Monday, October 28, 2013

Declaration of Neutrality: The Languages of Austria, Part 2

On Friday, we looked at the history behind Austria's national holiday, the day honouring the Declaration of Neutrality. Today we'll be looking at the languages spoken there, from the native and regional languages to the immigrant languages that have found their way into Austria.

A statue of Athena, Parliament Building, Vienna.
Official Languages

German (Austrian German)

German, of course, more specifically Austrian German. Around 8.5 million people speak this variety of German and it's not only spoken in Austria. The region of South Tyrol, which ironically is found in the north of Italy, is also home to a number of Austrian German speakers.

Minority Languages

Burgenland Croatian

The variety of Croatian spoken in Burgenland by the Burgenland Croats is recognised as an official minority language in the eastern region. This was a direct result of the State Treaty we mentioned on Friday, which led to the Declaration of Neutrality. About 2.5% of Austria's population speak Burgenland Croatian, making it the most widely-spoken recognised minority language in Austria.

Slovene

The official language of Slovenia is also recognised a minority language in the Austrian region of Carinthia. The Carinthian Slovenes, who inhabit the region and speak the language, were also recognised as a minority in the State Treaty. Even though only 0.3% of Austria's population speaks Slovene, it enjoys a greater level of recognition than some of the other immigrant and minority languages.

Serbian

Serbian is the most widely-spoken minority language in Austria, with a similar number of speakers as that of Burgenland Croatian. However, Serbian does not have the same level of official recognition as Burgenland Croatian, although some linguists could argue that Serbian and Croatian are dialects of the same language.

Turkish

Much like Germany, Austria has become home to a significant number of Turkish immigrants. Of course, the Turkish immigrants their language with them, resulting in around 2.3% of the population speaking the Turkish language.

Hungarian

The Hungarian language is spoken by around 20,000 people in Austria, amounting to a very low percentage of the population. Historically, Hungarian was an important language in Austria owing to the union between Austria and Hungary from 1867 to 1918.

Are there any important languages in Austria that we've missed? Tell us about them in the comment below. We'll be back on Wednesday with our language profile for the week.

Part 1 | Part 2