Unique multilingual regions, cities, towns etc

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PeterMollenburg
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Re: Unique multilingual regions, cities, towns etc

Postby PeterMollenburg » 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?

Kind regards,
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Re: Unique multilingual regions, cities, towns etc

Postby Robierre » Fri Sep 07, 2018 7:58 pm

PeterMollenburg wrote: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

I spent five months in Delémont (canton de Jura) which is now 90% French speaking. According to wikipedia, in the end of the XIX century it was still 50-50% German/French speaking city. Jura is francophone and predominantly catholic, while the surrounding cantons are German speaking and protestant (except Neuchâtel, which is French speaking and protestant). The language "border" is very near, Biel/Bienne and Freiburg/Fribourg are both bilingual cities, although my impression was that French dominates there. Delémont is located 30 kilometers south of Basel, so I was also traveling very often to this city. Everyone spoke Swiss-German in Basel and my standard German wasn't helping me much. My French wasn't excellent at that time, so I was expecting to use German in the beginning. It was a big surprise when I found out that people in French speaking cantons of Switzerland aren't fluent in German. People in German speaking cantons prefer to speak Swiss German (and not Hochdeutsch, which is spoken less then French, I guess). And yes, it's expensive, but beautiful. :D
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Re: Unique multilingual regions, cities, towns etc

Postby eikona » Sun Dec 02, 2018 3:58 am

Two things.

I spent around 2 months living and working in London, and that was, albeit a multicultral city, and I was living in the East, where Asian Muslim community was the most visible, but the only language present in the public space was English.

On the other hand, a bit to the South, Brussels - seeminly only one culture, but the city is split between two languges - French-speaking and Dutch-speaking. The differences are visible for instance on signs - most names are spelled in both languages, but depending on a location, different language text is on top. And there were people telling me that some parents on purpose do not allow their kids to get bilingual, keeping in some weird allegiance to only one language.
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Re: Unique multilingual regions, cities, towns etc

Postby PeterMollenburg » Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:05 am

eikona wrote:Two things.

I spent around 2 months living and working in London, and that was, albeit a multicultral city, and I was living in the East, where Asian Muslim community was the most visible, but the only language present in the public space was English.

On the other hand, a bit to the South, Brussels - seeminly only one culture, but the city is split between two languges - French-speaking and Dutch-speaking. The differences are visible for instance on signs - most names are spelled in both languages, but depending on a location, different language text is on top. And there were people telling me that some parents on purpose do not allow their kids to get bilingual, keeping in some weird allegiance to only one language.


Thanks for sharing eikona. I certainly find the topic of languages in Belgium, and in particular, Brussels, very intriguing and interesting, that includes the history as well. How can I resist when it's my favourite two languages and often at odds with each other.
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Re: Unique multilingual regions, cities, towns etc

Postby Kraut » Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:08 pm

Here is a description of the eastern part of the old Prussian province "Regierungsbezirk Gumbinnen" round 1800.
Polish, Lithuanian and German were officially taught languages in primary school and used in church. Salzburgers, Swiss and French came as immigrants after a plague epidemic in 1709. The "kurische Stamm" were not Old Curonians, but Latvian fishermen living along the Curonian Spit (the philosopher Kant's male line is of that descent).

„In dem südlichen Teil der Provinz, dem sogenannten Masuren, wohnte ein seit Jahrhunderten eingewohnter Stamm, der zwar verdorbenes Polnisch sprach, aber durch Religion und Sitte der erklärte Gegner der Polen selbst war. In der Mitte des Regierungsbezirks lebten dagegen Litauer, Deutsche, eingewanderte Salzburger, Schweizer, Franzosen, und im nördlichen Teil ein kurischer Stamm. Alle diese hatten damals im Jahr 1796 noch jede ihre eigene Sprache und Sitten, verheirateten sich selten unter einander und lebten doch zufrieden unter einem Gesetz. Ich führe dies letztere hauptsächlich darum an, weil gegenwärtig in dem Augenblick, da ich dieses schreibe, eine Partei, freilich aus leicht zu durchschauenden Privatabsichten, es für eine Unmöglichkeit ausgeben will, daß verschiedene Volksstämme unter einem weise abgefaßten allgemeinen Landesgesetz glücklich leben und eine Provinz ohne Adel bestehen könne. Gehe hin und siehe!“

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1722 Prussian catechism with 10 commandments in German and Lithuanian
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Re: Unique multilingual regions, cities, towns etc

Postby Mline » Tue Apr 21, 2020 1:47 pm

heartlandexpat wrote:Brussels is so multilinguistic I think it's worth mentioning


I went to Brussels just for few days but it was strange, you never know what language use to talk to people and can't guess wich is their mother tongue.. We met some people and were fair certain they were wallons (french speaking begians), they had a "normal" belgian accent. But no! they were flemmish !
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Re: Unique multilingual regions, cities, towns etc

Postby alaart » Tue Aug 25, 2020 7:11 pm

In east Germany there is a minority language called Sorbian, which is not Germanic but Slavic. The cultural center of Sorbian is Bautzen, I have a friend from there who grew up with Sorbian in school and also speaks it at home. A lot of signs are bilingual etc.

That being said the language is endangered, and even in the cultural center a minority.

----------------------------------

Ogrim wrote:[...]
Regarding Alsatian, it is not extremely different from standard German, but enough to make it a challenge to understand it when spoken. Alsatian dialects are part of a dialect continuum that also covers part of Switzerland (Basel dialects) and the German state of Baden-Württemberg. I am not enough of an expert to really hear the difference between the various dialects that are called Alsatian - I have never seriously studied the language.

If you want to hear how Alsatian sounds, and get an idea of how it is used in daily life in Alsatian villages today, then I recommend this series called Hopla Trio - all episodes are on YouTube. It is not the greatest TV show on earth, but one of the few out there with a lot of Alsatian spoken. The way the people in the show mix and switch back and forth between Alsatian and French is in my view quite accurate and what happens in real life as well.



I come from the Palatinate (German: Pfalz) area in Germany, my mothers family lives exactly at the border with Alsace-Lorraine. I had no idea the dialect was like this, I only heard French when I was there. It was very interesting to listen to, and most of the non-French words are understandable for me.
Last edited by alaart on Wed Oct 14, 2020 9:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Unique multilingual regions, cities, towns etc

Postby lavengro » Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:07 am

A bit quirky, a touch of taking liberties with strict geographical accuracy and more of a multilingual tripoint than region, but submitted for your consideration, a version of the Treriksröset, an intersection of the borders of Finland, Norway and Sweden.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9v5jA7OxHw

Here is a link to a brief travelogue relating to the pinpoint multilingual intersection, some of the interesting policing jurisdictional issues that can arise (with or without Danish intrusion, and lord knows there has been some Danish intrusion over time in the world in the past - looking at you here, vikings), and also at around the 3 minute mark a brief (really really brief) Finnish language lesson - spoiler alert: banaani).
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Re: Unique multilingual regions, cities, towns etc

Postby PeterMollenburg » Thu Oct 08, 2020 10:24 pm

PeterMollenburg wrote:Llívia

It's a 12 square kilometre Spanish exclave just across the border but entirely within France (albeit only by around 4 kms apparently). For historical reasons and due to it's status as a 'town' the area was not included as part of France once the border between France and Spain had been finally settled. It was an exception. The local language is apparently Catalan, but locals reportedly speak French and Castillian as well. Intriguing indeed. There appears to be little information on the area, but I came across these two links which elaborate slightly on the situation (but not so much on the linguistic situation).

English: http://itotd.com/articles/571/llivia/

French: https://ctl1120.wordpress.com/2011/01/28/llivia-une-enclave-espagnole-dans-les-pyrenees-francaises/



Back on this topic. Over the border from the Catalan enclave Llívia (enclave inside of France) in the Catalan town of Puigcerda on the Spanish/Catalan side of the Pyrenees there a hospital with services aimed at both sides of the border and at the three cultures - French, Catalan, Castillian. The patients are predominantly Catalan, the personnel over 70% French, and from another article I read (1st link below), one of the staff was stating they start their meetings in French, then change to Catalan and end it in Castillian. They nurse in multilingual teams where possible and all staff must be fluent (advanced) in at least one of the three languages, while having a good working knowledge of the other two goes a long way. There was also a photo in the older article I found of a Spanish ambulance parked beside a French ambulance in the ambulance bay, stating that it was the only French ambulance to operate outside of French territory.

I post this as a nurse obsessed with Western European languages. Working in such a place would be a lot of fun.

https://www.actusoins.com/289863/lhopital-de-cerdagne-dela-frontieres-culturelles.html

https://www.francebleu.fr/emissions/les-docs-de-france-bleu-roussillon/roussillon/puigcerda-un-hopital-transfrontalier-au-coeur-de-la-cerdagne
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Re: Unique multilingual regions, cities, towns etc

Postby Montmorency2020 » Mon Nov 02, 2020 1:13 am

alaart wrote:In east Germany there is a minority language called Sorbian, which is not Germanic but Slavic. The cultural center of Sorbian is Bautzen, I have a friend from there who grew up with Sorbian in school and also speaks it at home. A lot of signs are bilingual etc.



Funnily enough, Bautzen came up in a family conversation today.The member of my family who now lives in the Czech Republic took a quick trip into Germany (while it was still possible, before their new lockdown), and ended up in Bautzen. Apparently it's a pretty town, but has some dark history, including 2 prison/concentration camps once used by the Nazis, and later by the Soviets, and then by the Stasi.
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