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Old 17.09.2015, 23:22
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Alternative Place Names

I know that most places around Switzerland are known by various names depending on the language. e.g. Chur (De), Coira (It), Coire (Fr). Maps tend to just show one language.

A few places always seem to be shown with two languages e.g. Biel/Bienne and Murten/Morat.

Does this just apply to the towns along the Röstigraben or are there other examples?

Do local people just refer to them by the name in their local language, or both names?
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Old 17.09.2015, 23:46
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Re: Alternative Place Names

Zurigo = Zurich

Berna = Bern

Losanna = Lausanne

Lucerna = Luzern

Ginevra = Geneve

Stoccarda = Stuttgart

Monaco = Munchen

Svizzerainterna != InnerSchweiz (rather, it's ALL of the non-Italian speaking bits, including Ginevra)

etc.

Tom
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Old 18.09.2015, 00:02
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Re: Alternative Place Names

Biel/Bienne is the official name of this town.
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Old 18.09.2015, 00:55
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Re: Alternative Place Names

About 40 years ago, there was an article in a US magazine stating that Switzerland has three national languages, hence most places have different names in those three languages. The example given was Lausanne, of which the article said the German name was Luzern and the Italian name was Lugano.

A letter to the editor submitted by a Swiss expat criticized the mistake. It said that there actually are four national languages, the fourth being Romansh, and Lausanne / Luzern / Lugano in Romansh is Lugnez....
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Old 18.09.2015, 08:49
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Re: Alternative Place Names

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Biel/Bienne is the official name of this town.
That's because it's officially a bilingual town (same as Murten/Morat).

Back to the OP. All the little towns on the edge of the Bielersee between Neuchâtel and Bienne have both the French and German names on the signs at the entrance and exit of them. I have no idea how the locals refer to them.
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Old 18.09.2015, 09:01
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Re: Alternative Place Names

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Biel/Bienne is the official name of this town.
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That's because it's officially a bilingual town
..... and there was me thinking, that it was because the Flowerpot Men had chosen the town for their retirement, and was renamed in their honour.
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Old 18.09.2015, 09:37
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Re: Alternative Place Names

Fribourg is still just Fribourg, despite being a bilingual town. The station does have Fribourg/Freiburg on the platforms though.
What annoys the hell out of me though, it is called Friburg in Apple maps .
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Old 18.09.2015, 09:53
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Re: Alternative Place Names

I blame that ex-pat Napoleon. If he had learnt a modicum of German we wouldn't have two names now for far away places, like Köln & Cologne.
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Old 18.09.2015, 09:55
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Re: Alternative Place Names

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Fribourg is still just Fribourg, despite being a bilingual town. The station does have Fribourg/Freiburg on the platforms though.
What annoys the hell out of me though, it is called Friburg in Apple maps .
FRIBURG simply is the Swiss German dialect version

in full FRIBURG IM ÜECHTLAND
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Old 18.09.2015, 10:11
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Re: Alternative Place Names

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That's because it's officially a bilingual town (same as Murten/Morat).

Back to the OP. All the little towns on the edge of the Bielersee between Neuchâtel and Bienne have both the French and German names on the signs at the entrance and exit of them. I have no idea how the locals refer to them.
Here people will use Biel when speaking German and Bienne when speaking French. It's what to use when speaking English that has me confused
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Old 18.09.2015, 13:21
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Re: Alternative Place Names

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Here people will use Biel when speaking German and Bienne when speaking French. It's what to use when speaking English that has me confused
Timow suggested "Bill & Ben" or are you too young to know them on the TV?
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Old 18.09.2015, 13:32
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Re: Alternative Place Names

How does the bilingualism actually work on the ground? Do shopkeepers switch between the two languages depending on how they're addressed? Or do the different language communities just go to their own shops in their own parts of town?


I can't help imagining it as something like China Mieville's "The City and the City", with the inhabitants of Biel studiously ignoring the inhabitants of Bienne who are stood right next to them lest they be caught in breach!
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Old 18.09.2015, 13:45
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Re: Alternative Place Names

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How does the bilingualism actually work on the ground? Do shopkeepers switch between the two languages depending on how they're addressed? Or do the different language communities just go to their own shops in their own parts of town?


I can't help imagining it as something like China Mieville's "The City and the City", with the inhabitants of Biel studiously ignoring the inhabitants of Bienne who are stood right next to them lest they be caught in breach!
In Fribourg, many shops will be able to converse in both languages, unless the shopworker is foreign, in which case they invariable speak only French and their native language.


Talking of The City and the City, did you see that a TV adaptation is being planned? It could be brilliant, or it could be utter shite.
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Old 18.09.2015, 13:48
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Re: Alternative Place Names

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FRIBURG simply is the Swiss German dialect version

in full FRIBURG IM ÜECHTLAND
OK, smartypants, why is it being used for a mapping app, but they don't use "Bärn" for "Bern".

Anyway, seems to have been corrected in the iOS 9 update.
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Old 18.09.2015, 13:54
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Re: Alternative Place Names

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How does the bilingualism actually work on the ground? Do shopkeepers switch between the two languages depending on how they're addressed? Or do the different language communities just go to their own shops in their own parts of town?


I can't help imagining it as something like China Mieville's "The City and the City", with the inhabitants of Biel studiously ignoring the inhabitants of Bienne who are stood right next to them lest they be caught in breach!
It's the former in Biel/Bienne.
The vast majority of shopkeepers and cafe/restaurant workers are totally fluent in both languages and if they're not they can quickly find somebody who is.
In Hornbach the technical staff usually have a badge indicating the languages spoken as I guess their 'expertise' is easier to express in one or the other depending on which language they learnt it in.
There are both French and German speaking schools in Biel/Bienne.

Last edited by Belgianmum; 18.09.2015 at 14:13.
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Old 18.09.2015, 13:58
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Re: Alternative Place Names

Wollishofen is know as Wollyhood, amongst a small circle of locals.

Last edited by i-b-deborah; 19.09.2015 at 08:53.
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Old 18.09.2015, 13:59
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Re: Alternative Place Names

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Wollishofen is know as Wollywood, amongst a small circle of locals.
Wollywood if he could, but he can't
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Old 18.09.2015, 14:00
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Re: Alternative Place Names

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How does the bilingualism actually work on the ground? Do shopkeepers switch between the two languages depending on how they're addressed? Or do the different language communities just go to their own shops in their own parts of town?


I can't help imagining it as something like China Mieville's "The City and the City", with the inhabitants of Biel studiously ignoring the inhabitants of Bienne who are stood right next to them lest they be caught in breach!
German speakers happily and easily switch to French as required - French speakers just plead ignorance ... not difficult in most cases.

Most city officials should be bilingual, although I once had an encounter with an officer of the law, who was only able to speak French, so I kindly pointed out to him that I thought it would be beneficial that in a bilingual city (kanton) it would be a good idea to speak both languages.
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Old 18.09.2015, 14:29
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Re: Alternative Place Names

I actually find it quite amusing how some conversations can be bilingual. So maybe the customer asks something in German and the shopkeeper answers in French, so each totally understands the language of the other but only speaks in their own.

A bit like two Swiss German speakers of different dialects conversing really. Nobody would expect a Bärndütsch speaker to switch to Züritüütsch when in Zürich, so why should a French speaker?

Makes sense really.
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Old 18.09.2015, 14:59
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Re: Alternative Place Names

Shopkeepers will often greet you in one language and switch if the customers replies in the other language.

At our bilingual school's parent council each member that wants to contribute something will do so in either French or High German. If translation is needed then someone steps in.

At our boys' soccer club the coaches yell their insteuctions in both French and Swiss German depending on whom they are addressing. At the parent meeting everything was said in both languages. That was one long meeting!
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