It’s a beautiful day in Vienna. The chestnut trees are in full bloom, the birds are chirping yet the man waiting next to you at the tram station suddenly explodes: “Heast Sakrament, waunn die deppate Bim net glei daherkummt daunn kriag i an Zuckaus.” (“Goddammit, if the stupid tramway doesn’t show up soon, then I’ll blow a fuse.”)
Entire books have been written about the ingenious ways the Viennese swear, rant, yammer and nag – literally – but for those who are not privy to the subtleties of the Viennese vernacular, much of this grouchy creativity is lost. But fear not, mir san ja net auf der Nudelsuppn dahergschwommen (…we didn’t swim here on noodle soup), i.e., we know how to help you get acquainted with the high art of Viennese swearing.
Here’s an introduction for all G’scherte (country bumpkins who moved to Vienna, rather than being born here)!
1# “Gusch, du Wappla!”
Sometimes you just really, really want someone to shut their cakehole. Well, Gusch – from Goschn (mouth) – gets you halfway there, meaning “shut your mouth” in this context. Add an insulting Wappla (tool, doofus) and you’ll give your request the necessary gravitas. Both words have a plethora of practical variations:
- A goscherter Bua is an impertinent kid while a großgoscherter Weana is a pretentious or arrogant Viennese (we’ll let you judge if there are in fact any who aren’t).
- “I hau dir glei ane in die Goschn,” means “I am about to belt you in the mouth,” a living testament to Vienna’s natural penchant for harmony and diplomatic solutions.
- “Hände foitn, Goschn halten,” means fold your hands – i.e. pray – and shut up; comes in handy, especially when directed at conservative Christian types!
There are of course many more: sich die Goschn zerreißen über … (to badmouth someone), jemanden eine Goschn anhängen (to insult and provoke someone) or the much more harmless Zuckergoscherl, which is simply someone with a massive sweet tooth.
2# “Jetz is ois im Oasch.”
True to their cheerful disposition, the Viennese tend to take every negative turn of events with astounding serenity. Thus, “Jetz is ois im Oasch,” (Now everything is lost – or literally, “in the ass”) is a phrase that can be used for mishaps great and small: it is just as appropriate for missing the U-Bahn as it is for losing your job, house, money, spouse and hair. After all, everything in life is relative, and every catastrophe is equally momentous or insignificant. There’s just nothing that the Viennese wouldn’t answer with a resolute Oasch (ass).
As it is, the word is extremely versatile, and more quintessential to city life than Käsekrainer:
- Leck mi am Oasch (lit. lick my ass) is roughly analogous to the English “kiss my ass,” and should never, ever, be taken literally; it can also express extreme surprise when confronted with unexpected news.
- Des is zum Oasch beißen (lit. that’s making me bite my ass) denotes a supremely irksome turn of events.
- Des geht ma am Oasch is a great phrase for anything that annoys you, unless you already stopped caring – then you can conveniently add a vorbei at the end, denoting that said petty irritation can blow right past your derriere.
And, thanks to the German language’s penchant for compound nouns, Oasch is a gift that keeps on giving!
- Oaschpartie – a bad football match or a disagreeable group of people
- Oaschlosch – your generic asshole or moron
- Oaschgsicht – ugly and stupid person (lit. Ass Face)
- Oarschkräuler – a brownnoser (but somehow even more vulgar)
Finally, you can say geh in Oasch (lit. “go in ass”) if you just really want to get rid of someone.
#3 “Vazupf di, du Saubeidl!”
Vienna is, of course, the city of music – and also of weird sexual fantasies. Vazupf di (from zupfen, plucking a guitar or violin) is not an invitation to dance, but a clear message to exit, stage left. The addition of Saubeidl adds a vaguely sexual note, as Sau means pig (but can also denote a certain kinky filthiness) and Beidl is slang for scrotum.
There are also elegant but strong words to describe the many foibles of men. A Schlawiner is a dodgy womanizer, an eitler Gockl is a vain fop. A Puderant or geiler (oider) Bock is invariably someone whose horniness is as blatantly obvious as it is uncharming.
Mastering the intricacies of Viennese swearing is, of course, a lifelong challenge. But if you start today, you’ll be a real Viennese Motschkerant in no time!