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Living with Languages

The Contemporary Swiss Model


Joy Charnley and Malcolm Pender

In 2002, Expo. 02 – the Swiss National Exhibition – celebrated the modern identity of the Swiss Confederation and the electorate approved a historic change in relations with other countries by voting to join the United Nations. Yet, despite bilateral agreements regulating areas of common interest between Switzerland and the European Union, there are still strong fears that Swiss identity could be jeopardised by full membership, and that, within a wider framework, her quadrilingual composition could not be sustained.
The experience which the Swiss have accumulated in dealing pragmatically and largely peacefully with different languages is detailed in the six essays of this volume. The special contemporary characteristics of German, French and Italian within Switzerland, the pressures on Romansh, the role played by Switzerland in integrating gender-neutral language into standard usage and the dominance of English as a means of communication between different language groups are amongst the topics discussed.
Contents: Renata Coray: ‘Chara Lingua de la mamma’: Romansh in Switzerland – Giuseppe Manno: Between Tradition and Innovation: French inside and outside Suisse romande – Thérèse Moreau: Writing Genders: French in Helvetia – Bruno Moretti: The Italian Language in Switzerland – Heather Murray: The Status of English in Switzerland – Felicity Rash: Language and Communication in German-speaking Switzerland.