Tuesday, July 9, 2013

When in Austria

Student question #3: What slang do they use in Austria?/different dialects? What English words do they use?

I feel like I am learning a very different kind of German in Austria than I ever suspected that I would have. Without having spent much time in Austria before this seminar, I would have said, "Oh, sure, they have some different words and expressions in Austria, but it probably isn't that different from German spoken in Germany, aka Hochdeutsch.  Well, the teacher has become again the student. There are MANY words and expressions that are unique to Austria even to specific states and regions in Austria, as well. There are several dialects in Austria, which would probably take a lifetime to master. Here is just a Schmankerl of the ones that I have learned thus far:
  • Das ist ja leiwand!  This means, "That's awesome!"
  • Das ist aber schiach! This means, "That is really ugly." This word I picked up from an older gentleman at the Wendlmarkt in Vienna, whom we were attempting to interview for our group project. The person in our group was chatting him up and asked him what he wanted most out of life. He answered, "Wealth." Our person said, "Well, how do you plan to achieve that?" His answer, "Well, I could marry a rich woman, but they are all schiach." Um, yeah, good luck with that plan, dude.
  • [Insert request here], aber Jennifer! Now this one is strictly for Viennese residents who were young during the '80s.  Here's the story: in the 80s Jennifer RUSH had a hit song called "The Power of Love". The word RUSH sounds like the German word RASCH which means fast (schnell). Presumedly, the song became a part of their pop culture, since everyone knew the song and the singer. So for example, you're grabbing some lunch at a Wuerstlstand and you're in a hurry, so you tell the guy selling you the food, "an Frankfurter, aber Jennifer!" It's funny how sometimes English words creep into the German-speaking world and are used in ways that English-speakers would never use them. 
  • Dirndl. So, finally, my dream of owning some traditional Austrian clothing has been achieved. I found a shop in Graz that doesn't charge an arm and a leg for a Dirndl AND they were having their summer sales. Double bonus! What's noteworthy is that the word for that kitschy dress we're all familiar with also doubles in Austria to mean "girl." I don't think that it is used negatively like when we say, "skirt" to mean a female.  I wonder could you say, "Hey, Lukas, check out that Dirndl in the Dirndl!" 
I'm truly immersed right now in so many words. I am so glad and grateful for it! Baba for now! 

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