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What language do people speak in Vienna(Austria)

German is the official language of Austria, but each region has a distinct dialect. The Viennese dialect has many similarities to High German, but also many differences. It is slower and more relaxed than its High German counterpart (it has all the qualities of a lazy drawl), but it is also more charming. The Viennese love to sprinkle their dialect with lively, evocative words and expressions that are often gobbledegook to other native German speakers. It’s also peppered with French words, such as Melange and Tottoir; a hangover from the days when Maria Theresia encouraged her court to throw a bit of French into the conversation.

Within Vienna itself there exists a further dialect, Tiefwienerisch: a thick, sometimes unintelligible dialect that slowly oozes out between the lips, weighed down with expressive sayings that would make your mother blush. This is the language of the working class, but the non-working-class folk of the city just love it and use it at every opportunity.

Vienna has been at the crossroads of Europe for millennia and all these comings and goings have helped to create a population comfortable in two, three and sometimes four languages. For around 22% of the population German is not their native tongue. This level of proficiency extends through much of society – you may find yourself being accosted by a beggar asking for money, who, upon your ignorance to his requests in German, will switch to English or French.

If you don’t speak much German, or none at all, don’t worry. Nowadays English is taught from kindergarten level and a high percentage of the younger population speaks English quite well. The older generation unfortunately did not have the same advantages, but they’ll probably be able to understand your requests if you keep them simple.

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