Alpine Tips: Saying Goodbye

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.

Local lingo is also useful when choosing a bathroom.

Local lingo is also useful when choosing a bathroom.

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!”


18 thoughts on “Alpine Tips: Saying Goodbye

  1. Oh lord – how confusing! My flatmate busts out something like ‘ze fix’ (maybe ze fiks?) every now and then. It’s like ‘shit’ in Bavarian – you familiar with that one? I think it comes from crucifix but that’s just a guess!

  2. You should watch “die Rosenheim Cops” on Tuesday evenings! It’s a silly Bavarian cop show and somewhat endearing, I must say. One of the detectives is from somewhere north, and every now and then he turns to his Bavarian colleague for a translation of what a local said. My husband puts on the Hochdeutsch subtitles for me! 🙂

    • I’ve heard that show is entertaining… If we ever get our TV hooked up to cable or satellite, I’ll have to check it out! It is oddly reassuring to hear that even people who taught German have trouble with the Bavarian dialect. 😉

  3. I remember watching “Wer früher stirbt ist länger tot” and having to get Jan to stop it every 5 minutes to translate! I think I remember “pfiat di” from Austria though. Switzerland is going to be even more fun!! They say Ade (Adé?) for bye.

  4. Conveniently, “ferdig” in Norwegian means done or ready, so it’s also like “yep I’m done with this visit and ready to go”.

    I just realized my feedly had categorized you and then collapsed the category so I missed a ton of posts! Fun reading to go through them now.

    • Gotta love any linguistic overlap to give you a foothold!
      I’ve come to the conclusion that there aren’t any great applications for reading everything in one place. Good to hear that you’re enjoying catching up though! 🙂

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