Isch do no frei?

Train inside
“Is this [seat] still free?” This is a very popular question in Swiss German, the German language spoken in Switzerland (by the way, one of the various versions…depending on the region). Common and legitimate question to know whether a seat is available or not. Where would you normally ask such question? I can think of cinemas, theatres, classical music concerts, i.e. places where you go to enjoy some hours of fun and relax. If I had to ask this question in Swiss German, like the Swiss, then this is the perfect question to ask on the trains! Whenever the Swiss seek for a free seat and see a tempting one available, they don’t dare to sit yet. Before doing it, they always ask the “famous question”! Who do they think I am waiting for if the seat next to me is free? I am not at the cinema, waiting for someone to enjoy the movie with me! I just hopped on a train to go home or somewhere else. Although this is the “train” most asked question in Switzerland, it’s for sure a rhetoric question. I never heard someone replying “No, this seat is not free!”. Such a reply would probably make the perfectly congested Swiss railway system collapse. Such a reply would make lots of passengers panic, being deprived from one of their vital certainties: the spoken permission to sit on a public free seat!

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