Language Policies, Intercultural Antagonisms and Dialogue
Edited By Kamal Salhi
Joy Charnley - Le point de vue suisse romand: the French Language in Switzerland 187
Joy CHARNLEY Le point de vue suisse romand: The French Language in Switzerland It is often said jokingly that 'les Suisses s'entendent parce qu'ils ne se comprennent pas', and it is indeed the case that communication between the country's various language groups is not as good as many outside Switzerland may believe. Thus, commentators have remarked gloomily that 'les communautes linguistiques n 'ont guere vecu ensemble. Elles se sont developpees parallelement, mais sans entretenir beaucoup de con- tacts,' 1 and that the peace that reigns between Switzerland's linguistic groups is 'basee davantage sur l'indifference que sur l'echange' .2 One of the factors militating against better communication is quite simply that 'le pur bilinguisme ou le trilinguisme est beaucoup moins frequent en Suisse que l'etranger n'est enclin ale supposer.' 3 This, combined with the historical tendency for French speakers to look towards Paris, while Italian speakers look to Milan and German speakers to their northern neighbour, has meant that on the whole these cultures do not face one another; rather they 'stand back to back looking towards the outside.' 4 Some have taken this lack of linguistic unity as an indication that it is impossible for Switzerland to ever constitute a country, a view controver- sially expressed by Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz in 1937 when he claimed that 'c'est une accablante entreprise que d'expliquer un peuple, surtout quand il n'existe pas. Mais comment voulez-vous qu'il existat puisque Rene Knusel. Les minorites ethnolinguistiques autochtones a territoire: l'exemple du cas heh·erique (Lausanne: Payot....
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