English becomes a dirty word in Neuchâtel

by Malcolm Curtis|The Local, Switzerland|January 18, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-01-19 at 9.54.33 AMThe government of the French-speaking canton of Neuchâtel wants merchants to stop using the English word “sale” for their annual price reduction campaigns.

The word is commonly used in Neuchâtel stores, instead of the French “soldes”, although in French sale literally means “dirty”.

The cantonal government has submitted legislation to the Neuchâtel parliament that would require merchants to use the French word “soldes” for its sales.

The English word is “an insult to the French language and deserves to be banned,” the government said in a statement.

“We are supposed to speak the best French in Neuchâtel,” Pierre Bonhôte, the head of commercial regulations for the canton, is quoting as saying by Le Matin.

Bonhôte told local media also that residents should not be left in doubt about the cleanliness of shops in the canton.

The proposal, part of an overhaul of commercial regulations proposed by the government, faces headwinds because the word “sale” is commonly used by retailers across Switzerland, particularly in German-speaking Switzerland.

National advertising campaigns for chain stores, often determined in Zurich, often favour English as a way to avoid translating words and phrases into Switzerland’s three official languages — German, French and Italian.

So Neuchâtel risks making an exception to the rule.

However, the cantonal government said forcing the use of the word soldes is only “modest hindrance” to business freedom.

To read the full article, check TheLocal.ch

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About Malcolm Curtis

Freelance English-language communications professional (writing, editing, translations) based near Geneva, Switzerland. Let me know if I can help you.
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