Publication Title
Easy language in Austria
Publication Type
Book chapter
Title of edited book
Handbook of easy languages in Europe
Year of publication


With a population of nearly nine million inhabitants, Austria is one of the smaller German-speaking countries. The status of Austrian German has long been debated. Currently, the consensus seems to be that Austrian German, as it is spoken and written in Austria, is a national standard variety of the German language. Austrian German differs from German and Swiss German not only in its vocabulary and pronunciation, but also in its grammatical features. The Duden, the main German dictionary, identifies 0.4% of all German words as Austrian German.

In addition to German, three other languages are permitted as official languages in some Austrian regions: Hungarian, Slovenian and Croatian. Others that have the status of ‘recognized minority languages’ are: Romani, Slovak, Czech and Austrian Sign Language. Of the people living in Austria, 16.7% are considered foreigners, i.e., they do not have Austrian citizenship, and 23.7% have an immigrant background (Statista 2021).

As the term Behinderung (disability) lacks a generally applicable definition, the figures can be obtained for the proportion of people with disabilities are approximations. Depending on the definition, these mostly range between 10% and 15%. Part of this group are people who earlier terminology described as geistig behindert (mentally retarded). The representatives of this group perceive this term as discriminatory and choose to be addressed as Menschen mit Lern-schwierigkeiten (people with learning difficulties) (e.g., Erlinger 2004). These people and their service organizations were among the driving forces behind the establishment of Easy Language.
Submitted by Marina Pujadas on Mon, 04/07/2022 - 13:35