Willkommen im Dreiländereck/Bienvenue au trois frontières
After meetings and some time near to some of our colleagues further north in Germany, we’ve finally made it to the place where we’ll be living. We’re now far in the southwest of Germany just 20-30 minutes from the borders of France and Switzerland. We’re so close to these borders that, yesterday, we visited a friend of ours in Switzerland, and, today, we visited a church in France.
This tripoint border with Germany, Switzerland and France (the three countries’ corner) is one of the many tripoints in Europe, but this is the only one in a major city. It is a point not only where country borders meet, but also where peoples, cultures and languages all collide. Within this region, several languages are spoken. The standard versions of French, Swiss German and German (High German) are used officially in each respective country. These are the languages you’ll find, for example, on the street signs and official documents.
But, local dialects (languages) like Alemmanic, and perhaps even a little Alsatian or some regional French dialects, are common languages local people in this region speak to each other. By this region, I mean, generally, the area within about a 65-80 Km (40-50 mile) radius from the tripoint.
Yes, there are many German dialects (languages) – not just one. And we’re not just talking local accents or a few local words. These different dialects across the country are actually not all mutually intelligible! Linguists who distinguish languages primarily by mutual intelligibility, would probably classify many of these different German dialects as separate and distinct languages. The same would apply to the French dialects as well.
This is our new home – the Dreiländereck!