St Bernard Dogs with brandy barrels, Lindt chocolate bunnies, hilltop yodeling… let’s take a closer look at the stereotypes about Swiss people and culture Europeans have. What cultural clichés are associated with being born in dear old Switzerland? What does it mean to be quintessentially Swiss?
Punctuality is highly valued in Swiss culture – which may explain their obsession with intricate wooden cuckoo clocks – so arriving late to a meeting, no matter how formal, is hardly ever acceptable!
Similar to the Germans and their cultural stereotypes (who have been previously scrutinised in the ELJ blog), the Swiss are known as extremely efficient people, although they are said to be rather friendlier than their neighbours over in Deutschland. They are accustomed to greeting fellow villagers with a warm smile and treating foreigners with courtesy. Just don´t bring up the topic of money or salaries… that´s taboo!
That is not to say that they shy away from more expensive high-quality products, however, which leads us onto the next stereotype about Swiss people…
A Dairy Paradise
That said, the Swiss strive to be as active as possible in their daily lives and most people will not let their creamy cravings ruin their figures. Whenever possible they prefer to walk or cycle to their destinations. And that´s due to yet another stereotype about Swiss people: the country´s innumerable luscious green rolling hills. So this active lifestyle makes sense – who wouldn´t want to be out frolicking in those beautiful Alpine pastures?
Yet not only do Swiss people avoid car travel to keep fit, but also because they care about the environment. In the city centre, if available, Swiss commuters will choose non-polluting modes of transport.
And you better believe they have civic pride! Chucking an empty crisp packet on the street is just not an option. Cities are clean, well designed, and structured by sharp, modern architecture.
Check out the Rolex Bridge in Geneva, for example.
The stereotype about Swiss people being linguistic whizzes rings true without a doubt, and the country boasts an impressive four official languages: French, German, Italian and Romansh. The average person you come across is likely to be trilingual!
And on top of that, most children nowadays are also taught English to a high level. As Charlemagne so elegantly put it: “To have another language is to possess a second soul.” But let´s be real, how many souls do these people need?!
Would Swiss people go as far as to yodel their order at a waiter in a restaurant? That might be stretching the stereotype a bit far. But does yodeling still exist today in Switzerland? Yes, indeed.
In terms of the history of yodeling, shepherds would perform this style of singing – characterised by alternating between the use of one´s chest and head voice – in order to round up cattle or communicate with other shepherds across hilltops.
Despite more recently having been somewhat ridiculed in cartoons or films featuring yodeling, it is coming back into fashion! In fact, in 2005, yodeling classes at the Zürich Conservatory of Music began to cause a buzz when people found out that they provided a form of stress release due to the yoga-style breath control exercises. What´s more, in 2018, the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts began to offer both a bachelor´s degree and master´s in the subject. Imagine that on your CV!
So there we are. A pretty agreeable country, all Swiss clichés considered.
So, ready to find a job and relocate? Head to our job offers page europelanguagejobs.com to kickstart your adventure.
Can´t get enough of yodeling? Check out this viral video clip of a young boy yodeling in a supermarket!
Let us know in the comments section how YOU view the Swiss!