Column, Southern Thing Column

How do you say ‘Vienna’ sausage? We have our own way in the South

This week’s column on how to pronounce “Vienna sausage”is excerpted below. To read the full column on SouthernThing.com, click here, or click the link at the end of the excerpt.

I was an adult when I realized that Vienna sausages were named for the famous city in Austria. You know, Vee-in-ah. That’s because, as a kid in the South, I always hear them referred to as Vie-een-ah sausages.

My Granddaddy Gray, a fan of the little fellers, called them Vie-een-ah sausages. I even heard them referred to as Vie-een-er sausages, although maybe that was just because it rhymed with “wiener.” If I’d run into anyone who pronounced it Vee-in-ah, I’d’ve reckoned they weren’t from around these parts … and that they were feeling just a little too big for their britches.

The subject of the pronunciation of these tiny fingers of meat byproducts came up not long ago and I explained to a friend that I was in my 40s before I realized they were actually named for the Austrian city. That’s when I decided it was high time someone waxed poetic on the subject of Vie-een-ah sausages … and why shouldn’t that someone be me? As a professional wordsmith, I have taken on tougher challenges (but not by much).

A couple of housekeeping details first:

Vienna sausages apparently originated in Austria as actual sausages, parboiled meats in a casing. (Turns out, the word “wiener” is German for Viennese). In about 1903, at least in the U.S., “Vienna sausage” came to refer to tiny sausages similar to hot dogs, only disturbingly flesh colored. The canned versions are made largely with pork or “separated chicken.” Click here to read the full column.

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