Wednesday, October 29, 2008

CH does NOT stand for CHeese. Duh...

Have you ever noticed that the abbreviation for Switzerland is "CH"? Like for example, the Swiss currency is Swiss Francs, but the abbreviation is CHF. Have you noticed that? Did you ever wonder why on earth they don't use SWF or something more logical?

Ok, well, I have. I guess I have a lot more time on my hands than some. ;)

So I hunted down the answer, and to my surprise, CH does not stand for the culinary wonder of "CH"-eese. Unfortunate, I know. And not altogether illogical considering "cheese" is an English word. ;)

Actually, Switzerland, or the Swiss Confederation, in Latin was called Confoederatio Helvetica. Why? Because once upon a time, long, long ago, the area now known as Switzerland was occupied by tribes, one of the most important being the Hevtii tribe. The tribe was conquered by the Romans around 15BC and the Confoederatio Helvetica region took turns being chunked up and occupied by a plethora of groups, hence the multitude of languages spoken in Switzerland, until 1848 when the autonomous cantons of the region joined together to form a federal state and kept the name "Swiss Confederation" or Confoederatio Helvetica for historical reason.

Update: SwissGuy has a much better summary of the democratic history of Switzerland's independence... see the comments!

6 comments:

juanitatortilla said...

OH darn it. I'd really like to think it stood for CHeese. And CHocolate.

Bluefish said...

Good to know! When I was working at a rental car company I couldn't understand why 'CH' instead of 'SW'.

Thanks!

Roman said...

i thought they invented "confoederatio helvetica" because there was no space to put the four official languages on the 10 Rappen coins ;)

rösti said...

Mainly though, they couldn't decide on what Switzerland would be officially called when the country determined it's country code, as each language thought theirs was the most correct (of course)... so Latin saved the day!! Wait until you put a CH sticker on your car when you are in the USA and have to argue with strangers at gas stations, that NO, SIR, I am POSITIVE that it does NOT stand for Czechoslovakia!!....GRRR....

SwissGuy said...

Switzerlands independence actually goes back to 1291 when the first three cantons formed a pact.

These cantons already practised democracy (Switzerland, not the USA thus being the oldest country in the world with an unbroken democratic tradition).

Switzerland gained its independance in a series of battles against foreign occupants and invaders in the 14th and 15th century.

Switzerland was de-facto recognized as an independant country in 1648 (Peace of Westphalia).

1848 is just the date of the formation of the modern Swiss state.

Aeneas said...

Actually it wasn't entirely for historical reasons - that is the use of Latin was as much political as anything else as it was a 'neutral' language (this being a thorny issue especially across the Röstigraben).

 

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