Thursday, May 10, 2018

Search Research Challenge (5/10/18): Swiss mysteries?

I've spent a fair bit of time in Switzerland... 

... over the past couple of years.  Partly it's because I go there for work, but part of my work last year was teaching a semester-long class in Social Computing at the University of Zürich.  

But as with any place where you're the new guy, there are certain mysteries that crop.  Here are a few that came up for me.  I figured them out, but can you figure out as these little trans-cultural mysteries as well?  (Of course, if you're Swiss, you'll have a huge advantage here..)  

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?)  

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?  

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? 

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?  

I suspect that Regular SRS readers will make short work of these questions.  But knowing how to search for these small cultural questions as they arise was a great source of comfort to me as I was navigating throughout central Europe.  Search skills don't make cultural differences vanish, but they definitely make the world more intelligible!  

Let us know how you found the answers!  

Viel Glück!  

Search on... 


  1. I know much less German than I wish I did, and #3 sounded strange to me too. But Google Translate came through! When I tried your quote, I got "Where is Hans?" but when I tried just "der" I got what I needed--I think the translation is "Where is that Hans?" And of course, in English, the question doesn't mean that you are distinguishing one Hans from another--you are a bit (or more) exasperated. Here's what Google Translate says:

    of the

    die, der, den, das
    welche, die, der, was, den, wer
    die, der, wer, welche, wen, wem
    die, das, jener, der, den, welche
    er, der, wer, derjenige

  2. 1. the milk cup - that's the scoop the dairyman or cheesemaker uses to measure milk in bulk. the hook is for hanging the measure on a rod, so that no surfaces touches another after sterilization. I searched with [equipment dairy milk measure] and found a picture here:

    2. In French it's a "croissant", in Swiss German it's a "gipfeli". I tried Google translate, but found no help, so tried a general search for [croissant in Swiss German] and choose the second result, Wikipedia " German-speaking part of Switzerland, the croissant is typically called a Gipfeli"

    3. I did a clumsy search with [in german grammar what is der before a name] and got a page of results with rather clumsy answers! Granted, it's a complicated question you ask - I choose the Quora explanation for brevity and clarity: "Why do some people use articles before people's names while speaking German? For example, “die Laura”, or “der David”. Is this grammatically correct or just common usage?
    It’s actually both. While being grammatically correct, it’s unusual in “high german”. It is very common however in southern german dialects."

    4. I had trouble finding a good search string for this. I finally used [issues in listening comprehension foreign language] and found severalinteresting results, but will share "Difficulties Listeners Face Processing a Foreign Language", the 3rd result on my page. It's a good, brief, overview of research on listening comprehension difficulties in second language learning. I'll quote here a paragraph from Chapter 2 Taxonomy of the factors affecting L2 listening difficulties:
    "Boyle (1984) began with a survey of the factors most frequently mentioned in the literature on listening comprehension, including three categories of factors. The first category referred to the listener factors, including experience in listening to the target language, general background knowledge of the world, educational background and type of school, knowledge of the target language in its various aspects, memory, powers of analysis and selection and motivation and attitude of the listener to the speaker and to the message. The second categories, the speaker factors, contain language ability of the speaker: native speaker—beginning level non-native speaker. Speaker's production: pronunciation, accent, variation, voice affect, too. Speed of delivery and prestige and personality of the speaker count. The third category, factors in the material and medium, comprise difficulty of content and concept, especially if the material is abstract, abstruse, highly specialized or technical, lengthy or poorly organized. Acoustic environment such as noise and interference and amount of support provided by gestures, visuals also have influence on listening comprehension."

  3. no. 1
    milk sampler/ dipper, stainless steel
    in NH, not CH

    no.2… was it AM or PM?
    "Znüni (at nine o’clock) is the snack break you take at nine o’clock in the morning. A sort of second breakfast, it’s a chance to down a quick coffee, read the paper, chat with a colleague or eat a sandwich or Gipfeli (as croissants are known in the German-speaking part of Switzerland). By the way, the afternoon break is called Zvieri (because it takes place at four o’clock)."
    there is a list… lost much time here
    SERP for Rustico Gipfeli
    forum - one of these? Steiner?

    no. drei not 'die' Greta

    also pertains to no. 4 -
    "Swiss Germans are incredibly proud of their own homegrown branch of German, known as Schwyzerdütsch or more simply as Dialekt.
    Impenetrable to foreigners and even to many Germans, the sing-song language of German-speaking Switzerland is actually made up of dozens of dialects with locals able to pick up in matter of seconds whether someone comes from Bern, Zurich or Graubünden."

    Alemannic German
    a dictionary

    fwiw - the Swiss have their own ways… one example…
    swiss approach

  4. 1. Milk dipper floated into my brain cell and indeed a IMAGE search proves that is what is for sampling bulk milk. THe handle is to hang it up with and make sure its hard to drop into the big milk vat

    2. IMAGE search with 'swiss croissant' added finds
    This Swiss/English forum says they are called gipfell very similar to real croissants

    3. [switzerland language that sounds like german but is not] finds lots of hits. Here is your siuation; "Sermons at our church were in Swiss-German until friends of ours asked for them to be in High German for our sake. This involves some sighing when visiting preachers are informed of the fact." It seems Swiss German is not an official language "Because it's just a name for a group of alemanic dialects spoken in Switzerland. Alemanic dialects are also spoken in France (Alsace), Austria, and the South-west of Germany."

    1. I see I missed your item 3. Forgot to start previous reply by saying that my initial attack plan was to involve my pal Hans who is of the Swiss persuasion. Sadly, for me, he has just gone back to his native land for another visit. Drat. jo

  5. I approached 1. assuming that there may be an historical reason for the ladle on the chocolate wrapper. I search using the 'book' limit. I also tried using Google translate to find an appropriate German word for the ladle (little did I know 3 was coming). Eventually, I decided I was complicating the question. I think this article was closest to what I assume is the reasoning: If it refers back to when milk was ladled out by milk peddlers, then the image plays on nostalgia and 'freshness' even though it wasn't a sanitary process.
    2. I searched [zurich bakery] to see if I could get an actual bakery in Zurich to see a menu. After a few errant selections, I found WUST Backerei. I tried the Beckonline24 thinking that meant order online. Then I selected Fruhstuck (no idea) and scrolled down to find the 'croissants'. The one pictured is called a Fit-Korngipfel according to the picture.
    3. As in Portuguese I assumed that the 'der' was an article in front of the name, which we do not use in English. I used Google translate and it suggested that it was something like 'of the', which I found confusing. So I wondered if it referred back to 'where'. But when I tried different translations to see if it meant Where is Hans from? they were different.
    4. I did a simple search for [different dialects of german in switzerland] and selected the "Swiss German" entry on Wikipedia. I assumed this was a simple answer and the Wikipedia gives the general impression that the director switched to Swiss German instead of Standard. I did not dig deeper.

    1. Jeff -- NICE work on the Victorian milk ladle. That's pretty close, and I'd count it as an interesting novel solution.

  6. 1.WHAT is going on with this cup? Why is the handle so strange? (Did Dali do this illustration for them, or what?)

    Tried [swiss cupboard] maybe instrument has a special name.
    Chuchichäschtli, Chäschüechli etc...

    [swiss cup long handle]

    [milk measurement device long handle switzerland]

    [swiss cup|jar long handle measure milk]
    SS Milk Measure Sets

    While searching for the answer found also

    Wikipedia: 1899: the company changed its name to "Aktiengesellschaft Vereinigte Berner und Züricher Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli" (United Bern and Zurich Lindt and Sprungli Chocolate Factory Ltd.
    Quora: Is Lindt chocolate considered good in Switzerland? Paulo Lorenz said:

    Top : Sprüngli, Läderach, Durig, and most handcrafted brands ;
    Good : Lindt, Cailler, Camile Bloch, Villars
    Average : Frey and most retailers brands (Migros, Coop, etc)

    I wonder if Dr. Russell prefers any of these brands or something more.

    Milk measure device

    2.What SHOULD I have called this thing that looks-like-a-croissant? When in Switzerland, what are these called?

    Started with basic question.

    [croissant name Switzerland]

    This gives answers, I think Q2 and Q4 Very interesting also, Znüni, and Abfallsackgebühr, Dr. Russell, have you seen these bags?

    There are over 200 different traditional breads in Switzerland

    Also, searched what country is CH domain and learned is Switzerland. How? [ Why Switzerland has CH as domain]

    Confoederatio Helvetica = CH Also interesting this:Schweiz, Suisse, Svizzera, Svizra, Switzerland, Suiza, Svizrija etc. are just a few transcriptions in different languages of Schwyz


    Gipfeli (as croissants are known in the German-speaking part of Switzerland).

    4. Can you explain what happened in my few minutes of non-understanding?

    Found this answer while reading for Q2. They use a dialect.


    Swiss German, Wikipedia


    They talked in dialect and that is why you didn’t understand.

    Swiss Germans are incredibly proud of their own homegrown branch of German, known as Schwyzerdütsch

  7. regarding no. 3 – nouns… can't live with them, can't live without them… n o u n
    der, die, das - used [meaning of der, die das in german language]
    "Ultimate Guide"… OK…ja, wenn du es sagst ...
    neuter: Wo ist ◻der, ◻die oder ☑ das Transsexuelle? es ist das.

  8. "So, the Lindt logo is a pretty unique logo. It's a serif script typeface which is used just beautifully along with an emblem which showcases a emblem which signifies a snake infused with a dragon. They have used a very minimal serif font as a tagline which says “Master Swiss Chocolatier since 1845”"
    Master Swiss Chocolatier Since 1845
    the dragon logo/symbol
    choco PR on fb
    Lindt in Oz…
    reddit - it's all soooo complicated
    Rodolphe history
    better than brownies?

    1. Hadn't thought about following up on the logo... but you're right. That's one odd and interesting logo. Nice...

  9. WUWT? - was just wondering… much good info shielded.
    DMR - sites/gOOgle

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