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Speaking languages Should English be used when the Swiss Abroad meet?

The use of English at official meetings of Swiss expatriates is an issue regularly tabled for discussion.

At last month's session of the Swiss Abroad Council, delegates passionately argued for and against a proposal to allow English as an option. 

Supporters said English is the main language among the Swiss community outside Europe and particularly among the younger generation. 

They said it's in the interest of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroadexternal link (OSA) - representing the more than 750,000 registered Swiss living outside their home country - to include a third language besides German and French, but not the other official Swiss languages of Italian and Romansh.

However, opponents fervently defended the current policy, saying it is a matter of cultural identity, tradition and pride to stick to Swiss languages only.

When it came to a vote, opponents had the upper hand with 47 against, 22 in favour and a few abstentions. The defeated side may have taken some consolation from the fact that the margin between opponents and supporters has narrowed slightly compared with a previous vote in 2017.

For the time being, the OSA continues to offer English translations for specific cases only.

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