Word of the Week: i-tüpferl-Reiter [i:-dYpfəl-raɪtʰə]

Noun. Lit. “i-dot-rider;” A pedantic person; a stickler; someone who insists on dotting all “i’s” and crossing all “t’s.” A quality often attributed by the Austrians to their favorite frenemies, the Piefke (Germans).

While it’s true that both tend to have a near dogmatic respect for authority and the rule of law, it is the Austrian view that their northern cousins lack the flexibility required to make life livable in such an environment – while Germans have an exasperating tendency to follow all rules to the letter, Austrians have a congenital – and congenial – tendency to try to circumvent inconvenient and excessively burdensome regulations.

Oftentimes, this practice is supported by the rule makers themselves, with Austrian authorities’ frequently vague decrees open to interpretation, dragging their feet on implementation, making ineffectual compromises or enforcing existing rules unenthusiastically.

Such österreichische Lösungen (“Austrian Solutions”) can be witnessed in the government’s passive resistance to EU smoking bans or campaign finance reform, or the Wiener Linien’s lack of turnstiles.

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