April 6, 2009

If Obama Believes Austrian Is a Language, So Will AP

ObamaLookingDown0409.jpgAt an April 4 news conference in Strasbourg, France (White House transcript here), President Obama referred to a language that doesn’t exist (bold is mine; HT to DrewM at Ace of Spades):

It was also interesting to see that political interaction in Europe is not that different from the United States Senate. There’s a lot of — I don’t know what the term is in Austrian — wheeling and dealing — and, you know, people are pursuing their interests, and everybody has their own particular issues and their own particular politics.

Apparently none of Obama’s 12 teleprompters (their existence was cited a week ago at the UK’s Evening Standard, and noted yesterday at NewsBusters and BizzyBlog) were able to guide Obama’s dialect-challenged utterance in time.

Amazingly, Tom Raum of the Associated Press in effect made the same mistake (HT to an e-mailer) when he cited the above Obama quote and failed to note that there isn’t an Austrian language. Raum and who knows how many editors surely had several hours to get it right, and didn’t.

For the record, Austria’s languages, according to Wikipedia, are “German, locally also Slovene, Croatian and Hungarian.”

This is either an example of the lengths to which the press will go to cover for their dear President ‘Prompter, or an example of how ignorant the press covering Barack Obama really is. Or a bit of both.

Does anyone think that the establishment media would have let this slide if George Bush had been the one who made this mistake?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.



  1. I hate to speak up for Obama but Austrian (in full Austrian German) is the national standard variety of the German language spoken in Austria and South Tirol.


    Pat Dollard and a few others do not know this either. Pat Dollard even removed my comments.

    I should know, I live there

    Comment by Cor, Vienna Austria — April 7, 2009 @ 9:24 am

  2. #1 Nice try, no sale.

    If he would have said “as you say in Austria,” he’d get a pass. He didn’t. He treated it as a separate, discrete language. It isn’t.

    You’re Gonged.

    I didn’t even get to the point about where he thought he was (speaking in France, talking about “Austrian”?).

    Comment by TBlumer — April 7, 2009 @ 9:35 am

  3. #2
    I do not know if a understand the subtle different in English.

    But In The Netherlands you have different dialects e.g. Limburgs (south) Fries (north), Brabants (middle)
    With us it is perfectly alright to say:
    I do not speak Limburgs

    In Austria you have Austrian, Viennese, Kärntnerisch and so on. You can say I speak no Austrian

    I do not know if a Kentuckian can say I speak no Texan, but I know the two will not understand one another :)

    Comment by Cor, Vienna Austria — April 7, 2009 @ 9:46 am

  4. I do not know if a Kentuckian can say I speak no Texan, but I know the two will not understand one another :)

    You are absolutely NOT correct. :–<

    Comment by TBlumer — April 7, 2009 @ 12:59 pm

  5. Another testimonial to His ignorance. What an utter embarrassment to the United States. Did he bring a gift for the Austrian government too?

    Comment by MAS1916 — April 7, 2009 @ 1:25 pm

  6. Kentucky & Texas…aren’t those the 56th & 57th states? Oh yeah, they speak “Austrian” there, too…

    Comment by Rose — April 7, 2009 @ 1:40 pm

  7. WIKI:

    When Austria became a member of the European Union, the Austrian variety of the German language (limited to 23 agricultural terms) was “protected” in the so-called Protocol no. 10 regarding the use of specific Austrian terms of the German language in the framework of the European Union, which forms part of the Austrian EU accession treaty.
    Austrian German is the only variety of a pluricentric language recognised under international law / EU primary law. All facts concerning “Protocol no. 10” are documented in Markhardt, Heidemarie: Das österreichische Deutsch im Rahmen der EU, Peter Lang, 2005.

    IMHO this states that Austrian is a language

    Comment by Cor, Vienna Austria — April 8, 2009 @ 2:56 am

  8. #7, The fact that the Wiki entry for Austria does not list “Austrian” as among the languages spoken in the country means that Austrian must not BE a language. And that’s not an opinion, it’s a fact-based inference.

    Comment by TBlumer — April 8, 2009 @ 6:56 am

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