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Trautsongasse and the mysterious case of the letter H

City Tour of Vienna

Trautsongasse is a street in the 8th district named after Johann Josef Fürst Trautson, who was a Prince-bishop in Vienna before becoming a cardinal in the last year of his life.  If you walk around the 8th district and come across one of the old signs in this street, you may notice that it is spelled with an h: Trautsohngasse. These signs are written in kurrent, which is the old style of German writing based on medieval cursive writing. This can make it somewhat difficult to read, but the h is fairly decipherable. Indeed, although the family name was spelled Trautson, the street named after the cardinal was incorrectly spelled Trautsohn for many decades. Today, although the street name has officially acquired the correct spelling, there are still old street signs written in kurrent that are misspelled. It is unclear why it has been incorrectly spelled for so long, though the h certainly gives it more of a Germanic spelling. Nonetheless, the Viennese are nothing if not stubborn, so the h has managed to hang on! (C.G.)