The Viennese language is an East Central Austro-Bavarian dialect spoken mostly in the Austrian capital of Vienna. Even in Lower Austria, the state surrounding the city, many of its expressions are not used, while farther to the west they are often not even understood.
Viennese has to be distinguished from the Austrian form of Standard German and other dialects spoken in Austria. (also see Austrian language).
Grammar and phonology
Grammar and phonology of Viennese are mostly identical to other Austro-Bavarian dialects, but there are some differences, such as
- avoidance of the genitive case;
- use of the preposition ohne (without) with the dative case instead of the accusative.
- In those cases where other Austro-Bavarian dialects replace standard German ei with oa, Viennese uses a long a. (E.g. Standard German zwei (=two), general Austro-Bavarian zwoa, Viennese zwa).
- In those cases where ei is not replaced by oa in Austro-Bavarian (e.g. drei (=three)), it is usually pronounced as a long open 'e' (similar to the pronunciation of ä in parts of Germany).
- Hard consonants (particularly t and p) are pronounced as soft.
- In the working class dialect, the pronunciation of the letter "l" reflects the Czech pronunciation. This is known as Meidlinger L, after the working-class district of Meidling.
The Viennese vocabulary displays particular characteristics. Viennese retains many Middle High German and sometimes even Old High German roots. Furthermore, it integrated many expressions from other languages, particularly from other parts of the former Habsburg Monarchy, as Vienna served as a melting pot for its constituent populations in the late 19th and early 20th century.
The transcription of Viennese has not been standardized. Thus, the rendering of pronunciation here is incomplete:
- from Old High German:
- Zähnd (Standard German Zähne, English teeth, from zand)
- Hemad (Hemd, = English shirt, from hemidi)
- from Middle High German:
- Greißler (=small grocer, from griuzel - diminutive of Gruz =grain)
- Baaz (=slimy mass, from batzen=being sticky)
- si ohfrettn (=to struggle, from vretten)
- from Hebrew and Yiddish:
- Masl (=luck, from masol)
- Hawara (=friend, companion, from chavver)
- Gannef (=crook, from ganab)
- from Czech:
- Motschga (=unappetizing mush, from mocka=residue in a pipe or macka=Sauce, Soup)
- Pfrnak (=(big) nose)
- from Hungarian:
- Maschekseitn (=the other side, from a másik)
- Gattihosn (=long underpants, from gatya = trousers)
- from Italian:
- Gspusi (=girlfriend, from sposa)
- Gstanzl (=Stanza of an humourous song, from stanza)
- from French:
- Trottoa (=sidewalk, from trottoir)
- Lawua (=washbowl, from lavoir)
- Loschi (from logis)
Literature and Usage
The most well-known poets writing in Viennese are Wolfgang Teuschl, most known for his translation of the Gospel into Viennese (Da Jesus und seine Hawara, meaning Jesus and his Buddies), and H.C. Artmann (med ana schwoazzn dintn, meaning With Black Ink).
More recently, Viennese has been receding to some degree because of an increased influence of Standard German (partly due to the influence of TV). From this, a variety of Standard German with a particular Viennese accent has developed, which usually is spoken by the younger, more well-educated people of Vienna.