Skip to main content


Showing posts from April, 2013

A Swiss German Family Dictionary

It's the family season of the year for me. Birthday celebrations and other family gatherings somehow accumulate in the months of April and May. It's also possible that the warmer weather makes people a bit more sociable here in Switzerland. They are definitely happier!

Personally, I find it definitely nicer to sit outside in the afternoon with the family and enjoy the sun, a good steak and a cold beer than sitting cooped up in a living room and watch the rain fall outside. However, it might just as well be true that some people use their birthdays to show off their new barbecue equipment or garden furniture. I don't disapprove... :)

Anyhow, I'm using the opportunity of this family season to share with you a short dictionary of family members in Swiss German. Most of them are quite similar to the German equivalents but there are some  fun exceptions. Have a look for yourself:

Baby (baby)
Bébé (baby)
Brüeder (brother)
Brüederli (little brother)
Buschi (baby)
Chind (chil…

Baselworld 2013

Switzerland's citizens are famous for being always on time - thanks to the not less famous Swiss watches one might assume. Swiss watches have always been known for their good quality and great design. Nowadays, however, the proverbial Swiss punctuality probably has nothing to do with watches anymore. True, the iconic railway clocks are still hanging at every SBB train station but most people here don't even own a watch anymore.

Nevertheless, watches make quite a big part of Switzerland's exports and the watch industry has recently been on the way up again after a few years with low exports. The new thing, so I've heard, is luxury watches for rich Russians or Arab Sheiks. Unique watches made entirely out of gold or other precious metals. Obviously, we normal people can probably never get close to those kind of watches not to mention actually buying one.

Yet, there is hope for all watch lovers with limited budgets. Next weekend in Basel anyone interested in the world of …

A Popular Swiss First Name

I recently had a conversation with one of my friends from abroad about the popularity of my name. As it is, my name "Irene" seems to be a quite normal and fairly popular name in English speaking countries. Living in Switzerland, however, it always seemed to me a name more suitable for grandmothers than for someone my age. While growing up I even was so unhappy with my name that I  dreamed of having a more popular name like Daniela or Sabrina.
The name 'Irene' Luckily, I wasn't able to change my first name then because I started to like my name when I began to travel the world. Not only has "Irene" a beautiful meaning (it means 'peaceful') but it's also a very international name. Most western languages have their own version of it:
German: IreneEnglish: IreneFrench: IrèneItalian: IreneSpanish: IreneRussian: IrinaGreek: IriniPortuguese: Irene Obviously, the pronunciations vary a bit more than the spelling suggests. 
Now, back in Switzerland I a…

Schätzli, Schnüggel and Müüsli - Terms of Endearment in Swiss German

If you've ever been invited to the home of a Swiss couple, you are probably familiar with the most popular Swiss German term of endearment "Schätzli" (little treasure) or one of it's many varieties like e.g. "Schatz" or "Schätzeli". Obviously, this is not the only pet name used by Swiss couples (or parents for that matter). Like many other languages, Swiss German offers a wide variety of words and phrases that you can use to address your loved one.

What most of these pet names have in common is the ending "-li" which basically turns the thing or person a word refers to into something small. For example "Haus" means house and "Hüüsli" means small house. This ending "-li" can also be added to first names as a means of endearment, e.g. Benjaminli, Estherli or Fabienneli.

I tried to come up with a collection of Swiss German pet names but realized I only know a handful. However, after combing through the interne…

Sechseläuten 2013 & Swiss Weather Prophets

Posters for this year's Sechseläuten have started to flood the city of Zurich and the surroundings towns. It will take place on Monday April 15th this year with hopefully a bit more cheerful weather than what we experienced so far this year.

I wrote a post that explains the tradition of Zurich's Sechseläuten last year so I won't go into depth about it this time. Only this much: at the end of the Sechseläuten march through the inner city of Zurich the Böögg (snowman puppet) will be burned on a stake. According to popular belief, the time it takes until the Böögg's head explodes indicates how warm and long the summer will be (the faster, the hotter).

This way of "predicting" the weather is just one of many traditional (or alternative) methods of meteorology found in Switzerland. A good example for this are the Innerschwyzer Meterologen (or Muotothaler Wetterfrösch), a group of weather prophets who try to predict the weather through nature. The most known weathe…

Color the Gray Days

Please pick the correct answer: The weather in the last few weeks has been:
badvery badcrappygraynot at all spring likecoldsadawesome sunny and warm If you picked "8" then you are definitely not living in Switzerland - especially not anywhere near Zurich! :)

Honestly, I shouldn't be the one to complain about the cold and gray weather here in Zurich (I spent most of the winter months in summery New Zealand). Nevertheless, it does bother me to wake up to a gray day every morning and wait for the never coming sunshine every day. The high fog simply covers the whole sky and won't allow for a single fleck of blue sky. People around me throw me sentences like "If only the sun would shine then the cold would be bearable" or "I might get winter depression in April - odd!". I totally agree and am hoping for spring weather soon.

Meanwhile, I am trying to bring some color into this gray spring in Switzerland. I think that the lack of color and light can reall…

Switzerland Popular Expat Destination

Over the last three months I've visited 6 different countries on four different continents. I've seen other lifestyles and cultures, experienced a great variety of weather and climate, spoke several languages (or at least tried) and enjoyed different views of the night sky. I have been to some places that I honestly believe I could live in for a longer period of time but it was always nice to come back to Switzerland.

Something about the quality of life here makes Switzerland a good place to come home to. I also makes it a popular destination for expats as I've come to learn. There are quite a few expat bloggers in Switzerland sharing about their daily life and adventures.

I believe that, compared to its size, Switzerland features an unusual large number of expat blogs. There are currently 143 expats in Switzerland who registered their blog on In Europe only England, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain have more registered blogs. A similar trend can be seen on…