To, too, and two

There are many online groups an expat can join.  There's one for everyone... hikers, writers, musicians, Barney Stinson fans (I'm considering that one), multilingual families, dads, moms, etc.  I joined a few in an attempt to get an idea of what was going on around here.  Lots of buying and selling as expats come and go and postings about local events.  Soon there is going to be a pastry throwing event for kids.  Curious?
On these sites, many questions pop up from expats looking for goods or services or trying to get a handle on what's "typical" for the newly arrived.

The last 24 hours have been consumed, on one site, by one question in particular..."Are to, too, and two homophones?"  There is no agreement and it is quite heated.  The last poster referred to it as an "ignorance bloodbath."  I watched as one post after another rolled in about the issue. After what I thought MUST surely be the last post about it, I confess to emailing the person and saying, "Amen.  I hope this is the end of that conversation."  It wasn't. More this morning. A culture clash on a linguistic level, expats struggle with learning a new culture while trying desperately to hold on to their own. We've been down that road...

It's especially hard on kids. The question being debated originally began as a discussion about children from North America having to learn British English.  Not as simple as it sounds. I've had to help Lauren on her language arts homework almost weekly as she struggled with word meanings not familiar to her, for example, the opposite of separate is...couple, mean equals stingy, yogurt is yoghurt or joghurt- in German.  My kids are going to forever be spelling confused.  It does make for some interesting discussions like, "Where does the comma go?" Try debating that in a 6th grade classroom with kids from all over the world. Makes a mess.  

Swiss schools known for their excellence, can also be very competitive is my understanding. I remember the first time I saw the kids' new school. There was a big sign with the name and then underneath it said "Swiss School". I was thinking it was more a statement about location. Nope. It was the school philosophy in two words. Our cultural clash began with what I thought was a simple question and ended with hurt feelings all the way around.  My decision was to learn to accept it, rather than challenge it. Seems to be working.

So, are they? Homophones that is? Does it really matter?  As an expat I think you bear the burden of trying to assimilate. To split hairs about the pronunciation of to, too, and two in a country that has FOUR national languages (German, Italian, French and Romansh) and embraces English while also speaking Swiss German, seems absurd.



  1. I am wondering if the German I am attempting to learn will be understood in Switzerland.....even if I learn it well. :-) Oh well I see that Tina Turner is renouncing her U S citizenship to become a Swiss citizen. She has been lived there for twenty years. I wonder if she had any problems coping with the difference in culture.
    I think our visit is going to be one of the most interesting events in my lifetime.. can't wait..I think the U S could probably benefit greatly from adapting to some of the Swiss ways. Love Pearl

  2. Of course they are homophones just like bare and bear, feet and feat, deer and dear. Don't understand why all of the discussion???

    You are a trooper! As are your kids and Hub. You have tackled this with grace, humor and a true sense of adventure. Kudos to you all! It has been a pleasure to read all of your posts both happy and sad.

    Who needs a whole jar of relish? Just chop up some pickles :-)


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