EURO 2008 Fanguide

Even if they think they speak German, visitors to the venues of the Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland are going to have a rough time communicating in the vernacular. The dialects spoken there are hardly friendly to graduates of foreign university language programs and even native speakers from above the Limes will no doubt curse the isolation of the Alpine valleys that led to the creation of so many confounded dialects.

While most travelers will no doubt opt for English as their vehicular language of choice, the Austrian subsidiary of German soap and glue giant Henkel KGaA has rolled up its sleeves in the interests of Völkerverständigung and produced a mulitlingual Fan Guide for those who want to immerse themselves in the Viennese idiom (which is too bad if you have tickets for France vs. Italy in Letzigrund Stadion ’cause there’s no Swiss German guide, yet).

Here you will find useful phrases to avoid “Vaständigungsschwiarigkeitn” (Verständigungsschwierigkeiten/Communication Problems) like “Dånn såg’s hoit åuf Piefkinesisch!” (Dann sag es eben auf Hochdeutsch!/Then I’ll say it again in standard German!) or “Då! Bist schasaugert?” (Da! Siehst du schlecht?/Are you blind?).

Vienna has a lot of sights, so getting around is also important: “Is des a Hatschara bis zum Museumsquatia?” (Ist es ein langer Fußmarsch bis zum Museumsquartier?/Is it a long walk from here to the Museumsquartier?).

It’s also world famous for its desserts–“I bin a echta Möspeis-Tiger. Wås håm’S n ois?” (Ich bin ein echter Süßspeisen-Fan. Was können Sie denn alles anbieten?/I really like pastries, what do you have on offer?)–and coffee: “Bringan’S ma a Melånsch/an Franziskaner” (Bringen Sie mir bitte einen Kaffee mit Milchschaum/Schlagsahne/I’d like a coffee with frothy milk/cream).

During a game you might hear “Schåu, da Schiri und die Outwachla!” (Schau mal, der Schiedsrichter und die Linienrichter!/Look at the referee and the linesmen!) and after Austria’s first match against Croatia “So a Palawatsch/Remasuri!” (So ein Missgeschick/Durcheinander!//What a blunder/mess!).

There’s more, so be sure to check out the guide and pay a visit to Wien this summer! Oiso dånn, servas!


  1. Ooooh, my wife and I are thinking about a trip this summer (depending on when she gets her raise). We were considering Paris, but we’re open to other places. Where and when are the games being played?


  2. The venues in Switzerland are Basel, Bern, Geneva and Zürich and in Austria Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck and Klagenfurt. The games begin on 7 June and the final will be on 29 June.

    None of the cities are particularly close to Paris, but probably worth a side trip. On the other hand, tickets are probably not available anymore and the fans will have reserved all the hotel rooms, so maybe sticking to Paris is your best bet. : )


  3. Ronan,

    Ever since I found a CD of Prussian military march music in a professor’s office some 8 years ago, I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that the term come from the Prussian composer Johann Gottfried Piefke. After perusing wikipedia, it seems that that is indeed the case.


  4. I lived in Austria for 3 months last summer, and I have to say, I really didn’t have a problem communicating at all. There were some difference in vocabulary between Austrian and Hochdeutsch, but it was usually easy to tell from context what the meaning was, or I would just ask. I was in Vienna the whole time and wasn’t living in one of the little villages in the Alps, where it would be much more difficult to understand the local dialect. I would say, however, that a fluent, or even semi-fluent speaker of standard German would have very little trouble communicating in Vienna, Linz, Innsbrück, Salzburg or Graz.

    Also, there are just as many, if not more “confounded dialects” in both central and northern Germany.

    Of course, Switzerland is another issue entirely. The local language (Schwytzerditsch) isn’t even German (and it is debatable if it is even one cohesive language), and while many do speak German, their accents are rather pronounced.


  5. Good point, Craig. Austrian Standard German and Standard German are quite similar, so if you know one it’s no surprise you were able to communicate to speakers of the other. Dialects are a different story, but I admit to magnifying the communication problems for the purposes of this not-too-serious post.


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