3 Swiss expressions that keep fascinating me

“Kollegin? ” one Swiss man asked, pointing his finger at my Czech friend, who was just serving him at a cash register in the kiosk at the ice rink. We both had had a deep talk in our mother tongue a few moments before he interrupted us. I wanted to answer, “No, she is not my colleague, she’s my friend.” Instead, I could only say, “Ja, sie ist auch Tschechin”.

I am still fascinated by the use of the word “Kollege/Kollegin” by the Swiss in cases where we Czechs would use terms such as friend or acquaintance. I was surprised that even the children at school don’t say they have friends from school, but they are “Schlukollege”. I remember that I myself was addressed as a “colleague” only in college.

I do not know if it is, as I wrote in the last post on friendship, that the Swiss just don’t let anyone close to each other and when they can really call a person “Freund”, a friend, it takes a long time and it wants an absolutely exceptional relationship. All the others are just “colleagues”.

“Toi toi toi”

When I first started at the Bern GP and one of my co-runners wished me “toi toi toi”, it almost struck me. Instead of realizing that he wished me luck in the race, a blue and white mobile WC booth came to mind (if you don’t know what I am talking about click here). All the more so, because before the races my digestion is not quite OK and I am terrified that I would have to use “toitoi booth” on the track during the race itself.

But the expression “toi toi toi” is used instead of superstitious habit when the actors did not wish “good luck” before the performance (because it actually brought bad luck) but rather spit three times over the shoulder.

So I am more pleased if they wish me “Guete Louf” or “Guten Lauf”.


I love this expression in a good sense. Is it something like “Seriously? Really? Certainly not! You don’t mean it, do you? Don’t tell crap!” But in Switzerland, better to say er in Bärndütsch, expressed briefly, clearly, and simply: äuä ?! (yeah, try saying it out loud 😀)

And what expressions fascinate you? Whether in your own mother tongue or the language you are learning? I look forward to your answers!

Categories: Life, Switzerland
Living abroad: On friendship
Stoos: riding the world’s steepest funicular and an easy winter walk on the Fronalpstock peak


Hana Hurábová

2 Comments. Leave new

  • Geneva:
    – ou bien? Meaning like ‘or what’ but even used in ‘How are you?’ Ça va ou bien?
    – vacances de patates (potato holiday), is the Fall break
    – il n’y a pas le feu au lac! ‘The lake is not on fire’ there is no urgency, it’s not dramatic.


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