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LIVING IN SWITZERLAND

Women in Swiss military can finally wear women’s underwear

Six months after the promise was made, women in the Swiss military no longer have to wear men's underwear.

Women in Swiss military can finally wear women's underwear
New underwear is ready for female soldiers. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

In the spring, the Swiss Army announced that it would start a test program to procure new underwear made specifically for female members of the country’s military.

Although the initial test phase was to begin on April 1st, this was no joke: Defense Minister Viola Amherd, long an advocate of boosting the presence of women in the Swiss army, has welcomed the change. 

READ MORE: Women in Swiss military no longer forced to wear men’s underwear

Only 1 percent of Swiss soldiers are female at the moment, but this announcement caught the eye of international media — both BBC in the UK and CNN in the US reported this news.

The test phase has been successfully completed and the undies are now ready for use, according to Kaj-Gunnar Sievert, spokesperson for the army’s procurement office, Armasuisse. 

The testing took several months, Sievert explained, because of “deficiencies in the cut. The area of ​​the leg cutouts needed to be adjusted. In addition, a cotton insert is incorporated into the gusset, which additionally increases the wearing comfort”.

Summer and winter underwear are being distributed to female soldiers.

Armasuisse has not provided photographs of the new models, but one soldier, Ada, is quoted in the Swiss media on Monday, describing the summer panties as “close-fitting, without legs, with a low cuff, in olive green”.

For the cold days, the army distributes a long-sleeved shirt, long underpants and an under- jacket.

In all, 200 people took part in the test, which included all ages and different figure types. So far, this military project cost taxpayers13,0000 francs, although the price will go up when (and if) more women join the armed forces.

More underwear news

At the same time as the testing of army panties started, another “underwear project” was getting off the ground — or, more accurately — in the ground.

Scientists at the University of Zurich and Agroscope, an institution which conducts environmental research, asked Switzerland’s residents to bury two pairs of cotton underwear along with six tea bags, in a field, meadow or garden. In all, 2,000 undies were to be burries.

The condition of the panties after being dug out several months later would indicate the quality of the soil  — the more decomposed the garment, the better the soil.

Before and after: Disintegration is a sign of healthy soil. Photo by University of Zurich

This news too, circulated around the world — it was published in a newspaper in New York and in an Indian province of Odisha.

READ MORE: Why Swiss scientists are asking people to bury underwear?

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LEARNING FRENCH

How to talk email, websites, social media and phone numbers in Swiss French

It's a very common experience to have to give out your phone number or email address in Switzerland, or take down the address of a website, so here's how to do this if you're in the French-speaking part of the country.

How to talk email, websites, social media and phone numbers in Swiss French

The correct names for punctuation marks used to be fairly low down on any French-learner’s list, but these days they are vital whenever you need to explain an email address, website or social media account.

Likewise if you want to talk about websites, or social media posts, there are some things that you need to know. 

Punctuation

Obviously punctuation points have their own names, and making sure you get the periods, dashes and underscores correct is vital to giving out account details. 

Full stop/period . point. Pronounced pwan, this is most commonly heard for Swiss websites or email addresses which end in. ch (pronounced pwan ce ash).

If you have a site that ends in .com you say ‘com’ as a word just as you would in English – pwan com.

At symbol @ Arobase – so for example the email address [email protected] would be jean pwan dupont arobas bluewin pwan ce ash.

Ampersand/and symbol & esperluette

Dash – tiret

Underscore _ tiret bas 

Forward slash / barre oblique

Upper case/capital lettersMajuscule (or lettre majuscule)

Lower caseminiscule

The following punctuation points are less common in email or web addresses, but worth knowing anyway:

Comma , virgule. In French a decimal point is indicated with a comma so two and a half would be 2,5 (deux virgule cinq)

Exclamation mark ! point d’exclamation – when you are writing in French you always leave a space between the final letter of the word and the exclamation mark – comme ça !

Question mark ? point d’interrogation – likewise, leave a space between the final character and a question mark 

Brackets/parentheses ( ) parenthèse

Quotation marks « » guillemets 

Numbers

If you need to give your phone number out, the key thing to know is that Swiss-French people pair the numbers in a phone number when speaking.

So say your number is 079 345 6780, in French you would say zero septante-neuf, trois-cents quarante-cinq, soixante-sept, huitante (zero seventy-nine, three hundred forty-five, sixty-seven, eighty ).

Mobile numbers in Switzerland  begin with 079 or 078 (zero septante-neuf or zero septante-huit).

Social media

If you want to give out your Twitter or Instagram handle, the chances are you might need to know some punctuation terms as described above.

Otherwise the good news is that a lot of English-language social media terms are used in Switzerland too.

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have the same names in Switzerland and have entered the language in other ways too, for example you might describe your dinner as très instagrammable – ie it’s photogenic and would look good on Instagram.

On Twitter you can suivre (follow), aimer (like) or retweet (take a wild guess). You’ll often hear the English words for these terms too, though pronounced with a French accent.

There is a French translation for hashtag – it’s dièse mot, but in reality hashtag is also very widely used.

Tech is one of those areas where new concepts come along so quickly that the English terms often get embedded into everyday use before the French-speakers can think up an alternative.

READ MORE: French-speaking Switzerland: Seven life hacks that will make you feel like a local

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