Language: Swiss-German

Asymptote Podcast: Our First Interactions with New Languages

Discover funny stories about linguistic misunderstandings in our latest podcast episode!

Before we translate with a language, we have to pick it up. In this episode of the Asymptote Podcast, learn about people’s first interactions with new languages. Discover the funny stories about linguistic misunderstandings unearthed by Podcast Editor Dominick Boyle as he stands on a bridge between two countries. Plus, hear what’s in store for the podcast this fall.

Podcast Editor and Host: Dominick Boyle

Music by Podington Bear, used under a Creative Commons License from the Free Music Archive.

Asymptote Podcast: The World of Mundartliteratur, Part 2

Language with fewer boundaries.

In this episode of the Asymptote Podcast we return to the world of Mundartliteratur in Switzerland in an exclusive interview with Pedro Lenz, one of the best known Swiss authors who writes in dialect. His engaging and immediate works of prose and poetry present life in modern Switzerland as it really is: a far cry from the idealized herders of Heidi. His 2010 novel Der Goalie bin ig has been translated out of the Bernese Swiss-German into 8 languages, including Glaswegian English, and adapted as a film.
Podcast Editor Dominick Boyle talks with Lenz about the relationship between language, sound, and story. Lenz believes that the highly deliberate but ultimately artificial way he constructs his texts paradoxically allows a work to connect to its audience with fewer boundaries. We also speak about how his work was given a new life and context when translated into Glaswegian.

All sound recorded and produced by Dominick Boyle, or available in public domain.

Asymptote Podcast: The World of Mundartliteratur

Writing in their own language.

The Swiss are known for their rules and order. Language is not exempt from this trend, except when it comes to Swiss-German in which case there are no rules and there is no order, because there is no Swiss-German. Instead, the German-speaking part of Switzerland is home to many different dialects, often referred to as distinct languages: Baseldytsch, Bärndütsch, Züritüütsch. Despite the lack of a standardized writing system, authors in Switzerland are writing the stories of modern Switzerland the way they hear them and in the language in which they live. This literature, referred to as Mundartliteratur, is a unique form of translation from the spoken to the written, as each author must create their own method for transcribing the unique sound of their “Swiss-German”. In the first of two episodes exploring MundartliteraturAsymptote Podcast Editor Dominick Boyle speaks with Professor of literature at the University of Fribourg, Ralph Müller, to provide some valuable historical context, and Swiss writer and poet Beat Sterchi who explains just why it is so important for the Swiss to write in their own language. Sterchi, a member of the collective Bern ist überall, also shares a reading, giving us a true sense of his work and the sound of his Bernese Swiss-German.

Podcast Editor and Host: Dominick Boyle

All sound recorded and produced by Dominick Boyle.