Bavarian for Beginners – Learning Bavarian made easy

Bavarian for Beginners

Every year anew, Bavarian fests are opened with a loud “O’zapft is!“ (“It has been tapped!“). And “Schleich di!“ is not a polite request to quietly leave but means to get going as fast as possible. Following is a small but very useful Bavarian Translator that might be of great help to you when you’re in Bavaria.

Characteristics of the Bavarian language and phonetics

There are many Bavarian dialects. Following are the most important basic rules to make pronouncing Bavarian words correctly easy for beginners:

  • An “a” can be pronounced in two different ways. There is an a that sounds in Bavarian like an o, and one that is pronounced clearly and unstressed. The Bavarian word “do“ is pronounced “da” in High German and means “here” or “there.” The sentence “Do kim i her” = “That’s where I come from.” However, the article “der” (the) or “ein” (a/an) is pronounced clear and soundless in Bavarian. “Wos für a Depp!” means “What an idiot!” or “da Bruader” for “the brother.”
  • The phonetic sound sequence “ie” or “il” is pronounced “ui” in Bavaria. The small word “viel” (many) thus turns into “vui” or “hilf” (help) into “huif.”
  • If a “ue” appears in a word, the Bavarian pronounces it sequentially as “u” and “I.” Thus, “füllen” (filling) becomes “fuin,” and “Gefühl” (emotion/feeling) turns into “Gfuih” and so on and so forth.
  • The consonant “l” at the end of a word is mostly silent, i.e. is not pronounced. Therefore, “schnell” (fast) turns into “schney” and “mal” (once) into “moi.”

Simple greetings and courtesies

You should definitely know the following Bavarian greetings and courtesies so you can appropriately respond to them and will not be regarded as an unfriendly “Saupreiss” (see below). But beware: Native Bavarians often use rather rough expressions and many beginners mistake that for rudeness which is not always the case. So just stay calm and you can’t go wrong.

Bavarian German English
    Griaß di God Grüß Gott, guten Tag Hello
    Wiederschaun,

    Pfiat di God

Auf Wiedersehen, Tschüss Goodbye
    Servus, Servas Hallo, Tschüss Hello / Goodbye
    Habedehr(e), gfraid me Hat mich gefreut, freut mich My pleasure!
    Dangschee Danke schön, vielen Dank Thank you                                                             
    Wos mägst? Wie bitte? Würdest du das  bitte wiederholen? Excuse me? Would you please repeat that?
    Host mi?! Hast du jetzt endlich begriffen? (rhetorische Frage mit Nachdruck) Did you understand?
    Hock di her da! Setz dich ruhig zu uns Sit down with us
    Do legst di nieda! Donnerwetter (Ausdruck des Erstaunens) Wow! For crying out loud!
    An Guadn Guten Appetit Enjoy your meal
    Bassd scho  passt schon, in Ordnung (Vorsicht: manchmal auch „Leck mich am Allerwertesten“) It’s ok. But beware: Also used as “kiss my butt”
    Ha? Wie bitte? Was? Excuse me? What?
    Sei ma ned bäs Nimm es mir nicht übel, sei mir nicht böse Don’t hold it against me
    I moan scho aa! Ich bin der gleichen Meinung I agree with you
    Ja mei Je nach Tonlage Ausruf des Desinteresses, des Erstaunens oder der Anteilnahme Oh my God (may show disinterest, astonishment or care)
    Mia wurscht! Mir doch egal, interessiert mich nicht I don’t care
    Woas i ned Weiß ich nicht I don’t know

Other common Bavarian words and phrases

Following are a few more Bavarian words and phrases that you will surely hear when traveling through Bavaria and that belong into every Bavarian dictionary.

 

Bavarian German English
mia  wir we
Batzerl  ein kleines Stückchen a little bit/a small piece
hoibad, hoib  halb half
Schneizdiache  Taschentuch handkerchief
Erdebbfe  Kartoffeln potatoes
Bua  Junge, Bub, junger Mann boy, young man
Madl  Mädchen, junge Frau girl, young woman
heid  heute today
schee  schön beautiful, nice
Lebakaas, Lewakaas  Leberkäse Bavarian sausage
Fleischpflanzerl  Frikadelle, Bulette hamburger
Dragerl, Dragl  Kasten mit Getränken (meistens Bier) case of beverages, mostly beer
Deandl  Mädchen, junge Frau girl, young woman
Dirndl  Traditionsgewand traditional Bavarian dress
Spezi, Spezl  Guter Kumpel good friend, buddy
Dusl  Glück good luck
granteln  beleidigt sein, meckern, brummen to be insulted, to gripe
Schau moi her do  Schau mal hier her, schau an look here
Hund, Bazi  Schlitzohr rascal
Aff, Depp, Hirsch  erklärt sich von selbst, allerdings nicht immer eine Beleidigung, sondern herzliche Umgangsform Ape, idiot, stag (not always an insult, often a friendly way of addressing someone)
Laid, Laidl  Leute people
nüachtan  nüchtern (ja, auch das soll unter Bayern vorkommen) sober (even happens in Bavaria)
bsuffa, zua  besoffen, betrunken sein druink
g´wampert  dick, übergewichtig fat
schnackseln  Liebe machen to make love
Hendl, Gickerl  Brathuhn, Huhn chicken, roast chicken

Here, we would like to address the most deadly sin at Bavarian fests: The wrong pronunciation of the word “Maß” (phonetically “Mass”), meaning a liter of beer. Although the word “Maß” does indeed go back to describing a measuring unit for a mug of beer (exactly one liter), it is pronounced with a short, hard “a” as in the German word “nass” (wet). If you do not pronounce it correctly, your Bavarian neighbors in the beer tent will not only laugh at you, they will also make a lot of jokes.

Additionally, you should never call a Bavarian farmer a “Bauer” (German word for farmer).  In Bavaria, this word is regarded as an insult.  The correct word to use is  “Landwirt” (“land keeper”). Using the word “Saupreiss” (Sow Prussian) is a different story: It is a coy name for all persons that come from the other 15 federal states and do not speak Bavarian. But don’t worry, the word is not intended to be a true insult.

Photo Credit: Marco2811 | by-studio – stock.adobe.com

Photo Credit: wikimedia.org (2); Marco2811 – stock.adobe.com

About the author: Alexander

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