“Servus.” Said an older gentleman while we were walking through the mountains in Bavaria and I immediately felt my friends lost eyes on me.
She made me think about German foreign language books. Upon reflection, I realised that most beginners’ books teach:
- Guten Morgen (used from about 6am until about noon)
- Guten Tag (used throughout the day)
- Guten Abend (used from about 6pm onwards)
However, Germans use a range of different greetings and leavings. If you go to Germany without knowing them beforehand, you might just feel like my friend, like being hit by a train.
Their usages depend to some extent on their location and age.
Young people tend to use the following phrases to great others (especially people of their own generation):
- Mahlzeit! Be careful when you use it because it is exclusively used at mealtimes.
The following phrases are very common in the south of Germany:
- Servus. This probably the most common one.
- Griaß di God. It means Grüß Gott in higher German.
- Griaß eahna Gott. It means Grüß Sie Gott and is the formal version of the above greeting.
- Griaß di. It means Grüß dich in higher German.
- Griaß eahna . It means Grüß Sie. So, it is the formal version of the above.
- Griaß di. Wia geht ’s da denn? It means Grüß dich. Wie geht es dir in higher German.
People in the north of Germany great using phrases like:
- Note that Moin. Moin. used in some areas.
- Tach. It is the informal version of Tag in higher German.
- If you want to gain points with the locals, you might want to respond with Tach auch.
Likewise, Germans use a range of leavings:
- Schönen Tag (noch) / Schönes Wochenende.
- Wir sprechen uns bald / Wir sprechen uns später.
- Gute Fahrt! / Gute Reise!
In the south of Germany people use the following leavings:
- Pfiat di! Or pfüat di! It means Behüte dich in higher German.
- Pfiat di Gott! or pfüat di Gott! It means Behüte dich Gott in higher German.
- Pfiat Eahna! This is the formal version of the above.
- Servus! Yes, it is used as a greeting and a leaving.
- Ade! You might hear it from older generations.
When you go to the north you will hear the following:
- Tschüss. It is the most common one in the north. A
- Tschö! This, in a way, is an altered version of the above.
- Adjö. This is one, too. People from the north like to think that is very posh and educated to use it because it comes from French.
Yes, you guessed right there are a lot more greetings and leavings in German. However, these ones are the most common ones and I am sure they will come in handy when you go there.