Swiss Watching trivia, No 24: Surnames

August 24, 2010, 1 Comment

If your surname is Müller (and you’re reading this in Switzerland), then you belong to a not-so exclusive clan: the most common surname in the country. If you’re a Meier, Schmid, Keller or Weber, then you make it into the top five. But it’s the Müllers that rule Switzerland; they account for about 0.85% of the Swiss population, which doesn’t seem like so much: Smiths in the UK are twice that percentage. The big difference in Switzerland is a third of the country is not German-speaking and so, although Müllers are everywhere, there are far fewer in the non-German parts; just as with baby names, so with surnames – language changes everything. In French-speaking Romandie the top three are Favre, Martin and Rochat; in Italian-speaking Ticino they are Bernasconi, Bianchi and Rossi. This linguistic division is obvious in the maps above, all from a website that plots Swiss surnames by postcode. If, like me, your surname doesn’t show up (I am so not Swiss!), then this website maps surnames worldwide. Worryingly addictive.

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