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From Chile to Zanzibar: this is our English-speaking Community

Know your reader, they say. It’s the golden rule when you’re writing or translating. A rule that put my colleague Eva and me in a difficult spot. All the information we had on our readers was a number – 140,500. That’s the amount of digitec Galaxus customers who have their accounts set to English. To get an idea who was behind these accounts, we conducted a small survey back in August. We did not expect what happened next.

Sure, at digitec Galaxus we have tables and charts and marketing evaluations regarding customer numbers but all they leave us with are cold, soulless numbers. It can be hard to find the right tone of voice if you’re writing for customer 21,403. It’s a lot easier if you can envision a 34-year-old tech-savvy Canadian – let’s call her Kate – who lives in Rüschlikon with her Swiss husband and two kids.

However, conducting a survey to find out who your readers are is a slightly risky project. What if the replies were all negative or, worst case, non-existent? Eva decided to bite the bullet and flat out asked our audience who they were and what they enjoyed reading.

Calling all English-speakers: <strong>Where are you from?</strong>

Calling all English-speakers: Where are you from?

The wait

We left the survey up for about a month, hoping this would give you readers enough time to send us your feedback. After the first two weeks had passed, Eva went away on a two-week holiday. The deal we had was to look at the results upon her return. Our hopes were up. I had received a really nice e-mail from one of our English readers – and I wasn’t even the one who had written the article! Little did we know we we'd be in for a surprise.

The disappointment

Sun-kissed Eva was back so it was crunch time! She checked her inbox only to find that nobody had taken part in the survey. Zero replies. We were gutted. Was nobody reading our translations? Were readers put off by our survey format, which is not actually made for surveys but for competitions? How would our boss take it? In our existential crisis, we turned to one of our data analysts. Surely, he would be able to give us an explanation, a reason, or at least some comforting words.

The surprise

Eva turned to me wide-eyed. “He’s sent over a file,” she said uneasily. I pushed my office chair over to her desk and we both waited for the file to appear on screen. “No way!” Eva exclaimed. 500 replies! And there we were, thinking we'd receive your replies by e-mail when, in fact, our data analysts were the ones doing the magic. After wiping the grins off our faces, we were in for a second pleasant surprise. Not only did over 500 of you take part, the majority of you even made the effort to send us detailed information about yourselves. Many of you also thanking us for our work.

Wow, you’re the best!

How do you define nationality?

Before we give you the results, there’s a bit of explaining to do regarding the evaluation. What might sound like a straightforward task of adding up replies and stated countries of origin, is actually just as complex as people’s backgrounds. If you decide on giving each nationality one point, what do you do with a reply like this: “I was born in Russia, spent 18 years in Australia and now live in Basel.”

We decided to give away points as follows:

1 point for passport nationality: “I’m French but lived in the US and Iran for five years.”
--> France 1 point

0.5 points for living somewhere for 15 years or more: “I'm English but have lived in Delémont for 18 years now.”
--> UK 0.5 points, Switzerland 0.5 points

0.5 points each for nationality of parents: “My mum's Swiss and my dad’s Portuguese.”
--> 0.5 Switzerland, 0.5 Portugal

With this rudimentary point system, we hope to gain more insight into our Community. It gives us some clues about what you might be into and what you'd like to read more about. For example, if you've been living in Switzerland for over 15 years, you're more likely to be into skiing than if you'd spent all your life in Hawaii, let's say.

We are the world: top 15 nations

England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland summarised as UK

Our 10 tail lights

And last but not least – our “minorities” with one point each:

Chile, Cyprus, Fiji Islands, Lebanon, Mauritius, Middle East [sic!], Nepal, Norway, Singapore, Somalia, South Korea, Syria, Taiwan, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Zanzibar, Hell, Your mum's bedroom

We were surprised to find that we have more readers from hell and our mums’ respective bedrooms than from the beautiful country in last place with 0.5 points:


Overall, our English-speaking Community is made up of a whopping 66 different nations. Download the detailed survey results here.

Thanks a million!

Thank you all so much for reading our translations, taking part in our survey and telling us about who you are. You have brought the entire English-speaking Galaxus Community a lot closer to us and we hope to provide you with more topics you love to read about.

Didn’t take part in our survey? Feel free to tell us about yourself and your interests in the comments section below.

We look forward to hearing from the Armenian-American working in Obwalden, the Swiss wanting to sharpen his English skills and the Aussie who's excited the ski season has started.


Jessica Johnson-Ferguson, Zürich

  • Translator
Jess ist Fan von Pub Quiz, Rice Krispies und ihren beiden französischen Eseln. Sie mag Hip-Hop, aber spielt Schlagzeug in einer Rockband – ist fürsorgliche Mama, schlägt beim Boxen aber gerne drein. Die Baslerin hat Britische Wurzeln, ihr Mann ist mexikanischer Schotte und ihr Sohn nach einem ungarischen König benannt. All diese Gegensätze und Kulturen versteht sie zu kombinieren und übersetzt dabei Texte nicht wörtlich, sondern mit einer Prise Humor und ihrem eigenen Stil.

10 Kommentare

3000 / 3000 Zeichen
Es gelten die Community-Bedingungen.

User jarofjuice

I guess I’m the only Syrian!

User shadwellp

Hi Jessica, if you’re into pub quizzes have you been to the on in St Joseph’s Pub on Fabrikstrasse, Zurich. English pub quiz on the 2nd and 4th Saturday’s and I’m one of the Quiz Masters. Paul S.

User Dominik Bärlocher

I've actually been at that quiz several times. I seem to remember that I might have won it once, but memories of the night get kind of hazy the later the hour got. That said, it's one of my favourite pub quizzes in the city.

User noah.zimmermann

Digitec community meetup @St Joseph's?

User Anonymous

I was at St Joseph's a couple years ago for the quiz. Unfortunately we found it too small for groups and is more suited for regulars.

The Shamrock in Wollishofen used to be good (over a year ago) but my friends and I stopped going when there was a change in ownership that lead to bigger plates and smaller portions of food. The quiz also began to be hosted by a start up instead of the regular two guys who did it, so we kinda stopped going to that too. The Oliver Twist in Zurich has a good quiz but you need to be there at least an hour before it starts to have any chance of getting a table!f

User julesgraham

Wow! Such an international group. I love it. Having lived in Germany, Belgium and Portugal, I'm drawn to other people with eclectic former addresses.

User ioannis.evagelou

Happily surprised to see that Greece came to the 7th position! I will keep on buying from Digitec and Galaxus as for me they are the top online retailers in Switzerland, with excellent and truly friendly customer service! They are always on top of trends and things! Well-done guys and keep-up the great job - Merry Christmas to all! :-)

User lea.am

Well done! :)

User elsejack

Just shows how international Switzerland is, despite the SVP!!!

User Darkflame_11

Yeah, bring up politics. On digitec. We really need that.