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10 pieces of Austrian slang you'll never learn in class

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10 pieces of Austrian slang you'll never learn in class
"Die Party war ur leiwand" and other useful phrases. Photo: Creative Commons/Jacek Becela
12:36 CEST+02:00
Not likely to be taught in class, these German and Austrian slang words are handy things to have up your sleeve if you want to blend in with locals.

1. “Krass”, “Wahnsinnig”, “Geil” und “Leiwand”

Do you have strong feelings about anything and everything? “Krass” can be used whenever you have an extreme emotional reaction towards something.

If you love it, it’s krass. If you hate it, it’s krass. If it makes you roll around on the floor laughing, it’s krass. If it makes your hair stand on end with fear, yes you’ve guessed it, it’s also krass.

“Wahnsinnig” has quite a similar meaning. Feeling the adrenaline pump through your body as you plunge down a crazy rollercoaster? “Das ist ja wahnsinnig!” will convey that you think it’s insanely fun or even exhilarating.

Do you think something’s cool, awesome, great or amazing? Don’t stick with your textbook classics of “toll”, “spannend” or “ausgezeichnet” - why not try the less standard “geil” instead? But just a word of warning: be careful as to when you use this word, as in some contexts it can mean “horny” instead.

Of course, in Austria it’s also common to hear ‘Leiwand’ and in Vienna ‘ur Leiwand’ to describe something that is cool or just bloody brilliant.

2. “Quasi”, “sozusagen”, “naja” and "halt"

If you want to avoid umming and ahhing when lost for words, these fillers are your go-to. “Quasi” and “sozusagen” are the equivalent of “so to speak”, and “naja” (“well…”) can be used if you’re a bit hesitant about a statement.

Have you heard British and American teens throwing the word “like” into sentences as if a phrase is utterly incomplete without it? It’s exactly the same here in the German language, where “halt” is sprinkled into phrases like there's no tomorrow.

So next time you chat to your German-speaking friend, try throwing in a few fillers - you might end up with a bizarre sentence like “Naja...es war denn...halt...quasi schrecklich, sozusagen”.

3. “Na?”

Forget “Wie geht es Ihnen heute?”, “Wie geht’s dir?”, or even “Was geht ab?”. Why trot out all those long phrases when you can stick to the one-syllable word “Na?” to ask how someone is?

You can also use “Na” to ask how something went. When your friend comes back from a date, no lengthy question is required, just a simple “Naaaa?” will get across that you want to know all the details.

But try not to confuse it with the rather more sarcastic “Na und?” (“so what?”) or “Na geh?” (Austrian for ‘really?!’).

4. "Oida"

This oft-used Austrian word has multiple meanings but generally is used to mean either ‘dude’, to complain about somebody or something, or to express general gutted-ness at someone’s bad luck. Bad-tempered drivers might say it when reacting to someone else’s dodgy driving. Use it with an “!” to express surprise or if a friend tells you they can’t come on holiday because their flight’s been cancelled, you could said: ‘Oiiida, no way’.

5. "Schau ma mal"

Meaning ‘let’s see’, it is used much like the English version, with a shrug of the shoulders and to signal there’s not much more to add to the topic in conversation. Alternatively, this can also be said if someone invites you to a party and you don’t want to go but don’t want to seem rude by turning it down outright.

6. “Schmarrn”, “Blödsinn”, “Quatsch”

A bunch of words that basically mean you think someone is talking absolute nonsense. ‘Schmarrn’ is more common in Austria and southern Germany, whereas ‘Quatsch’ is more common in the rest of Germany. You might use it to signal when someone shamelessly declares that they are an authority on a particular subject when they clearly don’t know the first thing about it.

7. “Bock auf etwas haben”

If you know the expression “Lust haben” (“to want to do something” or “to be up for doing something”), the phrase “Bock haben” means roughly the same thing.

Not really up for the day trip that your German-speaking friends are organising? “Ich habe keinen Bock darauf” will convey your lack of enthusiasm.

Completely down for a night out, though? “Ja, ich hab' Bock drauf” will show that you’re interested.

8. “Auf jeden Fall”

“Bock haben” and “auf jeden Fall” go hand in hand on the enthusiasm scale.

Instead of using “natürlich” (“of course”), a piece of vocab which was probably drummed into you at school, try out the more casual “auf jeden Fall” (“definitely” or “for sure”).

And if you want to be really down with the kids, you can shorten it to a simple 'auf jeden'.

9. "Deppert"

The word "deppert" is used in Austria to describe someone who is playing the fool or being a bit of an idiot. Visitors to Vienna may often hear the question "bist du deppert" or just "bist deppert" instead of "bist du blöd". It can also be used to express amazement at something, either good or bad, but most often people use to signal they think their friend has done something mad or bad. If someone is truly incompetent, you can also use "Trottel".

10. “Baba”, “Ciao!”

Another oft-heard phrase in Vienna is "Tschüss baba", which is a cute way of saying goodbye. "Servus" for "hello" and "Ciao" for "see you" are much preferably amongst friends than the more formal “Auf Wiedersehen”, or alternatively you could throw in a “Mach’s gut!” (“Have a good one!”).

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