Join 3,497 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Ham and Swiss
September 27, 2010 10:11 AM   Subscribe

Swiss Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz gets the giggles while discussing cured meat imports. Becomes internet star.
posted by CunningLinguist (40 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
What a great story.
posted by Brent Parker at 10:18 AM on September 27, 2010


is there a transcript for the German-challenged?
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:21 AM on September 27, 2010


I found it funnier having no idea what he was saying, but knowing it was arcane ham regulations.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:22 AM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Ham and Swiss". heh. On wry.

Gave me a delightful gigglefit. Thanks.

Google translation:
In accordance with Note 6 to Chapter 2 of the CN, the customs administration has also called Swiss remarks published on the Customs Tariff. Thereafter, certain products still classified in Chapter 2, which has been compounded in the production of condiments, provided that the character of goods of this chapter is not changed (for example, air-dried beef). Excluded from this chapter, however, is meat that distributes the seasonings on all surfaces of the product and be seen with the naked eye
posted by nickyskye at 10:32 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


More like Ham on Wry.

It's also rare video footage of a laughing Swiss person.
posted by chavenet at 10:32 AM on September 27, 2010 [15 favorites]


arrgh. nickyskye, i owe you a Coke.
posted by chavenet at 10:33 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


LOLMEAT
posted by pyrex at 10:41 AM on September 27, 2010


Unrealistic. A german speaker laughing? I'm calling viral stunt marketing on behalf of the cured meat lobbyists.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:43 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


In case the vid gave anyone a yen for Bunderfleisch.
posted by nickyskye at 10:45 AM on September 27, 2010


To be fair, air-cured beef is pretty goddamn funny . . .

(The biggest yuk, the one that starts at 1:15, what he's saying is, ". . . zum Beispiel, Bündnerfleisch . . ." Meaning: . . . for example, a kind of Swiss Alpine air-cured beef leg . . .)
posted by gompa at 10:46 AM on September 27, 2010


Unrealistic. A german speaker laughing? I'm calling viral stunt marketing on behalf of the cured meat lobbyists.

That ain't the half of it. Swiss Germans are such legendarily stern and formal clockmaking-and-banking types the Germans poke fun at their lack of a sense of humour. I wonder if this thing took off in part because it's so rare to see a jolly Swiss person in public.
posted by gompa at 10:49 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is there some sort of wordplay to what he's saying, or is he just in a giggly mood?
posted by maus at 10:50 AM on September 27, 2010


I'm calling viral stunt marketing on behalf of the cured meat lobbyists.

Phoney baloney, huh?
posted by The World Famous at 10:51 AM on September 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


MeatFilter.

(I'm here all week ... Try the veal.)
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:56 AM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


maus: a seemingly knowledgeable commenter on the Guardian version of this said that the humour comes entirely from the juxtaposition of incredibly boring technical jargon with something as laughably banal as bundnerfleisch. An equivalent that we might understand would be:

[detailed and dryly technical legalese]... for example, chicken nuggets.
posted by The Discredited Ape at 10:57 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it air-cured?
posted by Aizkolari at 10:57 AM on September 27, 2010


Once you've gotten your mouth on them, you know smoked loins, butt steaks, and wieners are nothing to titter at.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:58 AM on September 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


I love that this happened to someone big in politics in public. I've had grad presentations once you start laughing like that, it's pretty much impossible to stop.
posted by Fizz at 11:01 AM on September 27, 2010


Laughs aside, that's a heavy Swiss accent right there.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:02 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Saltpeter. Heheh. Heheheh.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:02 AM on September 27, 2010


Oh God, this takes me back...when I was in high school I quite often broke into giggles when I got nervous. My boss would take me to task for something and I'd start laughing. I'd be in the middle of a class presentation and I'd start laughing. I'd be visiting my extremely ill grandfather in the hospital and I'd start laughing. Good lord it was embarrassing, and I'm glad I don't do it anymore.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:04 AM on September 27, 2010


Sounds to me like he's laughing because his voice is cracking. Maybe he's just got a cold.
posted by echo target at 11:05 AM on September 27, 2010


a seemingly knowledgeable commenter on the Guardian version of this said that the humour comes entirely from the juxtaposition of incredibly boring technical jargon with something as laughably banal as bundnerfleisch

This almost fits, but then why does he start cracking up so early? That first giggling fit 20 secs in, he's still citing some legal document's chapter and verse. Is it in anticipation of the air-cured-beef reference a minute later? Is he like the Jimmy Fallon of Swiss legislators, chuckling way ahead of his punchline?
posted by gompa at 11:13 AM on September 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Best German-language case of the giggles ever.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:15 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


a seemingly knowledgeable commenter on the Guardian version of this said that the humour comes entirely from the juxtaposition of incredibly boring technical jargon with something as laughably banal as bundnerfleisch

This almost fits, but then why does he start cracking up so early? That first giggling fit 20 secs in, he's still citing some legal document's chapter and verse. Is it in anticipation of the air-cured-beef reference a minute later? Is he like the Jimmy Fallon of Swiss legislators, chuckling way ahead of his punchline?
posted by gompa at 11:13 AM on September 27 [+] [!]



My federal tax course was taught my a friendly if dry, stereotypical tax-lawyer. Once, while we were neck-deep in some ultra-complicated topic, he suddenly threw his hands in the air and yelled "Can you believe grown adults spend their time thinking about this kind of crap?!" Then be broke down into laughing and couldn't stop - we took a break until he could compose itself. The law really is just ridiculous sometimes.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 11:26 AM on September 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm at work and too lazy to dig out my headphones, but watching the video without sound is pretty damn funny by itself.
posted by kmz at 11:28 AM on September 27, 2010


Oh my Gawd, at 1:14 I lost it, tears rolling down my face...
posted by Xoebe at 11:30 AM on September 27, 2010


Rachida Dati had a notable slip of the tongue recently as well.
posted by djgh at 11:33 AM on September 27, 2010


I came here to make a joke about Swiss German making me laugh, too. But on listening again, is he speaking Hochdeutsch in the Swiss Bundesrat?

(For cultural reference, Bündnerfleisch is a delicious dried meat product. An English version of the punchline might be "for example.. bologna".)
posted by Nelson at 11:34 AM on September 27, 2010


Is he like the Jimmy Fallon of Swiss legislators, chuckling way ahead of his punchline?

In sixth grade, for a book presentation on Hamlet (I was precocious, pretentious, and emo) that was recorded on video in front of the class, one of my buddies said he was going to throw a paper airplane across the camera in the middle of the "recite a quote from the book" section. So I'm getting to around the "slings and arrows" bit and I spy my friend folding a paper airplane and for no good reason I just completely lose it and collapse in giggles and laughter. In the middle of one of the most famous speeches in English, all about suicide and madness.

Eventually I was able to calm down and got a second chance to do the presentation. It got close but I was able to barely hold it together. One of the more memorable bits of middle school for me.
posted by kmz at 11:38 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nelson: "I came here to make a joke about Swiss German making me laugh, too. But on listening again, is he speaking Hochdeutsch in the Swiss Bundesrat?

I think that may be part of the problem; there are a couple of varieties of Swiss German, going further and further away from standard Hochdeutsch. For a good example you can listen to these clips from Emil Steinberger, a Swiss comedian, doing the same material in German with a Swiss accent and in Schwizerdütsch, which sometimes becomes almost incomprehensible even to a native German speaker.
If Swiss politicians are anything like their German counterparts they will try and adopt a high prestige dialectal variety when speaking officially / in public and tend to favor a regional dialect in relaxed situations or at home. That means that the boring, convoluted legalese requires concentration to maintain the High German pronunciation, and what kills him in the end are the small islands of familiar words that he knows from shopping situations where the urge to code-switch to a more familiar level of dialect becomes overwhelming.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 12:12 PM on September 27, 2010 [13 favorites]


To be fair, his replacement was just voted in, which was presumably a bit of a relief after years filled with such things as the banking issue and the Libyan hostage situation. He is *outa there*. I'd be all bubbly too, if I were him.
And yes, Hochdeutsch (albeit with a Swiss accent ... it's not that they can't speak German like Germans, it's that they can't afford to sound like Germans in Swiss politics - so it's an affectation) - Swiss German is not one of the four official languages of Switzerland.
posted by labberdasher at 12:34 PM on September 27, 2010


It looks like Merz isn't the only speaker in parliament to get a case of the giggles. She does too, President of the Confederation. Maybe somebody's piping laughing gas into that building or something good is happening to Switzerland?
posted by nickyskye at 12:36 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's awesome. And it is too funny - Bündnerfleisch!
posted by Omnomnom at 12:43 PM on September 27, 2010


Well, there is believed to be a connection between cannibalism and "the laughing sickness". Perhaps we need to find out exactly what kind of meat he's been eating.
posted by philip-random at 2:19 PM on September 27, 2010


Bündnerfleisch Grün ist Mann!
posted by kmz at 2:35 PM on September 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


this is better than those laughing baby videos. and while i was curious, it didn't matter one whit to me what he was talking about.
posted by msconduct at 2:36 PM on September 27, 2010


Amtsdeutsch (officialese) is pretty much equivalent between Switzerland and Germany and Austria. The good Lord knows I've translated enough of it. The only problem is all the online dictionaries are German-German, so when you do hit a legal term that's specifically Swiss, it brings you to a screeching halt for half an hour while you delve into something you really didn't care about that much.

Which is presumably why Bündnerfleisch struck him as funny. This was all kinds of charming!
posted by Michael Roberts at 8:22 PM on September 27, 2010


From wikipedia:

Im eidgenössischen Parlament wird jedoch, aus Rücksicht auf die französisch, italienisch und rätoromanisch Sprechenden, (Schweizer) Hochdeutsch gesprochen.

In the federal parliament [however], out of respect for the speakers of French, Italian and Romansh, (Swiss) High German is spoken.
posted by qvantamon at 10:27 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hans Rudolf Merz is a man of many talents - among others he writes nostalgic innocently-erotic Swiss novels, "Heimatromane"

The Wochenzeitung published a massive excerpt without his consent, since then, newspapers have been forbidden to quote the book.

Babette, einst das Mädchen mit den säuberlich geflochtenen Zöpfchen, war ein herrliches, kraushaariges, vollbusiges Weib geworden. Fleischgewordene Süsse. Max war erschlagen von ihrem Ebenmass und ihrer Grazie. Er rang nach Luft. Innen jauchzte es.
«Heimatland, Babettli, wer hätte das gedacht!», stammelte er.

posted by Omnomnom at 1:17 AM on September 29, 2010


« Older Anish Kapoor turns the world upside down...  |  Gloria Stuart, actress in 'Tit... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments