LearnGermanwith Us!Start Learning!
If you visit Bavaria (especially if it’s a little place out in the depths of the Bayerischer Wald), you are likely to encounter the Bavarian language in one form or another. Spoken Bavarian probably sounds incomprehensible as a non-native German speaker, even if your Hochdeutsch is of a good standard. But when it comes to speaking, there are several things you could do to communicate with a Bavarian person, such as speak in Hochdeutsch (there’s a pretty good chance they’ll speak it back), or speak in English (there’s a reasonable chance they’ll speak it back), or use the age-old technique of pointing at things and hoping for the best.
When learning a language, people often focus on speaking as the most important thing, because they want to be able to communicate. But it’s important to know what you are reading, too. After all, if you speak to someone and don’t understand them immediately, you have ways of getting around that (as mentioned above). However, if you read something you don’t understand, what can you do then?
Although most things are written in Hochdeutsch across Bavaria, you will find some adverts, signs, and slogans written in Bavarian – especially if you’re in a more traditional and less touristic place. So if your German is good but your Bavarian is not so good, how will you know what you’re reading?
That’s where this post comes in! I’ve compiled a list of possible words, signs, adverts and slogans that you might see in Bavaria, to help you out with this. Please feel free to add to this list – I would love it to become an ever-expanding resource for people!
Need the toilet? In German, you know which word you’re looking out for on the toilet door. It might say Mädchen and Junge – girls and boys. Or maybe Damen and Herren – women and men. But what if you were confronted with two toilet doors, one saying “Madls” or “Dirndls”, and one saying “Buam” – and with no little pictures to tell you which is which? Have no fear, here’s the answer!
DIRNDLN: Women (a variation that refers to the traditional Bavarian Dirndl dress)
You may see this written on toilet doors in traditional restaurants, cafes and shops in Bavaria. Now you know which is which!
Bavaria is home to FC Bayern München. Their slogan or motto is “Mia san mia”, which is, naturally, Bavarian. As it is now a famous slogan, you may see it in all sorts of places, either in reference to football or not. So, to clarify:
MIA SAN MIA: Originates from the German “Wir sind wir”, which means “We are we” in English. It basically means, “We are who we are”.
A restaurant is one place you’re likely to find lots of Bavarian words, as they like to keep things traditional and homely. The above sign is just one example. The first sentence is in Hochdeutsch (standard German), whereas the second is in Bavarian.
“Essen ist ein Bedürfnis, aber genießen eine Kunst!!” – “To eat is a requirement, but to enjoy it is an art!!”
“Drum schaugst a bißl rei zu uns!” – “That’s why you should come in and see us!”
Here are some more words and phrases you might see in/around Bavarian restaurants and cafes:
This little phrase in German would be “Guten Appetit!” which you can probably tell means “A good appetite!” in English.
You are likely to see this little phrase plastered all over restaurant menus, and maybe hanging on a restaurant wall. Now you know what it means – the restaurant owners are wishing you bon appetit.
A restaurant is sometimes called a ‘Stube’. For instance, you might see the name of a restaurant as ‘Schmankerl Stube’ or ‘Alpenglow Stube’.
Some places use the Bavarian word for Stube, instead – Stubn (or Stub’n).
So if you come across a Stubn, don’t be confused – it is, in fact, a Stube – a restaurant.
SCHWAMMERL (or: SCHWAMMAL)
The Bavarian word for ‘mushrooms’. In Hochdeutsch, this would be ‘Pilze’. So if you see a Schwammerlsuppe (or, even more Bavarian: Schwammerlsubbm) on a menu, you’re looking at mushroom soup.
I did not even know the word ‘Pilze’ existed until a few years ago. I had used ‘Schwammerl’ my whole life, and thought that was the standard German word for mushrooms! That’s how common the word Schwammerl is over there.
Another word you may see on a menu, ‘Schmankerl’ is Bavarian for ‘Spezialität – ‘speciality’.
Kaufland, a German supermarket chain, has advertising slogans written entirely in Bavarian. One of them says “Joa servus. Kaufland is do!” Translation:
In Hochdeutsch: Ja hallo, Kaufland ist da!
In English: Well hello, Kaufland is here!
THE BAVARIAN FOREST
Since you might be out in the sticks of it when coming across many of these words, I thought I should briefly touch upon the Bavarian Forest. In German, we are talking about the Bayerischer Wald. Although you’ll mostly see it written that way, there is a chance you could see the word ‘Wald’ (forest/woods) spelt like this: ‘Woid’.
WOID is the Bavarian word for ‘Wald’ (forest/woods). If you ever see ‘Bayerischer Woid’ written anywhere, they’re talking about the Bayerischer Wald.
On a similar note, here’s one example of a sign written in Bavarian – presumably on a mountain somewhere.
Can you figure out what it says?
And as always, feel free to add more examples in the comments!
Servus! Kemmts fei wieda! 😉
(Bavarian for: ‘Bye! Do come again!’)