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Long live the Meidlinger L!

Vienna City Tours

One of the most distinctive dialects in Vienna is the one associated with the district of Meidling, and more specifically, the pronunciation of the Meidlinger L. This kind of L, which is most closely associated with Vienna’s 12th district, is linguistically considered a lateral apical-dental consonant, which gives it a distinctively heavy and almost over-pronounced sound. But where does this pronunciation come from, and why is it so closely associated with the 12th district?

The most common theory is that this L was brought by people from Moravia and Bohemia to Vienna in the 19th century. This type of heavily pronounced L can be found in the Czech language, and many people from these regions moved to Vienna in the 1800s in search of jobs. They settled mostly in Favoriten, and a large portion of them worked as brick makers. This helped to establish the 10th district as a working class district, which spilled over into its neighboring district, Meidling. Thus, it is actually Favoriten that should be most closely associated with this particular dialect, and yet it is called the Meidlinger L. This is presumably because Meidling also had a fair number of Bohemian and Moravian residents, and the word Meidling just lends itself so much better to an immediate demonstration of how the letter in question is pronounced – something with which the severely L-deficient Favoriten just can’t compete!

Despite this being the commonly known theory, the idea that it comes from Czech speakers has been questioned. Learn more on our tour about the Viennese dialect on June 23rd!

Photo credit: Vienna Tourist Guide

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