Guests: How Spelling Errors can be Deadly

Post by Lauren

One thing I noticed on my first trip to Europe is that you need make sure to know city names in the native language. Example: when going to Venice or Florence, look for Venezia or Firenze, their Italian names.

This was amplified when we moved to Switzerland. There are 4 official languages, so you always need to know the other versions for each city so you are sure you know where you are going.

To make matters worse, many cities sound the same.

Lausanne sounds like Lucerne a little. When we have had friends come, it has been a tripping point. Wait…are we going to Lausanne or Lucerne? Or are they the same? They are both cities in Switzerland but not near each other at all.

Complicating that with the multiple language concept, Lucerne is French. It is Luzern in English, Lucerna in Italian and Lozärn in Swiss-German. If I saw Lozärn on a train board, I am willing to bet bet I would think it was just a variation of Lausanne.


This is Lausanne, not Lucerne.

In fact, in WWII, the British Air Force got confused and bombed Geneva instead of Genoa (Italy) on June 11, 1940 in three successive waves. Four Swiss people died because of the mistake and a dozen were injured. They are noted to have gotten off-position and said, “We thought it was Genoa.”

How terrible to die of a spelling error.

To our visitors, please note Geneva is Genève in French, Genf in German, Ginevra in Italian and Generva in Romansch. We don’t want you to end up in Genoa, Italy.


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