The Viennese dialect

26 Nov

I am working in Slovakia this weekend and have discovered the root of  a word in Viennese dialect (not so surprising given that Bratislava is only 60 km from Vienna and was part of the Austrian empire off and on for centuries). I knew about some of the food terms that have slipped into Viennese, like “Golatsche” (what we call a Danish pastry in U.S. American English). In this case it was not a food term, and I discovered the connection completely by chance.

Yesterday evening I was working with a group of Slovak managers and had them drawing pictures to illustrate a certain point we had been talking about. As one group was presenting their picture one participant broke into Slovak and asked a question about what was on the dog’s head. I don’t speak Slovak but when I heard the word “Mascherl” I jumped. Then I repeated it and said “You’re talking about the bows in the dog’s hair, right?” They were much less surprised than I was and said calmly, “Yes, is it the same in German?” and I said, “Only in Austrian German. In Germany a bow tie, for example, is a ‘Fliege’.”

Linguistic fun!

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