A glossary

4 Mar

For a long time I’ve been meaning to write up a glossary for the Viennese concepts I find hard to translate. This seems like a good time to get started. (I’ll add to this as I go along.)

Magistratsabteilung or MA – a city office responsible for a specific task, e.g., the MA 48 is the city sanitation office.

Melange – a kind of coffee typically made from espresso, hot milk, and milk foam. Anyone who has ordered a melange knows, however, that this is not carved in stone. (In fact, it’s somewhat disputed.)

Schmäh – a special kind of Viennese humor that should come with a winky emoji.

Trafik – a small store with a special license to sell cigarettes, tickets for the public transportation, and lottery tickets, for example. The practice started after the First World War, if I remember correctly, to create jobs for wounded veterans.

2 Responses to “A glossary”

  1. esauboeck March 4, 2020 at 5:16 pm #

    Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a Melange right now! As for Schmäh: I thought it was more likely to mean a con, a hoax, or as the Aussies would say, a rort. Or has the meaning changed in the last 50 years?

    • ecbinvienna March 4, 2020 at 6:44 pm #

      I don’t think the meaning’s changed. That said, it’s not easy to find out exactly what “Schmäh” means. My dictionaries don’t list it, and leo.org only has discussion forums where people write about it but no one really tries to translate it. Still, it is a form of humor in which someone says rather unloving things without meaning them. As far as I know, it doesn’t exactly mean “hoax” or “con”. Here’s the link to what comes up on leo: https://dict.leo.org/englisch-deutsch/schm%C3%A4h

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