10 Essential Austrian Words and Phrases (Part 3)

(Part 3)

10 Essential Austrian
Words and Phrases

As a means of communication, language is essential to social life. Therefore, dear reader, you owe it to yourself and to your social life to give Austrian German the attention it requires. If you laughed when you read social life it is probably because you have just moved to Vienna which transformed yours from booming to nonexistent or because you spent the last three months in quarantine. But worry not, it´s so over now!

Firstly, if you haven’t just met you will soon meet amazing people at INNES (in-classroom or online) who feel as lonely as you do. Maybe send your classmates a link to this article and bond over the weirdness and coolness of Austrian German! If you need more than that, binge-read the article series on how to feel more at home in Vienna (find here). Spoiler Alert: One of the tips is to keep on practicing your German, which will eventually but inevitably result in you feeling more comfortable in the city. Now, we suggest that you take the challenge up a notch and insist on enriching your Austrian German vocabulary as well. Your self-esteem will improve, your feelings of independence will skyrocket (cue Destiny’s Child in the background) and as for bragging rights and street cred? Pfff, up the roof!

Today’s ten words are all related to something none of us can live without. Food. If you are new in Austria, there is a slight chance you don’t know that certain foods, for example, tomatoes or quark, have completely different names here than what is used to describe them in Germany or Switzerland. Some of the words will make sense to you, some won’t. The key is to have fun while memorizing them, which we will facilitate by providing you with a curated list and a good sense of humor. Shall we?

Useful, Everyday Words

Jause, die. If you like food and breaks as much as we do, you will have no trouble remembering this word. Jause means snack – one that you can have before or after breakfast, lunch and dinner. Anytime, really. In the mood for cake and coffee right before or after class? Grab a classmate from INNES, use the sentence “Ich lade dir zur Jause ein” and make a forever friend. The verb to snack is super easy to remember, too. Just squeeze in an –n bevore the e, add another –n to the end of the word and it becomes jausnen. The word originates from Slovenian.

Topfen, der. You know how Eis Greißler has Topfencreme as a stable ice cream flavor – What do you mean no? Never, ever tried that? You certainly have had a slice of Topfentorte, don’t deny it. Still not sure? Well, Topfen is the word for quark, the soft pillowy cheese. Topfentorte is the Austrian name for Käsekuchen, both also known as cheesecake. Interestingly, in another context, when someone says “Das ist ja Topfen” or they accuse a person of “Topfen reden” they mean that something does not make sense, ie. is nonsense. A German synonym to that would be „Quatsch“.

Kukuruz, der. Sounds like a made-up word, unless you speak Czech, Serbian, Russian, Polish or Hungarian. Kukuruz is none other than corn! Such a fun name for a fun food item, don’t you think? Don’t be discouraged if you forget this cute term, locals understand the hochdeutsch version, too – Mais. It’s just not as exciting as the Austrian one, truth be told.

Krapfen, der. Traditionally filled with apricot jam and in Germany known as the Berliner, Krapfen is a filled donutKrapfen have been fist-sized and baked in hot fat or lard since the Middle Ages. The donuts were originally baked only during carnival, so they were popularly called carnival donuts – Faschingskrapfen, which is why many supermarkets and bakeries bake them in quantities and have them on display during that time of the year. Nowadays, Krapfen are available in numerous other variations – e.g. with vanilla or chocolate cream fillings. You can definitely tell that someone has had one since the donuts are dusted in powdered sugar which transfers itself all over the eater and their clothes. If you ask us, they are so worth the mess!

Paradeiser, der. One of the most famous Austrian German words, der Paradeiser is held in high regard as its name suggests. Another word for tomato, these fruits which are often mistaken for veggies, were originally named Paradiesapfel – paradise apples. It is said that hundreds of years ago the majority of fruits were not distinguished by humans and were all referred to as apples until a more accurate and specific distinction was normalized. It is said that the origin of the name Paradiesapfel comes from the fact that sometimes very saturated, red apples were pointed out as paradise apples after the famous fruit of the Garden of Eden. Due to their color and vibrancy therefore, tomatoes have been widely known as paradise apples.

Paradiesapfel has been shortened to the most used version Paradeiser. Don’t forget, while die Tomate is feminine, der Paradeiser is masculine. Tomato has the power to be gender fluid, how appropriate for 2019.

Hendl, das. Another word that is a diminutive, Hendl means chicken and originates from the word Henne, the female bird. Hahn on the other hand, refers to the male bird. The diminutive of Hahn is Hähnchen, which is the standardized German word for chicken meat for consumption. Die Henne, der Huhn, das Hendl, das Hähnchen. Cute family!

A Hoibe. Okay, let us unfold this linguistic knot. A hoibe is Austrian dialect for eine Halbe. Yes, but eine Halbe of what, you ask? Beer of course! By a hoibe, Austrians mean a half liter of beer, otherwise known as pint or 0,5. “Großes Bier” or “null fünf” will do the trick as well but none has the charm of a hoibe, and you know it!

A Seidl. Staying in the same theme as before, how would a side (a seidl = ein Seiderl = a side) translate to, other than a small beer?  This portion is equal to a “null drei” or an order for a “kleines Bier”. It is far less used than a hoibe, for obvious reasons. Fluchtseidl however is the adorable way to refer to a last, small glass of beer before leaving the bar.

Reparaturseidl, das. Have you ever had a hangover that had you frantically looking for a morning-after remedy online or calling your mom to confirm that ancient recipe of garlic, turmeric and lemon, all while trying to sound as normal as possible?

Well, hangover cures such as swimming in very cold water (which, I mean, nobody wants to do, seriously) and drinking pickle juice(?!) are not a thing for Austrians. Instead, the locals swear by the magical powers of a Reparaturseidl the next morning. A reparation side beer, translated literally, is the alcohol-on-alcohol Austrian magic trick that promises to scare away your headache and overall I-feel-like-I-was-run-over-by-a-Bim feeling. Cheers to that!

Sechzehnerblech, das. Retaining the subject matter of alcohol, a 16er or Sechszehnerblech refer to a can of Ottakringer beer. Why the number, you ask? Well, the beer is brewed in Ottakring, Vienna’s 16th district.

Bonus WordEitrige, die. Literally it means purulent, as a pus-filled zit would be. Figuratively, the Viennese refer to a Käsekrainer sausage as such, due to the melted cheese bits that ooze out after each bite. Grossed out by the sausage’s nickname? Yes, not sure we like that either. The Eitrige comes usually as the main dish of a Sechszehner.

On Learning New Words and Phrases in Austrian German

Language is a wondrous system of communication. It may seem that language is a monotonous, eternal given…yet it is alive, thriving, and evolving through time, at all points in history and the present; it develops from generation to generation and from one minute to the next as an inseparable element of culture.

Food, which is this article’s running theme, nourishes body and soul and is therefore linked to well-being as well as a means to social bonding. As you start a new life in Vienna, knowing how food and drink items are referred to in the country is, therefore, paramount.

Our insider tip is that if you imagine yourself consuming or buying the aforementioned items, it will be easier for you to remember them. Let’s do this mental exercise together: It is around 10 o’clock, you’ve already had breakfast and want to have a quick snack. For a Jause you could now have a couple of Paradeiser if you make the effort to stick to healthier habits, or a Krapfen if you’re naughty like the rest of us. For lunch, a burrito filled with Hendl and Kukuruz will suffice. How about a scoop of Topfencreme ice cream in the afternoon after class? It’s Friday after all. Now Friday night means that venturing out in the nightlife of Vienna you may have a hoibe, or two, and a Fluchtseidl, and after three exhausting hours of dancing in the club like there’s no tomorrow, what would really seal the deal would be a Eitrige and a Sechszehnerblech at your local Würstelstand. We just hope you won’t wake up with a Kater, looking for a Reparaturseidl. If you do, let us know if the Austrian hangover remedy worked!

Did you enjoy reading about Austrian German food names? Do you know any other names we haven’t included? Let us know in the comments below.

Daphne Demetriou, MA

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