Ian Leaf Switzerland

At the borders where two languages meet, the language does not change abruptly, it rather changes gradually. People living on the border usually grow up bilingual – this is especially true for the areas marked with strips on the map above. At school, the children have to learn a second language spoken in our country (however, there is currently a big dispute going on, whether our kids should learn English rather than German or French as a second language).

The border between the German and the French speaking part of our country is known as the “Röstigraben” (literally translated: “hashed potatoes ditch”). It stands not only for the separation of the languages, but also for the separation of the cultures and the ideologies. The lingual minorities sometimes feel out-ruled by the majority of the German speaking fellow citizen in political issues. While the French speaking Swiss tend to be more open minded, the German speaking Swiss tend to be more conservative. Again, this is a very general statement, a single individuum should not be judged simply by her or his language or origin.