Tag Archives: funny stories

How language caused the death of a moose burger

My Swiss roommate from my first year in college came to visit. She actually just left, and most of her trip was in the company of one of our other roommates (there were 4 of us in the university dorm room).

What I learned from the Swiss Miss when we were all roommates is that Switzerland has 4 official languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh (yeah I’d never heard of it either). She’s from the German side of Switzerland and so she speaks German and Swiss-German (which is apparently like German, but if you only spoke German, you’d frequently be confused around Swiss-German speakers).

So when she brought friends along for this visit, I wasn’t surprised that I couldn’t understand them (I barely track with Spanish, and I’ve lived around Spanish-speakers my whole life). She’d also told me that one of her friends had written and published a few books in German in Switzerland. She’d neglected to tell me the title, which would have prevented my snickering.

The book is titled Die Moosburger and it’s by Marco  Rota.

I’ve seen The Simpsons episode where Sideshow Bob explains his tattoo, so I knew “die” wasn’t intended as a command, but “moosburger” was entirely new. And as with all new things, I created a meaning that made me laugh for a long time, mostly because I couldn’t think of any specific thing a burger made of moose meat would do to deserve death. All I had were half thoughts running through my head. Perhaps it was attacking, or cursed, or spoiled, or…? If you come up with a coherent action that would result in a moose burger death, let me know. I’m still snickering and I can’t think clearly through the humor haze.

Turns out, though, that “moosburger” means “Moss Castle” in German, which makes the title very funny in 2 languages. (Maybe the moose burger was haunting a moss castle?) The Swiss Miss was quick to point out that castles in Switzerland are not the fairytale castles many of us in the U.S. think of – they’re stones stacked into the shape of a large house. If you haven’t looked at pictures of real castle’s, or heard Eddie Izzard’s bit about them, ask Google.

The Moss Castle is entirely in German, so if I ever learn how to read German, I’ll post a review of the book here. Same deal if it comes out in English. But that’s the story of how an old college roommate killed a moose burger through language.

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People Sketch #1: Munchkin

Munchkin: My name for my sister (who is absolutely fantastic and one of my favorite people).

The other day while we were visiting a church my cousin sometimes goes to and meeting some of her friends there my sister began talking about a band that she likes.

They’re called Sleeping Giant. (I’ve never heard them, I couldn’t tell you what they sound like).

I will never forget the name though, because in answer to the question “Sleeping Giants or Sleeping Giant?” Munchkin thinks a moment and says:

“Sleeping Giant. Just one. My friend was talking about them, and I said, ‘Sleeping Giants?’ and he said, ‘No, without the “s.”’ So I said, ‘Oh, Leaping Giants’ and he just laughed.”

And then we all laughed. I laughed because this story, including me retelling it here, completely exemplifies Munchkin and her logic. First of all, in her head taking the “s” off “Sleeping” is still the most logical solution. And secondly, it is completely within the realm of normal to share this with a person she’s known for 10 minutes so that they can know the name of a band.

And then, the next day she walks up the stairs and with no context says, “Remind me not to tell people I’ve just met embarrassing stories.” This caught my cousin, who wasn’t there for the first telling of the “Leaping Giants” story, completely off-guard, so Munchkin has to tell the story again. And then we all laughed again. Our cousin laughed about it long into the night and even today was still randomly laughing about.

And then while I was writing this, Munchkin reminded me that I should include the last paragraph. Munchkin’s pretty awesome.