As many other bloggers have noted, the German language is a beast with many heads. This is particularly true here in Bavaria, where it seems that the dialect changes from village to village. Going to the mountains brings a whole new set of phrases and expressions that you probably don’t hear too often in the Hochdeutsch bastions of Hamburg and other northern cities.
When we were down in Ettal recently, we were out to dinner on Sunday night in a restaurant that was about 30% full, and clearly primarily locals as many of them were chatting to each other across the room all night. One large group included a few small kids who spent most of the night toddling about from table to table, occasionally being chased by Papa, but mostly being looked after by the room at large.
The group finally got up to leave, and most of them said goodnight to the restaurant owner and his wife, who were holding court over a few Hefeweizen at a table in the middle of the room.
The oldest of the kids, who was maybe 3 or 4, came over to say her goodbyes as well, and piped what sounded like “Ferdi!”, as her mom zipped her into her coat.
“Ferdi?” I said to BV… “what the hell is that?”
“Not ‘Ferdi,'” he replied, “‘Pfiat di.’ It’s Bavarian, like ‘Grüss Got.’ They say that instead of ‘Tschüss’ for goodbye.”
Then we got into a whole conversation of how the phrase breaks down. ‘Pfiat‘ comes from the verb ‘behüten‘, or to protect/look after, and ‘di‘ from ‘dich,’ or you, so it loosely translates into our ‘take care of yourself.’
Ah yes, Bavaria. The magical land where ‘ck’ turns into ‘gg,’ b turns into p, and if you can tell the difference between ‘d’ and ‘t’ in some words, you deserve a medal. I really enjoy learning these little differences, particularly when we venture into the mountains but it does not make learning German any easier. Just when you think you’ve got something figured out, you end up confused by a small child. Good thing that kids speaking other languages are cute.
Next time you find yourselves in the Alps, keep an ear out for and let me know if you hear anyone saying my new favorite expression. And of course, until next time,”pfiat di!”