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Cory Booker invents Swiss language in Iowa interview

February 10, 2019

If former President Barack Obama can invent the Austrian language, then Sen. Cory Booker can invent the Swiss one.

Mr. Booker’s awkward exchange on the campaign trail with a radio reporter in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was transcribed and posted on Twitter by CNN executive producer David Galles.

Mr. Booker first mangled Spanish grammar when asking the reporter “Tu hablo espanol, Si?” When the reporter replied “No, Swiss radio,” the senator and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful fumbled his facts about the world even further in an effort to claim unsophistication in a sophisticated-sounding way.

“Swiss! Yeah, I do not speak Swiss. (Laugh) I cannot even say ‘Swiss cheese’ in Swiss,” Mr. Booker said, according to Mr. Galles’s transcription.

However, there is no such language as “Swiss.”

Switzerland has four national languages German, French, Italian and Romansh, the first being the most widely spoken.

Like with the varieties of English, there are dialect differences between the first three and the languages spoken in the nation of origin especially with German. Both Swiss Standard German and colloquial Swiss German dialects can be difficult for people in Germany to understand.

But neither any linguist nor the Swiss themselves call anything spoken in Switzerland simply “Swiss.”

There is precedent for American politicians making up languages in conversations with European media.

Mr. Obama, at a 2009 press conference in France, told an Austrian TV reporter about “wheeling and dealing” in the U.S. Senate: “I don’t know what the term is in Austrian.” There is no such named language as “Austrian” either. Like the majority of their Swiss neighbors to the west, Austrians speak German and it’s their sole official language.

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