Aside from the German national language, Munich – like many other regions on the planet – has its own language with specific dialects.
In Germany, Hochdeutsch, or High German, is the main language, but when you arrive in Bavaria or southern Germany, especially in the smaller villages, you’ll hear Bairish (Bavarian).
In Munich itself, although it is not as used in everyday conversations, it is understood. Often, you will hear the locals greet each other in Bairish, and you’ll see them on shop signs, in restaurants and in Kniepe (German Pubs).
So it is always fun to learn a few phrases to surprise the locals. It is also great to have a laugh especially if you managed to learn a few lines from Trinklieder (drinking songs) during October Fest or Fasching (carnival in Bavaria).
So let’s have some fun and talk Bairish!
If you are already acquainted with a bit of German, you’ve learned that there are formal and informal ways when it comes to greetings. This also applies to Bairish, so it is important not to misuse them. The following are some common greetings that are used daily, so don’t be shy tin using these Bavarian Phrases.
Grüß dich (single)/ Grüß Euch (plural)!
Basically, it means “greetings to you”, and it is used like “hello”.
You can use this to greet everyone, ie. Someone older or younger, a stranger or someone you already know. (ü sounds like “ee”, ß = ss)
It means, “Greetings from God” or “God bless you”. These days, it is more commonly used by older generations.
You’ll hear this everywhere: people on the streets, cafes, shops, etc. While in the past, it meant “at your service “, it is now a warm friendly way to say “hi”. In saying that, better stick with “Grüß dich” when you are greeting people older than you, especially if you don’t know them well.
Pfiat di, like Servus, but is used for saying goodbye. A much more personal way to say Auf Wiedersehen (goodbye), with the literal meaning of “see you again”. Historically, it means “God Protect you.”
Remember these for parties & celebrations!
Not to be not caught out as a typical tourist, use these fun and practical Bavarian words and phrases when you are at a Kniepe (German Pub) or Biergarten (beer garden).
Yep, that’s the word of a pint! But don’t be surprised when you receive a massive jug of Beer. In Bavaria, ein Mass is a 1-Liter pint. If you have a low tolerance for alcohol like me, you can ask for ein kleine Mass (a small pint), which btw, many Germans also order this! So don’t be reserved to ask for it!
Basically means “cheers”. So this can be used anytime when you have a drink. This is one of the Bavarian Phrases that might be essential if visiting Oktoberfest.
Hau di hera, samma mehra
You use this when someone asked you to share your table. This friendly reply is roughly translated as “you’re welcome to sit here, the more the merrier!”.
Hahah, just try to pronounce this one! We’ve already separated them into hyphens to help to break up the pronunciation!
You usually find this on a wooden sign at the table of restaurants or Kneipe where is reserved for the regulars. It basically says, ” The people who sit here, always sit here”, so don’t even bother asking!
Simply means “Bon appetite!” If you can’t remember it, you can also say it in the standard German way, which is “Guten Appetit” or “Mahlzeit” (mealtime).
Practical words & Bavarian phrases
Brez’n and Sammel
Being in the bread country, you’ll definitely find yourself in a bakery one time and wondered what are all those fancy bread rolls call. Sammel is the collective term for these. Outside of Bavaria, they are generally called Brötchen (small bread).
As for the beloved Pretzel, you’ll have to pronounce it with a “B”. “Ich möchte gern eine Brez’n” ( I would like a Pretzel). At the Beer gardens, make sure you get the gigantic one with your Mass.
Vo ist as glo?
Is worth learning this one: “Where is the toilet?”. While you most probably see the door signs marked with the obvious male and female icons, it is also good to know Herr/ Buam = male, and Frau/Madln = female.
Duad ma laid
Very similar to Hochdeutsch “Es tut mir Leid”, meaning “I am sorry”. This phrase is to be used on a more apologetic note, unlike “excuse me” (Entschuldigung). It is used more for situations when you are late, and not if you’ve accidentally bumped into someone.
Cheeky words & phrases
A geh weida/ Schleich di!
This can be used in a few different situations, typically expressing your disbelief when hearing news from a friend, like “Oh, com’on, don’t take it so seriously”, or “you’re kidding me!”. In a question form, it is like “really? I can’t believe it!”.
This can also be used sarcastically. Eg. when someone is really annoying, and you want he/she to go away. The literal meaning becomes ” It would be appreciated if you would just go away.”
Works when someone is rushed or in a hurry, then you can say “Bressiad’s da!”, meaning “Chill out man!”
A “darling” way to call your partner, like “sweetheart” or “honey”. It was popularized by the comedy, Monaco Franze in the ’80s. To fully get the underlying tone of the meaning, you’ll have to have watched the series!
Essentially, Spatzl is for females and Spezi for males. Don’t be confused with the popular soft drink that is a mix of coke and lemonade. (Surprisingly, it actually tastes better than it sounds!)
We hope you’ve enjoyed trying to pronounce some of these Bavarian phrases and get a glimpse of the Bavarian culture.
The Bavarians although often give the impression of being very direct, and may come across as rude, but they also like to have a laugh! So let us know how you went speaking Bairish.
For more serious “German learning”, we have also selected some practical and online resources for you. Check out our post.