Monday, September 24, 2007


Have you evert wondered why Switzerland writes Suisse on their sweaters instead of Schweitz when 2/3 of the population is German speaking (I should say, speaks German as a primary language)? Just me? Ok. Well in case you were secretly wondering, or are ever on some trivia-type game show, here's why.
I emailed the IIHF to ask them why this is, and they referred me to Karin Hoerhager, who works for the Swiss Ice Hockey Association. Here is what she said: "In the history of the Olympics the short form for Switzerland has always been SUI, that's why on every Swiss uniform (skiing, swimming etc.) you'll find Suisse instead of Swiss or Schweiz. I cannot tell you why exactly they chose to do that but over the years it has just become a rule."
The culture of Switzerland facinates me due to their intense multilingualism, and everyone I was told to email was really nice about sending quick and polite responses. I wish everyone were as nice as random people from Europe when you show interest in their team. I'm also pleased when I find that I can write Swiss German almost as fluently as I can speak it.


Shmee said...

Ha! I loved that you emailed the IIHF to ask.

KMS2 said...

I'm with shmee, I can't believe you emailed them! But it's cool that everyone was so responsive.

Nick in New York said...

Outstanding investigative journalism! Very interesting stuff. Nice little renaissance for Switzerland in hockey of late. Aebischer, nice showing in the Olympics...

Teebz said...

Hey, Kirsten! Got your "thank you" yesterday. Thank you for the note! That brightened my whole day up... so much so that I made mention of you in my blog entry.

Thanks again, Kirsten, and good job with the Suisse team!

Kirsten said...

It was a classic case of "ask and ye shall recieve". I'm heading to Europe in the near future and I'm thinking of picking up a random Suisse shirt while I'm there.

I was hoping they wouldn't consider it rude.

Thanks, Nick. They definitely have been getting better lately. They have some good leagues there. During the WJC all the players had green skate blades, it was really awesome.

Teebz-no problem! I'm honoured to have been mentioned! I'm also glad to know that all the thank you notes I have written over the years occasionally haven't been in vain.

Nadine said...

Kirsten, I just saw this post and I may have a little insight.

We all know that the original Olympic Games are from Greece, but the modern Olympic Games are the result of French nobleman Pierre Fredy, Baron de Coubertin, forming the International Olympic Committee (in 1894).

French is the official language of the Olympics and diplomacy.

My guess is that's how the SUI abbreviation was first used, and since French is an official Swiss language, it stuck.

Kirsten said...

Interesting. That makes a lot of sense. I had forgotten about all of that (I sleep through a lot of history classes, but I vaguely remember learning something about all of this in a French class). Good call, Nadine!