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Old 29.08.2008, 11:49
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Swiss City names: German vs. French

I was on the train the other day listening to a German-speaking Swiss mom teaching her small daughter the names of the lakes in CH.... "Bodensee, Thunersee, etc"... but when she got to the lake of Geneva, she said "Lac Leman", which is the French name for the lake, instead of the German name "Genfersee"

...then I thought about it, and altho I live in the German-speaking part, I always refer to Neuchatel in the French name, and never the German name of Neuenberg (actually, the first time I heard "Neuenberg" I had no idea what they were talking about ).

I can understand cities can have different names in different languages (usually for the sake of pronunciation) but the Swiss refer to them in either or (French or German names) depending on how they feel at the moment? ...or is it more common to refer to cities in the French part by their French name, and cities in the German part by their German names?
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Old 29.08.2008, 11:56
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Re: Swiss City names: German vs. French

It would seem to me the language determines the name used. German speakers would tend to say Genf while French speakers would say Genève.

Incidentally, "Lac de Genève" is also used by the French instead of "Lac Léman", although perhaps less common.
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Old 29.08.2008, 12:01
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Re: Swiss City names: German vs. French

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...then I thought about it, and altho I live in the German-speaking part, I always refer to Neuchatel in the French name, and never the German name of Neuenberg (actually, the first time I heard "Neuenberg" I had no idea what they were talking about ).
It is Neuenburg which means the same as in French e.g. Newcastle - Neuchatel.
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Old 29.08.2008, 13:10
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Re: Swiss City names: German vs. French

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It is Neuenburg which means the same as in French e.g. Newcastle - Neuchatel.
Neuchâtel
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Old 29.08.2008, 13:15
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Re: Swiss City names: German vs. French

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Neuchâtel
I know, but I am using an English keyboard and don't bother with accents graves, egu etc...

the â gives away that there used to be an s after the a - which makes it even closer to Newcastle..

but berg and burg are quite different in German - I'd rather live in a Burg than a Berg
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Old 29.08.2008, 13:29
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Re: Swiss City names: German vs. French

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I was on the train the other day listening to a German-speaking Swiss mom teaching her small daughter the names of the lakes in CH.... "Bodensee, Thunersee, etc"... but when she got to the lake of Geneva, she said "Lac Leman", which is the French name for the lake, instead of the German name "Genfersee"

...then I thought about it, and altho I live in the German-speaking part, I always refer to Neuchatel in the French name, and never the German name of Neuenberg (actually, the first time I heard "Neuenberg" I had no idea what they were talking about ).

I can understand cities can have different names in different languages (usually for the sake of pronunciation) but the Swiss refer to them in either or (French or German names) depending on how they feel at the moment? ...or is it more common to refer to cities in the French part by their French name, and cities in the German part by their German names?
this is an interesting post...i know it was confusing when i first came here. I am not an expert but from my experience , in zurich, the german names are used ie Neuenburg, Genf, Graubunden...
And within the expat community you can obviously use the English names (though remember, Switzerland is NOT Swiss...or Sweden, or Swaziland! )
also i would never call Lac de Neuchâtel- Neuenburgersee (I heard it being used, and i thought it was a new macaroon at sprungli!)

Some names i use both ie "Biel/Bienne" as one word (i do that and so do my swiss husbands relatives) sometimes saying both the French and German names helps, when you are not sure which one the person you are talking to, is used to...
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Old 29.08.2008, 13:37
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Re: Swiss City names: German vs. French

Lucerne and Luzern are pretty interchangeable, though I hear it's often confused with Lausanne by english speakers.

I've also seen it spelt as Lozarn (with an umlaute over the a) by the locals.
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Old 29.08.2008, 13:40
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Re: Swiss City names: German vs. French

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I was on the train the other day listening to a German-speaking Swiss mom teaching her small daughter the names of the lakes in CH.... "Bodensee, Thunersee, etc"... but when she got to the lake of Geneva, she said "Lac Leman", which is the French name for the lake, instead of the German name "Genfersee"
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Incidentally, "Lac de Genève" is also used by the French instead of "Lac Léman", although perhaps less common.
I checked on Wikipedia and it's interesting to see that there doesn't seem to exist an equivalent of "Lac Léman" in German. My understanding is that the latter is the preferred version among Swiss-French people, other than those living in Geneva (especially people from Lausanne...). I remember a friend of mine from Sion once commenting on how people from Geneva pretend that the lake belongs to them... Maybe the Swiss-German mom wanted to use the "fair" non-Geneva name of the lake, and had to use the French name due to a lack of a German equivalent...
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Old 29.08.2008, 13:43
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Re: Swiss City names: German vs. French

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- I'd rather live in a Burg than a Berg
Hi

Why, what are the different meanings?

Thanks
Nats
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Old 29.08.2008, 13:48
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Re: Swiss City names: German vs. French

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Hi

Why, what are the different meanings?

Thanks
Nats
Burg = castle
Berg = mountain

Would you rather live in a castle or in a mountain?

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Old 29.08.2008, 13:53
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Re: Swiss City names: German vs. French

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Burg = castle
Berg = mountain

Would you rather live in a castle or in a mountain?

Or in Neuenberg or Neuenburg, hum ??
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Old 29.08.2008, 13:54
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Re: Swiss City names: German vs. French

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Some names i use both ie "Biel/Bienne" as one word (i do that and so do my swiss husbands relatives) sometimes saying both the French and German names helps, when you are not sure which one the person you are talking to, is used to...
Wow, Bienne is the French name for Biel? I always see "Biel-Bienne" and thought it was 2 different cities close together ...how come nobody refers to Geneve as "Genf/Geneve"? ...all these double names can be really confusing to a foreigner...

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Lucerne and Luzern are pretty interchangeable, though I hear it's often confused with Lausanne by english speakers.
A visitor once asked me if lasagna came from Lausanne...of course I said yes
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Old 29.08.2008, 14:00
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Re: Swiss City names: German vs. French

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Wow, Bienne is the French name for Biel? I always see "Biel-Bienne" and thought it was 2 different cities close together ...how come nobody refers to Geneve as "Genf/Geneve"? ...all these double names can be really confusing to a foreigner...
yep
nobody says Genf/geneve/geneva cos that would be a tongue twister..


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A visitor once asked me if lasagna came from Lausanne...of course I said yes
silly, everyone knows lasagna is from pizza hut!....;-)
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Old 29.08.2008, 14:04
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Re: Swiss City names: German vs. French

... or the Italians getting confused between Monaco (the Principaut) and Monaco (the Italian name for Munich).
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Old 29.08.2008, 14:04
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Re: Swiss City names: German vs. French

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Wow, Bienne is the French name for Biel? I always see "Biel-Bienne" and thought it was 2 different cities close together ...how come nobody refers to Geneve as "Genf/Geneve"? ...all these double names can be really confusing to a foreigner...
I think it is because Biel/Bienne is more of a dual language city than Geneva.
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Old 29.08.2008, 14:11
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Re: Swiss City names: German vs. French

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Burg = castle
Berg = mountain

Would you rather live in a castle or in a mountain?

Who would say no to having their own secret mountain lair?

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Old 29.08.2008, 14:13
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Re: Swiss City names: German vs. French

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I think it is because Biel/Bienne is more of a dual language city than Geneva.
Yep, same as Freiburg/Fribourg.
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Old 29.08.2008, 14:14
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Re: Swiss City names: German vs. French

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Who would say no to having their own secret mountain lair?

The Swiss have plenty of them, they call it their Bergfestung (mountain refuge) or Kaverne (caverns).
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Old 29.08.2008, 14:22
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Re: Swiss City names: German vs. French

Probably that is where all the Nazi gold is hidden.
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Old 29.08.2008, 14:27
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Re: Swiss City names: German vs. French

Nono, that would be very inconvenient - we have banks for that....

Though I thought we sold all that gold to the US after the war....no??

--> Sorry, totally off-topic so here's my bit... the one place I did not know wether it's two or just one town is Delémont - Delsberg.... it was waaaay past my school time until I realised that.... it can be very frustrating, not to mention if you are not aware that some towns can be found under two different names....

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Probably that is where all the Nazi gold is hidden.

Last edited by herc82; 29.08.2008 at 14:31. Reason: adding some on topic remarks...
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