• Switzerland edition
 
English becomes dirty word in Neuchâtel
Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

English becomes dirty word in Neuchâtel

Published: 18 Jan 2013 10:32 GMT+01:00
Updated: 18 Jan 2013 10:32 GMT+01:00

The word is commonly used in Neuchâtel stores, instead of the French “soldes”, although in French sale literally means “dirty”.

The cantonal government has submitted legislation to the Neuchâtel parliament that would require merchants to use the French word "soldes" for its sales.

The English word is “an insult to the French language and deserves to be banned,” the government said in a statement.

“We are supposed to speak the best French in Neuchâtel,” Pierre Bonhôte, the head of commercial regulations for the canton, is quoting as saying by Le Matin.

Bonhôte told local media also that residents should not be left in doubt about the cleanliness of shops in the canton.

The proposal, part of an overhaul of commercial regulations proposed by the government, faces headwinds because the word “sale” is commonly used by retailers across Switzerland, particularly in German-speaking Switzerland.

National advertising campaigns for chain stores, often determined in Zurich, often favour English as a way to avoid translating words and phrases into Switzerland’s three official languages — German, French and Italian.

So Neuchâtel risks making an exception to the rule.

However, the cantonal government said forcing the use of the word soldes is only “modest hindrance” to business freedom.

It suggested that it is a small price to pay for defending the use of the French language.

“Let’s hope that other cantons will follow,” Neuchâtel senator Didier Berberat, who is also president of the “Défense du français” association, told Le Matin.

Berberat said many retailers are ill at ease with the “franglais” imposed by Zurich ad agencies.

“In Suisse romande (French-speaking Switzerland) we are more sensitive to the issue,” he said.

“While in Zurich when they bump into someone at the station they often say “sorry” (in English).”

But Hervé Devanthéry, of Publicité Suisse, which represents advertising professionals, told Le Matin it was “a bit excessive” of the government to legislate such details.

He said it was up to customers and stores to decide whether to make the word disappear.

Devanthéry said the debate over the omnipresence of “franglais” in advertising in French-speaking Switzerland was monopolized by “fundamentalists”.

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

2013-01-22 12:58:44 by Rockstarbandit
After reading this article, this American girl living in Switzerland, married to a Swiss man and trying to learn German in a country that speaks several different dialects; will not be paying a visit to Neuchâtel or spending my money shopping in their stores. Pierre Bonhôte might as well pass a law banning English speaking people from setting foot in his town as he clearly can not see the value in diversity. A bit narrow minded in my opinion.
2013-01-23 09:59:39 by SwissBob
As a native English speaker I applaud this measure. American girl, you may have noticed that you live now in a multi-lingual country -- embrace it!

I cringe when I see so many shops here in Italian-speaking Ticino offering "salt" (sale in Italian) in large red letters. The French traditionally have been staunch defenders of their language and I'd expect no less from those who speak French in Switzerland. One word leads to another, then another. Where does it end?

I know that I'm being a purist; but how hard is it to remember the French word for sale -- it's an important one to learn, just as are those for thank you and good morning/day/evening! Those few words, especially "thank you" in French will take you a long way in many places but seem to be unlearnable by many of my English speaking comrades.
2013-02-24 11:12:36 by mrwhite
Could we correctly title the report in English please?

"English becomes a dirty word in Neuchâtel". not "English becomes dirty word in Neuchâtel".

Today's headlines
Zermatt ranks among top places to visit in 2015
Photo: Switzerland Tourism

Zermatt ranks among top places to visit in 2015

Swiss mountain resort Zermatt is listed among the world's top ten towns and cities to visit in 2015 by Lonely Planet, the travel guide. READ  

Swiss pedestrian safety takes turn for worse
Drivers largely responsible for upturn in pedestrian accidents: report. Photo: BFU

Swiss pedestrian safety takes turn for worse

Although Swiss streets are regarded as among the safest in the world, a pedestrian dies on average every week from motor vehicle accidents, while two are seriously injured every day, the Swiss accident prevention bureau (BFU) says. READ  

Last volume of Swiss history lexicon finished
Initial volumes of the dictionary of Swiss history (in French) next to other reference books. Photo: Ludovic Péron

Last volume of Swiss history lexicon finished

The final volume of a massive dictionary of Swiss history is set to be published at the end of the week. READ  

Federer poised for home-town glory in Basel
Federer at Swiss Indoors last year. Photo: AFP

Federer poised for home-town glory in Basel

Life couldn't be better — or more surprising — for Switzerland's Roger Federer as the 33-year-old takes aim at multiple major goals starting with a sixth title at his home Swiss Indoors tennis tournament in Basel. READ  

WHO slammed for 'slow' response to Ebola virus
Hospital doctor in Philippines checks an isolation room for Ebola patients. Photo: Ted Aljibe/AFP

WHO slammed for 'slow' response to Ebola virus

The Geneva-based World Health Organization insisted on Tuesday it would probe complaints that it had been slow to wake up to the scale of Ebola, but insisted the focus now must be on battling the epidemic. READ  

Majority back new immigration curbs: poll
Detail of poster for Ecopop proposal. Photo: ecopop.ch

Majority back new immigration curbs: poll

A majority of Swiss citizens support a proposal to limit annual net immigration to 0.2 percent of Switzerland’s population, a new survey indicates. READ  

Eritrean refugees find shelter at Swiss abbey
Eritrean refugees in front of Einsiedeln abbey. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Eritrean refugees find shelter at Swiss abbey

After a harrowing flight from autocratic Eritrea, the last place Nuguse Teklestion expected to call home was the pastoral grounds of a Swiss monastery housing a mysterious black Madonna. READ  

Celebrated Swiss portrait photographer dies
Burri at the Elysée museum last year. Photo: Elyséee Museum

Celebrated Swiss portrait photographer dies

Swiss photographer René Burri, celebrated for his portraits of Che Guevara and Pablo Picasso, died Monday in Zurich aged 81, the Magnum agency said. READ  

'Monstrous' child molester jailed 15 years
Photo: Canton of Ticino

'Monstrous' child molester jailed 15 years

A 35-year-old man who sexually abused five girls of primary school age a total of more than 900 times was sentenced to a 15-year prison term by a court in the canton of Ticino on Monday. READ  

Fourteen-year-old Swiss whiz kid enrols at uni
Bastian Eichenberger: speaks nine languages. Photo: Sandra Meyndt/University of Freiburg

Fourteen-year-old Swiss whiz kid enrols at uni

A Swiss teenager has become the youngest university student in Germany, according to media reports in Switzerland. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Eritrean asylum seekers find refuge in Swiss monastery town
National
Expat American professor disputes 'unjust' Swiss citizenship rejection
National
Sputtering eurozone drags down Swiss economic growth forecast
Features
Swiss-based English expat writer lauds immigrant 'brains and brawn'
International
Our survey: Switzerland third priciest for food and drink from back home
National
Zurich market gardener sets world 'record' for heaviest pumpkin
National
Report: Switzerland's residents richer than before economic crash
Features
Geneva lab sleuths use high tech to help art world uncover fakes
National
Father of Scot missing since early September fears Swiss trauma
National
Foreign women give birth to rising share of newborns: latest figures
National
'Giant's penis' bloom in Basel uni botanical garden bigger than ever
National
Switzerland's voters reject public health insurance proposal
National
Zooming foreign immigration continues to boost Swiss population
National
Scientific study rings alarm over wellbeing of Swiss cows with bells
National
Geneva MP seeks ban on charging for tap water in restaurants
Business & Money
Switzerland's residents top world financial wealth list: Allianz report
National
Saint Maurice abbey in Valais celebrates 1,500 years of history
National
Streaming movie video service Netflix arrives in Switzerland
National
Professional Chilean base jumper dives to death in Swiss Alps
Education
ETH Zurich remains top university in Europe: QS world rankings
National
Switzerland's housing vacancy rate jumps: new federal figures
National
Swiss football club fires team masseuse over explicit sex video
National
Geneva police arrest easyJet passenger over hand luggage row
Business & Money
Latest forecasts for Swiss economic growth turn less bullish
Sport
Formula One legend Schumacher to continue treatment at Swiss home
National
Former federal planning official calls for nine Swiss cantons
Features
The Local gets the lowdown on mushroom picking in Switzerland
National
Virgin boss Richard Branson's son rescued from peak of Matterhorn
National
Swiss President Didier Burkhalter's commute turns Twitter sensation
Features
High-tech cameras give dizzy view of Eiger's north face (VIDEO)
Politics
Baden municipal council strips 'nude selfies mayor' of duties
Business & Money
Switzerland stays atop competitiveness table for sixth year
National
Federal parliament secretary agrees to step down over nude selfies
National
Swiss residents pick Swedes as ideal European soul mates: survey
National
Zurich officials call project to move prostitutes to 'sex boxes' a success
National
Swiss gays recognized as parents of child born to surrogate mother
Health
Increase in mountain bike accidents keeps Swiss hospitals busy
National
Swiss policeman belatedly honoured for saving Jews from Holocaust
National
'Suicide tourists' to Switzerland double in three years: study
National
Swiss Post SMS scheme gets stamp of approval after pilot project
Business & Money
American tax evasion crackdown hits Swiss private banks' bottom line
Politics
Woman accuses Swiss politician in nude selfies scandal of lying
National
Villagers in Graubünden valley reject hydro plant to protect vultures
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,270
jobs available