For Members

REVEALED: The four 'Swiss' words you really need to know in 2023

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
REVEALED: The four 'Swiss' words you really need to know in 2023
This bank has inspired the Word of the Year in German. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

As it does each year, the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) released on Tuesday its key words for 2023 — in all four national languages.


According to ZHAW, "the Word of the Year embodies key social developments that are reflected in Swiss discourses,” the university said in a press release.

A team of researchers at ZHAW’s School of Applied Linguistics determined the choice of words based on what the population of each linguistic region is thinking and concerned about most during the year.

The selection process involves researching text databases and identifying 20 words (before narrowing them down) that have been used more frequently in the current year in each of the regions than ever before.

These are the choices they came up with:

Word of the year in German-speaking Switzerland: Monsterbank (monster bank in English)

"The floundering Credit Suisse has shaken Switzerland's self-image as a safe haven for money," ZHAW said.

After emergency meetings with the Federal Department of Finance, the Swiss National Bank and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, Credit Suisse and UBS concluded a merger agreement.

“The result is a bank that is monstrously large by Swiss standards. The relief that Credit Suisse had been saved was immediately followed by fears: Are there even more risks with this monster bank?”

French-speaking Switzerland: Décombres (rubble in English)

This may seem like an unusual choice, but as ZHAW pointed out, “‘rubble' is one of those words that appears most often in press articles [in the French language regions] in 2023.”

"The term refers both to the earthquakes which struck Syria and Turkey [in February], and to the rubble of war suffered by civilian victims all over the world."

As in Swiss-German, “rubble” also refers to the fall of Credit Suisse “and the fragility of the financial system.”


Italian-speaking Switzerland: GPT

An acronym for Generative Pre-trained Transformer, GPT “designates the era of artificial intelligence (AI),” according to ZHAW.

“GPT is revolutionising the way we interact with technology. Its ability to generate texts and multimedia content has made AI an integral part of our daily lives and presents us with enormous challenges," it added.

However, behind this cutting-edge technology, “lies a labyrinth of ethical and social issues with profound questions about transparency, accountability and impact on society."

Romansh-speaking Switzerland: Solarexpress (solar express in English)

This term describes the government programme for the increased promotion of solar energy, which the Federal Council launched this year: photovoltaic installations on Alpine peaks, including in canton Graubünden, where Romansh is spoken.

READ ALSO: How did Switzerland become a country with four languages?




Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also