Wiener Schmäh (Viennese Schmäh) refers to a colloquial expression that describes a characteristic aspect of Viennese humor. It does not refer to a singular invective, but rather a style of communication.
Etymology and UseEdit
The German dictionary Duden traces the word Schmäh back to the middle high German smæhe, which means "insult" or "contumely treatment." In Austrian German slang Schmäh means "gimmick," "trick," "swindle" or "falsehood" as well as "compulsory friendliness," "saying" or "joke." According to Peter Wehle, Schmäh is derived from the Yiddish schemá (story, something overheard)  whereas Robert Sedlacek suggests an origin in Rotwelsch, in which Schmee means something to the extent of Thieves' cant, lie or joke.
The Variantenwörterbuch des Deutschen (a German dictionary that documents geographical and dialectic differences in the German language) defines Viennese Schmäh as a typically Austrian - often perceived as superficially friendly - charm that is ascribed, especially in Western Austria, to the Viennese. The Term is derived from Viennese German and has been carried over into the Standard German and even in Germany is sometimes used in the form Wiener Schmäh.
Wiener Schmäh is strongly associated with Austrian Cabaret and stand-up comedy. In an article concerning Austrian humor, the German-language newspaper Kurier offered the following anecdote as an example of Schmäh: "A woman died. In front of her open grave stood her husband next to his wife's lover. The lover was completely broken and cried bitterly. The woman's husband laid his arm consolingly across the lover's shoulders and said: 'Don't take it so hard. I'll definitely marry again!'"
Often Wiener Schmäh is treated as synonymous with Viennese German. It is considered to be subtle, indirect and full of hidden innuendo, sometimes analogous to black humor. The cabaret artist Reinhard Nowak defined Schmäh as a combination of crass and endearing and as an often not earnest form of togetherness. Likewise, cabaret artist Josef Hader suggests that Schmäh unites charm and a certain kind of unfriendliness that are normally incompatible.
- Schmäh, der, duden.de, accessed on 28. November 2014.
- Peter Wehle (2012), Sprechen Sie Wienerisch?: Von Adaxl bis Zwutschkerl (in German), Wien: Verlag Ueberreuter, pp. 265, ISBN 978-3-8000-7544-7
- Robert Sedlacek: Das österreichische Deutsch. Wie wir uns von unserem großen Nachbarn unterscheiden. Ein illustriertes Handbuch. Verlag Ueberreuter, München 2004, ISBN 3-8000-7075-8, S. 342.
- Ulrich Ammon, Hans Bickel, Jakob Ebner: Variantenwörterbuch des Deutschen – Die Standardsprache in Österreich, der Schweiz und Deutschland sowie in Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Ostbelgien und Südtirol. Verlag Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2004, S. 675, online in Google Bücher.
- Irene Binal: „Der Wiener Schmäh“ – Ein Führer durch die österreichische Seele. at the Wayback Machine (archived February 8, 2005) DeutschlandRadio Berlin vom 28. Januar 2005, retrieved, 27 Märch 2013