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

Noun. Lit. “i-dot-rider;” An i-tüpferl-Reiter is 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 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.

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.

But Austrians may nod approvingly if you put together a coherent sentence, harmonizing the Akkusativpronomen correctly with the subject. But they’ll love you if you enrich your vocabulary with just one word of Wienerisch. 

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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