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Eight ways to annoy your Swiss friends

If you are looking for something to do this weekend, you might consider finding ways to annoy your Swiss friends and see how they react.

You need to master the wine drinking etiquette in Switzerland. Photo by Zan on Unsplash
You need to master the wine drinking etiquette in Switzerland. Photo by Zan on Unsplash

You may want to think twice about annoying your Swiss friends, as Swiss friends are very difficult to find.

In fact, it probably took you 150 arduous steps to get Swiss friends in the first place, and it takes only eight to piss them off.

But if you are really committed to doing do, just for the fun of it, here are some ways that are sure to make many locals wonder why you were allowed into their country.

Drop in without prior notice

The Swiss are very organised, live by the clock, and tend to micromanage everything around them.

Popular lore has it that this habit is not as entrenched in Italian and French-speaking regions as it is in the Swiss-German part.

But if you want to irk people, regardless of the geographical area, drop in announced. Don’t call or send messages telling them you’re coming — just show up at their doorstep.

And if you do tell them you’re coming….arrive late. Few things irritate Swiss people more than tardiness.

READ MORE: The pleasure of punctuality’: Why are the Swiss so obsessed with being on time?

Insult their national pride

If you tell a friend they are not really ‘Swiss’, but German, French or Italian (depending on the region in which they live and the language they speak), you will annoy them terribly.

The Swiss are very patriotic and proud of their country (sometimes even to the point of arrogance) and they will not take to this remark kindly.

Make fun of their army

To tell a Swiss person their military is not a ‘real army’, is sure to piss them off.

They regard army service not only as their patriotic and civic duty, but also as a rite of passage of sorts.

True, not every country’s military has army knives, cutlery, watches, travel gear and fragrances attached to their name, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t fight if they had to.

They probably could fight if they had to. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Laugh at their language(s)

One foreigner we know told a Swiss-German friend (now an ex-friend) that his language sounds like “bastardised Dutch”.

Let it be a good lesson: making fun of someone’s native language is a definite ‘nein-nein’.

‘Just so fun to say’: Are these the best Swiss German words to learn?

On the other hand, if you learn to speak it, even imperfectly, you might just make a friend or two.

Not master the proper wine etiquette

Switzerland is a nation of wine drinkers. To Swiss people, French wines are, needless to say, inferior (as everything French is), and don’t even try to sell them on Italian or Spanish wines. They will, literally and figuratively, turn up their noses at them.

Also, if you drink with a Swiss friend, you don’t unceremoniously chug your wine down and ask for more. You have to hold your glass by the stem, look into your friend’s eyes, preferably without blinking, for at least five seconds, then clink your glasses.

Only then can you sip your wine, praising its fragrance, aroma, depth of colour, and the Swiss region it came from.

Not appreciate Aromat

The Swiss love their Aromat seasoning and there’s hardly a household that doesn’t keep it on their spice rack.

It goes on everything from boiled eggs to meat and fish, and some people even carry it with them when they eat out or go on holidays.

As a foreigner, you may not understand what all the fuss is about, but to say outright to a Swiss that Aromat tastes awful or that it shouldn’t be sprinkled on everything is almost as offensive as criticising their language and army (see above) .

Disrupt peace and quiet

If your Swiss friends are also your neighbours, you are sure to irritate them by being loud on inappropriate days and at inappropriate hours.

READ MORE: Nine ways you might be annoying your neighbours (and not realising it) in Switzerland

All apartment buildings in Switzerland have a noise ordinance in place, which bans loud noises after 10pm. You might have heard that you are not even allowed to flush your toilet after this time, but in most buildings this is not the case, unless your toilet sounds like a jackhammer.

However, loud music, TV, and other noises are strictly ‘verboten’.

And Sundays are considered rest days so your neighbours’ peace and quiet should not be disrupted by a sound of a lawn mower, hedge cutter, or nail being hammered into a wall.

Never on Sunday. Photo by Greyson Joralemon on Unsplash

Not support Swiss national football team or Roger Federer

When it comes to sports, the Swiss are firmly behind their teams and champions.

If you tell a friend you are a fan of another team or tennis player, expect to become an outcast in your social circle and maybe even the whole country.

READ MORE: ‘We don’t like France, Germany or Italy’: How linguistic diversity unites Swiss football fans

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For members


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. 


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 


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