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Published: 6 November 2020 08:00 CET
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How to talk email, websites, social media and phone numbers in Swiss French
It's a very common experience to have to give out your phone number or email address in Switzerland, or take down the address of a website, so here's how to do this if you're in the French-speaking part of the country.
Published: 3 August 2022 12:31 CEST
The correct names for punctuation marks used to be fairly low down on any French-learner’s list, but these days they are vital whenever you need to explain an email address, website or social media account.
Likewise if you want to talk about websites, or social media posts, there are some things that you need to know.
Obviously punctuation points have their own names, and making sure you get the periods, dashes and underscores correct is vital to giving out account details.
Full stop/period . point. Pronounced pwan, this is most commonly heard for Swiss websites or email addresses which end in. ch (pronounced pwan ce ash).
If you have a site that ends in .com you say ‘com’ as a word just as you would in English – pwan com.
At symbol @ Arobase – so for example the email address [email protected] would be jean pwan dupont arobas bluewin pwan ce ash.
The following punctuation points are less common in email or web addresses, but worth knowing anyway:
Comma , virgule. In French a decimal point is indicated with a comma so two and a half would be 2,5 (deux virgule cinq)
Exclamation mark ! point d’exclamation – when you are writing in French you always leave a space between the final letter of the word and the exclamation mark – comme ça !
Question mark ? point d’interrogation – likewise, leave a space between the final character and a question mark
Brackets/parentheses ( ) parenthèse
Quotation marks « » guillemets
If you need to give your phone number out, the key thing to know is that Swiss-French people pair the numbers in a phone number when speaking.
So say your number is 079 345 6780, in French you would say zero septante-neuf, trois-cents quarante-cinq, soixante-sept, huitante (zero seventy-nine, three hundred forty-five, sixty-seven, eighty ).
Mobile numbers in Switzerland begin with 079 or 078 (zero septante-neuf or zero septante-huit).
If you want to give out your Twitter or Instagram handle, the chances are you might need to know some punctuation terms as described above.
Otherwise the good news is that a lot of English-language social media terms are used in Switzerland too.
Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have the same names in Switzerland and have entered the language in other ways too, for example you might describe your dinner as très instagrammable – ie it’s photogenic and would look good on Instagram.
On Twitter you can suivre (follow), aimer (like) or retweet (take a wild guess). You’ll often hear the English words for these terms too, though pronounced with a French accent.
There is a French translation for hashtag – it’s dièse mot, but in reality hashtag is also very widely used.
Tech is one of those areas where new concepts come along so quickly that the English terms often get embedded into everyday use before the French-speakers can think up an alternative.