6 Words in German You Need To Know When You Visit Austria


Author’s Note: This post was originally written during my time in Austria as an exchange student. I’ve left in the introduction in order for you to better understand my mindset as an exchange student.

I can’t really believe it, but I’ve spent half a year in this amazing country. The time’s flown, but somehow, part of me feels like I’ll be here forever. The fact that I’ll be in Wisconsin in four months…at college in six? That can’t be real…can it?
Ok, enough with the existential crisis. To celebrate my six months here, I thought I’d share my favorite words in the Austrian-German lexicon. Some of these are dialect words, while others are used in standard High German, but to me, they represent Austria.

1. Genau

Pronounced like “ge” in “get” and “now”

Genau is used as a general form of agreement, but I can say it’s used for everything. It’s also my favorite word in German. Basically, if The Fault in Our Stars was set in Austria, I would bet a significant sum that Hazel and Augustus would have “genau” be their always. (Genau? Genau).

2. Achso/Also/Ahso

Pronounced as it’s written

This is a filler word, similar to the English “oh” or “well”. It’s used in two contexts: To begin a speech, “Ahso, heute rede ich von…” (Ok, today I’m speaking about..); or to express understanding/astonishment, “Das Kinoticket kostet $5. Achso, ich dachte, dass es war nur 4″. (The movie ticket costs $5. Achso, I thought it was only 4).

3. Ur

Pronounced as “oohr”

Ur is an intensifier, a bit like the English “so”, or “really”. For example, it’s quite common to hear “Dass ist ur cool”, which translates to “That’s really/so cool”.

4. Oida

Pronounced Oy-da

Oida is probably THE Viennese dialect word, at least as of now. It’s extremely versatile, and can be used in any situation, to express any emotion. Annoyed? Oida. Happy? Oida :0) Surprised? Oida!

5. Scheiße

I believe everyone knows the pronunciation and definition of this word, but if you don’t, here’s a hint on the meaning: Shit. Unlike the English, it’s not really an offensive word, more similar to “crap”. For example, saying it in school, in front of a teacher, elicits no reaction. Considering the sheer amount of times I’ve heard and used it, it really had to be included on this list.

6. Oachkazlschwoaf

Ok, I’m not even going to try and write this one out… Just try and pronounce it, if you dare. It means “squirrel’s tail” in the Lower Austrian dialect, and is generally used to tease foreigners for their accents. Also incredibly fun to say.

Well, that sums up my mini-dictionary of entertaining Austrian words. If you’d like to read a more in-depth post on the Austrian dialects, let me know, as I truly enjoy talking about it.

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