First-degree Bern

For the moment, Simonetta Sommaruga is head of the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police, a position she has held since 2010. In 2014, she served as Vice President of the Swiss Confederation; the following year, she ascended to the Presidency — which, under Swiss law, is something like being Mayor rather than a head of state — and resumed her previous duties a year later. Born in Zug in 1960, she’s a Social Democrat and a gardener.

Simonetta Sommaruga on the sofa

Simonetta Sommaruga in the garden

Simonetta Sommaruga in black

Switzerland has four official languages, and we know she speaks at least two of them. Here, on her first day as President, she gives basically the same interview in French and in German:

The French version, for some reason, runs twenty-two seconds longer.



  1. McG »

    15 January 2017 · 8:16 am

    In French it takes more words to say the same thing. Then again, some German words can be as long as a French paragraph.

  2. WarEagle82 »

    15 January 2017 · 10:19 pm

    You are correct. For example there are 76 French words for surrender, 52 for retreat but curiously only one for “welcome, conquerors,” which is actually a German phrase borrowed wholly from the German.

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