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"Kann ich machen ein besichtigungstermin?" automatically receives a response in English because the other party has figured out the one asking the question is not a German speaker.

What is the correct way to ask for an appointment to view an apartment for rent in high German and comparatively in Swiss German?

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    Step 1, correct grammar and word order: "Kann ich einen Besichtigungstermin machen?" - better "Können wir (oder: Kann ich mit Ihnen) einen B. vereinbaren?" , or simpler "Kann ich die Wohnung besichtigen?" Feb 23 at 1:20
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    ...and orthography: nouns like Besichtigungstermin are capitalised. Feb 23 at 7:20
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    I guess it receives English answers because it pretty obviously seems that you used English sentence structure and translated every word one-to-one to German. That almost never works since sentence structure and word order are completely different in German. Plus, you need to inflect words like ein-en (Besichtigungstermin). Feb 23 at 7:24
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    I just wanted to point out, since I'm always getting dinged for answering in the comments, that people are answering in the comments here more egregiously than I've ever done. Also, how is this different than a "Please check my translation" request? I thought those were off-topic here.
    – RDBury
    Feb 23 at 11:55
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    @RDBury There seems to be a weird consensus that answering in comments is fine if the question doesn't warrant a proper answer.
    – David Vogt
    Feb 23 at 12:59
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You would ask to view the apartment with something like:

Ich würde gerne einen Besichtigungstermin vereinbaren.
Ist es möglich, dass ich mir die Wohnung einmal anschaue?

There is a wide variety of possibilities, depending on the grammatical context of the sentence and what else you want to communicate on a pragmatic level (e.g. correctness, friendliness, social skills, high income, etc.). As a non-naive speaker I would not worry about this aspect of language and explain that German is not your mother tongue.

I wouldn't attempt to communicate in a dialect such as Swiss German. Many dialects are quite different from Standard German and almost unintelligible for native German speakers unfamiliar with them. Standard High German was invented as a lingua franca for speakers of different German dialects, and all Swiss speakers understand and speak Standard German.

That said, a Swiss person might say something like: "Chan i d'Wohnig ahluëge?" If you don't know how to pronounce that, you shouldn't use it. Also, dialects aren't usually written (in fact I made up the spelling, as there is no normative orthography) and never used in formal writing, so as an applicant for an apartment you wouldn't use it even if you were Swiss.

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This might sound snarky, but I don't mean it that way. The pragmatic way to proceed in 2021 in that situation honestly is to use an electronic translator:

  1. You write out the whole question (or a whole letter) in your language.
  2. You go to translate.google.com or, even better, deepl.com, enter the whole thing (as opposed to single words), and ask for a translation to German.
  3. You'll get an answer that in many cases is perfect, in some cases it's only pretty good, and very seldomly it's hilariously wrong. It will in almost all any case be better than what a language learner on a medium level can come up with, because it is based on a huge corpus of texts.
  4. Optional: If you have German or Austrian or Swiss friends (on the internet or in real life), you can ask them to proofread, which isn't a big burden with steps 1-3 done.

I mean it. It's honestly the best way to do this at this point.

Translation machines that are based on large corpora of actual native text can actually be great learning aids, too. The best way to learn a language is still to get exposed to a lot of text in that language. By analysing what DeepL thows at you, you also have a great start for further googling or asking other people for help. I do this for french, a language where I am at a low to medium level, all the time.

It cannot be the idea of a QnA site like this to translate your whole sentences for you. That is what these machines are made for. If you have more specific questions, you're welcome to ask here.

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  • Sorry, I didn't downvote, but I guess that recommending an automatic translation machine motivated those who did. But for me the whole point is that to learn a language, I'd recommend preciesely the opposite to your 1. point. It's like lerning to swim with buoyancy aid.
    – c.p.
    Feb 27 at 7:06
  • I see. I didn't actually see this as a learner's question at all, but as the question of someone who is in the difficult situation of finding an apartment in Germany. That being said, translation machines have got so much better when Google started to base them on the analysis of their huge corpora of texts that I actually think they can also be great learning tools by now. I get your point, but my suspicion is that people who downvote without commenting have some other underlying problem with technology in this area.
    – HalvarF
    Feb 27 at 7:34

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