When I lived in Basel, a city in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, I often found myself performing an involuntary field experiment in language attitudes. As likely to speak English as German in public, I was regularly confronted with strangers’ different reactions to an English-speaking person and a German-speaking person. My English-speaking me only had positive experiences: strangers who overheard me speak English with my child, for instance, would often accost me and ask, in English, where I was from. As I had no desire to share the story of my life on such an occasion, I would respond “from Australia.” My interlocutors would then usually tell me, in sometimes quite effortful English, what a wonderful country Australia was; they would ask me how I liked Basel, and they would give me tips on how to make my time in Switzerland more enjoyable.
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- 200401 applied linguistics and educational linguistics
- 200405 language in culture and society (sociolinguistics)