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English names to be banned from administration

National languages and a Swiss cross are the order of the day Keystone

The Swiss cabinet has decided to outlaw the use of English-sounding names by government departments.

The administration will also receive a common logo as the government imposes a common graphic style and easy-to-understand names.

The move away from English-sounding names such as “fedpol” for the Federal Police, or “Swissmint” for the Federal Mint comes a few months after an official protest from a French-speaking member of parliament.

Social Democrat Didier Berberat wrote an open letter to cabinet ministers last June complaining that Swiss culture was too rich to ignore. He demanded that the country’s three official languages – French, German and Italian – be given priority over English.

The new rules decided by cabinet on Wednesday mean that all departments will have to ensure by the end of May that their names abide by certain rules. These names will have to be clear, logical and formulated only in the national languages.

New image

The government also wants a common logo for all departments. At the moment, the 80-odd Swiss government offices all have their own logos and graphic styles.

The cross on the Swiss flag, for example, appears in dozens of variants: the Federal Statistics Office integrates it into a graph, while the Federal Health Office shelters it under a kind of umbrella.

But some departments are not so patriotic. The Federal Roads Authority uses a symbol more reminiscent of a motorway sign; the Federal Culture Office reduces it all to a truncated “C” on a black background; and the finance ministry has adopted a map of Switzerland made up of dots.

All official documents will now have the same heading: a shield with the Swiss cross at its centre. On one side will be the wording “Swiss Confederation” in Switzerland’s four national languages – the three official ones plus Romansh – on the other, the name of the office issuing the document.

The cost of changing all the logos should be around SFr25 million, including SFr9 million for subcontractors involved in the project. Most of the money will be used for internet and software upgrades.

The government says that it hopes to save SFr7 million annually through its use of the common logo. All changes should be implemented by next year.

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With a single logo, the government wants to clarify the role of the adminstration’s different services and save money.

It also wants its employees to be more aware of working for the same administration.

It hopes the single logo will help reinforce collaboration between departments.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR