Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Flashback to Basel

Some of you may know that from 1980-1983 I was a student at the University of Basel in Switzerland, where the local language was a dialect of German called Alemannic. So this video brought back many memories:

True, we spoke Standard German while at the University. I myself had a doctoral advisor who was Swedish, so for both of us German was a second language and we never once spoke dialect with each other (only High German). But once you left the classroom and got in the hallway, you heard Alemannic. For that reason, I purchased a Basel German grammar and worked away at it for many years until I felt I could communicate in dialect with my fellow Swiss students and the members of the small Baptist church we attended in Basel. Becky and I had many friends who could only speak dialect, and so we would do our best to speak dialect back to them. I've always felt that Alemmanic was a very beautiful dialect of German. The Swiss sing more than than speak. They always talk to each other in their own dialect. 

I already could speak High German when we moved to Basel in 1980. Becky spoke not a word. But within three months she was speaking the language mainly because we avoided the American ghetto and all of our friends and acquaintances were German speakers. I give her a lot of credit for that. A lady in our church -- Frau Schaub -- took Becky under her wings and the two of them met for weekly German lessons throughout our stay in Basel. Becky got so good at German that years later she and I would use it as our "secret" language when we didn't want out kids to know what we were talking about. 

In general, I tend to understand Alemannic pretty easily most of the time. Whenever I hear it being spoken my mind always goes back to those wonderful days when B and I lived along the Rhine.

Bec and I lived a stone's throw away from St. Johanns Tor on the Rhine River.