Geesh, have any of ya'll ever BEEN to Switzerland? I have.
In fact I have been working and living in Europe for almost 15 years .. where my job sends me to about 12 European countries for work and yes, even when people 'speak English' GOOD GRIEF do they misunderstand what you are saying and ... you misunderstand what they are saying.
I remember when I first moved here and I would come home from work and ask my bf 'Hi, how are yoü doing?' and he would turn up his face and shrug. I thought that was odd.That went on for a while.. until one day he got mad and said 'What does it matter how_I_am_doing_my_things'. Why do you want to know how I do things! All mad at me.. Ahhhh.
So then I had to explain 'How are you doing' is just an expression .. like 'Good Day'. But he was getting upset that I kept asking him how_he_was_doing ...he thought ..his things.
I used to come home flop down on the sofa and say 'I'M POOPED!" That used to make him wince too .. until he asked why I keep talking about my private toliet issues when I sit on the couch! So then I had to explain that the expression 'I'M POOPED' just means .. I am tired.
Now these are smallll language gaps .. but I have had a lot of them.
Ah .... I went to buy some flowers and I said 'I want those'. The lady says 'Oh these are EXPENSIVE' with a shocked look. I was so pi**** .. because I said I want them anyway .. and then she looked offended and rang me up. That has happened in several stores for a while ... used to p*** me off.
Then one day I was shopping with a friend and it happened to her! I said - 'WHY DO these people act like what you want is EXPENSIVE like that ... as if you can't afford it!"
She explained .. oh that's because the Dutch are cheap and they think it's important they tell to so you can watch what you spend - so they try to warn you!
Ahhh so from that point on - when I pick out something and someone says 'Oh this is too expensive!' I don't take offense anymore. I just say something like 'Oh I realize it's very expensive but I want to treat myself today.' Then they smile and say .. that is good for you and we start talking about how women never treat themselves etc so then it is a nice exchange. But I don't take offenense anymore because see they were not trying to put me down.
This kind of stuff happens soooo much so now I am very careful how I use my English and I try to understand what people are saying to me BEHIND the words .. because in my experience people are not putting you down. They are just expressing themselves in English but the nuances etc can make it seem like an insult if you are Black and from America where people DO PURPOSELY say mean things because you are Black.
I am NOT SAYING this what happened to Oprah while she was in that store because I was not there!!
What I AM saying is that ... using English to people that are not native English speakers DOES indeed cause a lot of misunderstandings! You just have to be exposed enough to other cultures to REALIZE this so then you use your words carefully and watch their faces carefully when they speak English so that you understand and don't take things the wrong way. If what they say sounds odd/rude .. I repeat it back try to clarify ... then they will come back and say it a little differentt and so forth.
You really have to watch people's faces and expression to understand what they are trying to say - even in English.
btw- 99% of Swiss TV is not American/English speaking at all .... so I doubt if the average Swiss person would know who she is.