[Ltru] Alemanic & Swiss German

Peter Constable petercon at microsoft.com
Mon Dec 4 17:50:50 CET 2006

> From: Martin Duerst [mailto:duerst at it.aoyama.ac.jp]

> >The claim in Ethnologue is that the language 窶彜chwyzerdテシtsch窶・(aka 窶彜wiss
> German窶
>  is also spoken in Austria, France, Germany and Liechtenstein although the name
> 窶彜chwyzerdテシtsch窶・is not generally used in those places;
> A definition like the above "'gsw' is the language named X
> although also spoken in Y but not named X in that case"
> is contradictory and doesn't make sense.

Not so. It is by no means unheard of that a single language is referred to by different names in different locations, even by speakers of that language.

> Schwyzerdu"tsch is not spoken in Austria, France, or Germany,
> by definition (except by people who moved there from Switzerland).

"Schwyzerdutsch" is a label, not the language itself. You cannot say that, *by definition*, the language is not spoken by people in Austria, France or Germany. It may be valid to say that the label "Schwyzerdutsch" is not used in those locations (which is exactly what Ethnologue says), but that is a different statement.

Suppose a person in Switzerland walks across the border into Germany with a friend, all the while speaking together in the language they call "Schwyzerdutsch". Suppose that, as they walk along, a local citizen hears their conversation and joins in. Now, if it's the case that that third person speaking the same variety as they, I would say they are speaking the same language, even if that third person doesn't refer to his language as "Schwyzerdutsch".

The ID "gsw" is identifying the language, not merely the label.

Peter Constable

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