Re: Unique multilingual regions, cities, towns etc
Posted: Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:07 am
LauraBB wrote:It looks like this is an old discussion, but no one mentioned Switzerland or Moldova. I lived in Neuchâtel for four years and there are many towns on the French speaking/ Swiss German speaking division. We used to go to Biel/Bienne to see movies, because they were always in the original language.
Also in Moldova, Russian and Moldovan (Romanian) are spoken, though many people speak one or the other.
Some noteworthy places that people have mentioned in this thread for sure. I appreciate your mentioning of Neuchâtel and Biel/Bienne in particular LauraBB, since it is an area of interest for me. I often find myself distracting myself by reading up on areas of Europe, particularly French speaking areas, where I imagine myself hypothetically living. I recently read a fairly hefty amount of research into the languages of Switzerland, in particular the relationship between the French and (Swiss) German speaking regions and their populations and their evolution over the last 100 or so years. It seems, while the proportion of overall (Swiss) German speakers is increasing when looking at overall population figures and as a percentage of the Swiss population who speak the language, French is gaining ground literally.
An example is Biel/Bienne which has a higher proportion of Swiss German speakers (55% vs 40% for French), but recent figures show that more students are preferring to go to (or their parents prefer to have them educated in) French as opposed to Swiss German, thus the demographics are likely to be the reverse in coming decades. Still, I'd be almost certain than 99% of students (and this is just an assumption, but perhaps a fair one at that) in Biel/Bienne would learn the other language and be possibly very close to highly functional in both languages. There were other examples in the document I read in which small towns along the language border had entirely reversed the predominant Swiss German in the 1800s to French in the 1900s. There were a couple of exceptions of very small towns which went the other way, but not as dramatically (think a town of 50 ppl in which 26 were French speaking and 24 Swiss German in 1880 and in 1980 might have been 30 Swiss German speakers and 28 French speakers. That's not a factual real life example, but it went something like that, so it may as well be).
Neuchâtel interests me for other reasons, not so much language but more along the lines of civil liberties etc, which I won't go into here as it will raise political kinds of discussions I don't feel like raising right now. So, what was your impression of Biel/Bienne (languages spoken, other noteworthy (or not) features of the ppl and the town/city. Did you enjoy living in Neuchâtel? Is life as expensive as they say it is in Switzerland?