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Intercultural marriages Maori at heart, Swiss by love

The growing number of multicultural marriages in Switzerland has made bi-national couples the focus of new research. A mixed New Zealand and Swiss couple share their story and a sociolinguist tells what she has learnt.

In Switzerland adult migrants often struggle with having to learn not just one, but often two new languages at once: standard German for written communication and Swiss-German for talking to people. This factor, known as ‘diglossia’ in linguistics is pretty extreme and makes adapting to a new culture particularly challenging. Kellie Goncalves, a sociolinguist at the University of Bern, has written a book - “Conversations of intercultural couples” - dedicated to this theme. The book is based on interviews with Anglophone women married to Swiss German men. One of the women she interviewed is a New Zealand ski instructor married to a Swiss mountain guide in Interlaken. (Raffaella Rossello,