1000 petals by axinia

the only truth I know is my own experience

Germany and Austria – same language, different cultures September 4, 2008

I am in Germany this week and although I know the country quite well, it is every time striking to me how Germany so much differs from Austria  – despite seemingly same language and culture.

Even if you have never been to both of them, you can imagine the difference might be in a way same like between USA and Canada, India and Pakistan, Russia and Ukraine, France and Belgium, etc… Many countries with “same” roots have sometimes less similarities with each other, than with any other country.

 

image of Frankfurt /Germany by EIPLanB

In the case of Germany and Austria, the important reason for their cultural difference and philosophy I see in the religious background. Most of the Germany is protestant with its belief in hard work and minimalism, Austria is still under that strong influence of the Catholic church with its take to showing off the riches, hierarchy and “connections”. The impact of that attitude is so obvious for an outsider like me, especially in terms of money: Germans are in generally richer than Austrians, at the same time they are much less generous and too “economical”, if not say greedy (sorry to say so but that is my personal impression). Germans keep talking about saving money all the time!! – Austrians like to moan about hard life in general 🙂

One more interesting thing is the energy they emit: Germany feels like metal – hard and strong, somehow dry and clear. Austria feels soft and cosy, somehow loose and uncomplicated.

 image by axinia

By reading all that you might get an impression that I am in love with Austria (which is true!) and dislike Germany (which is not true!)… There is one thing that is very special about Germany, that I value a lot and  – unfortunately – miss in Austria. Germans make great friends! As they are serious about everything in life, they are also serious about their realtionships, in particular friendship – the best thing is when you win their hearts once, they will be your best friends forever!

BTW, did you know that the most similar to Germany country is… Japan? A book tipp here.

LOVE; axinia

 

37 Responses to “Germany and Austria – same language, different cultures”

  1. odzer Says:

    I can relate with the Germanic thrift. I deal with the Dutch on a daily basis and they can be very thrifty as well but they can spend on some of the most strange things. A dutch man may squeeze out the last drop out of a toothpaste tube but may spend hundreds of Euros buying CD’s or Books!

  2. vishesh Says:

    informative post 🙂 well it is always nice to have some serious friends 🙂

  3. radha Says:

    well i could say that my best galfriend at work is from Germany, and also that when i was 12 my English teacher gave each of us a couple of addresses to start an english correspondence like pen pal with some girl abroad. And with Karen i am still in touch today …by email, and keep all her letters at home in italy! 🙂

  4. swaps Says:

    Axinia, you read my thoughts!! I was wondering how they are different (somehow I knew they are different). Now I have an idea. Also, isn’t German skyline becoming distorted by highrises?

    But I don’t think India and Pakistan are that different….perhaps, north and south India are more different.

  5. axinia Says:

    @Swaps, sorry for reading your thoughts, it was not on purpose, but it keeps happening to me :))

    It is probably much easier to explain the differnce in the yogis terms of righ-sided personality and left-sided one. (see my posts here: https://1000petals.wordpress.com/2007/12/08/a-right-sided-personality-sahaja-yoga/

    https://1000petals.wordpress.com/2007/12/03/a-left-sided-personality-sahaja-yoga/)

    GErmany is a clear right-sided country, Austria is more on the “left-side”. As for India and Pakistan, it feels like Pakistan is more on the right-side, India – more on the left. It is exactly what makes the differnce.

  6. This is interesting, Axinia, but I am not sure if everyone would fit into these generalisations. Even within Germany, I’ve heard that the Bavarians are a bit different from the other Germans. Is this true? And people from the erstwhile GDR (East Germany) seem to be a bit different from those in former West Germany 😐

  7. swaps Says:

    Yeah I have heard the east-west divide is pretty wide in Germany. Axinia, more light on this …if possible.

  8. axinia Says:

    An alien Earthling, you are absolutely right, bAvarians are different but for the same reason – they are too Catholic like Austrians! In fact, Bavaria is very much like Austrria, they have a lot of common history.

    Former DDR is also different, the impact of Socialis can be felt clearly – people are more collective, helpful and open, than the West Germany. They have a difficulty to adapt to the hard western laws, whihc is same in all ex-socialist countries. It is intresting, wherever I meet people from any ex-socialist countris (Slovakia, Hungary, Rumania, etc. – even if they are not Slav, they have something in common with Russians – it is beause of the communism which has given the people more collectivistis than individualistic country. It is a big advantage for the personal development.

  9. wortman Says:

    wunderbaren guten morgen axinia.
    nein, ich bin doch nicht böse oder so. ich brauch nur bisschen länger, mein englisch ist doch so schlecht 😉

    eines ist nicht ganz richtig: das verhältnis katholiken/protestanten ist fast 1:1. beide gruppen halten ca. 32% der religiösen “gruppierungen” in deutschland.
    die deutschen haben den ruf, arbeitssam, fleissig und überaus korrekt zu sein. das bringt uns dann oft in schwierigkeiten mit den nachbarn, die diese “vorzüge” nicht so besitzen.
    die sparsamkeit und das knickrige obliegt hauptsächlich den schwaben 😉 “spare, spare, häusle baue” steht bei denen ganz oben. ist nicht meine welt 🙂
    wenn ich mir so austria-blogs ansehe, hab ich auch immer das gefühl, ihr seid lockerer, lebt mehr das leben und danach geht ihr arbeiten 😉 vielleicht mag ich euch deswegen so, weil ihr euer leben genießt und nicht nur den kapitalismus fröhnt 🙂 außerdem bin ich vernarrt in euer rollendes rrrrrr beim sprechen. 🙂

    in einem muss ich dir allerdings zustimmen, das ist mir persönlich auch schon aufgefallen: österreicher sind schnell im freundschaften schließen aber ebenso schnell wieder im “liegen lassen”. läuft es nicht wie gewollt, werden freundschaften beiseite gelegt und weniger drum gekämpft. mag sein, ich hab da ausnahme-austrianer erwischt, aber das ist mir in den letzten 15 jahren mehrfach passiert.

    das japan gut zu uns passt, wusste ich schon 😉

  10. axinia Says:

    Danke, lieber Wortman, für eine sehr spanndende Antwort!!
    Ich finde es stimmt alles, und was deine Erfahrungen mit österreischichen Bloggern betrifft – auch 🙂

  11. […] simply avoid this male domain of business (Frankfurt is famous for being the finance centre of Germany)? Unfortunately I could not find any statistics on it, but my small photo-report may […]

  12. wortman Says:

    gern geschehen axinia.
    sprichst du auch mit diesem schönem “rrrrrrr” oder klappt das nicht so 😉

    irgendwie gibt es eine “feindschaft” zwischen österreichern und uns. hab zwar keine ahnung warum, aber es wurde mal wieder deutlich bei der berichterstattung vor der fussball-EM. da wurde viel gehetzt. 😦
    ich war schon öfters in den österreichischen bergen. da herrscht irgendwie eine nette stimmung. wie das bei euch im flachland ist, weiß ich nicht. bin noch nie bis wien gekommen…
    persönlich kann ich nur sagen, bisher bin ich noch nicht so “enttäuscht” worden, dass ich meine positive meinung über austrianer ändern müsste 🙂

    ich freu mich auch, dass mit dir und ein paar anderen eine feine und interessante online-freundschaft zustande gekommen ist.

  13. axinia Says:

    LIeber Wortman,
    ich finde es süß, dass du mich als Österreicherin bezeichnest – klar, habe ich in diesem 10 JAhren meines Lebens in Österreich einiges an Eigenschaften dazu gewonnen, jedoch bin ich eine Russin, und das steht auch in meine Pass 🙂 Damit meine ich, dass nach wie vor meine Russische Charakterzüge dominieren. Aber ein süßes Öösterreichische “rrrr” habe ich doch! 🙂
    Ich freue mich auch sehr über eine blogger-freundshaft mit dir, und in SAchen Freundshaft habe ich rein russische Einsichten -die mit den Deutschen in dem Fall übereinstimmen.

    • Miki Says:

      We must pick a language to learn and I think of speaking German. Is it true Austrians and Bavarians can not understand the formal German dialect which is taught in Northern and NorthWestern Germany?

      I’d like to study about Munich/Bavaria (and Austria too) but am afraid I will not be able to understand the language once I learn German?

      • Elke Says:

        There are some words Austrians use that Germans don’t understand, but basically, formal German is pretty much the same as formal Austrian German, except there are different accents. Austria has lots of regional dialects, though. Some of them are difficult to understand even for Austrians! Bavarian dialect is a lot like Austrian dialect.

  14. swaps Says:

    Axinia, if you could collect a cent for all the simleys in your blog, the golden Porsche is yours.

    🙂 what a sweet note! 🙂 a

  15. wortman Says:

    liebste axinia, das du geborene russin bist, weiß ich ja 😉 aber noch nicht, dass du der konvertierung entkommen bist *lach*
    um so mehr freu ich mich, dass du RRRRRRRst 🙂 kannst nicht mal eine kleine mp3 aufnehmen? das würde ich gerne mal hören 🙂

    Noch besster als mp3 wäre ein Wien Besuch :)) axinia

  16. Atlantic Says:

    Dear Axinia,

    You really blew my mind with this. Another really great post. It really applies very well to my own situation. I had no idea that there were any other two nations with the same strange relationship as Canada and America. “Best friends and bigest critiqes” As you know, I have first hand knowledge of this relationship while growing up between these two countries. Canada like Austria is more Catholic and left sided while the U.S. like Germany is more Protestant and right sided. Interestingly enough my American family actually has German roots, and they, like my father are as right sided as one could get. My sister takes after him, but I take after my Canadian born mother and she’s a total opposit, completely left and then some. It is therefore more difficult for me to understand the American mentality of even my closest family. Culturely speaking, we have everything in common but our personalities and ideals are so different. Why the divide? Would you say it’s the history of religion, politics or both? If so, are our thoughts really our own or were they predetermind by the country to which we were born? I guess we can think independantly, but it’s much more difficult. It means going against our natural instincts.

    Newfoundlander

  17. […] In general I was impressed by the professionalism of everyone I faced in Germany – business people, shop-sellers, consultants, waiters… The heart was mostly lacking :(, but the awareness of doing a good job, of serving the customer  was at the highest level. I miss it in many other countries I visit, and in the first line in my beloved Austria (probable reasons here). […]

    • Crystal Says:

      What do you mean the heart was most lacking? This doesn’t make sense. Everything that German take pride in as heart and meaning.

      • axinia Says:

        i mean what they call “the open heart”, not that they don’t do things with heart, but that the emotion towards others is missing.

        • Crystal Says:

          I have to disagree with you on that, and this is where a lot of people misunderstand us Germans. We might not express are feelings by voice, but instead by action. Actions speak louder than words. Someone can tell you “I love you.” And not mean it. But by action it means a lot more. You can always tell if someone is true themselves, there words meet their action.

          When a German tells you. He’ll come to see you, he will the next day come to see you.

          • axinia Says:

            right, that’s what I love Germans for! – but not everyone is able to see and appreciate that. Unfortunately Germans are commonly believed to be cold and lack emotions.

  18. Crystal Says:

    I read this post wondering what were the differences between Austrians and Germans. For me, being half German. I have met a lot of Germans and Austrians in Germany when I was in Muechen. And I have met a lot of Germans from other places in Germany in Washington State where I live. To me, they are the same people. I didn’t see the difference. Most of the people thought and acted as I did and my ancestors are from Prussia. Though, when I told them where my ancestors came from, some became wide eye and understood the fire I had within me and then grin. I have never been to Austria, but if I had been, I probably feel at home.

  19. kush Says:

    No matter what our geographical affiliations are,we are all THE SPIRIT.So,basically we all are similar.

  20. Sostrong Says:

    Im so curious about Austria!!!!

  21. aliona Says:

    Jetzt verstehe ich,warum Mozart in Österreich geboren ist…

  22. Elke Says:

    Time for an Austrian to get into this discussion!

    I think Austrians and Germans don’t have much in common at all, except of the language, and even that is different! It can be quite confusing for Germans who think they understand our language, while it takes years and years of studying Austrians to really understand! You can never be sure wether it is sarcastic or joking or honestly meant what we say. There are those subtleties in facial expression, tone and melody that Germans are not used to. They strictly say what they mean and mean what they say. On the other hand, they are zero charming, while when Austrians speak, it sounds a little bit like music already. Austrians also don’t want there problems solved. When Austrians complain, they do it for the pleasure of complaining, not to get help in solving the problem. There is always some melancholy in the Austrian character – some longing, but taking pleasure in the longing. That’s what makes Schubert melodies so beautiful, it’s this longing of the Austrian sole that sounds in it.

    That also shows in our sense of humor: Germans are very straight and blunt in their way of joking. Austrians don’t think Germans are funny, because for Austrians, the joke has to be subtle and hidden. But we do love to laugh! When an Austrian TV news reporter makes a mistake, he or she immediately turns it into a joke. You would never see a German news reporter joke about anything!

    I truly believe that it is the blend of Germanic and Slavic in Austrians. Austria during the monarchy was spread out through eastern Europe along the Danube all the way to the Black Sea, so there is much more Slavic influence in our sole than Germanic. On the other side, a lot of Austria is mountain region. People didn’t use to mix up in those regions. They barely ever got out of their valleys, so that would shape a people too! They would be much more closed and sceptic towards strangers.

    Now about friendships: I am an absolutely bad friend, I have to agree with Axinia on this one! I have made so many really good friends, but I just don’t see how I can stay in touch with them! I find facebook sooooooo helpful for that, because I am unable to keep touch with all of my friends, who I truly love, otherwise! It is not that I don’t like them, It’s just that I feel unable to deal with it. I am always open for new and old friends, but I am not the active part in friendships. Which doesn’t mean I don’t like them! I love them, but I am very self-content. I am not in need of company, but always open for company. I don’t know if this is due to my Austrian sole, or just my individual personality.

    Someone told me that the thing with Austrians is, they always find time to sit down and drink a cup of coffee! What ever needs to be done can be done later. Making money is good, but not as important as living life. Definitely true for me!

    • Austrians is not that hard to speak one just needs to take the time to learn it that just like saying. Speaking English like the English do is harder than learning the English that the American people speak. Austrians, is just another German dialect. It is no different than any other spoken German dialect. The people in Germany in different parts of Germany have their own dialect. And not uncommon to have different slang from region to region, so that statement about Austrian dialect is harder to understand doesn’t make sense. And stop generalizing. Austrians are no less funny or charming as the Germans. Austrians for the first part are people, and like all humans, we have the same needs and desire like everyone. Yes, your humor might be different from us Germans. But really Austrians are not that different from us.

      And the whole thing Austrian having this blend of Slavic and Germanic. If you have travel to Germany, Germany is a country of mix races, and a lot of the Germans are no longer 100% Germans. A lot of Germans are mix with other races. The Prussian people are balked people are, no doubt Slavic before they became to be known as German. And it has been known throughout both our history that Austrian and Germans rulers married one another along with other royal families.

      And yet again the whole thing about Austrians having the time to drink a cup of coffee and sit down, we Germans do it too. I can’t tell you how while I was staying in Germany and met my friends for lunch we all sat down, some have coffee, have beer or whatever and talk and enjoy ourselves.

      Some Austrians don’t always talk German like it’s music. I know this one Austrian from the lower part of Austria and his Austrian accent is not music to anyone ears and he is very hard to understand, like most Austrians I have met who speak clear and smooth German and is easy to understand. I ask my Austrian friend why that was he said. “Some Austrians are not always well-educated, you can always tell the ones who have been well- educated, on how well they speak.

      • Elke Says:

        Honestly, I meant to mention that in my comment, I really appreciate the German qualities that the Austrians are lacking! And I truly believe that we Austrians have this little sense of inferiority towards the Germans, because Germany is so much bigger and they sound so much more sophisticated when they speak!

        But, you see, when we compare nations it is just a game and not meant to be taken seriously! Of course, Austrians vary just as much as the Germans and the Russians, and the Americans …. But there is a certain feel to a country and its people, and sometimes it leads to misunderstandings. But mixing up people of different places of the world is such an enrichment for any culture! I just love to hang out with people from other countries! But, really, we basically are all human beings, and we come in different colours and shades, that makes the world such a wonderful place!

      • axinia Says:

        Thank you littleimpaler for this long and interesting imput!
        We all have our observations and my one was also based on my experience of living and working with Germans and with Austrians – and honestly, I do see a lot of differences.
        ON the human level I am more comfortable with Germans because they are direct in communication like Russians and are basically idealistic. This is what I really miss here in Austria – you will hardly ever make a person speak open especially if there is a serious issue. The intercultural researchers call it “Konfliktvermeidung” and claim it is very typical for Austria (probably originates from feeling guilty, which comes from Catholic Church influence).

  23. aliona Says:

    Wow….so detailed information…it seems that Elke has done some research on the issue…it is really a great difference between these two nations..interesting..thank you very much…i am a German teacher and a liver of German classical music…all in the row…but i prefer Mozart!!!

  24. aliona Says:

    LOver…sorry…

  25. Elke Says:

    Mozart is beyond comparison! The ideal music!

  26. Austrian delect just another German delect. They speak a German delect German and Austria share a lot of the same things. Many of their rulers adopted a lot the Prussian way of doing things. I think the reason why the Austrians don’t like to be called Germans, and I really hate to say this. To be German is still to be Nazi in their mind, the problem with Austria, a lot them want to fault Germany for all the Nazi stuff, but the thing they forget is they had part in it too, many of their people were for Hilter. They share a lot same history with Germany, their coat of arm is very much like the German eagle. And like the Germans they share a lot national socialistic views. Yes, some Germans and some Austrians still believe it all for the German people or Austrian people, that the Austrian people come first. and some Austrians will tell you they are German and they are the same people. Before the whole Nazi thing Austrians did not have problem with being called Germans, before the Nazi ordeal they were seen as Germans. Austria has been having identity crisis for a long time. On youtube there was a video in German and it explain the problem with Austria and that are in fact they are the same people as the Germans.

    Arnold Schwatznegger, even though he is Austrian he said in interview that his father had German views, which should tell you, that Austrians are not different from Germans, but the same. The thing is a lot of the older Austrians still see themselves as Germans and a lot of the younger Austrians see themselves as Austrians. An young Austrian I talked to, said” Germans and Austrians are same people, it is the government that doesn’t tell the true history of our history and want to brainwash Austrians thinking they are different.”

    This whole thing are Austrians and German people different or the same? Is stupid. If an Austrian wants to say they are Austrians, just let them think want they want. Even though they share the same food us Germans and share a lot things. There will always be conflicting identity issues.

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