On 2018/03/10 20:26, philip chastney via Unicode wrote:

I would make the following observations on terminology in practice:

-- the newspapers in Zurich advertised courses in "Hoch Deutsch", for those who 
needed to deal with foreigners

This should probably be written 'the newspapers in Zurich advertised courses in "Hochdeutsch", for foreigners'. Hochdeutsch (Standard German) is the language used in school, and in writing, and while there may be some specialized courses for Swiss people who didn't do well throughout grade school and want to catch up, that's not what the advertisements are about.

-- in Luxemburg, the same language was referred to as Luxemburgish (or Letzeburgesch, 
which is Luxemburgish for "Luxemburgish ")
     (I forget what the Belgians called the language spoken in Ostbelgien)

-- I was assured by a Luxemburgish-speaking car mechanic, with a Swiss German 
speaking wife, that the two languages (dialects?) were practically identical, 
except for the names of some household items

I can't comment on this, because I don't remember to ever have listened to somebody speaking Letzeburgesch.

in short, there seems little point in making distinctions which cannot be 
precisely identified in practice

there appear to be significant differences between between High German and 
(what the natives call) Swiss German

there are far fewer significant differences between Swiss German and the other 
spoken Germanic languages found on the borders of Germany

In terms of linguistic analysis, that may be true. But virtually every native Swiss German speaker would draw a clear line between Swiss German (including the dialect(s) spoken in the upper Valais (Oberwallis), which are classified differently by linguists) and other varieties such as Swabian, Elsatian, Vorarlbergian, or even Letzeburgesch (which I have never seen classified as Allemannic)).

The reason for this is not so much basic linguistics, but much more a) vocabulary differences ranging from food to administrative terms, and b) the fact that people hear many different Swiss dialects on Swiss Radio and Television, while that's not the case for the dialects from outside the borders. So in practice, Swiss German can be delineated quite precisely, but more from a sociolinguistic and vocabulary perspective than from a purely evolutionary/historic linguistic perspective.

[Disclaimer: I'm not a linguist.]

Regards,   Martin.

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