Word of the Week: transdanubien [tʀansˈdaˈnubiən]̯

Noun. Lit. Transdanubia, a popular nickname for the two Viennese districts beyond the Danube, the 21st (Floridsdorf) and 22nd (Donaustadt).

Generally only applied to areas within the city and its immediate surroundings, never to places further afield that are technically also beyond the Danube, like the Marchfeld or the Weinviertel.

The pseudo-geographic moniker evokes the image of a strange and savage place inhabited by barbarians who may or may not eat their young, but are certainly not entirely Viennese in their ways or customs, an opinion jokingly held by many people living on the“right” side of the river.

It’s not entirely clear how the nickname and prejudice came about. It might stem from the fact that as relatively new parts of the growing city, Floridsdorf (incorporated in 1905) and Donaustadt (only joined in 1954) generally lack the grand imperial architecture and historic landmarks of the rest of Vienna, consisting almost entirely of recently built, large-scale working class apartment blocks and anonymous lower-middle-class suburbs.

Furthermore, until the extension of the U1, U2 and U6 metro lines, the enormous expanses of Transdanubien – the 22nd is Vienna’s largest district by far – were difficult to traverse without a car, further discouraging non-natives from exploring this uncharted territory.

In the end, it may simply come down to human nature: Just as dyed-in-the-wool New Yorkers have an innate distrust for any-thing west of the Hudson River, many Viennese react to the notion of venturing beyond the Donauinsel to the wilds of life among the yahoos with apprehension and unease.

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