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Sunday, July 29, 2012


Another note on Austrian pronunciation: do you know what an Ohrschluck is? How about an Arschloch? In Austria, they're the same thing: an asshole.

At one point in my meanderings around Vienna this year, I somehow made it to Westbahnhof U-Bahn station at the rush hour, to spot a young man with a backpack run out of the southbound U-3 train and headlong into an older man using a cane. This older man proclaimed, in a dignified and quiet manner, the Viennese pronunciation of a common German-language vulgarity, which I took to mean "ear drink" quite literally.

"How quaint!" I thought. "How remarkable. I wonder what Ohrschluck could mean?"

It was not until I got home, and - in vain - tried to look up this "colloquialism" to realize that the stately, cane-wielding gentleman simply elongated his "a's" and his "o's" to the point of incomprehension (for a non-Austrian). I should have guessed!

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