The frequently stolen traffic sign at the entrance to the village of Fucking.
|Established||since at least 1070|
|Named for||6th century nobleman named Focko|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
Fucking (German pronunciation: [ˈfʊkɪŋ], rhymes with "booking") is an Austrian village in the municipality of Tarsdorf, in the Innviertel region of western Upper Austria. The village is 33 kilometres (21 mi) north of Salzburg, 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) east of the German border.
Despite having a population of only 104, the village has become famous for its name in the English-speaking world. Fucking has frequently been noted on lists of unusual place names. Its road signs are a popular visitor attraction, and they were often stolen by souvenir-hunting tourists until 2005, when the signs were modified to be theft-resistant.
It is believed that the settlement was founded in the 6th century by Focko, a Bavarian nobleman. The existence of the village was documented for the first time in 1070, and historical records show that some twenty years later, the lord was Adalpertus de Fucingin. The spelling of the name has evolved over the years; it is first recorded in historical sources with the spelling as Vucchingen in 1070, Fukching in 1303, Fugkhing in 1532, and in the modern spelling Fucking in the 18th century, which is pronounced with the vowel oo as in book. The ending -ing is an old Germanic suffix indicating the people belonging to the root word to which it is attached, thus Fucking means "(place of) Focko's people."
Demographics and transportation
Fucking's most famous feature is four traffic signs with its name on them, beside which tourists stop to have their photograph taken, owing to the identical spelling to the present participle and gerund of the English-language profanity fuck. One version of the sign features the village name with an additional sign beneath it, with the words "Bitte – nicht so schnell!" ("Please – not so fast!"). The lower sign—which features an illustration of two children—is meant to advise drivers to slow down, but tourists interpret it, in conjunction with the "Fucking" sign, as a double entendre.
British and American soldiers based in nearby Salzburg noticed the name after World War II, and began to travel to the village to have their photos taken beside the signs while striking various poses. The local residents, the Fuckingers, were considerably bemused as they had not previously been aware of the meaning of their village's name when read as English. Since then, the number of visitors to Fucking has increased, with the occasional visit by a tour bus.
Popularity and notoriety
The village is especially popular with British tourists; as a local tour guide explained: "The Germans all want to see Mozart's house in Salzburg; the Americans want to see where The Sound of Music was filmed; the Japanese want Hitler's birthplace in Braunau; but for the British, it's all about Fucking." Augustina Lindlbauer, the manager of an area guesthouse, noted that the area had lakes, forests, and vistas worth visiting, but there was an "obsession with Fucking". Lindlbauer recalled how she had to explain to a British female tourist "that there were no Fucking postcards."
The road signs were commonly stolen as souvenirs—the only crime which has been reported in the village. It cost some 300 Euros to replace each stolen sign, and the costs were reflected in the taxes that local residents pay. In 2004, owing mainly to the stolen signs, a vote was held on changing the village's name, but the residents voted against doing so. Tarsdorf municipality's mayor Siegfried Höppl stated that it was decided to keep the name as it had existed for 800 years, and further stated that "[e]veryone here knows what it means in English, but for us Fucking is Fucking—and it's going to stay Fucking."
After a spate of thefts, which included the theft of all four signs in one night, and a total of fifteen over a period of several years, in August 2005 the road signs were replaced with theft-resistant ones, welded to steel and secured in concrete to prevent them being stolen. Mayor Höppl said that officials were fed up with English-speaking tourists stealing the signs, and noted that with the newly installed signs it would take all night to steal one. Höppl said that tourists, and the money they bring to the area, were welcome, but locals were sick of replacing the Fucking signs. Commander Schmitzberger, the local police chief, also hinted at other avenues to stop what he calls "foreign criminals" from disturbing order in the village. Regarding these "other avenues", Schmitzberger stated, "[w]hat they are, I am not at liberty to disclose, but we will not stand for the Fucking signs being removed. It may be very amusing for you British, but Fucking is simply Fucking to us. What is this big Fucking joke? It is puerile."
A resident of the village, Josef Winkler, attempted to cash in on the village's fame by setting up a website (www.fucking.at), on which he sold T-shirts featuring the village road signs, with the slogan "I like Fucking in Austria" printed on them. According to Winkler, they were selling well, and he was in negotiations with Maxim regarding possible promotions, but was forced to stop his venture after being shouted at and threatened in the street. Winkler said, "It was a bit of fun that didn't hurt anyone, but I found out that in this region you just can't do something like that. The whole thing became a real trial for me and I had to stop. People are very traditional here."
In July 2009, it was announced that the village would install CCTV cameras in an attempt to deter summertime tourists from filming themselves having sexual intercourse in front of the Fucking signs. A resident of the village said that installing cameras around the village may make tourists think twice and instead choose only to have a photograph taken in front of the sign. Juergen Stoll, the operator of a guesthouse at Wank, close to the Austrian-German border, stated that the residents of Fucking should be cashing in on its name, although Mayor Franz Meindl states: "We don't find it funny. We just want to be left alone. We don't harm anyone and just want to live in peace."—and added that he would prefer not to see the village being featured in the press any more. Meindl appears to have the opposite view to former Mayor Höppl, by proclaiming that residents wish their village to be left alone by tourists.
Putting the problem in context, however, tz-online notes that numerous villages across the border in Germany have names that are "unfortunate" even in German, including Affendorf (Monkey Village), Faulebutter (Putrid Butter), Fickmühlen (Fuck Mill), Himmelreich (Kingdom of Heaven), Katzenhirn (Cat Brain), Plöd (Stupid), Regenmantel (Raincoat), Sklavenhaus (Slave House) and Warzen (Warts).
In 2009, the European Union's OHIM trademarks agency forbade a German brewery to market a beer called "Fucking Hell". It appealed, and was granted permission in January 2010 to market the beer. It claims the beer is named after the Austrian village Fucking and the German term for pale lager, Hell.
False rumours of name change
Rumours spread through international news media in April 2012 that villagers had been thinking about changing the name of the village or had actually voted to change it. The satirical website The Spoof! published a story on 18 April 2012 saying that the villagers were fed up and wanted to change the name. This minor satire was expanded upon and appeared on the same day in the Daily Mirror newspaper and elsewhere during the following week as a genuine news item, and was repeated by The Guardian and The Huffington Post, who reported that a vote had taken place to change the name to Fugging, but it was discovered that a village with that name already existed in the municipality of Obritzberg-Rust just west of Herzogenburg. The mayor of Fucking denied these false stories when contacted.
- "F***ing signs now theft-proof". Ananova. Archived from the original on 2005-09-30. Retrieved 2006-12-15. "The Austrian town of F***ing has erected theft-proof road signs embedded in concrete blocks. Officials acted because they were fed up with English-speaking tourists stealing them as souvenirs."
- Harnden, Toby (28 August 2005). "'No, there are no F***ing postcards'". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2009-11-07.
- Tarsdorf Official map
- Official governmental Homepage of Tarsdorf Municipality
- Parker, Quentin (18 July 2010). Welcome to Horneytown, North Carolina, Population: 15: An insider's guide to 201 of the world's weirdest and wildest places. Adams Media. p. 83. ISBN 1-4405-0739-2.
- (Firm), Lonely Planet Publications (2009). 1000 Ultimate Experiences. Lonely Planet. p. 124. ISBN 978-1-74179-945-3.
- Etz, Albrecht (1971). Die Siedlungsnamen des Innviertels als lauthistorische Quellen. Volume 53 of Dissertationen der Universität Wien. Notring. p. 212.
- "What's the F—ing joke?". The Age. 3 September 2005. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
- "Brits steal carloads of F**king Austrian roadsigns", The Register, 15 August 2005.
- "Wohnbevölkerung nach Ortschaften" (in German). Statistik Austria. 29 July 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
- "Urban Legends Reference Pages: Welcome to Austria". Snopes.com. Retrieved 2013-03-26.
- "This Towns A F****** Joke". The Daily Mirror (London). 29 August 2005. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
- "Brits driving Austrians bonkers over rude village name". London. Agence France Presse. 28 August 2005. Archived from the original on 2005-09-11. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
- Haywood, Anthony; Walker, Kerry (2008). Austria (5 ed.). Lonely Planet. p. 217. ISBN 1-74104-670-X. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
- Ross, Kirsty (30 July 2009). "People in the village of Fucking hate tourists". thelondonpaper (London). Retrieved 2009-11-07.
- "Austrian town uses concrete to block cursed sign thefts". The Ottawa Citizen. 23 August 2005. pp. A8.
- "Austrians Not Amused". BanderasNews.com. November 2006.
- "Would you please all stop f*&%ing in F***ing". Daily Star (London). 28 July 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
- Watson, Leon (5 August 2009). "Rude town gets handy advice". The Sun (London). Retrieved 2009-11-07.
- Schmidt, Von Axel (24 March 2008). "Die Ortstafel als Souvenir". Augsburger Allgemeine (in German). Retrieved 2009-11-07.
- "Schluss mit Plöd! – Wie ein lustiger Ortsname zur Last wird". TZ (in German) (Munich). 14 November 2008.
- "Decision of the Forth Board of Appeal in Case R 0385/2008-4 – Fucking Hell". The Trade Marks and Designs Registration Office of the European Union. 21 January 2010.
- "German beer can call itself F**king Hell". Radio Netherlands (Hilversum). 19 March 2010.
- "Fucking Village To Change Name". The Spoof!. 18 April 2012.
- "No Fugging chance: Fucking village told they can't be renamed Fugging because name is already taken". The Mirror. 18 April 2012.
- "Silly placenames: welcome to Dull, twinned with Boring". The Guardian. 25 April 2012.
- "Citizens Vote to Rename Austrian Town From F—ing to Fugging". Huffington Post. 20 April 2012.
- "Nothing profane about our name Austrian hamlet says". Reuters. 18 April 2012.
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- (German) Tarsdorf Municipality website
- "German Firm Wins Right to Make Beer Called 'Fucking Hell'." Spiegel Online. 29 March 2010.