Thursday, January 15, 2015

Just the Franc Please

I believe this piece is the first article I have ever read that mentions the national currency of Switzerland without calling it a "Swiss Franc." Instead, it is just called the "franc."

It's about time. I have been waiting for this to happen for a while. People used to call Switzerland's currency the "Swiss Franc" to distinguish it from the French Franc, which usually was just called the "franc" unless some other franc (like the Swiss or Belgian Franc) was also mentioned. It has been 15 years since the French and Belgian francs started being phased out in favor of the Euro. Both versions of the CFA franc still exist, but everyone just calls that currency the "CFA" (pronounced "see-fa"). No one calls it a "franc" in casual conversation, at least that's what I noticed when I visited Mali in 2001. As far as I know, there is no other franc in circulation today that is called the "franc" in common parlance that is not the Swiss Franc.

How long must the Swiss Franc stand alone before everyone can start just calling it the "franc"?That is what I have been asking for years. And today I saw that it was finally happening. (And the hash tag is #francogeddon! Almost no one is using #SwissFrancogeddon)

I think the Turkish Lira is the only currency that is called a "Lira" in English that is still in use today. The Italian, Maltese, Sammarinese (that's apparently the demonym for San Marino--I just looked it up), and Vatican Liras were all replaced by the Euro and the Israeli Lira was replaced by the Shekel. But the Lira situation is a little more complicated than the Franc because the Syrian Pound and Lebanese Pound are called "Lira" in Arabic (الليرة). There is no "P" in Arabic, so the locals in Syria and Lebanon can't call their money the "pound." I have never understood why a country would give its own currency a different name for foreigners-only that is difficult to pronounce for their own people.