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Introducing “Ask Jimmy”! (Part 1 – Culture by Jimmy Jackson)

Jimmy Jackson

30 January 2024

I guess most people are too shy to publicly reveal how ignorant they are about #Switzerland and all its wonders – but that’s what “Ask Jimmy” is all about: changing that ignorance to confident knowledge! I guess most people are too shy to publicly reveal how ignorant they are about #Switzerland and all its wonders – but that’s what “Ask Jimmy” is all about: changing that ignorance to confident knowledge!

Hello everyone,

I’m pleased as punch with the response to my new initiative, “Ask Jimmy” – although I’m a little surprised that almost all the questions I’ve received arrived as direct messages rather than as comments posted below my announcement on LinkedIn, for all the world to see.

These questions have to do with Switzerland’s #culture.  Here’s the very first one I got:

Dear Jimmy,

Thank goodness there is someone as intelligent and generous as you who has gained so much valuable knowledge and now wants to share it with the world.  You are a saint!

[I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea.]

Could you answer a question for me about Switzerland please: Doesn’t having four different languages make things confusing over there?  Here in Canada we only have two languages, and that’s more than enough!


Perplexed in Ottawa

Dear Perplexed,

Thanks for this excellent question, but before I answer it, I need to correct you on the number of languages here in Switzerland.  The reason you said “four” is probably because you’re counting German, French, Italian, and Romansh, right?  But if you ask me, there are seven languages there – those four, plus three bonus languages!

Regarding language no. 5: When you see German written down in Switzerland, it’s German. “Guten Tag” and “Danke schön” and all that.  But when people speak?  Yikes!  Then it becomes something else.  Depending on who’s talking to you, it might be cute and endearing, like when Dory speaks whale in that movie Norma dragged me to a few years ago.  But sometimes when people speak to you, you think you’re being threatened with bodily injury. What is this fifth language?  Swiss-German, of course!

Language no. 6 in Switzerland?  English!  It’s everywhere.  Thank God.  Just about everybody there speaks English, or gives it the old college try.  Hats off to the Swiss for using English all over the place, and especially being able to speak English so well!  If only my Latin was as fluent, but since high school it’s become a little rusty.

And language no. 7 is actually the answer to your question: When people need to cut through the linguistic barriers in Switzerland, my understanding is that they fall back on a universal Swiss language: #yodeling.

Chin up,


PS.  “Guten Tag” is transformed into “Grrrrüetsy,” and “Danke schön” comes out as “Mairsee feelmall.”  Go figure!

Here’s an interesting question:

Dear Jimmy,

What do you think is going to be the biggest challenge being an American company to get established in Switzerland? In my experience living in Switzerland since 1995, the paces are quite different. 😉


Désirée Galicher

Dear Désirée,

Speaking as an entrepreneur, CEO, and past-president of my local Rotary Club, I certainly agree with you about the crazy pace of American business life.  Why, just last year my company launched a whopping 102 different quantum products in a frenetic spasm of non-stop action – it’s exhausting just thinking about it.  But my marketing credo has always been: If you throw a lot of mud on the wall, some of it is bound to stick.  So at Jackson Quantum Ventures, we throw mud 24/7!

But what about Switzerland?  My understanding is that things there might be a little more civilized in this regard. That doesn’t mean that life is slow-paced, though. How can a country as successful as Switzerland be “slow-paced”?!  Doesn’t make sense to me.  My theory is that the Swiss get that work/life balance thing right. They work hard and work smart. Then they finish work, go home and spend a relaxing evening, yodeling with the family.  Frankly, that’s a pace I could get used to.  I just hope Norma agrees. My singing voice once gave her an ear infection.

Best regards,



Hey there Jimmy!

Thanks for launching this great new idea. I have lots of questions about Switzerland, but as an anthropologist, what interests me most is cultural traditions. Swiss folk music and dance must be fascinating.  What can you tell me about this?

Thanks for your insights,

Rodrigo, Bogotá

Dear Mr. Bogotá,

My contacts have informed me that Switzerland abounds with all kinds of cultural festivals and events, in every nook and cranny of the country.  Speaking for myself and Norma, we can’t wait to take part in them all!  Well, maybe not all, since I’ll no doubt be putting in a lot of time at the office, but Noma will attend, as she sees herself as a kind of cultural ambassadress.  As for me, I’ll have to be a little choosier, just for practical reasons.  But I can already tell you I don’t want to miss the chance to be on hand for any festival that features that Swissiest of all forms of music and culture: yodeling!

I’ll report back.

All the best,


And finally, Ms. Stéphanie Celis writes:

Hi Jimmy Jackson,

Can you please explain this photo?




Dear Stéphanie,

Yes I can.  My research tells me that this cow is the mascot of the Alpine Yodeling Federation, and flies above their headquarters in Niederbipp.



Be sure to follow me, so you can find out what the next theme will be for “#AskJimmy”!