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Languages of Austria

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Languages of Austria
RecognisedAustrian German, Alemannic
RegionalCroatian (Burgenland), Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Romani, Italian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, and Yiddish (historically)
MinorityBosnian, Serbian, Turkish
ForeignEnglish (73%)
French (11%)
Italian (9%)
SignedAustrian Sign Language
Keyboard layout
Sourceebs_386_en.pdf (europa.eu)

The languages of Austria include German, the official language and lingua franca;[2] Austro-Bavarian, the main dialect outside Vorarlberg; Alemannic, the main dialect in Vorarlberg; and several minority languages.

Standard German


German is the national official language[1] and constitutes a lingua franca and de facto first language: most Austrians other than (mostly rural) seniors are able to speak it. It is the language used in media, in schools, and formal announcements. The variety of German used, Austrian German, is partially influenced by Austro-Bavarian.[3]



Alemannic, i.e., Swiss German, is spoken by about 300,000 people, mostly in Vorarlberg.[4][3] Vorarlberg uses a High Alemannic, the same dialect group as that spoken in Northern Switzerland (outside Basel) and parts of southern Alsace, France. To most German-speakers, it is very difficult to understand.[5]



The main native language of Austria outside Vorarlberg is Austro-Bavarian. It has approximately 8.3 million speakers in Austria.[6] The north-eastern parts of Austria (with the capital Vienna) speak Central Austro-Bavarian dialects and the southern parts Southern Austro-Bavarian dialects.

Austro-Bavarian differs greatly from Standard German, making it very difficult for German speakers of different regions to understand the native population.

Austro-Bavarian has no official orthography,[7] but there are literary efforts (de:Dialektliteratur), especially in poems, to depict the sound of the pronunciation in the spelling. Other words can only be heard while visiting particular regions of Austria and Bavaria; such words/phrases are only rarely used in Standard German. These include "Griaß God" (literally: "greet god" = may god greet you), and "Servus/Servas" (at your service) as greeting phrases. Other terms are strictly dialectal, like "Pfiat di / Pfiat eich (euch)" (literally: "watch over you [God]" = may God watch over you), meaning "goodbye".

Minority languages


A number of minority languages are spoken in Austria, some of which have official status.[8] According to the European Commission, Austria's "recognized minority languages are Hungarian, Slovenian, Burgenland-Croatian, Czech, Slovak, Romany and sign language. In the mixed-language districts of Carinthia, Slovene is also considered an official language. In some districts of Burgenland, Hungarian and Croatian have equal status to German as an official language."[9] About 250 languages are spoken throughout Austria, though many have very small populations of speakers.[9] Only about 20 languages (apart from official languages of Austria) have more than 10,000 speakers.[8]

Non-Official Languages with 10,000+ speakers in Austria (2021)[8]
Language Number of Speakers

(in Austria)

Spanish 302,100 (L1: 11,100)
Turkish 204,000
Serbian 197,000
Russian 150,000 (L1: 9,390)
Romanian 18,800
Slovak 11,400
Slovene 27,600
Polish 34,000
Persian (Iranian) 11,900
Italian 795,900 (L1: 11,900)
French 1,181,300 (L1: 11,300)
Hungarian 45,100
Czech 19,700
Croatian 146,000
Chinese (Mandarin) 11,100
Bergenland Croatian 21,600
Bosnian 38,800
Arabic (Levantine) 19,600
Albanian (Gheg) 31,400
Albanian (Tosk) 28,200



Turkish is the largest minority language, in a situation mirroring that of Germany, spoken by 2.3% of the population.



Serbian is the one of the largest minority languages in Austria. In 2021, there were 197,000 Serbian speakers in Austria, according to Ethnologue.



In 2021, Ethnologue reports there were an estimated 18,800 Romanian speakers in Austria.[10]

Burgenland Croatian


Burgenland Croatian, an official language in Austrian Burgenland, is spoken by 2.5% of Austrians, and Burgenland Croats are recognized as a minority and have enjoyed special rights following the Austrian State Treaty (Staatsvertrag) of 1955.



While little spoken today, Hungarian has traditionally held an important position in Austria due to the historical ties between the two countries. Today, Hungarian is spoken by around 1,000 people in Burgenland.


Areas in Carinthia where Slovene is spoken by above 5% (light-blue) to above 30% (dark-blue) of the population.

Slovene is an official language in Austrian Carinthia. As of the census in 2001 Slovene is used by 12,686 Austrians as vernacular, and it is reported that Slovene can be spoken by 0.3% of Austrians. Carinthian Slovenes are recognized as a minority and have enjoyed special rights and affirmative action following the Austrian State Treaty (Staatsvertrag) of 1955.

European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages


Austria ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages on 28 June 2001[11] for the following languages in respect of specific Länder:



Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from The World Factbook (2024 ed.). CIA. (Archived 2006 edition.)

  1. ^ a b "Bundes-Verfassungsgesetz Art. 8 (Austrian Constitution)" (in German). 2023-11-23.
  2. ^ "Languages, culture and religion". www.migration.gv.at. Retrieved 2023-12-25.
  3. ^ a b "Austria Destination Guide". Diversity Abroad. Retrieved 2023-12-25.
  4. ^ "German, Swiss | Ethnologue Free". Ethnologue (Free All). Retrieved 2023-12-25.
  5. ^ "Swiss German (Schwytzerdütsch) language, alphabets and pronunciation". www.omniglot.com. Retrieved 2023-12-25.
  6. ^ "Bavarian | Ethnologue Free". Ethnologue (Free All). Retrieved 2023-12-25.
  7. ^ "Bavarian language, alphabet and pronunciation". www.omniglot.com. Retrieved 2023-12-25.
  8. ^ a b c "Austria | Ethnologue Free". Ethnologue (Free All). Retrieved 2023-12-25.
  9. ^ a b "Population: demographic situation, languages and religions". eurydice.eacea.ec.europa.eu. Retrieved 2023-12-25.
  10. ^ https://www.ethnologue.com/language/ron/
  11. ^ "CM/Notes/.../... full document title". rm.coe.int. Retrieved 2023-12-25.