Thursday, May 17, 2018

Answer: Swiss Mysteries

This was supposed to be a fun Challenge... 
... but perhaps it was more complex than I'd thought it would be.   

Let's go through each, one at a time... 

1.  When in Switzerland, one naturally eats a lot of chocolate.  (I certainly did.)  But as I was munching on a bar of Lindt milk chocolate, I realized that the image on the bar of chocolate made no sense to me.  WHAT is going on with this cup?  Why is the handle so strange?  (Did Dali do this illustration for them, or what?)  

If you don't know that this is called a "dipper," then it's a lot harder to figure out.  Luckily, I knew that word, and doing an Image search for: 

     [ milk dipper -constellation ] 

pretty quickly finds similar contraptions.  Note that I added in the -constellation to get rid of all the "Big Dipper" constellation images.  

And once you see these "cups with odd handles," you'll learn that they're called dippers.  

Unfortunately, I couldn't find an exact match to the white cup shown on the label... but close enough.  

By the way, I tried doing a subimage search by cropping the logo to just the cup shown, but that only found more bars of chocolate, much to my surprise. Apparently, there ARE no images of the Lindt white milk dipper cup.  (If you find one, let me know!)  

Of course, if English isn't your first language (or if you just can't think of what that word might be), remember that you can always use a reverse dictionary to help find synonyms or a word that fits your semantic notion of what you seek.  

For instance, you can use the OneLook reverse dictionary function like this: 

Here I searched for the phrase "cup used to..." (in the sense of "an X cup is used to...").  I don't know quite what X is, but as you can see, a bunch of great terms show up, most of which you can ignore safely.  (Acetabulum?  Acorn?  Agate?  Probably not.)  But when you get to dipper (number 64), you can do that search with that, and you're on your way.  

And you'll learn that the handle of the dipper is intended both to make it simple to hang onto the edge of a milk pail (or bucket), and the angle keeps it tilted away from touching possible contaminating surfaces.  

2.  One day I walked into a bakery in central Zürich and spying this delectable pastry, I ordered a croissant.  I was very surprised when the clerk said, "I'm sorry, we don't have any croissants."  But this is what I saw in the display case:  

Obviously, I successfully ordered this item. What SHOULD I have called this thing that looks-like-a-croissant?  When in Switzerland, what are these called?  
This surprised me when I first saw them in Zürich, but a quick search for: 

     [ Switzerland croissant ] 

taught me that they're called gipfeli in Switzerland, and as you probably found, there's quite a bit of back-and-forth about whether they're worse (or better) than traditional French croissants.  But then again, there's a fair bit of debate about the origins of the croissant as well.  When in Switzerland... 

3.  I understand more German than I speak, but every so often I would hear someone say something odd.  One construct I heard that seemed odd always involved people's names.  For instance, "Wo ist der Hans?"  Can you figure out why that sounds odd to me (a native English speaker), and why the word "der" is in that sentence? 

When I did this research, I knew that the word "der" is the definite article, so my first search was for: 

     [ definite article German names ] 

which took me to this fascinating article on StackExchange (which is often a very high-quality source for information about technical topics, including language).  The nice thing about the StackExchange is that you can read multiple comments with different perspectives.  This article points out that using the definite article before a proper name is a southern German-speakers convention.  It's a pattern that's clearly used in places like Bavaria, and down south into Switzerland and Austria.  

4.  Speaking of understanding German... One Saturday evening I was attending a concert at one of the local churches, which are often venue for chamber groups.  The director stood up at the beginning of the concert and started speaking in German.  "No problem," I thought, "I can understand this!"  I listened happily for a couple of minutes until suddenly, everything changed:  He was still speaking, and it sounded like German, but I couldn't understand anything!  Can you explain what happened in my few minutes of non-understanding?  

For this Challenge, I started simply with the query: 

     [ language in Switzerland sounds like German ] 

where I quickly learned about Swiss German.  I guess I'd learned about it before, but I'd never noticed it in a public forum, and read several articles--here's one from Quora--about how it really IS different than standard "High German" (Hochdeutsch).  Here's another article about the differences, but the differences are substantial, which explains why it would be unintelligible to a German-speaking neophyte like me.  

Search Lessons

1. Reading in a topic area after a simple query can often answer questions.  Although my initial query about the milk dipper didn't initially answer my question, after skimming through images to find near look-alikes, it became clear what was going on.  

2.  When searching for a difficult topic, consider the possibility that you don't have the right query terms!  In particular, remember to think about using an alternative way to say something.  Using a reverse dictionary can often give you insights into other terms.  As you saw in the above example, you can suss out other works that you can't think of by trying out phrases you think would be in a plausible definition. (That's what I did with the phrase [ "cup used to"] on OneLook's reverse dictionary.)   
Search skills don't make cultural differences vanish, but they definitely make the world more intelligible!  

Search on! 


  1. Fantastic answer and challenge as always.

    I didn't know about words: Ladle nor dipper and didn't think about searching on reverse dictionary. That is a brilliant idea. I have used it a lot since you mentioned years ago on other challenges. In Spanish, the two words are translated as cucharón.

    About the white dipper,maybe it is not white. Maybe the color is photoshopped or maybe looks white because of the color combination in the photo. Ii tried searching for package design, not luck yet.

    1. This post is about a Search Challenge I found today.

      Ricardo Blanco on Google Plus posted this: Edinson Cavani answers on Google fan questions In the clickable "photo" says: "how does it feel to play for the Uruguay national team ? watch Edinson's answer on Google"

      I asked Ricardo and he says the link was suggested by Google Now. I tried to find this and maybe some other similar interviews/answers but I can't find nothing. Not even this one. Even searched the url on Google and found zero results.

      Any of you have an idea how to find this video searching? Also, I'd like to know how to search and find more the posts "On Google" like this one FC Barcelona On Google (

    2. Ramón - is this what you were looking for? used [Edinson how does it feel to play for team uruguay] took me to the link you had…
      Edinson Cavani
      in case the tinyURL doesn't work

      hope the following is of some use…
      tried just searching national football clubs… the SERP right side information box has a number of links - each club seems set-up a little different - clicking the
      rosters brought up a carousel at the top that profiled the individual players… that seemed useful…
      clicking on the Uruguay national football team(La Celeste(The Sky Blue)), then their roster brought up the Edinson interview in the information box.
      Selección Uruguaya de Fútbol
      or like this for the France national football team
      or here, from the carousal at the top of the SERP
      FC Barcelona
      at the bottom of the right side information box goes here:
      FC Barcelona on Google

      MEX FIFA code
      MEX Roster
      used [most popular soccer player in mexico]
      just for grins

      list of FIFA member codes

      Aye, laddie

      Scottish Football Association - also links to regional teams like Wales & Ireland, etc..
      for a couple of the regulars - LMV & jonTU…

    3. Thanks Remmij!

      I will visit the links in a moment. Thanks for sharing and searching this with me.
      Enjoy Weekend!

    4. Ramón - thought this might help - maybe, maybe not…
      Edinson Cavani
      SERP image

    5. Hi Remmij! Thanks for the SERP Image.
      I tried the links and, found nothing until saw that image. I don't have Top questions answered on any of my queries. Maybe it is because location searches in Spanish, or maybe my searches are located in Mexico. I'll check on that.

      Remmij, do you know if there is a way to find all those questions answered on Google by any person? I'd like to watch questions answered by others without having to find them by "luck" or by searching people by people. Even more when top answers is not available for every people nor in every language.
      Thanks, Remmij! As always you have been a great help!
      Do you will watch World Cup? Which team you like?

    6. "Remmij, do you know if there is a way to find all those questions answered on Google by any person?"
      regrettably no — maybe Dan will shed some light?
      the 'Beautiful Game' eludes me… have watched a little World Cup in the past, but not enough to make me a fan or to have a favorite club or team.
      you might try clicking on 'videos' on the SERP… or maybe search a team/club on YouTube - not the Google Answers you are seeking, but might be interesting material
      and once YT sees what you are looking for it may offer more tailored selections…
      here's an example using Germany:
      using [uruguay national football team 2018 google Edinson Cavani]
      good luck with the search and the football…

    7. Good Morning, Remmij, Dr. Russell and everyone

      Thanks Remmij!

      After reading your links, thought a way to find starred Wikipedia articles (I was remembered of them with FIFA codes' article)

      [list of starred wikipedia articles]

      Wikipedia:Featured articles
      There are 5,322 featured articles out of 5,652,731 articles on the English Wikipedia (~0.1% are featured). Thus, about one in 1,060 of all Wikipedia articles are listed here

      Also, on my Feedly feed found this week this.
      Time Travel Switzerland that made me remember of course this Challenge and other previous made by Dr. Russell

  2. Dr. Russel, just to share with you here in SRS, this article La palabra más linda que el náhuatl le regaló al español (y otras que se usan de forma cotidiana en España y América Latina) The most beautiful word that Nahuatl language gave to Spanish Language (and others that are common in Spain and Latinamerica) Includes Peanuts, Chocolate, Quetzal and others.