Swiss Oddities

Odd Stories about Switzerland and the Swiss 

I love Switzerland. That said, there are numerous things that I find endearingly odd about the country, its customs, and its people. It all starts with the fact that the Swiss swiss odditiesflag is square, instead of rectangular like the majority of world flags. I find that the shape of the flag is also more than a little symbolic of its people. They tend to be very proper, very square, very inside-the-box or, in this case, inside-the-square. These pages are an attempt to pay homage to my favorite Swiss oddities, those interesting little idiosyncrasies of Switzerland as a nation and the Swiss as a people. And since I am Swiss myself, I cannot really be accused of being prejudiced or politically incorrect. These are my own personal impressions and experiences and are not meant to be all-inclusive or universally true. They certainly are not intended to offend anyone, but I think it is important that we do not to take ourselves too seriously. Enjoy!

For a very brief, seriously flawed, but humorous history of Switzerland, check out this video provided by swissinfo. And if you really think William Tell married Heidi, you need to read up on Switzerland. Here are my less factual, but more personal observations about Switzerland and its people:

How to Become a Swiss Citizen–Or Not  (October 2014)

The Country of Babel? (April 2014)

The National Anthem No One Knows (December 2013)

The Day the U.S. Bombed Switzerland (May 2013)

Split Personality (Oct. 2009)

Save the Hedgehogs! (Sept. 2009)

Linguistic Free-For-All (Sept.2009)

“Swiss Cheese” (Aug. 2009)

All That Jass (Aug. 2009)

Tü-ta-toe–Postauto (July 2009)

Which Way, Weary Traveler? (July 2009)


Another interesting resource would be 33 Dinge, die man in der Schweiz unbedingt getan haben sollte: Ein teutonischer Selbstversuch (German Edition), which is available for Kindle (in German only). Its German author, Wolfgang Koydl, tried to live his way through many of the most quintessential Swiss experiences, from yodeling to milking cows. And even though some of the things on his list are more stereotype than genuine Swiss, the book is fun to read, particularly if you have visited Switzerland before. For the record: I have NO idea how to yodel, but I DO know how to milk a cow!

2 Replies to “Swiss Oddities

  1. You may very well come to the conclusion that Swiss German is ‘easier’ than Standard German, however, I think you may have overlooked the use of the subjunctive in Swiss German which is far more frequent than in Standard!

    1. Really? Are there any studies on that? I would be interested in seeing that. Personally, being bilingual in Swiss German and German, I don’t perceive there being a significant difference in the frequency of subjunctive use. But that’s just my gut feeling. I haven’t done any research on that. Then again, subjunctive is a fairly advanced grammar concept that even many native speakers have trouble with, so a beginner language student probably isn’t too worried about it. Actually, the article was tongue-in-cheek though because what’s really difficult about Swiss German is exactly the fact that the unifying rules that you would find in Standard German are mostly absent, leaving a myriad of dialects that do all kinds of funky things.

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