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Swiss Watching: Inside the Land of Milk and Money by Diccon Bewes

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ONETHE LANDLOCKED ISLAND

Switzerland is a country with nine names, and that’s not including the English one at the start of this sentence. While it’s logical for somewhere with four national languages to have four names, two very Swiss traits make this more complicated: their love of formality and their need for consensus. The former means that there are two levels of politeness in Swiss society, with people using either first or last names; so of course the country also has its own equivalents of formal and informal names. The latter resulted in the ninth, the name that’s reduced to the letters CH on the back of Swiss cars.

Let’s start, just as the Swiss would, with formal introductions. The Swiss love nothing more than the formality of surnames. ...

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