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Want to Learn Bavarian German? Here Are the Best Tools and Must-know Phrases

Take a look at your outfit.

Do you have on Levi jeans? How about Puma or Adidas footwear?

If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, you’re actually wearing brands that came from the same location as dirndls and lederhosen.

It’s the very same place where Neuschwanstein Castle was built. Home to a variety of artists, musicians and writers, this particular place in Germany hosts a rather large Oktoberfest as well. Can you guess which German state it is?

That’s right, it’s Bavaria!

Bavaria is a culture-rich, southern state of Germany that’s often viewed as home to the stereotypical German culture. Steeped in a multitude of traditions and heritage, the state enjoys a language of its own, too.

Yes, it’s still German. Similar to how the lingo of the deep South is English.

If you want to learn Bavarian German, you’re in luck. We’ll show you the best resources to pursue this unique dialect, as well as a sneak peek at some quintessential Bavarian German phrases.
 


 
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Why Learn Bavarian German?

Like all dialects, Bavarian German is set apart from “textbook” or “standard” German, also known as Hochdeutsch (High German). “High German” is typically what’s spoken in the northern parts of the country. Generally, German-speaking students master the basics of Hochdeutsch first before they embark on studying a dialect like Bavarian German.

Whether you’re coming to Bavarian German for classwork or on your own, learning this dialect is a great way to distinguish your skills. Knowing how to adapt and listen to local German dialects shows your advanced language-speaking level and sets you apart from the rest.

Learning a dialect also naturally forces you to really apply what you’re learning in real life. That’s because there are rarely any written grammar rules to follow, only the words and sounds of the dialect to adapt to and replicate. If you can move beyond the textbook to converse with other German speakers in a natural setting this way, it’s definitely something to show off at your next family gathering or work party.

Bavarian German is arguably one of the most popular German dialects to learn. Checking in with the local slang will be especially valuable if you’re going to live in or travel to Bavaria. It’ll help you connect with native speakers while you’re there on a deeper level (which in turn will give you plenty of opportunities for German practice). Bavarian German is best learned by immersing yourself in the language and atmosphere, so give yourself some time to acclimate, and like all things learning-related, soak up as much as you can. A hungry mind is nothing to be ashamed of!

How to Learn Bavarian German: The Ultimate Resource Reference and Handy Pocket Glossary

1. Reference Tools to Understand Bavarian German

Bairischen Wörterbuch (Bavarian Dictionary)

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You won’t find Bavarian German terms in your typical German dictionary, so check out this specialized resource for a place to look up just what that gobbledygook means. You can also get lessons on Bavarian German grammar, pronunciation and even common sayings and jokes in Bavarian.

Memrise: Basic Bavarian I

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Memrise is a great resource for anyone looking to learn German all over again, except this time in Bavarian. Topics in this resource include nouns and adjectives, negation, numbers and the verbs sein (to be) and haben (to have), but in Bavarian. A great way to build on what you already know, this course from Memrise only takes about two hours to complete.

In only two hours, you could be speaking another kind of German. Pretty cool, huh? This is a great starting place for those looking to dip their toes in without paying too much time or money for the opportunity.

FluentU

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Want instant immersion in German culture, no matter where you are?

FluentU is the perfect tool. FluentU provides authentic videos from across the German-speaking world, like movie trailers, music videos, news clips and more. And you never have to worry about missing a word, thanks to interactive subtitles—click any word, and FluentU will automatically pause the video to show you a definition, memorable picture and native pronunciation. When you’re done watching, there are flashcards and fun exercises to make sure you don’t forget everything.

It’s a fun way to learn German the way native speakers actually use it. You can take a trip to Oktoberfest or visit a beautiful spa town in upper Bavaria, among many other virtual destinations—all while naturally building your German vocabulary.

Get started online or with the FluentU iOS and Android apps, and you’ll always have a bit of German immersion no matter where you go.

Bavarian-Austrian Online Lessons

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This course isn’t for everyone. The entire site is written in German, so make sure you switch your tongue to German-mode before you begin. Use this site to explore subjects like the Bavarian alphabet, stories in Bavarian German, vocabulary, grammar lessons and much more. There are a ton of links to click on and a wealth of knowledge to gain.

Rick Steves’ Bavaria Travel Guide

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Click over to the PBS channel and you’re sure to see one of Rick Steves’ programs. A well-known worldwide traveler, Rick Steves gives readers an overview of the history, culture, sights and people, focusing on an objective perspective that welcomes even the strangest of old traditions.

While this resource is in English, it’s your ticket to the quintessential Bavarian experience (think lederhosen, beer and pretzels, along with all the stunning local attractions). You can read about, listen to and watch all things Bavaria, in the comfort of your own home, even as you daydream. Steves will show you attractions to visit, offer advice on which travel guides to purchase, tease you with fun and exciting photos and point the way towards further reading and research. Rick Steves’ site also hosts a travel forum that’s invaluable to those serious about traveling to Bavaria and making the most of their trip.

Study in Bavaria

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Studying abroad can be an incredibly rewarding experience. This resource provides visitors with information on why they should study in Bavaria, the steps necessary to study there and what attractions to visit while there.

There are also a ton of career opportunities alongside the ability to study in Bavaria, and this site proves invaluable when it comes to finding the resources that’ll allow you to plan your trip, from logistics and housing to financing and making the best of the time you’ve got. Check out this resource if you’re considering a study abroad summer and/or year, and you won’t regret it.

2. Uniquely Bavarian Terms and Phrases

Compared to Hochdeutsch, Bavarian German sounds clipped, almost as if the speaker isn’t enunciating every syllable of every word. In fact, Bavarian German isn’t often taught in schools. There’s no standard way to write Bavarian German, so it’s really only a dialect you can learn by listening and practicing.

Along with the below phrases, you can get some in-depth Bavarian language from these sites and articles:

If you’re heading over to Bavaria, brush up on the following terms before you go, and show off to the locals just how much Bavarian German you’ve mastered!

These following phrases will help you at work, at play and everything in between:

  • Vo is as glo? (Where is the bathroom?)
  • Babbadeggl (Driver’s license)
  • Fui gligg (Good luck)
  • Duad ma laid (I am sorry)
  • Heif! (Help!)
  • Fesch (Attractive, stylish)
  • Geh weida (Go away)
  • Habe d’Ehre (It’s an honor)
  • Schmarrn (Nonsense)
  • Wer ko, der ko (When you’ve got it, you’ve got it)
  • Buam (Lads)
  • Madln or Dirdln (Girl, young woman)
  • Gell? (Right?)
  • Freilich (Of course)

These terms are a bit more traditional:

  • Allmechd (shock, surprise or regret — short for Allmächtiger Gott, or “Almighty God”)
  • Oachkatzlschwoaf (squirrel’s tail — this word can be a pronunciation test to prove whether you’re Bavarian or not!)
  • Schuàbladdla (Bavarian traditional dance, of which there are more than 150 versions — Schuhplattler in High German)

 

There you have it! If you like what you see (and hear), check out the Bavarian German dialect and increase your German-speaking skills. Whether you’re studying abroad, traveling or simply want an extra challenge, Bavarian German is prepared to give you one. Learn more about Germany, its people and their language!

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