Don't worry - this Canadian knows how to be polite. :) haha.

I think actually what you want to say is "Können Sie bitte Englisch Sprechen?". That would make more sense(I think) than Sprechen Sie Englsich, Bitte? Or the original statement I posted early which is my go to nowadays. :)

Another good option is Entschuldigung, sprechen Sie Englisch bitte?

I like to try and speak a little in the local language to be polite and respectful when possible. To show them I am trying. Learning how to ask politely, in the local language, if they can speak English with me is what I try to do. :)

She is far away from JFK for sure! Ich and not isch nor ick!

Ah that is what I do at restaurants too Slowpoke! haha. I pretend to write my signature on a check in mid-air - always seems to work. :)

Last modified on Jul 9, 2018 - 7:34 PM by Lucas
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4738 posts
expert
Jul 9, 2018 - 7:28 PM in reply to Lucas

<<"Können Sie bitte Englisch Sprechen?">

I like that one. That would work well and politely. It invites a reply in English, which is the key if you speak no German whatsoever.

And, it is good for speaking to those who might not speak English.

Indeed if I want to try a bit of German, I use a phrase that invites a reply in German.And, in in German-speaking Switzerland, to use a bit of local language, one can always start with "Grüetzi" or "Grüetzi Wohl" and finish with "Merci vielmal, uf wiederluege." ;-)

You also wrote -"Entschuldigung, sprechen Sie bitte?" Perhaps you need an "English" in there?

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jul 9, 2018 - 7:30 PM by Slowpoke
Lucas
Lucas
7222 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 9, 2018 - 7:33 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Haha yes I do ;) busy forum tonight!

I say Grüetzi and Merci vielmal by habit in Berlin once in awhile and I get some odd stares. ;)

maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
578 posts
top member
Jul 9, 2018 - 8:09 PM

I also like to try to speak in German, especially in situations where I expect my vocabulary to be adequate. I usually start by saying in German, "I am English but I would like to try to speak in German. Please forgive my mistakes." I find Swiss people very polite and patient when I try. If I get a bit lost and ask them to speak more slowly they smile and do so. I don't always succeed in completing the conversation without resorting to English but it's good to try and the practice is good for me!

Maggie

fredch
fredch
51 posts
active member
Jul 9, 2018 - 8:58 PM in reply to maggiehorswell

You are spot on. A trial is always appreciated, and very likely a sympathetic response is forthcoming. If both are neophytes, then frequently the conversation is done in "Dinglish". Deutsch and English mixed.

On occasion. I have said in German, "Ich spreche sehr good English, und sehr lustiger Deutsch". Which do you like? The majority like to try their native tongue but can switch if needed. Grammar is out the window. Communication is the desired result.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4738 posts
expert
Jul 9, 2018 - 10:17 PM in reply to fredch

Hey my friend FredCH -

Dein Deutsch ist in der Tat lustig, wenn du den Tennessee-Akzent in Betracht ziehst.

Slowpoke

fredch
fredch
51 posts
active member
Jul 10, 2018 - 12:30 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Damn tooting and proud of it!

Peterli
Peterli
454 posts
top member
Jul 11, 2018 - 4:53 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Hello Naseer and others who have joined this thread. It is interesting to see how this has branched out from automobiles to how to address the Swiss to tipping.

First of all, perhaps the start-stop technology now in many newer European cars should be addressed. Slowpoke said <<Many rental cars come with an option for automatic shut off at a stop. When you begin to move forward, the engine starts automatically in response to your actions. >> It would be kind of hard to move forward before the engine starts ! In fact, when you pull up to a red light or a pedestrian crossing and stop, you move your right foot from the gas pedal to the brake pedal. If you are driving a standard transmission, you also depress the clutch pedal with your left foot. As you come to your complete stop, the motor will stop running as well. When you are able to continue, the motor will re-engage as soon as you remove your foot from the brake pedal, and your car will then move forward as you press your foot on the gas pedal (and take your foot off the clutch pedal if driving a standard transmission). On some models of some cars, this feature can be turned off, but once you have experienced start-stop technology, I am fairly sure you will be comfortable using it.

NASEER
NASEER
6 posts
new member
Jul 11, 2018 - 5:22 AM

Good day all,

I am really enjoying this rich conversation and got a lot of it and I would like to thank everybody participated. Actually my question was common and answers were very helpful. My aime is to educate my self and my people as well. As you know its time for holiday and travel. I will accumulate points were mentioned here and summarize them and share them in a very active hashtag about tourism in Switzerland and other Europe countries. Thanks to all and I appreciate your cooperation and kindness and I am welling to revive more at any time.🙏🌹

Peterli
Peterli
454 posts
top member
Jul 11, 2018 - 5:25 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Hello again,

I was somewhat surprised to read Slowpoke's comment about saying bonjour to passers-by in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. << .....in the German speaking regions. Indeed, you will be constantly be

greeted with "grüetzi" when you meet someone hiking on a trail. In the French speaking regions, "bon jour" is generally better received, but less common to hear from a stranger passing on a hiking trail. >> That is definitely not my experience, as I find all Swiss of all ages very friendly in this respect. I was wondering if this was Slowpoke's experience after he had said "bonjour" and there was no response from the stranger or if the stranger had not said "bonjour" first. This politeness is noticed not only on quiet paths but also in small villages where you and the "stranger" are then only ones within a smallish distance. As I said above, this is with Swiss of all ages, which I think is commendable. However, once you are into bigger groups and crowds of people in the cities, forget any greetings !

Peterli
Peterli
454 posts
top member
Jul 11, 2018 - 5:39 AM

Hello again,

For those uni-lingual English-speakers, I will add what one can ask when in the French-speaking part of Switzerland (Romandie) and the Italian-speaking Ticino. In Romandie, one can say; "Excusez-moi, parlez-vous anglais ? " In the Tessin, one can say "Mi scusi, parla inglese ?" Just be prepared for a "non" or a "no" if you are in a more remote area and speaking to an older person. My suggestion for anybody planning on travel to Switzerland or any country for that matter is to try to learn some basics before leaving on the trip. The locals will always appreciate your efforts to speak their language. There are programs one can find online to hear the pronunciation of words and sentences.

Last modified on Jul 11, 2018 - 5:42 AM by Peterli
fredch
fredch
51 posts
active member
Jul 11, 2018 - 10:51 AM

Another thought came to me. The use of "high German" Hochdeutsch, and Schwytzerdeutsch can be important. High German as a request to a Swiss person can suggest that the dialect is somehow inferior to the "real" German. If you know some German and do not recognize what is being said because it is in dialect, try asking the person to speak in SchriftDeutsch (written German) as this is the high form used in documents, school lessons, etc.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4738 posts
expert
Jul 11, 2018 - 2:14 PM in reply to fredch

<<"">>

An excellent point.

Although foreign guests have latitude and a variety of accents and variations are easily tolerated, the Swiss in general ( as well as I) consider the use of the word "Hochdeutsch" to be a bit insulting. "Standard German" ( or, since it is used for writing, "Schriftdeutsch") are descriptive terms that do not imply that Swiss dialects are inferior. "High German" implies that other forms are inferior or of lower status. They all have a common root, but the version used in Hannover, at the imperial court, was fancied up with more conjugations and declensions, probably to distinguish the well educated from the masses. Or, so I was told, anyway.

So, today, the Swiss dialects are clearly related to Standard German, but are very much separate and closely related languages. There are similar dialects in Germany, as well. They are just not as common as in Switzerland.

In never hurts to have a few simple phrases in a Swiss German dialect handy.

www.eldrid.ch/swgerman .htm#How%20to%20impres s%20a%20Swiss

Slowpoke

o2bmmw
o2bmmw
8 posts
new member
Jul 11, 2018 - 3:20 PM

Thank you all for this thread. I have a question:

Does anyone have a resource such as a youtube video or podcast to recommend which teaches some of the Swiss German words and phrases? Unfortunately, even google translate does not recognize some of the words and I cannot follow some of the explanations of the pronunciation. So I would like to find some videos or something to help me mimic the pronunciations.

Many thanks!

Lucas
Lucas
7222 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 11, 2018 - 4:39 PM in reply to o2bmmw

Yes, there are a fair few videos on YouTube that can help you with words and pronunciations. I found quite a few but I can't recommend any in particular.

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