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Rebeka Gemeinder’s mother tongue is Swiss German (Alemannisch), a language spoken in Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Liechtenstein. Unfortunately the language is spoken in increasingly decreasing circles every day. Rebeka writes about what her mother language means to her.
If you have no clue, you never visited the beautiful but small country in the middle of Europe called Switzerland. It is a country comparable to a chameleon not just regarding nature and people, but the languages spoken here are of an unbelievable variety. Our four official languages are French, Italian, Rhaeto-Romanic and German.
But, to be honest, we don’t speak German. We have our own dialect which we are proud of. Many linguists identify the Swiss German dialect even as a language in its own right. Every canton, every valley, city or even village has its own words and ways of pronunciation. Therefore, at school – from kindergarten up to university – the dialects get replaced by German. It’s a pity. A wonderful language full of tradition and common dreams and aims becomes lost.
Let’s change that! Save our mother languages! By telling stories to your children, you can take the first step. Your child will pass the language on to his child and so it can’t disappear! My parents read a story with me and my siblings every evening. Oh, how much I enjoyed that! Then, of course, I read books on my own and in every language except German. But now, now I realise that my mother tongue is not just a language. It means home.
After travelling a lot and speaking in English, French, Mandarin and Italiancoming home and not thinking about every single word, feeling free, confident and understanding inside jokes is just wonderful. Let’s keep our individuality, our passion, our pride and let’s save the feeling of being at home.
Swiss German is important. It’s a part of our history and it lets our hearts beat for an amazing country with a huge potential.
And if you still need an answer to the starting question: a Chochichäschtli is just a kitchen cabinet !
Happy Mother Language Day!
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