Word of the Week: tschechern [ˈt͡ʃɛçɐn]

Verb. To drink alcohol excessively; an alcoholic would therefore be a Tschecherant. Orig. from the Yiddish shokhar (to drink), which made its way into Viennese via Rotwelsch (thieves’ cant).

However, it is often (erroneously) assumed to stem from Tscheche (Czech); as legions of Bohemians and Moravians migrated to the imperial capital in the late 19th century in search of a better life, the Viennese quickly became acquainted with their legendary fondness for demon malt, with Czechia leading the world in per capita beer consumption to this day.

However, considering that Austria is usually right behind their northern neighbor in second place, this is a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. While most of these Czech migrants found work as cheap industrial laborers or domestic help, quite a few of Austria’s most prominent figures were actually born beyond Znaim/Znojmo, including Gustav Mahler, Sigmund Freud, Josef Hoffmann, Bertha von Suttner, Viktor Adler (founder of the Social Democratic Party), Karl Renner (a founding father of both the first and second Austrian Republics), Adolf Loos, Alfred Kubin and many others.

Still more had Czech roots, like Egon Schiele (mother from Český Krumlov) or Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka (father from Prague).

“Kumm, gema wos tschechern!” (C’mon, let’s go drink!)

No matter how well you speak German, the Word of the Week will help you impress any Viennese! While learning German is not an easy task in general, learning the language in Austria can come to be twice as complicated.

Strongly linked to local cultural individualities, the slangs change and evolve in all cultures around the world, the words and phrases make sense only when one is familiar with their cultural context. The Word of the Week is here to help you understand those singularities and impress the locals with some real Viennese words and expressions.

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