Welcome to Vienna, German Speakers. Here is Your German-Viennese Dictionary

As any German speaker will tell you, this wonderfully complex language comes in a variety of flavours.

When one studies this language in school, one is taught “High German” Hochdeutsch or Oberdeutsch, which is actually spoken in large swaths of the German speaking world: like the TV. The reality is that almost everywhere has a specialized dialect and, in fact, some are so specialized that they are barely related to German anymore. One of the more perplexing to decipher, at least to my ears, is the Viennese dialect.

Viennese dialect seems to be spoken with a different palette than the rest of Austria – more laid back, mumble-y and in the back of the throat, and freely mixes verbs and nouns from other languages and slang to the point where it almost seems to be a different language. I’d be curious to know what native German speakers from, say, Hanover, would think of it or would they be able to understand it.

So, to welcome all the European Championship football fans from the German speaking world, I give you Wiener Dialekt im Alltag — a site with “Wienerisch” to German translations — complete with audio.

A German friend might correct one’s “Wienerisch” or Austrian/Bavarian expressions because they are not proper German, while a Viennese friend might say that when one expresses something in a more “proper” German, it sounds “pifkisch”. Pifke, from what I can tell, is sort of like the American word hick or redneck, but with a less regional connotation and more toward “uncultured”.

For those wishing to know a bit more, here is a cool little site about German dialects and a site with a listing of the major German dialects.

And finally, here is a Wienerisch-Deutsch converter, a Wienersich dictionary and the Wikipedia entry for Wienerisch.

3 Comments so far

  1. Phil A (philsblogging) on June 6th, 2008 @ 6:08 pm

    I was thinking of doing the same to mark the Euro 08 kick-off… I still think that I should give innocent foreigners some sort of guidelines of what to expect on the language level in Austria, especially Vienna.


  2. scottythebody on June 6th, 2008 @ 8:59 pm

    Yes. Austrian German, except for Vorarlberg, is similar to Bavarian, from waht I can tell. But Wienerisch. Wow. I swear it should be a different language.


  3. Kay (kaykay) on June 7th, 2008 @ 5:04 am

    Pifke, from what I can tell, is sort of like the American word hick or redneck, but with a less regional connotation and more toward “uncultured”.

    Nah. Piefke or piefkinesisch (like chinese, only with a k) simply refers to Germans or German High German (zu deutsch, oups, I mean: österreichisch: "Bundesdeutsch" – a word which is used differently in Germany, thus perplexes Germans when used to refer to "German High German").

    Okay, so it’s not necessarily a nice word, but I wouldn’t say it means "uncultured" – at all. It’s just a slightly derogatory term for German High German/High German like you would hear it on national German television. (Most Austrians’ High German doesn’t sound as "perfect"/"northern" as the former. [“Northern” is another term that seems to perplex Germans..])

    I guess there’s no equivalent term in English, but I could imagine that speakers of A.E. (or even B.E., who speak a regional dialect) might find (British) RP similarly "highbrow-sounding".



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