Swiss people can’t leave the house without being bombarded by English – with some words being “Englisher” than others.
This content was published on October 4, 2016 - 16:26
Born in London, Thomas was a journalist at The Independent before moving to Bern in 2005. He speaks three official Swiss languages and enjoys travelling the country and practising them, above all in pubs, restaurants and gelaterias.
Advertising posters, graffiti, shop windows, menus – with this amount of exposure from an early age it’s no surprise that most Swiss can hold a conversation in English.
But languages, like organisms, evolve and mutate. While most of the English used by Swiss marketing departments can’t be faulted – serious companies usually employ at least one native speaker – occasionally things get lost in translation. It’s clear what an “eatroom” is, but, well, you wouldn't find one in London.
“When you look at the English that you find in non-English-speaking countries, you could say we all speak bad English quite well – and therefore we take certain liberties with the language,” Franz Andres Morrissey, a linguistics lecturer at the University of Bern, told swissinfo.ch.
“But I think the point is that when you have a language that is so widely spoken, and the vast majority of speakers are second-language speakers, you have to realise that the English language is no longer in the ownership of English speakers. This means of course that it develops in different directions.”