Skip to main content

How to Count With Your Hands in Switzerland

A few weeks ago, my husband bought a simple puzzle for our son here in Peru. It's a fairly easy 20 piece wooden puzzle that features the numbers 1 to 10, drawings of animals, fruit or other things to illustrate the amount the number represents, the actual word representing the number (e.g. NINE) and a pair of hands showing the number with fingers.

the puzzle
Looking at the hands and fingers, I was reminded of how I always thought it strange to observe how my American friends used their fingers to count. The way they counted simply didn't come natural to me. After all, they didn't use their thumb to signal TWO and neither for THREE!

How the Americans and Swiss Count with Their Hands

Being once again confronted with finger counting, I took the opportunity to compare the English/American way of using the fingers to my own (Swiss) way. We start with the thumb and then simply add one finger after the other until we reach the pinkie with a full five fingers. The English/American way starts with the index finger and continues to the pinkie for 'four' and only in the end adds the thumb to reach the full five finger 'five'.



Maybe I'm a unique and strange case in the way I count and for sure it isn't the most comfortable way! Number FOUR is especially uncomfortable! The English way actually makes way more sense to me but the Swiss way simply comes naturally.

Does this mean that all foreigners in Switzerland should learn to count with their fingers the Swiss way in addition to learning a local language? Probably not. I like to think that we Swiss are quite flexible when it comes to language issues even when we are quite set in our ways in other aspects.

Are there more Swiss people out there counting the numbers like me? How do you use your fingers for counting? Let me know!



© 2017 IRENE WYRSCH "A HUMOROUS GUIDE TO SWITZERLAND" ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Comments

  1. I'm pretty sure that your way is the typical Swiss and German way. Maybe even throughout more of Europe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Would be interesting to find out, no? There is certainly a cultural aspect to this!

      Delete

Post a Comment

You have something to add or would like to ask a question? I would love to hear from you!

Popular posts from this blog

A Typical Swiss Birthday Party

My son and I recently attended a birthday party here in Cocachimba, Peru. It was the birthday of one of the kids in the village and since it's such a small place, almost everyone is invited. To be honest, I don't like going to children's birthday parties - or grown up's birthday parties - because there is usually too much noise and fuss and chaos. My husband usually takes it on himself to accompany our son to these birthdays but this time he was away so I had to step in.

If you've never been to a Peruvian birthday party, let me tell you one thing: it's loud and crowded! There is dancing and food and once in a while people are trying to say something above the deafening noise of the music. I guess, if you grew up with this it's probably normal and enjoyable but for me it was way too much noise. I could see all the children's ear go deaf in my minds eyes. Argh. Probably one of those cultural differences you'll have as a foreigner.
Memories of Birthda…

How to Spot a Swiss Person

As an expat one usually spots fellow expats right away. It's not only the language or the looks of people but rather the little peculiarities of life that seem so normal at home that give us away while abroad. Obviously, it's a cliche that all people from the same place (country, city, continent) behave in the same way and I am far from making that claim. However, growing up in a certain surrounding does rub off on people's behavior and some similarities can certainly be observed.

This is also true for Swiss people. According to the Swiss stereotype, we are a clean, punctual and strictly organized people. However, there are many exceptions like my Swiss friend who is always late or my brother whose room was a total mess while growing up. Yet, although they do not fit the description of a typical Swiss person, they still have some traits that give them away as Swiss. The same is probably true for myself - if I like it or not.
10 Signs you are dealing with a Swiss Person So,…

Schätzli, Schnüggel and Müüsli - Terms of Endearment in Swiss German

If you've ever been invited to the home of a Swiss couple, you are probably familiar with the most popular Swiss German term of endearment "Schätzli" ('little treasure') or one of it's many varieties like e.g. "Schatz" or "Schätzeli". Obviously, this is not the only pet name used by Swiss couples (or parents for that matter). Like many other languages, Swiss German offers a wide variety of words and phrases that you can use to address your loved one.
Swiss German Terms of Endearment What most of these pet names have in common is the ending "-li" which basically turns the thing or person a word refers to into something small or cute. For example "Haus" means house and "Hüüsli" means small house. Plus, this ending "-li" can also be added to first names as a means of endearment, e.g. Benjaminli, Estherli or Fabienneli.

I tried to come up with a collection of Swiss German pet names but realized I only k…