• 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 government of the French-speaking canton of Neuchâtel wants merchants to stop using the English word “sale” for their annual price reduction campaigns.

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)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

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
Expats lace up running shoes for Swiss races
Runners take in mountain scenery in the Aletsch half marathon. Photo: Kathy Zimmerman

Expats lace up running shoes for Swiss races


From the simply beautiful to the downright barmy, Switzerland's vast array of running races are a great way for expats to integrate into the Swiss way of life, The Local's Caroline Bishop learns. READ () »

Unit sale drives rise in Novartis Q1 net profits
Photo: Sebastien Bozon/AFP

Unit sale drives rise in Novartis Q1 net profits

Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis on Thursday posted a 24-percent jump in first-quarter net profit from the same period a year earlier, driven largely by the sale of a blood transfusion diagnostics unit. READ () »

Doctor acquitted for aiding senior’s suicide
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Doctor acquitted for aiding senior’s suicide

A Neuchâtel cantonal court has overturned the conviction of a doctor found guilty of breaking the law by helping an 89-year-old man die without getting a proper diagnosis of his condition. READ () »

Vote set for ban on food trading 'speculation'
Photo: Michael Buholzer

Vote set for ban on food trading 'speculation'

The Swiss will vote on a proposal to ban speculation on agricultural commodities and food, the government said on Wednesday, announcing that organizers had gathered enough signatures to put the issue to a referendum. READ () »

Tweet exposes Iran trip by right-wing Swiss MPs
Swiss People's Party MP Luzi Stamm. Photo: Federal Parliament

Tweet exposes Iran trip by right-wing Swiss MPs

Six members of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) wanted to discreetly visit Iran without publicity last week but one of them inadvertently made the trip public in a tweet. 
 READ () »

Armadillo and crocodile meat seized at border
"Bush meat" seized by customs agents. Photo: Federal Customs Administration

Armadillo and crocodile meat seized at border

A Frenchman living in Switzerland was caught entering the country from France with unusual contraband in his suitcase: 16 kilograms of meat from exotic species native to the African jungle. READ () »

UN health agency hits back at vaccine foes
WHO headquarters in Geneva. Photo: Yann Forget

UN health agency hits back at vaccine foes

The Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO) hit back on Wednesday against vaccine deniers who claim that immunization is pointless, risky and that the body is better off fighting disease unaided. READ () »

More protection sought for Lavaux vineyards
Photo: Malcolm Curtis/The Local

More protection sought for Lavaux vineyards

Voters in the canton of Vaud are set to go to the polls for a third time next month to decide on the future of Lavaux, the celebrated vineyard region east of Lausanne. READ () »

Zurich Insurance study warns of cyber risks
Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Zurich Insurance study warns of cyber risks

Organizations must dramatically improve their response to cyber risks to avoid a new global shock on the scale of the financial crisis that rocked the world in 2008, a study from a Swiss-based insurer concludes. READ () »

Zurich inaugurates city's giant quartzite plaza
Image: Raumgleiter

Zurich inaugurates city's giant quartzite plaza

The city of Zurich inaugurated the largest plaza in Switzerland on Tuesday night after a 17.2-million-franc ($19.5-million) facelift. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Bern finds solution for Erasmus student exchange programme
National
Bern zoo faces animal cruelty charges over bear cub deaths
Society
Swiss alpine ski champion announces same-sex marriage
Features
Former industrial zone transforms into Zurich’s trendiest spot
Tech
Swiss Solar Impulse team shows off new fuel-free aircraft
International
Suspect in Liechtenstein bank CEO murder case 'likely dead'
Sponsored Article
Caveman comedy comes to Zurich in English
Society
Innovative building provides refuge for hypersensitive tenants
Tech
VIDEO: Teenage boy sends Swiss army knife into stratosphere
International
Switzerland ranks second in world for social progress: report
National
Pharrell Williams set to perform in first Montreux jazzfest concert
Sport
American wingsuit flyer dies after Bernese Oberland accident
Advertisement:
Business & Money
H&M plans hefty Swiss minimum wage for employees by 2015
International
Caterpillar accused by US senator of dodging taxes through 'Swiss plan'
International
Geneva man in Facebook page fight with Italian carmaker Ferrari
International
Schumacher’s wife pays for 'medical suite' at Swiss family mansion
International
Aborted Swiss airlines take-off injures four at London airport
International
Swiss refuse asylum request from topless protest group founder
Business & Money
British expat former banker to head Swiss finance regulator FINMA
National
Swiss honey contains harmful plastic: TV consumer affairs report
Business & Money
Luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe threatens Geneva exit over taxes
Business & Money
World's largest watch fair opens in Basel amid uncertain times
International
'Fergie' credits hikes around Verbier mountains for recent weight loss
Etoiles de Montagne
Sponsored Article
How to summer holiday up a Swiss mountain
Swissbenefits
Sponsored Article
How to avoid Switzerland’s tax haven trap
International
Switzerland's residents are the happiest in the OECD: report
Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

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

2,088
jobs available